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Disobey

To “beg the question”

I think this may be the start of a series on my observations (really, I expect them to mostly be pet peeves) on English. Today, the misuse of the phrase “to beg the question.” It is almost never used in the correct sense (given by the OED):

6. To take for granted without warrant; esp. in to beg the question: to take for granted the matter in dispute, to assume without proof.
Instead, it is now most often used to mean “to raise the question.”

For example, in this blog post:

Which begs the question if he had not been “passed over” would due diligence still be acted upon?
Allow me to be pedantic just so I can think of a good example to satisfy myself:

Alice: So, is it possible for an invisible being to somehow act upon the real world, designing the various species, in particular?

Bob: Well, of course: this supreme being was able to create the planetary environment to sustain life, creating various species would have been trivial.

And I think that’s an example of Bob begging the question. If anyone can provide a better example, do post a comment: this has been on my mind since 1988. I reproduce the OED’s citations in the extended post.

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1581 W. CLARKE in Confer. IV. (1584) Ffiij, I say this is still to begge the question. 1687 SETTLE Refl. Dryden 13 Here hee's at his old way of Begging the meaning. 1680 BURNET Rochester (1692) 82 This was to assert or beg the thing in Question. 1788 REID Aristotle's Log. v. §3. 118 Begging the question is when the thing to be proved is assumed in the premises. 1852 ROGERS Ecl. Faith 251 Many say it is begging the point in dispute. 1870 BOWEN Logic ix. 294 The vulgar equivalent for petitio principii is begging the question.

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