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« Is Hollywood pregnant with pro-life themes? | Main | Cinema Vita, the world's first pro-life film festival »

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Comments

Kyl Schalk

1) Intentionally killing an innocent human being is a moral wrong.
2) Elective abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being.
3) Therefore, elective abortion is a moral wrong.

Is Barack Obama listening? Has he been morally velocitized?
http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6291

Here is more information:
The first article is called “How Pro-Choice Advocates Can Raise the Level of the Dialogue” http://www.str.org/site/DocServer/Raise_the_Level_PC_v02.pdf?docID=2421

The other article is called “How Pro-Life Advocates Can Raise the Level of the Dialogue” http://www.str.org/site/DocServer/Raise_the_Level_PL_v02.pdf?docID=2422

Thanks for all of your great pro-life posts, Carl Olson.

Kyl Schalk

sky

By journalistic standards shouldn't the title rather be:

"Leader of National Black Pro-Life Union slams Barack Obama..." ? ;-)

Brian Schuettler

1) Intentionally killing an innocent human being is a moral wrong.
2) Elective abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being.
3) Therefore, elective abortion is a moral wrong.

Kyl,

The syllogistic approach you are using is an attempt to present a logical conclusion premised upon two logical statements. As much as I agree with your conclusion, it is only universally valid if both premises are logically irrefutable. Your second premise is obviously and painfully not accepted as being logically irrefutable, especially by the US Supreme Court and a substantial number of Americans.
I would suggest that you would be more effective in your endeavor by using Catholic moral teaching as a basis of argument that presents itself for legitimate debate rather than a presentation from logic that can be dismissed out of hand by opponents of abortion.

This is just mho.

Carl Olson

By journalistic standards shouldn't the title rather be:

American Heritage Dictionary: v. blast·ed, blast·ing, blasts; v. tr.: To criticize or attack vigorously.

Seems about right to me. But "slams" is appropriate as well.

Peter

Brian,

While you are certainly correct that pro-abortionists would not accept Kyl's second premise, they would hardly change their views simply because "Catholic moral teaching says so."
Reasoning from Catholic moral teaching would be proper for correcting or educating Catholics, but for everyone else, reason alone would have to be the common denominator.

People cannot enter into a meaningful discussion without premises held in common; if Catholicism isn't one of them, reasoning-alone becomes the fall-back position. If that isn't accepted (and from what I read from pro-abortionists, this is quite possible), argumentation or disputation is impossible.

Many Catholic thinkers default to a reason only approach. Dr. Peter Simpson, for example, has argued in this way recently despite being Catholic. See his essay on this page: http://www.aristotelophile.com/current.htm ("The Wrongs of Abortion")
Enjoy!

Carl, keep up the good work.

Brian Schuettler

Peter,

Thank you for your kind response to my previous comment and suggestion to Kyl. I did not suggest, and it would be ludicrous for me to suggest, that advocates of abortion would change their position because "Catholic moral teaching says so." Would it be so, praise Jesus! No, I was making a suggestion within the context of an otherwise fallacious logical argument. The argument against abortion is a moral argument primarily and a legal argument secondarily and therefore I suggested the Catholic moral position simply because it rests upon the common ground of natural law and universally accepted ethical/moral standards. It follows then that reasoning from Catholic moral teaching would be proper for correcting or educating not just Catholics, but everyone else, reason being the common denominator, as you say.

Peter, Catholic moral teaching does not exist in a vacuum but rather is a rich source of sound teaching that has influenced many non-Catholic thinkers through the centuries and has been a guidepost for deducing the profound truth embedded within the human experience.

Cajun Nick

Carl,

Thank you for linking to that story.

I am the director of youth ministries for three Catholic church parishes in rural, southern Louisiana. And, I am also an American History teacher at a public high school.

As part of my job, I have the opportunity to spread the pro-life message to our teenagers (Yes! Even in the public schools.) My school, Ville Platte High, is predominately black (80%); and I can tell you that the vast majority of students, especially the girls, are pro-life.

However, they are also vastly supportive of Obama because of racial reasons (understandably). I've tried to show the philosophical and religous break between their thinking and his, but it's hard to move them past the fact that finally a black man has an opportunity to be elected to the highest office in the land.

I don't know which candidate (if any) National Black Pro-Life Union supports, but I will certainly share their thoughts with my students. I am also making them aware of another black man who is running for president - one with decidedly pro-life messages: Alan Keyes.

May God bless your work, and may He keep you in His peace.

Ed Peters

Reads like "blasting" to me.

Dan

When in the Illinois legislature, Obama opposed legislation to protect children who survived an abortion and were "born alive."

