Like the “proving too much” charge, philosophers tend to level the “begging the question” charge too hastily. I just had a paper—in which I argue that p is false (where p is a commonly held view in field F)—rejected on the grounds that my argument against p begs the question.
Strictly speaking, an argument begs the question only if it is a circular argument and the circle is vicious. That is:
p => p
This is a viciously circular argument because the conclusion (= p) is assumed as a premise.
Now, if my argument were something like this:
~p => ~p
then it would have been viciously circular. But my argument actually goes like this:
(q -> ~p) & q => ~p
It just so happens, however, that q is a proposition that my opponent cannot accept. Does that make my argument viciously circular? I don’t think so. I suppose that is what Putnam had in mind when he said that “one philosopher’s modus ponens is another philosopher’s modus tollens.”
What do you think, my fellow pupae?