Aristotle on Begging the Question

Between Dialectic, Logic and Epistemology

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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  • 1 Durham University

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The article examines Aristotle’s seminal discussion of the fallacy of begging the question (petitio principii), reconstructing its complex articulation within a variety of different, but related, contexts (the “dialectic” of the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations, the “logic” of the Aristotelian theory of syllogism, and the “epistemology” of the inquiry into “scientific” syllogisms). I suggest that close analysis of Aristotle’s understanding of the fallacy should prompt critical reconsideration of the scope and articulation of the fallacy in modern discussions and usages, suggesting how begging the question should be distinguished from a number of only partially related argumentative faults.

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