Begging the Question: Circular Reasoning as a Tactic of Argumentation

By Douglas N. Walton | Go to book overview

4
Shorter Case Studies

The next two chapters will cover a varied collection of case studies where begging the question is an issue. The more straightforward case studies will be presented in chapter four, and the more complex and difficult ones are reserved for treatment in chapter five. Trying to evaluate these case studies, to see whether the arguments in them can justifiably be said to beg the question or not, will enable us to start to use the tools of argument reconstruction and analysis developed in the previous chapter. At the same time, it will introduce new problems and difficulties that pose the need for refining these tools and methods.

As well as introducing many new examples of circular arguments, chapter four will deal once again with some of the case studies from the previous chapters. Without yet being in a position to deliver the final word on any of these cases, we can now throw more light on them, using the concepts and findings of the previous chapters.

The characteristic problem with the case studies of chapter four is that not enough context of dialogue is given to make complete evidence that would determine, beyond all question, that a fallacy of begging the question has been committed by the argument, or not. This is a very common problem with the examples currently cited in logic texts, and it is quite a general problem that must be contended with by any theory of argument reconstruction that can usefully be applied to adjudicating criticisms that an argument commits the fallacy of begging the question.


1. GOD AND THE VIRTUES REVISITED

When he originally posed the case of God and the virtues (case 1.12), Robinson diagnosed it as faulty, on grounds of question-begging, because the premise that God has all the virtues assumes the conclusion that God is benevolent. Sanford's comment ( 1972, pp. 198-99) was that this argument could be fallacious in some contexts, but non-fallacious in others. In

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Begging the Question: Circular Reasoning as a Tactic of Argumentation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Philosophy ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Note xv
  • 1 - Origins, Preconceptions, and Problems 1
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Contexts of Dialogue 35
  • Notes 85
  • 3 - Argument Diagramming 87
  • Notes 123
  • 4 - Shorter Case Studies 125
  • Notes 180
  • 5 - Longer Case Studies 183
  • Notes 212
  • 6 - Fallacies, Faults, Blunders, and Errors 215
  • Notes 246
  • 7 - Revising the Textbooks 249
  • Notes 283
  • 8 - A Theory of Begging the Question 285
  • Notes 325
  • Bibliography 327
  • Index 335
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