Tag Archives: Women’s bodies

Logical Gal – Allowed to have an opinion?

4 Mar

From her 22 January 2015 Press Conference at the Capitol, when pressed about whether a 20-week old fetus was a human being, Pelosi responded:

“And as a mother of five, in six years, I have great standing on this issue, great understanding of it, more than my colleagues. In fact, one day many years ago, perhaps before you were born, when I was a new member of Congress, as a Catholic and a mom of five, opposing some of the initiatives similar to what–in the same vein as–what we have today, one of the Republicans stood up and said: Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope.

“Yeah, Yeah. That would be true.”

Nancy Pelosi

**So in essence, Nancy Pelosi’s presupposition might be stated this way:

Premise 1:  Only those who have had babies have the moral authority or right to make judgments about babies and fetuses and when life begins

Premise 2: I am one of those people who have had babies

Conclusion:  Therefore, I am qualified to make pronouncements and judgments about babies, fetuses and life

This kind of reasoning is easy to refute when one applies a technique called, “Reductio ad Absurdum”.  What we do is apply the principle inherent in the argument to an extreme case. The argument self-destructs on its own.

So in Nancy Pelosi’s argument, let’s boil down her reasoning so we can apply it to another situation.  Her thinking goes like this:  only those who have experienced an event have the credibility/aka, ‘the moral high ground’ to make a decision.

If this is so, then we would have to preclude the following situations:

  • doctors diagnosing and commencing healing remedies
  • Congress creating laws for our country
  • judges deciding legal cases
  • parents applying wisdom in situations that they themselves never experienced as children

All these cases and a plethora of others would not be valid, since those making a judgment had not actually undergone the experience of the people affected by their decisions.

Judgments are sound when supported by sufficient reason and evidence.  Period. Plain and simple.

Don’t get snookered by this ‘playing the personal experience card’.


Logical Gal – do rallying cries help?

27 Jan

We know a rallying cry when we hear one!

  • Remember the Alamo!
  • Win this one for the Gipper!
  • One for all, and all for one!

Last week was the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade. In all the publicity from both sides, I read a Washington Post story about one gal’s battle to end the intentional killing of innocent human fetuses.

Lila Rose, 25, was raised in a Christian home-schooling family where she breathed in family values.  Her attitude towards children was shaped by her parents who preached, “A baby is a gift!”  (They raised 8 kids!)

Certainly that is a belief supported by the Bible as well as by other cultures.  But as an argument for the pro-life movement, it doesn’t carry very much weight.  And what I am afraid of is that most people live in the shallows of slogans and battle cries.  They don’t take the time to develop an argument that carries any weight.

Likewise, the other side of the abortion argument hides behind loud jabbing media sound bytes. In the newspaper account of Lila Rose, her tactics of posing as a young teen impregnated by an older man are described.  Her subterfuge is purposefully intended to catch an abortion provider’s reaction and counsel on video. THEIR remarks included the following accusation:

  • Pretending to be pregnant and hiding a camera is ‘unethical’!

Now that would be funny, if it weren’t so sad!  They apparently consider subterfuge ‘wrong’, but not murder.

Again, this slogan isn’t very helpful.  Sound bytes tend to stop a discussion.  But where do you go from there?

Actually, there IS a way out!  As with any discussion, the best place to start is at the beginning.

No, not à la Julie Andrews with her Do-Re-Mi song….

…but with the definition of terms.  What do we mean by GIFT when we say babies are a gift? What do we mean by UNETHICAL?

Once you clear away vagueness and identify pre-suppositions, you can see more clearly how you might carry on with a discussion.

So DON’T shy away from hard topics.  DON’T fear stepping on toes or offending people.  If you ask questions in a non-threatening manner, in a way that shows you genuinely want to know, people will open up. And you’re more likely to actually get somewhere where you wouldn’t by merely  lobbing  slogans or rallying cries.

Question:  Where might you begin?  What is a context or arena that you live in that is dominated by short pithy, but worthless sayings?

Logical Gal: When people argue past each other

18 Dec

This image perfectly captures most high-profile debates. There can never be any resolution because the view advanced by ONE party is completely different from that of the OTHER party.  So what’s the point?

There isn’t any!

Take the Keystone Pipeline project for example:

  • Those favoring it defend it because it will meet an energy need of the US and provide jobs.

  • Those set against it attack it for possible environmental damage to the thousands of acres of fertile farmlands and nearby water sources.

The other difficult topic that comes to mind is the abortion issue. Here again, each side is arguing to support a different end conclusion.  Here are the 2 conclusions which are miles apart.

  • Therefore, women should have the final say over what happens to their bodies.
  • Therefore, abortion kills an innocent life.

So how is one supposed to handle divisive issues?  Never talk about them?

Not at all!  Citizens NEED to be informed and express their views, working with like-minded neighbors and communicating with elected officials.

Let’s take a lesson from Debate Teams.  They don’t avoid controversy.  Instead, they embrace it.  So what is their secret for rational, calm discourse?

They pick ONE conclusion and either argue to support it or argue to refute it.

