What "beg the question" means

Subject: What "beg the question" means
From: "Larry Kunz ((919) 254-6395)" <ldkunz -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 13:14:29 EST

Well, I've learned something from this discussion: If I care about
whether people understand me, I'll never again use the phrase "beg
the question"!

According to the American Heritage Dictionary (2d edition), "beg the
question" has two meanings:

> 1. To assume the conclusion to one's argument to be true.
> 2. To equivocate or dodge an issue.

Drawing on the second half of my English/Philosophy double major, I've
always hewed to definition 1. In everyday conversation, however, I
find that most people -- including, apparently, the denizens of
TECHWR-L -- prefer definition 2.

Since there's confusion about what the phrase means, I think I'll just
stop using it. Or does that beg the question?

Larry Kunz
STC Assistant to the President for Professional Development
ldkunz -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com


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