Monday, April 30, 2007

The Fallacy (?) of "Personally Opposed, But..."

The Fallacy of "Personally Opposed, But..." - The American Spectator

Daniel Allott thinks the "Personally opposed, but..." stance is fallacious. He is wrong about that.

He starts out with a quote.
"I'm in the same position now that I was 12 years ago, when I ran for mayor, or as mayor, which is personally opposed to abortion, don't like it, hate it, would advise that woman have an adoption, rather than an abortion. And I will help you find the money for it. ...But it's your choice. It's an individual right. You get to make that choice."
-- Rudy Giuliani, CNN interview, April 5, 2007
Sounds reasonable to me. Sounds respectful of other people's views.

Back in 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry insisted he was "personally opposed" to abortion; Hillary Clinton has called it "a sad, tragic choice"; and Barack Obama has described it as a "personal tragedy."
So what? Though I'm not personally opposed to abortion, even I would just as soon it didn't happen. I'd much prefer that people took care to avoid a generally avoidable medical procedure. Even I don't think abortion is a good means of birth control.

If he didn't consider the unborn child a human being and/or didn't think that abortion hurt women, there would be little reason for him to oppose it, especially with words like "wrong," "hate" and "tragedy."

In other words, if the child in utero were merely a "cluster of cells" and if the effects of abortion on women were "mainly positive," as Planned Parenthood insists, why would anyone oppose it on a personal, or any, level?

No one would, of course, which is what makes the "personally opposed, but..." position so dishonest (and why it is in a very real sense a more deplorable position than that of the abortion advocate who fails to recognize the essence of abortion).
What?? That no one would oppose abortion if pro-choice views were correct makes the "personally opposed, but..." stance dishonest? Come on, that doesn't follow. Coming from someone claiming to point out a fallacy it borders on being dishonest itself.

To acknowledge the grave injustice of abortion yet still promote its perpetuation is like saying: "I'm opposed to slavery but...
No, it is not. Slavery involves the criminal denial of another autonomous person's human rights.

But, Mr. Allott is likely to protest, the "cluster of cells" IS a person.

No, it is not. It might become a person, but it is not a person. A person is not defined by the DNA in his cells, nor by the stage of development of cells containing DNA. The "cluster of cells" is no more a person than it is a chimp or a tumor. Or a slave.

In the end, the "personally opposed, but..." position on abortion cloaks itself in reason and compassion; but, it is merely a rhetorical device that shields the politician who refuses to follow through on in public what he purports to believe in private.
In some cases, "personally opposed, but..." is simply pragmatic, something it is necessary to do, rather like going to church in this country. I'm sure that there are good and honest people of faith involved in politics. There are also good and honest people of NO faith involved in politics, but to be there they have to indulge Nature's little while lie.

In other cases, "personally opposed, but..." reflects respect for the views of others, and a sense of freedom lacking in those who would impose their implausible beliefs on others.

Different strokes for different folks.


jj mollo said...

Seriously -- how many people are in favor of abortion? It is an abandonment of hope, an adjustment to unpleasant realities. Plus, it is esthetically unappealing. What this really comes down to is willingness to impose ones moral decisions on others. I am certainly willing to impose the abrogation of murder. But calling abortion murder is disingenuous. No one really believes a first term fetus is equivalent to a human being, or even a pet turtle. They only insist on it for dogmatism purposes. It's kind of a runaway philospophy express where you identify the absurd logical consequences and accept them and then accept the consequences of that acceptance, step by step turning into an idiot.

Steve said...

"... step by step turning into an idiot."


I like that explanation much more than thinking Mr. Allott is intimately familiar with the Overton window, which he has to be.

Happy Sunday!

jj mollo said...

And now I am familiar with the Overton Window. You're always educational, Steve.