The meaning of 'begging the question'

I could not understand either Harry Mount’s erroneous example of the
term “begging the question” or Charles Moore’s supposed correction (My
first editor, 19 August).

According to the Oxford Companion to
the English Language, it means “assuming the truth of a point raised in
a question or discussion so that it illogically serves as its own
proof”.

Chambers says it is “to fall into the fallacy of petitio
principii, assuming what is to be proved as part of the would-be proof”.

If that is what Mr Moore meant, although it does not sound like it, then I beg his pardon.

Henry Taylor (former Sunday Telegraph sub) Emsworth, Hants

“Begging the question” (Dog, 29 July) is a phrase with a specific
and complex meaning. What it does not mean is “raising the question”.
(The penalty for publishing a magazine for journalists is that there
are many subs, ex-subs and pedants reading your words!)

Richard Ley Head of media relations The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Whitehall, London

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