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#115858 - 11/13/03 03:48 PM Begging the question
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
In a recent post, our prodigal shanks expressed dismay at a certain usage involving the phrase "beg the question." I'll repeat a challenge I made during his absence, but, in no way limited to him. Give me a defintion of beg that fits the usage in the name of the logical fallacy otherwise know as petitio principii and give me another instance of its being used with that meaning.

And, for extra credit, do the same for question.


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#115859 - 11/13/03 04:11 PM Re: Begging the question
wwh Offline
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Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear Faldage: I just got a surprise. Webster 1913 gives as the fourth definition of "beg" as"
4. To take for granted; to assume without proof.

Does OED also give this definition? It almost sounds to me as though it were contrived to cover the "beg the question" problem.

For those who may not have seen it, Quinion has some helpful information:
http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-beg1.htm

P.S. I got another surprise. Quinion says "beg the qestion" originated in 1581.

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#115860 - 11/13/03 08:45 PM Re: Begging the question
Jackie Offline

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
I had to look up your term, Faldage. Gurunet has:
pe∑ti∑ti∑o prin∑ci∑pi∑i (pə-tĭsh'Á-Ű' prĭn-sĭp'Á-Á', -Á-Ó')
n. Logic.

The fallacy of assuming in the premise of an argument that which one wishes to prove in the conclusion; a begging of the question.

[Medieval Latin petÓtiŰ prÓncipiÓ : Latin petÓtiŰ, request + Latin prÓncipiÓ, genitive of prÓncipium, beginning.]


For beg, Gurunet has:
v., begged, beg∑ging, begs.

v.tr.
1. To ask for as charity: begged money while sitting in a doorway.
2. To ask earnestly for or of; entreat: begged me for help.
3.
a. To evade; dodge: a speech that begged the real issues.
b. To take for granted without proof: beg the point in a dispute.
v.intr.
1. To solicit alms.
2. To make a humble or urgent plea.
phrasal verb:
beg off

To ask to be released from something, such as an obligation: We were invited to stay for dinner, but we had to beg off.

[Middle English beggen, possibly from Anglo-Norman begger, from Old French begart, lay brother, one who prays. See beggar.]


You put: a defintion of beg that fits the usage in the name of the logical fallacy otherwise know as petitio principii and give me another instance of its being used with that meaning. Now--in dead seriousness, does 3.b. represent what you're asking for? Or is it yet another princip-thing?

I keep having to post this, then edit to add stuff: I need to see all the things together, to try and get my mind around the complete puzzle. If I think of any actual examples, I'll add them.





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#115861 - 11/14/03 05:36 AM Re: Begging the question
dodyskin Offline
addict

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 475
Loc: manchester uk
I alaways thought it was to beggar the question, or make the question pointless. don't know what shanks post said though so i'm not sure what you mean.


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#115862 - 11/14/03 06:45 AM Re: Begging the question
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Yes, Jackie. 3b covers part 1a of my challenge. 1b is to give me another instance of its being used with that meaning. I liked Dr Bill's Quinion link in terms of its comment on the translation of petitio principii.

And, dody, beg the question is the standard form. The phrase is often used to mean "raise the question" or "leave the question unasked." This is the usage shanks was objecting to.


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#115863 - 11/14/03 08:09 AM Re: Begging the question
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Okay, thanks; whew. Now that I know what I'm looking for[anxiously furrowing brow e]...hmm. This is iffy, but what about: "And these are the facts", the professor announced in stentorian tones that begged no dispute.


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#115864 - 11/14/03 08:14 AM More begging
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Okay--I just double-posted the above (and deleted one of them); I'd glanced away and wasn't sure the cursor had been exactly on the Submit button. My question: why didn't I get the notice I've gotten before? It reads something like "We cannot honor your request--this is a duplicate of something already posted".


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#115865 - 11/14/03 10:56 AM Re: Begging the question
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
JW: The proof of the existence of God lies in everything around you. Flowers, bees, people and trees are all so obviously the product of an intelligence, and that intelligence could only be god.

Me: Aha - but we have this brand, spanking new idea, called evolution by natural selection. The appearance of intelligent design in everything you see around you is a form of illusion - it actually took place over millions of generations of incremental change.

JW: An illusion? But surely the good god would not allow us to be so deceived!

Me: Aha - that's assuming the antecedent a/k/a petitio principi a/k/a begging the question, that is.

KW: You bleating whinger.

Curtain, to rapturous applause



edit

And, as far as I am aware, the roots of the phrase lie in legal type terminology. To 'beg the question', as Faldage's Latin suggests, is to beg (ie plead for) the matter in question (ie the subject of the dispute), as opposed to making a case for it. Eg: Mink and Monk have a land dispute - boundary lines et al and go to court. Mink says "I have here records from the last few generations showing that the strip of land in dispute has always belonged to my family." Monk says "But that can't be so!". "Why?" "Because that land is mine. {sotto voce "God gave this land, to meee...}" "You may think so," says, Mink, exasperated. "But that is, in fact, what we're here to discuss. Your claim is not an argument. You're begging the ruddy question!"

And so it goes...

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#115866 - 11/14/03 11:03 AM Re: Begging the question
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear Shanks: could there have been intelligent design in the elementary particles, and the laws that govern them, which permit such complexity of molecules, including those that make life possible?


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#115867 - 11/14/03 11:09 AM Re: Darwin's black box!
maahey Offline
addict

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 555
ooh wwh!! Neat!


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