A confession. I misuse "begs the question" all the time. Occasionally people will call me on it. Technically it's just an other name for an especially egregious form of circular reasoning. However I (and in my defense many others) use it as a mis-saying of "raises the question." Raises the question means that there are some obviously questionable premises or other questions about ones argument that need answering before one can accept it. Now I can understand this being a pet peeve for many people. (But one of many links I could have supplied) I confess that I keep doing it though.
Now this is clearly bad. Perhaps not quite as bad as my intentionally saying "irregardless" instead of "regardless" to annoy people that are picky about that. But close.
My defense is that in common language I think the two sentences are synonymous. Of course I clearly accept that they aren't in the jargon filled arena of philosophy. (Thus my ability to write my first paragraph above) But consider for a moment. If I said, "begs for an answer" we'd all understand. If I ask a question and get more questions in response, I could say that my begging for was in vain. Further the technical "begs the question" begs the question because it didn't answer it. It left an uncompleted (circular) argument. But so does the situation which I'm supposed to answer with "raises the question." The only difference between the two is that the former re-raises the question while the second raises the sub-questions.
I know I'm not going to convince anyone. But to me, if I ask a question and parts of it are unanswered, then I think either "begs" or "raises" are equally good.
Now the obvious rejoinder is that in the circular case no new questions are raised while in the other new questions are in fact raised. And that's a good point. And it ought make me rethink my terminology. But irregarlessly, I'm sure my subconscious will break out a "begs the question" at a most inopportune time.
I still remember seeing it used as an adjective before I had a good grasp of what it meant in the philosophical sense; e.g., that argument is question begging. Still seems funny.
I really should use this space to vent, but instead let me simply say that 99% of people should probably never say "begs the question" because they're trying to look smart by using it and are actually demonstrating quite the opposite.
Call me an elitist. In my defense, I classify myself amongst the 99%. Not because I don't know the proper usage but because the need to use it properly never arises in my day to day life.
What can I say? I'm a fan of the evolution of language. I love how "literally" is 'misused' in common speech. I don't mind the change in meaning of "presently." I love the word "irregardless." I could go on.
I could care less about what you're a fan of! :) Actually, that sentence is true, as I will explain below.
I know is it a hopeless cause. But the difference between this and the other examples is that literally everyone knows what "literally" means when used properly and literally nobody knows what "begging the question" really means. Thus those that use it properly are marginalized by idiots. I hate being marginalized by idiots.
Last week I was presenting on biometrics to a customer and was describing the birthday problem (you need 23 people in a room to have a 50% chance that two of them share a birthday) and how it applies to biometrics. I was interrupted by the CIO of this company who said, "I don't believe it." I replied that I could show him the math and even handed him a graph of it. For the rest of the meeting one of the underlings made snide remarks about how stupid I was and that I don't understand probablilities, and his CIO is grinning the whole time. I managed to smile politely since it was clear that the meeting was a waste of time and not mention that this was math I had learned in the 5th grade.
I see the "begging the question" issue in similar terms. If ownership of the term is handed over to the idiots then those that use it properly will suffer.