links for 2007-04-21


10 responses to “links for 2007-04-21

  • Rich

    “Gender is a word to be applied to grammar, not people. If someone is female, that is her sex, not her gender. (The gender of Mädchen, the German word for girl, is neuter, as is Weib, a wife or woman.) ”

    From the solecisms article. A good historian should object to this 😉

  • rAchel

    point taken 🙂 a good historian should also object to gender being applied to many things (see

    incidentally, also from the solecisms article — I must say, I struggle mightily with the usage of “beg the question”, even though the article defines it quite concisely. I don’t understand its use in the example provided, either. if anyone can do a better job, I am all ears.

  • Kyle

    Courtesy of the wonderful wikipedia:

    The following argument is a standard example of begging the question: “The Bible says God exists, and the Bible must be right since it is the revealed word of God, so God exists.”

    Often equated (inaccurately) with circular reasoning.

    The most common structure of an argument that begs the questions is:

    * p implies q
    * q implies r
    * r implies p
    * suppose p
    * therefore, q
    * therefore, r
    * therefore, p.

    Positively diabolical.

  • Nonpartisan

    Or, an example from my world: Arguing that the best way to subjugate Iran would be by full-frontal assault begs the question: do we even want to attack Iran in the first place?

  • Rich

    I should have added that a good German speaker would also object to “die Weib” being translated as ‘wife, woman.’ It’s actually a pretty nasty thing to call a woman, probably akin to bitch/cunt. That’s the thing about grammatical pedantry, you yourself get nitpicked in your nitpicking.

  • Kyle

    Nonpartisan, unless I am misunderstanding your example, it is actually an example of something frequently incorrectly referred to as “begging the question”. Suggesting or bringing up a question is not the same as begging the question.

    I am trying to come up with a parallel example that demonstrates begging the question, but not having any luck.

  • Nonpartisan

    Hmm. My example was supposed to be bringing up a question for which there is a prematurely assumed premise, and that premise is the question that is begged. In this case, the question that is begged is whether we want to go to war in Iran, and it is begged by the statement that SINCE we want to go to war with Iran, we should use full-frontal assault.

    Another example would be F. Lee Bailey’s famous question to O.J. Simpson police investigator Mark Fuhrman (parahprased): “After you planted the evidence, what did you do?” The question that is begged is whether Fuhrman actually planted the evidence (other testimony indicated he could not have); therefore, Bailey’s query is begging the question of whether Fuhrman actually planted the evidence.

    Am I correct?

  • Kyle

    I think what is important in begging the question is not whether there is a presupposed (unproven) premise, but that one of the premises depends on the conclusion being true. That is, the only way the argument in my example above—that the Bible is the word of God—hangs together is if God exists, which is what we are ultimately trying to prove. Therefore, the premise “begs the question,” which is to say, “assumes the conclusion.”

    Your examples are doubtless of another kind of logical fallacy, and are good examples of what “begging the question” has come to mean (your O.J. Simpson example is a classic example of leading the witness). However, there are altogether too many kinds of logical fallacy to go hunting for the technical name right now 🙂

  • Nonpartisan

    Aha! I do seem to have an incorrect definition of the phrase. Thanks for correcting it!

  • rAchel

    thank you kyle! now I will google for “begging the question” and investigate its usage more extensively & see how it is consonant with your definition 🙂 (I learn best by induction).

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