Petitio Principii: A Bad Form of Reasoning

Mind 122 (487):fzt086 (2013)
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In this paper I develop an account of petitio principii (the fallacy sometimes also called ‘vicious circularity’, or ‘begging the question’) which has two crucial features: it employs the notion of doxastic justification, and it takes circularity to be relative to an evidential state. According to my account, an argument will be circular relative to an evidential state if and only if having doxastic justification for the conclusion is necessary, for a subject in that evidential state, to have doxastic justification for the premisses. I compare the account to some existing ones, and claim some advantages. I then rebut an objection which threatens to undermine the importance of one of those advantages. This account seems to shed new light on the old problem of characterizing petitio principii. It avoids the two obvious problems which any account of this phenomenon must face: being too narrow, for example by leaving out all arguments in which the conclusion does not appear among the premisses, and being too wide, making all valid arguments circular
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Begging the Question.Sanford, David H.

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