Friday, May 19, 2006

Why Abortion Debate is Inherently Futile

Disclosure: I, personally, believe that all arguments concerning the morality of abortion are inherently futile, since they all include the basic assumption that killing babies is wrong.

Are you "pro-life" or "pro-choice"? These words speak volumes about the nature of debate over abortion, and can serve as a useful example of how to "frame" a debate.

It is my belief that these two viewpoints are inherently irreconciliable, because of the way the language itself shapes the way we think of the issue. "Life" and "Choice" are both things that nobody can really be against; it seems almost self-evident that any good person would be in favor of life and in favor of choice.

Can't you see the poll results now?

Question 1: Are you in favor of life?
Question 2: Are you in favor of choice?

Saying that one is "pro-life" or "pro-choice" is meaningless; everyone likes life, everyone likes choice, and to say that you are in favor of them conveys no semantic content. In fact, these words have negative meaning, since meaning furthers communication, but these words hinder it.

No reasonable person wants to kill babies, and no reasonable person wants to restrict women's rights. However, because of the use of words like "pro-life" and "pro-choice", if a "pro-lifer" wants to make a statement opposing abortion, he will immediately be seen as opposing women's rights, and vice versa. In my debating lexicon, this is known as "framing the debate".

The classic example of framing the debate is when the upstart young journalist asks the senatorial incumbent, "Sir, have you stopped beating your wife yet?". It may seem obvious in such a blatant context as this, but changing the frame of the debate prevents meaningful communication. In this case, whatever answer the senator gives will extend the basic assumption that he regularly beats his wife. In this case, the correct answer is mu (note: if you ever actually answer a question like this with "mu", I will punch you in the face) but to take a side in the abortion issue is to make a similar concession: if you are "pro-life", you are anti-choice, and if you are "pro-choice", you are anti-life.

So, because of the language used, what we see in abortion debate is the equivelant of "Guns can be used in crimes. You're against crimes, aren't you? Then you're against guns." This is a simple logical fallacy, and the world would be such a better place if more people realized this.

In debate, the response to a change of frame is to change it back. Hence, my belief in the morality of infanticide. However, perhaps this is an appropriate place to push greater mainstream support of the Regressive Party?



Blogger Jamie said...

Hell yes! You've stated every or nearly every problem I have with the abortion debates. I somewhat suspect most or many people aren't even on one side or the other, they're in between, but there's no in-between options, are there? It's black or white, wrong or right, with us or against us. And it gets nobody ANYWHERE.

Worse yet, it discourages questioning and getting to the genuine truth - the only way to true progress on such things - because so many politicians and others are unwilling to admit they might be wrong, or ask questions that might disprove some of the notions and "facts" they base their rhetoric and opinions on. So much misinformation has been passed around by both sides on abortion and stem cell research alike, it's maddening.

You also get brownie points for introducing me to the concept of "Mu", which I had never heard of before. ;)

6:55 PM  

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