Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Don’t Beg For An Answer To A Question Someone Else Raised

Originally published by Daniel Correa.





For some reason, it has become commonplace to misuse “begs the question.” A very recent example, in addition to a commercial I cringed over in my car, was found in an online article about how to help loved ones who have been diagnosed with HIV: “There are more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with HIV, and 1 in 8 doesn’t know it. Though rates have steadily declined in the last decade, there were around 40,000 people newly diagnosed in 2015. Which begs the question: When a loved one tests positive for HIV and decides to tell you about it, what’s next?”

No question has been begged, as if the reader is sitting down, crying out inside, “please ask what we can do next!” Nor has any answer been begged. But the data does raise a question about what, if anything, can or should be done.


To beg the question is a logical fallacy where the proponent of an argument assumes as true the thing to be proved. Here is an example: “The Executive branch of government is charged with executing the laws and cannot do so unless the President has unrestricted power to issue Executive Orders.” If this were the complete argument, it would beg the question. The conclusion is that the Executive must have unrestricted power to issue Executive orders. The premise is that the executive is charged with executing the laws. In order for the conclusion to follow from the premise, one must assume that unrestricted power to issue executive orders is necessary to execute the laws in accordance with Article II of the United States Constitution. This is a dangerous assumption.

Being able to identify assumptions like these in an argument can prove a powerful tool for rebuttal or refutation. Many questions may be raised in the process, but never feel that you must beg for an answer to a question you did not raise.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

from Texas Bar Today http://ift.tt/2tVEUqq
via Abogado Aly Website

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