But what do you do with the 2 assertions of the abortion issue?  Well, you could agree to argue first one point and then the other.  At least the playing field would be level and more could be accomplished.  When someone is listening intently to HOW you defend a woman’s right to be the final arbiter regarding her body, then you are more likely to thoughtfully and rationally construct a case.

Question: Where are you arguing past someone and how could you divide the issue into 2 different discussions?

“That’s a contradiction!” – are you sure?

30 Jul

So…how does knowing the Law of Non-Contradiction help in real life?

Remember we said that according to this DISCOVERED law (it’s built into the fabric of our universe by God as opposed to invented by culture):

 A & non-A cannot both exist at the same time and in the same way.

Consider this pair of statements:

  • ·         Susie is pregnant
  • ·         Susie is not pregnant 

Now we have to be careful and not automatically ASSUME that this is a contradiction. Two propositions that LOOK contradictory could in fact be explained…….

1.    If we mean that Susie Jones is pregnant, but Susie Smith is NOT pregnant (2 different Susies)

2.    Or if we mean that Susie is pregnant with many good ideas, but Susie is NOT pregnant with child (pregnant as an analogous term – referring to different but related concepts)  

But if we are talking about the one and only Susie Smith and we understand the predicate term ‘pregnant’ to indicate about to have a baby, then….

·         They cannot both be true OR false at the same time and in the same sense.

In Christianity this law of logic helps me sort out my theology.

My favorite attribute of God is His sovereignty.  When we say that God is sovereign, we understand God to be 100 % in charge of all that happens, the good and the bad.  I’m not saying that I understand this characteristic of God, but I am comforted by it!  (If God allows suffering and evil, then He must have a good purpose for it even if I can’t see that…yet!)

Therefore, because of the Law of Non-Contradiction, when I assert that God is always sovereign I cannot say:

God is sovereign


God had no control over that deadly train accident in Spain.     

That would be saying:  God is sovereign over all/ God is NOT sovereign over all

Either God IS sovereign or He is not, if I take sovereign to mean that He controls all molecules in the universe.

What we have to do when hit with confusing statements that seem irreconcilable is to ‘translate’ them, if possible, into A and non-A forms.  Then we can evaluate them clearly.

I say, ‘if possible’ with this caveat in mind – you might run across an either/or claim –

·         God is either all-loving or He is a God of wrath.

·         You’re either pro-choice or you are anti-women.   

If you can’t ‘translate’ the 2 predicates into an A and a non-A term, then you might be facing the Fallacy of Bifurcation (aka ‘false dilemmas’).  We’ll talk about that on our next Fallacy Friday!

Back to the above assertions – If we wanted to deal with that first claim, we’d have to re-frame it and then discuss terms.

·         God is either all-loving or He is not all-loving

·         You’re either pro-women or not pro-women

 Your HW for the next few days is to keep an ear out for ‘either/or’ claims and try to determine if they are in fact contradictory or perhaps examples of the False Dilemma fallacy or actually TRUE!      

What is Truth?

9 Jul

You don’t have to work so hard!

I’m talking about how to show that someone’s ‘big fat general statement’ is false.

Last time we talked about the beauty of the Law of Non-Contradiction.  Simply stated, 2 contradictory propositions can’t both be true or both be false AT THE SAME TIME and IN THE SAME WAY.

For example:

           All MacDonald restaurants look similar.

To ‘prove’ that this proposition is false, all we have to do is offer ONE counter-example:

           Some MacDonald restaurants do not look similar

(In fact, the other day on a trolley tour of Asheville, North Carolina, the guide pointed out a MacDonald’s sporting a grand piano and the strict architectural façade of Biltmore Village.  I had to do a double take. Was there REALLY a grand piano in a fast-food place!!!!  Yep! )

Today, I want to address the OTHER contradictory pair affected by the same Law of Non-Contradiction, the E/I pair.

What am I talking about with these capital letters?

Propositions are different, one from the other, based on their quantifier (how many of the subject.)

Logicians use 4 letters to represent the 4 possible propositions:

A = All S is P (where S is the subject term and P is the predicate term)

I = Some S is P

E = No S is P

O = Some S is not P

These 4 letters come from Latin:

·         Affirmo (the A and the I)

·         Nego  (the E and the O)

Thus we get: A, E, I, O. One pair is: A & O and the other comprise the E & I propositions.  This pairing tells us what we have to do to show a statement to be true or false.  If from real life, we can come up with the contradictory partner to what someone has said, then we KNOW that their original statement cannot be true simply because of the Law of Non-Contradiction.  Here’s a table to show the color-coded pairs:





On to our E and I pair:

I just read in our local paper an emotional letter to the editor.  The author lashed out with a statement to this effect.

          No one should tell women what to do with their bodies

Let’s put that in logical form so we can see the terms.

No people are people who should tell women what to do with their bodies.

This is an E statement:  No S is P (we can tell from the NO)

The subject term is people and the predicate term is people who should tell women what to do with their bodies.

According to the Law of Non-Contradiction, the above proposition is in fact true unless we can find a counter-example that is an I statement. (its contradictory partner)

So, if we can think of at least ONE person who should be allowed/able to tell women what to do with their bodies, then the original statement is false.

If we can’t (or if there are none), then we have to reason that her E statement is likely true.

So, I toss the ball in your court, is the writer correct?