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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Logical Reasoning and Misogyny

[This is the first post in a series on the pro-life movement and misogyny.  Additional posts can be found here:

So a few months ago I was studying for the Logical Reasoning portion of the LSAT. My practice book had a section on causal reasoning that gave a method for writing out conditional statements in shorthand.

Premise: A --> B
Contrapositive: B --> A
Inverse: A --> B
Converse: B --> A

For example:

Premise: If you are swimming, you are wet. (swimming --> wet)
Contrapositive: If you are not wet, you are not swimming. (wet --> swimming)

Logical reasoning dictates that if a premise is true, its contrapositive must be true. However, if a premise is true, it does not necessarily follow that the inverse and converse are true.

Inverse: If you are not swimming, you are not wet. (swimming --> wet)
Converse: If you are wet, you are swimming. (wet --> swimming)

Assuming an inverse or converse is true based on a true premise is one of the most common mistakes on the LSAT. Presumably it is one of the most common logical missteps in daily life as well. The inverse and converse could be true, but this cannot be inferred from the premise. What if you’re standing in the rain? You are not swimming, but you are wet.

This brings us to pro-lifers and misogyny. Let us assume for the sake of argument that the following premise is true.

Premise: If you hate women, you will want them to endure unwanted pregnancies. (hate --> endure)
Converse: If you want women to endure unwanted pregnancies, you hate women. (endure --> hate)

Often, people who agree with the premise assert the converse, but this does not follow logically. For example, you may want women to endure unwanted pregnancies because you want fetal life to be protected. This says nothing about how you feel about women, one way or another.

People with terrible motivations may support any number of causes. Those who hate rich people likely support progressive income taxes. Those who hate Mexicans probably want stricter immigration laws. Those who hate children will support the right to an abortion. Does this mean that if you support the right to an abortion you must hate children? No. No more than it means that if you support restrictive abortion laws you must hate women.

33 comments:

secularprolife.org said...

Oh, I remember the LSAT... *shudders*
Great post, M!

Yonmei said...

For example, you may want women to endure unwanted pregnancies because you want fetal life to be protected.

And yet, the pro-life movement is overwhelmingly against preventing abortions by:

1. Providing & promoting freely accessible contraception. Many pro-lifers enthusiastically support denying women contraception.

2. Providing mandatory paid maternity leave: making it illegal to fire a woman for being pregnant, under any excuse. (See enthusiastic pro-lifers arguing in the Veterans thread that a soldier who doesn't get an abortion fast enough should be sacked pronto.)

3. Providing free, universal healthcare to all women and all children in the US at minimum (I see no reason not to extend that to all men, too).

Pro-life claims to want to prevent abortion extend only as far as wanting to harass and bully women who've chosen to have abortions, and to harass or even murder doctors who perform abortions.

Plainly the pro-life movement is not about preventing abortions. Ergo, the pro-life movement is not founded on any concern for protecting fetal life: that's a lie.

Once that's clear - what motivation is there for denying women access to contraception, abortion, healthcare antenatal & postnatal, paid work, and paid maternity leave?

Further, in order to support "protecting fetal life" over respecting a woman's basic human rights, at best an individual pro-lifer could claim that they are indifferent to the human rights of women, perceiving the pregnant woman's health, life, and wellbeing as something unimportant compared to their claimed need to secure the welfare of the fetus she is carrying till birth.

This position is completely illogical: literally the only way to secure the welfare of a fetus is to take care of the pregnant woman. Illogical as it is, however, it's the foundation of pro-life thought: women don't matter, only the fetus does.

And that is a profoundly misogynistic attitude.

Yonmei said...

Interesting: I made a long comment to this post, without links, and it seems to have gone to the spam queue.

A Duck said...

I am intensely disappointed that Yonmei's post went to spam.

Always write the long posts in Microsoft Word or Notepad first. Or whatever the Mac equivalent is. It saves a lot of headaches.

Nulono said...

Hopefully Kels checks the cue queue soon.

secularprolife.org said...

1. We've already told you countless times that we support contraception. Those who oppose contraception tend to have religious reasons for that.

2. As I said in the veteran thread, the United States already has laws against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. There's always room for improvement, but this is not a point of contention.

3. SecularProLife.org doesn't have a position on health care reform. Of course everyone, pro-life and pro-choice, would like to see fewer people suffering from preventable illness. The real debate is how to pay for it.

Pro-life claims to want to prevent abortion extend only as far as wanting to harass and bully women who've chosen to have abortions, and to harass or even murder doctors who perform abortions.
And reliably back to the ad hominems she goes.

A Duck said...

Providing free, universal healthcare to all women and all children in the US at minimum (I see no reason not to extend that to all men, too).

So, absent of supporting universal health care for everybody, you would support universal health care for just women and children?

Pantheroom said...

Yonmei, I'm sure you've been linked this one before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

If not, it's time for you to do some reading.

Yonmei said...

We've already told you countless times that we support contraception.

You've claimed this, yet I note you've yet to write a front-page post about any of the instances in which pro-lifers campaign for the "right" of pharmacists and doctors to deny women contraception.

s I said in the veteran thread, the United States already has laws against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

Didn't stop a couple of Catholic schools from firing female employees for not getting abortions before they started to show.

Also, I think you're missing the point: in the Veterans thread, pro-lifers were enthusiastically arguing for pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Regardless of what the law said. Clearly this is a point of contention: pro-lifers want pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

. SecularProLife.org doesn't have a position on health care reform.

Well, quite. You're pro-life. Why would you care about preventing abortions, miscarriages, and infant mortality, by improving the US's lousy healthcare system? If you did care, you would have a position: you'd be for it.

Of course everyone, pro-life and pro-choice, would like to see fewer people suffering from preventable illness. The real debate is how to pay for it.

There's a simple and obvious solution: make it cheaper by extending Medicare to the whole population, and allow government healthcare to bargain for lower prices on pharmaceuticals. The US has a problem paying for healthcare because your governments are consistently supportive of the profits of health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

And reliably back to the ad hominems she goes.

Pointing out a fact is not an ad hom. This blog publishes a regular series of posts by a woman whose Saturday morning hobby is to hang out with other bullies to harass women. The pro-life movement is supportive of such harassment, calling it "sidewalk counseling", and pro-lifers have harassed, victimised, and murdered doctors for performing abortions. That's the activism of the pro-life movement, not stuff that would actually "protect fetal life" like improviing healthcare.

Duck: So, absent of supporting universal health care for everybody, you would support universal health care for just women and children?

You misunderstand: I'm making the point that fake claims by pro-lifers to care about fetal life, are shown up as lies by the fact that the pro-life movement makes no effort to be activists for universal healthcare for fetuses, for babies or the children babies grow into, for pregnant woman, for mothers...

I'd go for universal healthcare, full stop.

Yonmei said...

A comment I made responding to SP and to A Duck seems to have gone to the spam queue.

Pantheroom, if you think that raising the issue of the health of pregnant women, babies, and children, is a "straw man" in a discussion of pro-life claims to care about fetal life, I think it's you who needs to do some reading. In basic mammalian reproductive biology.

Yonmei said...

"For example, you may want women to endure unwanted pregnancies because you want fetal life to be protected. "

Nulono, just now, in defense of their pro-life beliefs "This is nothing to do about saving or not saving lives."

No concern about the protection of fetal life there, then.

A Duck said...

pro-life movement makes no effort to be activists for universal healthcare for fetuses

Baby steps. Universal health care is kind of useless to anyone when they're dead.

I'd go for universal healthcare, full stop.

Sweet. How are you going to pay for it?

Marauder said...

Should Catholic schools be firing pregnant teachers? No. But (and I'm assuming these pregnant teachers were unmarried), I'm willing to bet that being fired as an unwed pregnant teacher was mentioned in whatever contract the teachers signed before they started working at the school. If not, there are several states where employers can fire employees at will, provded that the job isn't a government job. Which means that if you, Yonmei, are an employer in one of those states, you can fire or refuse to hire all the pro-lifers that your little heart desires. Rhyme unintentional.

Universal healthcare is unfeasible because the majority of doctors are not going to want to have seven or more years of training - and pay high tuition prices for it - just to earn a government employee's wage. There are already programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Also, there are some people who don't want to buy health insurance, and they're not going to want to be forced by the federal government to pay for something that they don't want. It's unconstitutional. The federal government is allowed to require car drives to buy insurance, but that's because driving a car is a privilege, not a right. If you have a strong objection to buying car insurance, you can not buy a car. Someone who had a strong objection to buying health insurance would be made to buy it anyway.

A Duck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Duck said...

Marauder, just so you know, Yonmei isn't going to listen to anything you say. She's here strictly to make whatever inflammatory assertion she cant to get attention. So every time you make an argument against her, she's going to say whatever she has to to get on your nerves. Think of her as a disrespectful robot with no volume control that you can't shut down.

Pantheroom said...

Y does not know what it means to be pro- life, though she fiercely believes she does. She doesn't actually acknowledge much less understand OUR points here. She hears exactly what she wants to hear- to continue attacking a nonexistent opponent. She will *never* concede a point- I'll eat my foot if she does. So, again, stop. Feeding. the. Troll. Seriously.

Pantheroom said...

If you really enjoy bouncing a ball off a brick wall, let me know if she ever stops telling you what you *really* believe.

"No, no, no, you don't care about saving lives, you hate women and babies." Seriously? That's her premise and you're still trying to get anything through that skull?

secularprolife.org said...

LOL, Pantheroom. I'm a law student, at a great school where people with opposing views can debate respectfully all day long. I guess that's given me a little too much faith in humanity. I have decided to take your advice and cease feeding the troll.

M said...

Pantheroom, you assume the only reason to talk to Yonmei is to try to convince her of something.

If you want to convince Yonmei of something, you will talk to her. (convince --> talk)
If you talk to Yonmei, you want to convince her of something. (talk --> convince)

:)

Maybe people talk to her because they enjoy arguing just for the sake or arguing. Or they enjoy teasing others. Or they know she won't listen to them, but they hope that anyone else who happens to be reading this will see the reason in their counterarguments directed at her.

