Begging the question

Possibly the most misunderstood and misused phrase in English is ‘begging the question’. Those who misuse it believe that it means that an answer leads to a further question – that the answer ‘begs’ that further question. In logic, where it gained its use and meaning, ‘to beg the question’ means to answer a question in a way that gives rise to that same question once again. In essence, it is a useless answer. Luckily for us, who are interested in explaining logic to others, the Governor of the Reserve Bank has furnished us with an excellent example of authentic begging of a question. From Chris Joye’s column in the Australian Financial Review of April 8:

Australia’s “big problem of affordability” is due to the fact “prices are very high”, Glenn Stevens advised Parliament in April 2008. “We have very high [house] prices in Australia relative to income,” he said.

Yes, the million-dollar-per-year man in charge of that big monetary lever down at Australia’s own ‘monetary GOSPLAN‘ told Parliament that houses are unaffordable because they are unaffordable. No kidding, Glenn! D’ya think you could elaborate on exactly why house prices are high, relative to income? I think that was the aim of the question.


About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
This entry was posted in Informal fallacies in reasoning and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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