beg the question


Also found in: Dictionary, Legal, Wikipedia.

beg the question

1. To provoke a specific question (which typically follows this phrase). If he has a great job but is always broke, it begs the question of where the money is going?
2. To assume or believe that something is true when its veracity is unverified. My opponent in this debate has again begged the question, assuming his premise to be true without evidence.
See also: beg, question

beg the question

 
1. to carry on a false argument where one assumes as proved the very point that is being argued, or more loosely, to evade the issue at hand. (Essentially a criticism of someone's line of argument.) Stop arguing in circles. You're begging the question. A: Why do two lines that are equidistant from one another never meet? B: Because they are parallel. A: You are begging the question.
2. to invite the (following) question. (This reinterpretation of beg the question is incorrect but is currently in widespread use.) His complaints beg the question: Didn't he cause all of his problems himself?
See also: beg, question

beg the question

Take for granted or assume the truth of the very thing being questioned. For example, Shopping now for a dress to wear to the ceremony is really begging the question-she hasn't been invited yet . This phrase, whose roots are in Aristotle's writings on logic, came into English in the late 1500s. In the 1990s, however, people sometimes used the phrase as a synonym of "ask the question" (as in The article begs the question: "What are we afraid of?").
See also: beg, question

beg the question

COMMON
1. If something begs the question, it makes people want to ask that question. Hopewell's success begs the question, why aren't more companies doing the same? When pushed to explain, words — for once — failed the England manager, begging the obvious question: Does he really know?
2. If someone's statement begs the question, they can only make that statement if a particular thing is true, although it may not be. His position on global warming is begging the question that humans are responsible. Note: This is a rough translation of the Latin expression `petitio principii', a technical term used in logic to describe a situation in which the truth of something is assumed before it has been proved.
See also: beg, question

beg the question

1 raise a point that has not been dealt with; invite an obvious question. 2 assume the truth of an argument or of a proposition to be proved, without arguing it.
The original meaning of the phrase beg the question belongs to the field of logic and is a translation of Latin petitio principii , literally meaning ‘laying claim to a principle’, i.e. assume the truth of something that ought to be proved first. For many traditionalists this remains the only correct meaning, but far commoner in English today is the first sense here, ‘invite an obvious question’.
See also: beg, question

beg the ˈquestion


1 make somebody want to ask a question that has not yet been answered: All of which begs the question as to who will fund the project.
2 talk about something as if it were definitely true, even though it might not be: This proposal begs the question of whether a change is needed at all. ▶ ˈquestion-begging noun, adj.: a question-begging argument
See also: beg, question

beg the question

1. To assume to be true what one is purporting to prove in an argument.
2. To call to mind a question in a discussion; invite or provoke a question.
See also: beg, question

beg the question, to

To assume that the very matter being questioned is true. A point of logic originally raised by Aristotle, it became a Latin proverb, Petitio principii, meaning “to beg the main point” (or “assume without proof ”). It was most clearly defined by Thomas Reid (Aristotle’s Logic, 1788): “Begging the question is when the thing to be proved is assumed in the premises.” Since about 1990, however, it has sometimes been used differently, to mean avoiding a straight answer, as “Using a round table begs the question of who is paired with whom.” An even more recent usage is as a synonym of “to raise the question,” as in “King’s new e-book begs the question of what constitutes a book.” Because of these confusions of meaning, this cliché is best avoided in clear discourse or writing.
See also: beg

beg the question

To assume the question in your answer. For example, if the question is “Should marijuana use be criminalized?” to reply “Yes, because if it isn't, then lots of criminals will be roaming the streets” is to beg the question. That is, the answer assumes that pot users are criminals when that's the precise question under debate. Although the phrase is now widely heard as a synonym for raising or asking a question, its original meaning is still used by the dwindling band of educated speakers.
See also: beg, question
References in periodicals archive ?
VAUXHALL'S GTC Geneva show car does beg the question: Could this be the look of the new Astra?
Presentations which don't have themes beg the question, 'So what?"'
Giffin replies: The points set out by the editors of the IED tend to beg the question: Who is this encyclopedia for anyway?
Lean says these recent findings of toxaphene throughout the Arctic and subarctic are scary because they "beg the question: If this was banned for so long and we're just finding it, how many things just as bad may be here that we haven't looked for?"
That does beg the question, however, of why our Celtic cousins enjoy the proportional representation that brings formal consensus, while the people of England are denied it.
Doesn't this beg the question as to why it has taken so long to introduce this measure?
WITH regard to Mr Alan Owen's letter (March 31), supporting the vindication of Plas Machynlleth Hunt,and his statement that ``the fox had already been humanely shot a few minutes earlier'',I beg the question why, then, the need for hounds?
While all these can offer marvelous perspectives, they are also tremendously unsettling, especially because they all beg the question: what are things--or what and when are they not and who decides this?
"beg the question: Generally use raise the question or evade the issue instead, if that is the intended meaning.