(Similar legislation was later enacted on the federal level (the "Born Alive Infants Protection Act"). The senators who are in the pocket of NARAL/Planned Parenthood/Emily's List, etc. initially opposed the legislation but their masters at NARAL, etc. figured out how bad the abortion cause would look if this legislation were opposed and then gave the senators instruction to allow the legislation to be passed. (This is all detailed in Hadley Arkes' brilliant book "Natural Rights and the Right to Choose."))

sky

Carl, I obviously can't make jokes. I was just referring to this silly trend I've noticed about newspapers and online articles that seem to overuse "slam". You can find a lot of them (Benedict slams..." etc. Anyway... There was nothing wrong with yours!

Ok I'll shut up now ;-)

Ed Peters

Ok, how's this: Sky blasts use of 'slam'.
Details at 11.

Carl Olson

Sky: Blast it, there's no need to shut up!

Ok, how's this: Sky blasts use of 'slam'.

I'm familiar with sandblasting. Now we have "slamblasting." And "blastslamming." Hey, it sounds like a new extreme sport.

RJ

As much as I agree with your conclusion, it is only universally valid if both premises are logically irrefutable.

Actually, Brian, Kyl's argument is valid, you are confusing validity with the soundness of the argument. The validity of an argument deals only with the form of the argument. If the conclusion logically follows from the premise(s), the argument is valid. This is due entirely to the logical structure of the argument. Whether the facts are true or false does not affect the validity of the argument. A valid argument with factual premises is a sound argument. The argument may be valid but unsound if there are problems with the 2nd premise as you claim.

I would suggest the problem with the pro-choice crowd may lie with the term "innocent," sadly. They invoke a utilitarian principle that favors a womens choice over the life within. If they deny the child is human they are engaging in nothing but semantics. Even embryology texts acknowledge the humanity of the embryo. Bioethicist Diane Irving states, "the immediate product of fertilization is a human being, a human embryo, a human child — the zygote. This zygote is a newly existing, genetically unique, genetically male or female, individual human being — it is not a “potential” or a “possible” human being. And this developing human being is a human being, a human embryo, a human child whether or not it is implanted artificially into the womb of the mother." the immediate product of fertilization is a human being, a human embryo, a human child — the zygote. This zygote is a newly existing, genetically unique, genetically male or female, individual human being — it is not a “potential” or a “possible” human being. And this developing human being is a human being, a human embryo, a human child whether or not it is implanted artificially into the womb of the mother. (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/abortion/ab0027.html)

Based on Irving's concept of humanity and thus personhood, Kyl' argument is both vaild and sound.

Kyl Schalk

Thanks for your thoughts, Brian. I would not always use that syllogism by itself in every situation, but I do think that it is an important thing to teach. You and I could probably talk to 300 people and none of them would know that syllogism. How many people know how important this question is: “What is the unborn?” Not enough people know how important that simple question is. I’m convinced that we have to teach the basics and the more sophisticated arguments on a large-scale level.

Robert Miller

We need to move beyond all of this consideration of the merits of candidates.

Let's begin a movement, like the one the Spanish bishops and pro-family Catholic Spaniards launched on the eve of the Spanish parliamentary elections. Why not a multi-million men,women and children(and bishops) march on Washington the Sunday before the presidential election? Let's state, on the eve of the election, an uncompromising pro-family agenda as our brothers and sisters have done in Spain.

But we had better get started with the planning now.

Robert Miller

Postscript:

We could time the March on Washington to coincide with Pope Benedict's visit. His handlers wouldn't like it (for some good, as well as bad, reasons).But maybe we need to use his visit to raise the Catholic political profile. Maybe that's what he's expecting us to do.

Arriba America Catolica! Viva Cristo Rey!

Brian Schuettler

Actually, Brian, Kyl's argument is valid, you are confusing validity with the soundness of the argument. The validity of an argument deals only with the form of the argument. If the conclusion logically follows from the premise(s), the argument is valid.

Sorry, RJ, you must have been thinking of something else, possibly statistical analysis. In Logic, an argument is deductively valid ( and valid, not soundness, is the correct word) if, whenever all premises are true, the conclusion is also necessarily true.

On the other point you made concerning soundness of a logical argument, I propose that you consider the logical conclusion of your position based upon the subjective thoughts of an individual named Diane Irving. The opinion of Irving in a textbook, and that is all it is, an opinion, is no more logically sound than an opinion by an individual in another textbook presenting the opposite position. Shifting between universally accepted logical arguments and subjective opinion does not promote clarity of thought, which I would hope is your goal.

