Begging the Question

petitio principii

(also known as: assuming the initial point, assuming the answer, chicken and the egg argument, circulus in probando, circular reasoning [form of], vicious circle)

Description: Any form of argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises.  Many people use the phrase “begging the question” incorrectly when they use it to mean, “prompts one to ask the question”.  That is NOT the correct usage. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning.

Logical Forms:

Claim X assumes X is true.

Therefore, claim X is true.

Example #1:

Paranormal activity is real because I have experienced what can only be described as paranormal activity.

Explanation: The claim, “paranormal activity is real” is supported by the premise, “I have experienced what can only be described as paranormal activity.”  The premise presupposes, or assumes, that the claim, “paranormal activity is real” is already true.

Example #2:

The reason everyone wants the new "Slap Me Silly Elmo" doll is because this is the hottest toy of the season!

Explanation: Everyone wanting the toy is the same thing as it being "hot," so the reason given is no reason at all—it is simply rewording the claim and trying to pass it off as support for the claim.

Exception: Some assumptions that are universally accepted could pass as not being fallacious.

People like to eat because we are biologically influenced to eat.


0 #1 Predrag 2014-02-16 04:40
What if a premise is assumed to be true even though it has not been proven, but this premise is not in fact the conclusion itself.

In order words, the conclusion is not in the premises. The argument is logically valid, only one of the premises is simply not true or not proven to be true.

Isn't this also a BTQ fallacy?
+1 #2 Bo Bennett 2014-02-16 07:40
Predag, it depends on the assumption. In order for reason to function, we must have some agreed upon assumptions—suc h as logic being useful and being indicative of truth. There are other premises that would simply be absurd to deny—such as water being wet, humans having a mind, Empire State Building being in NY, etc. So again, it depends on what exactly is being assumed.
0 #3 Predrag 2014-02-16 08:26
The assumption is something that is not absurd to deny.

For example:
p1: Abortion is unjust murder.
p2: Murder is illegal.
c: Therefore abortion should be made illegal.

The conclusion that abortion should be illegal is not in the premises so it would not fit the definition listed in this article: "Any form of argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises.".

But, the first premise assumes that abortion is murder and that begs the question.
0 #4 Bo Bennett 2014-02-16 08:48
The argument is not fallacious for begging the question, but you can certainly say that premise #1 begs the question—making the entire argument fallacious. That is my take on it. Others may say that the entire argument begs the question, but I would argue that this is only under the conditions where the argument is circular (i.e., the conclusion is stated in the premises).

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