(urth) torturing BTQ

Daniel D Jones ddjones at riddlemaster.org
Thu Jul 23 15:50:30 PDT 2009

On Thursday 23 July 2009 10:32:38 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.

It's bad form to use the phrase incorrectly, regardless of whether or not it's 
in relation to a fallacy.

> For example, I could have said: "This is begging the question. How does he
> know that?" That would have protected me from allegations of BTQA, but the
> two phrases convey the same  meaning and the modified form does not distort
> the etymological intent of the term (as I understand it). Granted, the
> modified form is not "easier", but I think reflexive outrage at the mere
> use of the term "begs the question" is oversensitivity on the part of some
> logicians...which is reason enough to use it.

I disagree that the two forms convey the same meaning.  You stated that "it," 
not "he," begs the question and then stated the question that "it" was 
"begging."  I think the vast majority of readers would interpret that to mean 
that Severain's claim (the "it" in the statement) raises the question you 
explicitly stated: How does he know that his memory is perfect?  I think few 
readers, even those who are quite familiar with the correct definition, would 
interpret it to mean that Severian has committed a logical fallacy.  

> "[Irony is] like rain on a wedding day" is not true. The statement is an
> outrage to "irony". But the problem is not the syntactical form.

If you truly meant to say that Severian committed the logical fallacy of 
begging the question, then you phrased it in such a manner that almost 
everyone who read your statement would misinterpret it.

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