"beg the question"(Phrase Origins)
Fowler defines "begging the question" as the "fallacy of founding a conclusion on a basis that as much needs to be proved as the conclusion itself." "Question" here does not mean "a sentence in interrogative form". Rather, it means "the point at issue, the thing that the person is trying to prove". The phrase is elucidated by William Fulke in "Heskins parleamant repealed" (1579): "O shameless beggar, that craveth no less than the whole controversy to be given him!" The OED's first citation for "to beg the question" is from 1581. Common varieties of begging the question are paraphrase of the statement to be proved ("Telepathy cannot exist because direct transfer of thought between individuals is impossible"), and arguing in a circle ("The Bible must be true, because God wouldn't lie to us; we know God is trustworthy, because it says so in the Bible"). Fowler gives two example of non-circular question-begging: "that fox-hunting is not cruel, since the fox enjoys the fun, and that one must keep servants, since all respectable people do so". Gowers notes that single words, such as "reactionary" and "victimization", can be used in a question-begging way. The Latin term for the fallacy is _petitio principii_, a translation of the Greek _to en archei aiteisthai_="at the beginning to assume"; but _aiteisthai_ does literally mean "to beg". The phrase can be traced back to Aristotle (4th century B.C.): "Begging or assuming the point at issue consists (to take the expression in its widest sense) in failing to demonstrate the required proposition. But there are several other ways in which this may happen; for example, if the argument has not taken syllogistic form at all [...]. If, however, the relation of B to C is such that they are identical, or that they are clearly convertible, or that one applies to the other, then he is begging the point at issue." (_Prior Analytics_ II xvi) Many people unaware of the technical meaning of "to beg the question" in logic use it in one of two looser senses. The first of these, "to evade the question, to duck the issue", is attested since 1860 (WDEU). The second, "to invite the obvious question, (with an inanimate subject) to raise the question", is now the most commonly heard use of the phrase, although we have found no mention of it prior to The Oxford Guide to English Usage, 1st edition (1983), and it is not yet in most dictionaries. The meaning of the adjective "question-begging" does not seem to have suffered a similar broadening.
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