Logical & Critical Thinking

with Professor Logic

Begging the Question

begging-the-question-i-think-therefore-i-amBegging the Question is a logical fallacy and someone begs the question when they state something with a premise that  assumes the conclusion.

Begging the Question Example

An example statement that begs the question is “god exists because the bible says so”. If we ask for elaboration on the validity of the bible “How do we know the bible is right”? Then we really get the logical fallacy in its entirety “The bible is right because it is the word of god”.

I’ll condense the above statement to “god exists because the bible says so and I know the bible is right cause it is the word of god”. This statement seeks to validate the conclusion with a premise that assumes the conclusion. This does not mean a god does not exist but it does invalidate this statements validity in structure.

Begging the Question Logic Structure

Premise: A is true because of B

Conclusion: B is true because of A

Helpful Sources

I Think Therefore I Am

The assumption that I or we exists because we are thinking was summed up in the statement “I think therefore I am” or “Cogito ergo sum“. This is built in a way that is fallacious and begs the question. However, it is so often overlooked and not questioned because it seems so obvious.

The conclusion is presumed in the initial statement. “I” is presumed to exist and be thinking and this leads to the conclusion that “I” exists.

Argumentation Tactic

This one is rather simple to deal with and lies in your ability to slow the conversation down and explain the fallacy. You will probably have to give examples of the fallacy on a subject not emotionally significant to the person using the fallacy. This will help them understand the why their argument is not logical. For example if they are arguing from a conservative republican stand point choose a left wing democrat example, this will lessen the chances of them freezing up on you emotionally.

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  • Professor Wag

    “god exists because the bible says so and I know the bible is right cause it is the word of god”. can also be described as “circular reasoning”.

    • David Chapman

      There could not have been a creator to give a beginning to all things, or there should have been a first thing which gave a beginning to all things; for a thing is made from other things. How does that make your head feel about circular logic?

      • Robert Suarez

        Does it make sense to call it a paradox as well?

      • Luke Young

        You assume what a “thing” is. All the things that we seem to know, came from other things. It does not necessarily follow that ALL things come from other things. Philosophically, it seems necessary to posit a First Cause. We can’t really say much about the First Cause, but it stands to reason. Or you wind up with another contradiction: nothing created something.

        God is not the only creator, just the first. The first creator, by definition could not have been created. If humans create, we use what has already been created. In actuality, we manipulate the physical world, our creation is mostly in concepts.

        But most people only learn Formal Logic these days, thus they do not learn about concepts and human thought. Then they wind up saying ridiculous things like “for a thing is made from other things”.