pp 1–15 | Cite as

On question-begging and analytic content

  • Samuel Z. ElginEmail author
S.I.: PhilMethods


Among contemporary philosophers, there is widespread (but not universal) consensus that begging the question is a grave argumentative flaw. However, there is presently no satisfactory analysis of what this flaw consists of. Here, I defend a notion of question-begging in terms of analyticity. In particular, I argue that an argument begs the question just in case its conclusion is an analytic part of the conjunction of its premises.


Analyticity Beg the question Meaning Circularity 



I would like to thank Shamik Dasgupta, Michael Della Rocca, Catherine Elgin, and Kit Fine for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


  1. Angell, R. (1977). Three systems of first degree entailment. Journal of Symbolic Logic, 47(1), 147.Google Scholar
  2. Angell, R. (1989). Deducibility, entailment and analytic containment. In J. Norma & R. Sylvan (Eds.), Directions in relevance logic (pp. 119–143). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angell, R. (2002). A-logic. Lanham: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  4. Aristotle. (1982). Topics and prior analytics. In J. Barnes (Ed.), The complete works of Aristotle. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barker, J. A. (1976). The fallacy of begging the question. Dialogue, 15(2), 241–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beebee, H. (2002). Transfer of warrant, begging the question and semantic externalism. Philosophical Quarterly, 51(204), 356–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Biro, J. I. (1977). Rescuing begging the question. Metaphilosophy, 8(4), 257–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Biro, J. I. (1984). Knowability, believability and begging the question. Metaphilosophy, 15(3–4), 239–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Correia, F. (2004). Semantics for analytic containment. Studia Logica, 77(1), 87–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davies, M. (2000). The problem of armchair knowledge. In P. Boghossian & C. Peacocke (Eds.), New essays on the a priori (pp. 23–55). Oxford: Claredon Press.Google Scholar
  11. Empiricus, S. (1990). Outlines of pyrrhonism (R. G. Bury, Trans.). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  12. Fine, K. (2015). Angellic content. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 45(2), 199–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fine, K. (forthcoming). Compliance and command I & II.Google Scholar
  14. Frege, G. (1884) [1980]. The foundations of arithmetic (J. L. Austin, Trans.). Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hamblin, C. (1970). Fallacies. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  16. Hoffman, R. (1971). On begging the question at any time. Analysis, 32(2), 51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jackson, F. (1987). Petitio and the purpose of arguing. In Conditionals (pp. 100–114). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Jacquette, D. (1993). Logical dimensions of question-begging argument. American Philosophical Quarterly, 30(4), 317–27.Google Scholar
  19. Kant, I. (1781) [1998]. The critique of pure reason (P. Guyer, A. Wood, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Lippert-Rasmussen, K. (2001). Are question-begging arguments necessarily unreasonable? Philosophical Studies, 104(2), 123–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. MacFarlane, J. (2002). Frege, Kant, and the logic of logicism. The Philosophical Review, 111(1), 25–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mackenzie, J. D. (1979). Question-begging in non-cumulative systems. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 8(1), 117–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mill, J. S. (1843). A system of logic. London: Forgotten Books.Google Scholar
  24. Quine, W. V. (1951). Two dogmas of empiricism. The Philosophical Review, 60(1), 20–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ritola, J. (2006). Justified and justifiable beliefs: The case of question-begging. Philosophical Studies, 128(3), 565–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Robinson, R. (1971). Begging the question. Analysis, 31(4), 113–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sanford, D. (1972). Begging the question. Analysis, 32(6), 197–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sanford, D. (1981). Superfluous information, epistemic conditions of inference, and begging the question. Metaphilosophy, 12(2), 145–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sorensen, R. (1996). Unbeggable questions. Analysis, 56(1), 51–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Teng, N. (1997). Sorensen on begging the question. Analysis, 57(3), 220–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Van Inwagen, P. (1974). The incompatibility of free will and determinism. Philosophical Studies, 27(3), 185–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walton, D. (1994). Begging the question as a pragmatic fallacy. Synthese, 100(1), 95–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Walton, D., & Woods, J. (1978). Arresting circles in formal dialogues. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 7(1), 73–90.Google Scholar
  34. Walton, D., & Woods, J. (1982). Question-begging and cumulativeness in dialectical games. Noûs, 16(4), 585–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Williamson, T. (2007). Philosophy of philosophy. Malden: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations