Showing posts with label special pleading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label special pleading. Show all posts

Saturday, February 6, 2021

It’s Iimi! The Corpse in the Lab

In this episode, Iimi debates another Catholic about the tu quoque and special pleading that some use to condemn the other side for ignoring some pro-life issues... while doing the exact same things themselves. She points out that both sides are guilty and we need to fight to change our side, regardless of what others do or fail to do.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Catholics and Partisan Excuses

There is a dangerous attitude today which is willing to assume that a person belonging to an ideology we oppose can do no right, while one we approve of can do no wrong—even if both people happen to do the same act. Take for example, the case of the news story about Trump paying off a porn star. The Washington Post wrote an article about Evangelical leaders giving him a pass when they were outraged with Clinton. Now the point is valid. But what the article doesn’t mention, however, is that those criticizing Trump were the ones wanting to give Clinton a free pass.

I don’t bring this up to say “we should ignore both” or say “there is wrongdoing on both sides” in a sense that negates wrongdoing. Nor am I trying to make a tu quoque argument. Rather, I think we need to practice consistency. If an action is morally wrong and needs to be publicly denounced, then we need to speak out consistently, and not give the person we agree with a “free pass.”

By the same token, when a public person does something right, we should not praise only when it when done by someone we approve of while committing the “moving the goalposts” fallacy when it comes to someone we dislike. If we complain that politician X doesn’t do “enough” on a subject, and we constantly redefine what “enough” is so that the disliked person never quite reaches it, we’re not making a stand for the Church teaching. We’re making our moral stand seem like a partisan bias.

If a politician is wrong on an issue in light of the Catholic teaching we hold, we cannot downplay that issue. I’ve seen Trump supporters downplay Church teaching on social justice. I’ve seen Trump opponents downplay Church teaching on the right to life. In such cases (and it is not just something that happens with Trump), whatever Catholic Moral Teaching does not square with the supported politician is denigrated as a “lesser issue.” The politician is given a free pass on that issue so long as he does other things the partisan Catholic already agrees with.

We can’t bear proper witness to what we believe if we show the world that our morals flex when it suits us, and only hold firm when we want to denounce someone. The non-Catholic will then see social justice as proof of “liberal bias” and the moral issues as proof of “conservative bias.” They won’t see our stands as testifying on how all of us are called to live. They’ll see it as just one more political squabble.

Nor can we take this and point to the “other” side while refusing to examine our own behavior. This is an example of Our Lord’s warning about the splinter in a brother’s eye and a log in our own. If we loudly denounce others while doing the same thing, we make Our Lord’s Church look like nothing more than partisan hypocrisy. Such behavior would be a scandal, turning away people who need to hear the teaching of the Church.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Fallacy of Special Pleading

One thing that routinely comes up on the arguments on the HHS Contraception mandate and the arguments of abortion is the fallacy of special pleading.  Special Pleading is a fallacy that argues that because a person lacks a certain set of experiences, their views on an issue are of no value and can be disregarded.

Special Pleading can either be accusative ("What right do you have to be opposed to abortion?  Men can't even get pregnant!") or defending a view("While I'm personally opposed, I don't think we can judge somebody who has an unexpected pregnancy").  Either way, it is used as an excuse to reject testimony.  It is one thing to say that because of a certain factor, you might not be able to fully empathize with my position.  It is quite another thing to say that your opinion is worthless and without merit because you are/are not part of a certain group. While a person who is/is not part of a certain group may not be able to fully emphasize with the turmoil the suffering person is going through, but that does not change the fact that his or her argument may have merit.

Unfortunately, Modern America is rife with this fallacy.  The entire so-called "War on Women" label is based on it.  The premise is that women need "reproductive freedom" and therefore should have contraceptive and abortifacient coverage.  Thus we see arguments that men who oppose this coverage can be ignored because they can't relate to the woman's need to be free of the consequences of unrestrained sexual activity.  We also see the argument that a Church "run by celibate old men" can't understand why women need contraceptive and abortifacient coverage.

The problem with such an argument is that if contraception goes against the nature of the sexual act or if abortion destroys a human life, then it does not matter what gender or religion the person is who makes the statement.  Reality does not depend on sharing a similar outlook on life.  If it did, then it would be impossible to judge anything.  Could you imagine somebody saying we should not judge the members of the SS working in the extermination camps because we can't imagine what their situation was like?  Or in a less extreme example that a person who practices sobriety has no right to judge the alcoholic?

Right and wrong are independent of faction, and that is why this tactic is nonsense.  Unfortunately a lot of people buy into this tactic, which is why the schools would be serving America better if they taught logic to help immunize people from falling for such misleading tactics.