(urth) torturing BTQ

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Thu Jul 23 10:12:15 PDT 2009

> James Wynn wrote:
>>>> Also, while Severian *says* he has perfect memory, it begs the question 
>>>> "How does he know that?"
>>> BTQ abuse makes the Baby Theoanthropos cry.
>>> http://begthequestion.info/
>>> You can make a difference.
>> Thanks for not reporting my BTQ abuse to Logic Protective Services. ;-)
>> Still, while I can see how the term "begs the question" might be misused 
>> ("Which begs the question, who made James a logician?") , it has never 
>> been clear to me why "begs the question" is bad form to introduce a 
>> question that *properly* illustrates an unsupported premise in a 
>> statement.
>Because it was coined to refer not to a premise but a conclusion supported 
>in a specific, fallacious way, that of circular reasoning. Sev's claim is 
>supported in a different fallacious way, involving confirmation bias.

Okay.  Attempting to put it another way, you are saying that the question 
Severian is begging is "Is it possible for one to know for certain if one 
has forgotten or misremembered something?", not "How does Severian know he 
remembers everything?"

Well, okay, the first question is better *phrased* logically. However, the 
answers to both are congruent ("It is not possible" and "Severian cannot"). 
IMO the latter is perfectly suitable unless I'm constructing a logical 
equation, and it is *superior* rhetorically in that it is more directly to 
the point. I'm categorizing this so-called error with the Split Infinitive 
rule (http://www.newdream.net/~scully/toelw/Lowth.htm).

I agree it is dangerous to handle BTQ in this way unless you know what you 
are doing; but, I didn't use the term to say "His claim brings to mind such 
and such speculation". I used the term to say "Severian's statement is based 
on a specific unsupported premise undermined by an obvious Socratic 
proposition which I shall hereby phrase in a way that is applicable to our 
current discussion." Sans evidence that my usage is misleading, I intend to 
be incorrigible about this.

Irrelevant aside: I don't remember learning Confirmation Bias as one of the 
logical fallacies. After looking up a couple of websites I see that it is 
defined as a "fallacy of evidence". If that's the case, it can *lead* 
directly to Circular Reasoning (among, I presume, other logical fallacies 
although I can't think of any at the moment).


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