Also Known as: Circular Reasoning, Reasoning in a Circle, Petitio Principii.
Begging the Question is a fallacy in which the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true. This sort of "reasoning" typically has the following form.
Premises in which the truth of the conclusion is claimed or the truth of
the conclusion is assumed (either directly or indirectly).
This fallacy occurs when the premises are at least as questionable as the conclusion reached. Typically the premises of the argument implicitly assume the result which the argument purports to prove, in a disguised form. Often, the conclusion is simply restated in the premises in a slightly different form. In more difficult cases, the premise is a consequence of the conclusion.
This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because simply assuming that the conclusion is true (directly or indirectly) in the premises does not constitute evidence for that conclusion. Obviously, simply assuming a claim is true does not serve as evidence for that claim. This is especially clear in particularly blatant cases: "X is true. The evidence for this claim is that X is true."
Some cases of question begging are fairly blatant, while others can be extremely subtle.
Complex Question (This is the interrogative form of
Begging the Question. One example is the classic loaded question: "Have you
stopped beating your wife?")
Rebuttal: Identify the two propositions
illegitimately conjoined and show that believing one does not mean that you have
to believe the other.
Bill: "God must exist."
"The belief in God is universal. After all, everyone believes in God."Interviewer: "Your resume looks impressive but I need another reference."
Bill: "Jill can give me a good reference."
Interviewer: "Good. But how do I know that Jill is trustworthy?"
Bill: "Certainly. I can vouch for her."
Show that in order to believe that
the premises are true we must already agree that the conclusion is