Posts tagged the misuse of phrases

Begging the Question/Raising the Question and Their Misuses

The lack of distinction between the two phrases, that begs the question and that raises the question, is mind numbing. I say mind numbing because it has become so pervasive over the last decade it makes me realize that the general “educated” population lacks an ability to 1) understand the distinction and 2) to reason or think properly.

The phrase, “That begs the question,” is one that indicates a fallacy in reasoning.  The fallacy of petitio principii, or “begging the question”, is committed “when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof”, or more generally denotes when an assumption is used, “in some form of the very proposition to be proved, as a premise from which to deduce it”. Thus, insofar as petitio principii refers to arguing for a conclusion that has already been assumed in the premise, this fallacy consists of “begging” the listener to accept the “question” (proposition) before the labor of logic is undertaken. The fallacy may be committed in various ways. (definition via Wikipedia w/ cited references)

The phrase, “That raises the question,” is a phrase that should be used when something(s) lead(s) to a needed conclusion (a literal question). For example, she never says hello to me any more which raises the question, does she still like me?

These two phrases have entirely different meanings and usages. Yet, I see writers, journalists, newscasters, editors, and every day people use them improperly. I can only surmise that this is done out of pure ignorance or just plain laziness. Logic and reason stand to lose the most if this misconception continues.

[He now steps off his soapbox and walks away]