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I am reading a book SICP
it stats:

As a case in point, consider the problem of computing square roots. We can define the square-root function as

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It will not help matters to rephrase this definition in pseudo-Lisp:

: (define (sqrt x)
:   (the y (and (>= y 0)
:               (= (square y) x))))

This only begs the question.

What does beg the question mean?

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  • By the way, your example uses the phrase correctly. It is usually followed by a full stop (a 'period' in US English). Oct 26 '19 at 11:24
  • What do you mean "It is usually followed by a full stop"? Oct 26 '19 at 12:59
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    @Michael Harvey Usually, when 'begs/begging the question' is used incorrectly, it is followed by a question. For example, "That begs the question 'where are they now?'" When it is used correctly it usually ends a sentence. For example, "Yes, he IS very famous but that begs the question." Oct 27 '19 at 22:31
  • @Michael Harvey (Continued.) One might almost say that if the words 'begs/begging the question' are not followed by a full stop then the expression is probably being used incorrectly, but of course there are exceptions. "But you are begging the question when you say that," for example. My point was badly made. Basically I'm saying the same as you! Oct 27 '19 at 22:32
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I do not know Lisp, still less mathematics, but 'begging the question' means, in an argument, to assume the conclusion in one of the premises. Many people use the phrase “begging the question” incorrectly when they use it to mean, “prompts one to ask the question”. That is NOT the correct usage. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning.

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