Begging the question is a fallacy in which the premises of an argument assume the truth of the conclusion instead of supporting it. You may have also heard of this being called circular reasoning.
The phrase begging the question originated in the 16th century as a mistranslation of the Latin petitio principii, which in turn was a mistranslation of the Greek for “assuming the conclusion”.
The most common example of this we see on social media is variations of “It is true the Bible is the perfect word of God, because it says so in the Bible which is true because it is the perfect word of God”. But it’s not limited to that.
Begging the question can often be seen in counters to arguments.
For a generic explanation:
- p = A proposition I am discussing.
- I believe this proposition is false, or B¬p
- My justifications are J
- They argue J is wrong or ¬J
- The reason they give for ¬J is Y
- The only reason to accept Y being true would be P being true.
You’re then stuck in the circle of P is true because Y is true because P is true.
The Purpose of This Article
Now that I have explained what question-begging is, I feel I should explain the rest of this article.
I recently got into a conversation on Twitter with someone who begged the question, wouldn’t accept that, and then proceeded to misrepresent me.
Having stepped away from it, I no longer think they were necessarily doing so dishonestly, but their misrepresentation inspired me to write an article analysing the conversation for a number of reasons.
- To explain begging the question
- To explain why they were begging the question
- To show how I was mirepresented
- To discuss behaviours
- To admit some of my negative behaviours in the situation
- To explain (not excuse) some of my negative behaviours in the situation
- To try and demonstrate what should have happened
- To give a bit of history as to what lead to this point
I sincerely hope this article achieves that, and those involved don’t feel like I am using it as a piece to slam them. I hope it helps them and others understand things and see where the conversation went awry and we spoke past each other, and understand how certain things make me feel at the time.
If they feel the need to, I hope they respond either in this article or do a response themselves.