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Begging the Question is a logical fallacy that occurs when…
(1) You assume the truth of a claim that is yet to be proven and (2) instead of providing evidence for that claim, you merely rephrase it.
EXAMPLE: “UFOs exist because I’ve had experiences with what can only be described as Unidentified Flying Objects.”
Explanation: This argument commits the fallacy of begging the question because (1) it begins with the assumption that UFOs exist and (2) instead of providing evidence, the arguer merely rephrases that assumption. In other words, saying ‘UFO’s exist’ has the same meaning as saying ‘I’ve had experiences with them.’
That is not evidence.
In this instance, the main topic remains unanswered, which begs the question: does UFOs exist?
The logical structure of arguments which beg the question is as follows:
Another name for this fallacy is ‘Petitio Principii,’ which in Latin means ‘to assume the initial point.’
An argument which begs the question isn’t an argument at all, but rather – it is an assertion that is disguised to look like an argument that uses circular logic.
It is a type of circular reasoning.
Begging the Question Fallacy Examples in Real Life
- “Parkour is dangerous because it is unsafe.”
Explanation: Something being dangerous is by definition it being unsafe. This begs the question, is Parkour dangerous?
- “The earth is round because it’s spherical in shape.”
- “The attainment of happiness should be an individual’s highest priority because all other values are inferior to it.”
- “The article was not published in the journal because it was deemed not worthy of publication.”
Begging the Question Fallacy Examples in Commercials
Here is another example of Question Begging. The following is a commercial for the cigarette brand ‘Lucky Strike’ which aired on TV during the 1950s.
To persuade the audience, the lady in the advertisement says:
“Lucky tastes better. They’re cleaner, fresher smoother and it’s because they’re made better to taste better.”
Explanation: Something which is ‘made better to taste better’ has the same meaning as saying it ‘tastes better.’ This begs the question: Does Lucky Cigarettes taste better?
Begging the Question Fallacy Examples in Politics
“Capital punishment is justified for cases which involve murder; because it is only appropriate that an individual is sentenced to death for committing such a heinous act.”
TIP: If you want your arguments to make progress –make sure you provide evidence to support your conclusion instead of merely restating them in different terms.