RJ

Brian,
I have been teaching logic for about 6 years both at the college and high school levels, so when someone lists mistakes such as you have made, they are fairly easy to pick out. If you are going to correct people on logic, I suggest you know something about it first; your mistakes are ones that a high school student should not make. One major mistake you make is assuming that premises are valid. This is not the language of logic, premises are either true or false, deductive arguments are either valid or invalid. At least have the humility to look things up if you don' believe someone. Kyl's argument is valid since the conclusion follows logically from the premises, the fact that one of the premises may be (and that is questionable) false does not affect the validity of the argument.

Since you didn’t believe me the first time, I will quote from Hurley's Logic which is a standard college intro text, “..a valid deductive argument is an argument in which it is impossible for the conclusion to be false given the premises are true. In these arguments the conclusion follows with strict necessity from the premises. To test an argument for validity we begin by assuming that all the premises are true, and then determine if it is possible, in light of that assumption, for the conclusion to be false. A sound argument is a deductive argument that that is valid and has all true premises. Both conditions must be met for an argument to be sound and if either is missing the argument is unsound." (p. 41-45) It then lists this example in which both premises are false as a valid but unsound argument ,
1)All automakers are computer makers
2) United airlines in an automaker.
3) Therefore, United Airlines in an computer manufacturer.

So, as I stated in the first post, Kyl’s argument is valid. Your calling Irving’s position “subjective” and just an “opinion” and stating that other texts are just opinions as well itself nothing but a form of subjectivism and an appeal to ignorance. Based on the criteria you state such as reducing medical textts to mere opinion, what constitutes a fact? If one takes things to a logical conclusion, you seem to reduce many things to opinion except that which you state, this is a form of the self-referential fallacy. You have dug yourself into a deep logical hole called solipsism. Based on your logic, the following argument is invalid because the 2nd premise is not “logically irrefutable” because you confuse the order of logic with that of being:
1) Slavery is the ownership of other people who are forced to work for their owner without pay and freedom.
2) It is morally wrong to force people to work without pay and deny them their freedom
3) Therefore, slavery is morally wrong.

Back to Kyl’s second premise, which deals with “Elective abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being.” It is either true or false, not in the order of logic but in the order of being, as is the 2nd premise above. In both cases, the arguments are valid, but it is obvious that the 2nd premise in both is debated. However, in both cases it does not matter if the 2nd premise is universally accepted or not because the order of being is ontologically prior to the order of logic. The principle of contradiction deals with first with being and then with logic. According to that principle the embryo/fetus is either human or not human, it can’t be both, the fact that one accepts it or not as “universally valid” has no bearing on the truth conditions on the premise. Irving, who is both a researcher and a bioethicist, is not giving mere opinions. If that is the case, so are you which is nothing but self-referentialism. Her article cites a number of texts on embryology to show that the embryo is human. Are these just medical opinions or facts? It has to be the latter, science textbooks do not contain “subjective opinions” as you claim. In other words, an embryo meets all the criteria for humanity and thus personhood so it has right not to be killed. The logic of her argument proceeds not from logic but “being,” the fact that there is an order to things. Thus, I think Kyl’s 2nd premise is true and the argument is valid and sound regardless if it is universally accepted on not.

If this doesn’t convince you, then you are falling into the same type of relativism and subjectivism you seem to detest!

Brian Schuettler

RJ,

You should fight the temptation to personally attack someone in a blog setting, all it does is make you appear insecure and mean spirited.

I certainly respect the fact that you teach logic and are therefore confident in your argument, but unfortunately you do not come across as being a confident teacher. However, the comments I made were not a lecture on logic for pedantic professors but rather for the fellow readers of a blog. Having read your latest comment, I believe that you are so focused, as usual, on "winning the argument" that you can't see the forest for the trees.

If you believe that "science textbooks do not contain “subjective opinions” as you claim" then you are hopelessly naive. Dogmatic darwinism has a virtual monopoly on biology textbooks that exclusively present "subjective opinions" as irrefutable fact.

Characteristics of a valid argument

* It cannot have true premises and a false conclusion
* If its premises are true, its conclusion must be true
* If its conclusion is false, it must have at least one false premise
* All of the information in the conclusion is also in the premises
* The probability of its conclusion, given its premises, is 1

If you spend less time with ad hominem attacks and stayed focused on the context of the discussion you would read my comments for what they were conveying: ways of addressing the pro life argument to advocates of abortion.

I hope, for their sake, you address your students with more charity than you do me.

Carl Olson

Alright, gentlemen—time to wrap it up and save it for another day.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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