Re: "Beg the question"

Subject: Re: "Beg the question"
From: Emily Skarzenski <71220 -dot- 341 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 10:33:34 EST

>>"Beg the question" means "evade the question" or "sidestep the
>>question" -- not "ask for the question to be answered."

>I thought "beg the question" means to evade answering by essentially
>asking the question in another form. It's been a long time since my
>Logic 101, but as I recall in a logical argument, if you respond to
>a question by simply rephrasing the questing and firing it back, you've
>"begged the question" and the argument is invalid.

I found this in "The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" (2nd ed.) by
William and Mary Morris:

"Beg the question" has a sense seeemingly rather far-removed from the basic
sense of "beg." To "beg the question" means to avoid an issue. In debating, it
has the special meaning of taking as a basic assumption something which has not
been proved, thereby avoiding the matter at issue. It is a very old expression,
dating to Shakespeare's time, and may very well have developed as a sort of
loose translation of "petitio pricipi," a Medieval Latin term for taking for
granted that which has not been proved. "Petitio" comes form the Latin verb
"peto," meaning "to seek or ask," so the connection is not farfetched.

Emily Skarzenski
Head Technical Writer
Fastech, Inc. - Broomall, PA
71220 -dot- 341 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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