Thursday, March 09, 2006

Begging the question

This drives me nuts. I read and hear people who ought to know better misuse this phrase all the time. Here's an example I read today from Doug Wilson, the chairman of and co-author of a book he's promoting in this post:

". . . thus begging an important question: Is highway funding still the federal government's business?"

No, no, NO. To "beg the question" is to make an argument that assumes the proposition to be proved and is a type of circular argument. See here (3b) and more expansively here (scroll down to "Modern usage" to see a description of my complaint).

I first noticed the corruption of this phrase about five years ago and it has exploded in the last couple of years. Fie!

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