Confused Expressions #7: Begging the Question

Very few things throw me more in a conversation than when someone says, “And of course that begs the question …”

In philosophy, “begging the question” is a technical term that means you’ve made the fallacy of assuming the truth of your conclusion in your premises: i.e., of arguing from point A to point A.

When they use that expression in conversation, though, most people aren’t accusing you of having fallen off the logic truck; they mean that you’ve raised an important question.

Why does the misappropriate use of that expression throw me? Because the term “begging” has a negative connotation. This works well in philosophy, where “begging the question” is a bad thing (or, to use the technical term for bad things in philosophy, a fallacy). But there’s nothing negative about a thought that raises a question, and such a thought deserves better treatment!

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Karl El-Koura was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and currently lives with his beautiful editor-wife in Canada’s capital city. More than sixty of his short stories and articles have been published in magazines since 1998, and in 2012 he independently published his debut novel Father John VS the Zombies.

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