Petitio principii: What's wrong?

Facta Philosophica 7 (1):19-34 (2005)
One of the most common strategies in philosophical dispute is that of accusing the opponent of begging the question, that is, of assuming or presupposing what is to be proved. Thus, it happens quite often that the credibility of a philosophical argument is infected by the suspicion of begging the question. In many cases it is an open question whether the suspicion is grounded, and the answer lurks somewhere in the dark of what the proponent of the argument does not say. This is why it may take years, or even centuries, before the begging of the question is brought to light. But few philosophers would deny that once it is established that a certain argument begs the question, that argument has to be rejected without hesitation: question-begging arguments are bad arguments, hence one should not appeal to them. Logicians traditionally classify begging the question as a fallacy, that is, as a bad reasoning that seems good at first sight. The fallacy is known under the name of petitio principii. This paper originated in our dissatisfaction with definitions of petitio principii found here and there in logic textbooks. Although it is uncontroversial that there is something wrong with begging the question, it is not clear from those definitions what is wrong.
Keywords petitio principii  begging the question  circularity
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DOI 10.3726/93519_19
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