Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Above my pay grade"

Obama, presented with a fallacy of bifurcation cum equivocation fallacy type "gotcha question":

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama side-stepped a pointed query about abortion on Saturday by “mega-pastor” Rick Warren during a televised forum.

Asked at what point a baby gets “human rights,” Obama, who strongly supports abortion rights, said: “… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade.”

The RW foamers went wacky over that like it was some kind of major flub.

But is it? What is meant by "human rights", to begin with? Isn't the question presuming something (i.e., "begging the question")? And why is there a specific point?

And science has nothing to say with respect to when something should be given "human rights". That's a different branch of study. Furthermore, one thing that science teaches you is that human development is a continuum -- a process, not a transubstantiation. Not to mention that Obama's running for president, not vying for a Nobel prize in physiology.

And most importantly, isn't the "theological perspective" here indeed "above [the] pay grade" of any mere non-deities? Wouldn't it be "presumptuous" to say "Yes, I know what God thinks about this?"


At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice try, but you're wrong on both logical fallacies applying here.

It was a simple question, and Obama knew exactly what was being asked. But being the equivicator he is, he spent 200-plus words dodging the question.

Speaks volumes

At 8:48 PM, Blogger Arne Langsetmo said...

Anonymous said:

Nice try, but you're wrong on both logical fallacies applying here.


As to "begging the question", asking if "human rights" applies presupposes that the entity in question is "human". You might ask what rights should apply, and argue (hopefully with some degree of persuasion) that the entity in question is in fact a "human", and then conclude from such conclusion that the appropriate rights to apply should be "human rights" (amongst others, possibly). But to ask when "human rights" applies is just "begging the question" (or asking 'loaded questions').

The fallacy of bifurcation arises from the implicit assumption that "human rights" or no rights are the only two possibilities.

The "equivocation" arises from the use of the word "human" here.



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