Recall Thank You For Smoking:
Joey: But you still didn't convince me.
Nick: Because I'm not after you. I'm after them. *points to other people*

Pantheroom said...

SP: Ha, well we know things are a bit different in person. On the internet, people get away with making flagrantly irrational assumptions under the guise of "being real". And, unlike in law school, you can assert things without any sort of evidence. Oh and you can talk for days without interruption-- a nice little cocoon of your invented reality.
To your last line: thank you!

M: Haha, hence my second post! I knew you were coming. Love the quote.

Marysia said...

Yonmei, please visit www.allourlives.org and see if your stereotypes apply there, either

Nulono said...


¬

These may be of use to you.

mundane4life said...

The reason many pro-lifers do not support artificial contraception to women is because it is not fail safe. Take for example the birth control pill. In a control group it is only about 99% affective. In the real world I would imagine it is a few percentage points below this. We cannot continue to tell women to go out and have sex and no need to worry about pregnancy because you're on the pill. This sets women up for an unwanted pregnancy. I would imagine there are a high percentage of abortions based on failed contraception. As long as there is artificial contraception around there will be a "need" for abortion.
Only the humanization of sexuality will end abortion. Artificial contraception feeds it.

naturallyprolife said...

@mundane4life...Very true. I would disagree with Kelsey that people opposed to contraception tend to have religious reasons for it. Just like the pro-life argument, the argument against contraception argument is one from the natural law and not based on the Bible.

Sterilizing a sexual act removes all meaning from it. Instead of loving your partner totally and accepting everything about them (including their fertility), the act becomes one whose only goal is pleasure. And loving someone fully, without reserve (which includes loving their fertility) actually results in better sex!

Perhaps most importantly, the contraceptive mentality inevitably leads to abortions. Because the sexual act wasn't designed to be interrupted by contraceptives, people will inevitably use them incorrectly and they will fail some percentage of the time. What then happens to the child?

Obviously, we can dialogue further on this point, but I mainly wanted to point out that the argument against contraception isn't necessarily a religious one.

And this was a good blog post! Thanks for writing.

secularprolife.org said...

Mundane and Naturally, thank you for commenting. You make some good points. From where I stand, the question is: what is the baseline? If contraception had never been invented, would people not be having as much sex (meaning fewer unplanned pregnancies), or would they be having sex without contraception (meaning more unplanned pregnancies)? It's an impossible hypothetical to answer, of course. But it seems to me that some fraction of the population is going to have sex no matter how unadvisable it is, and so whatever we can do to reduce the odds of unplanned pregnancy and abortion for those people, we ought to do it.

Nulono said...

Nat, you make some good points. I think, however, that that is more of a personal preference issue than a moral issue. If a couple cannot afford children, I think contraception is a responsible decision.

Contraception does not have to lead to abortion if people understand the difference. Contraception is a preventative measure while abortion is a violent and fatal act.

Reproduction and pleasure are not the only goals of sex. Even if they were, so what? Personally, I'm a big fan of pleasure. I find it quite pleasurable.

Pantheroom said...

Contraception is only responsible if one is capable of bearing the results of failed contraception. Failed contraception certainly does not have to lead to abortion, that being the least desirable path if you realize what life exists after fertilization. People should never use contraceptives believing they are fail safe. Sex is voluntary, and therefore the risks of partaking should be taken seriously and with full responsibility. Most abortions are the result of people *not* taking sex seriously and not being realistic about contraceptives.

Pantheroom said...

If a couple absolutely cannot afford a child, even with many preventative measured (other than abstinence) they should be willing to bear an unplanned pregnancy. Adoptive parents cover medical costs, it certainly wouldn't be impossible- and it beats killing someone.

Nulono said...

I don't disagree with you there. If a couple is so against having kids that they're willing to kill them, they shouldn't have sex.

Pantheroom said...

Glad you see the pros and cons accurately. Some people (a lot, really) think that sex is more important than someone's life, and their jaws would drop to the floor if anyone insinuated differently. It's unbearably depressing.

Tron4JC said...

"Glad you see the pros and cons accurately. Some people (a lot, really) think that sex is more important than someone's life, and their jaws would drop to the floor if anyone insinuated differently. It's unbearably depressing."

Then turn around and say we are sexist for implying that it is about ability to continue to have sex over and over again, without consequences, and act all offended.

Pro-aborts do have a gift for talking two sides of their mouths.

Anonymous said...

In my case it's the example "Premise: If you hate women, you will want them to endure unwanted pregnancies. (hate --> endure)" that I have the most trouble with. I've heard of forced abortions right here in America, especially by rapists and molesters trying to conceal and continue their abuse; I've heard that the most common cause of death for expecting mothers is murder by the child's father, who clearly isn't pro-life toward the unborn OR females; but I can't think of any examples in this culture of anyone forcing anyone else to bear children. The common assertion that misogyny->forced childbearing seems so completely out of left field that I can't help but wonder if I've missed something important.

~Violet

secularprolife.org said...

Good point, Violet. Forced abortion and domestic violence are huge issues that have somehow faded into the background in the abortion debate.