Petitio principii

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Begging the question, which goes by the technical name petitio principii, is a logical fallacy (technically, an informal fallacy) that occurs when an argument implicitly assumes its conclusion.

For example, consider the following exchange:

Q: How do you know the Bible is correct?
A: Because it was written by God.

The answer begs the question, "How do you know that God wrote it?"

Note that if the answer to this question is, "Because it says so in the Bible," then this is an example of circular reasoning. If, however, the answer involves a discussion of how the Bible has been "confirmed" scientifically, archaeologically, historically, and/or prophetically, then depending on the evidence presented this may be a case of non-sequitur reasoning, cherry picking, or being just plain wrong.

Grammar note

People often refer to "begging the question" when they really simply mean "raising another question". For example:

"You say that theism makes more sense than atheism, but that just begs the question of which religion/philosophy I should choose to believe."


"The answer begs the question, "How do you know that God wrote it?""

This is not an appropriate use of the term, since the question being raised is not implicit in the preceding statement.

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