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Okay, I'm back. One more final to go.
Anyway, I will try to make a defense of this, but I'm not sure how much I also want to go on offense. It seems like just beating a dead horse. There's not a ton of interest or really seemingly any fruit to reap from continuing to push the argument, and it seems like it would just be kind of an annoyance to all parties involved to carry it out.
the Janet Smith lecture is a piece of rhetoric and not argument.
I am going to argue that the Smith lecture is an argument, and despite certain flaws, there is an argument that remains. Whether or not we agree with the statistical data she presents, which is limited, the statistics are clearly not the crux of her argument. They are adornments. It is not, of course, the lion's mane which makes him dangerous, but his teeth and claws. My question is, if we strip the statistics from this lecture, is the argument still armed? If it is, then we are only attempting to defeat the argument by defeating its accidents and resting on a supposed relationship between the accidents of the argument and its substance. That would be a similar tactic to, in my opinion, the red herring.
If indeed we say the statistics are not accidents, but arguments themselves, fine and well, but in this case it does not matter if a man shoots two lions approaching him if he does not similarly shoot the third.
I cannot comment much on the statistics, here. The statistics, of course, are not essential to my thinking. Frankly, I do not believe it would matter if the statistics showed that people were less likely to be divorced after co-habiting, or if they all reported being quite well-pleased with themselves. Again, Aristotle is not particularly interested in the opinions of men. Happiness is not a subjective quality, which most people mistake for pleasure. It is an objective quality, which is measured by whether or not a person is living in accordance with his nature. The background I am arguing from is one which supposes that men have natures and that nature is rational animal. The question I am asking is this: are people acting in accordance with their natures, and most especially, that rational aspect of their nature? Aristotle would answer, and I would also, that whether or not they call themselves happy, they are objectively failing to meet the criteria for happiness and thus are not happy but rather deluded and unhappy. And since delusion is no nice way for one to live one's life (especially from a Christian perspective. It would perhaps be permissible to let others live under their delusions if they were simply to die eventually and return to nothingness, since they never had any meaning anyway), I think it is important to attempt to answer that question.
Also I think it's a bit strong to suppose her comment to be the height of mendacity. It is more likely just a sort of irresponsibility on her part. If we are to take her claim at face-value, anyway, then she really did hear from a priest-friend who took this survey at his own particular parish. The statistic is fairly bad even if it's considered true, since a priest is not necessarily qualified as a surveyor, and the population appears to be his parish and perhaps affiliates, which makes it a fairly small study and its results insignificant. Should she have brought it up? No, it is irresponsible. But is it really the heights of mendacity? Also this speech is from 1993.
This is not an isolated piece of casuistry; the casuistry is woven through. In order to refuse Tomas Malthus of all people, Smith uses this chestnut:
Hey, you're speaking with a fisheries and wildlife guy. I cringed when I read that part. Anyway, dealing with Malthus didn't need to be in her speech and she should have cut it. I would have dealt with the subject in a different way, also. I think the fear of overpopulation is a myth that people having children should not fear (although I also don't think it is necessary to breed like rabbits).
Did you catch how "unwanted" got conflated with "in wedlock"? Those are not remotely the same measure, and numerous socioeconomic developments between 1960 and 1992 make wedlock an especially poor proxy for intent (the foremost being an increase in women's economic agency).
This is quite interesting, yes. There is a lot to unpack here and it seems far too vague on her part and confused to really have been of any use to bring up. It's a good point that you make, however. I did not notice this the first time around.
Mark, I know that you're taking a position in good faith, because I know you to be a person of principle and thoughtfulness. If you want to argue from first principles that contraception is a bad thing, go for it, but don't use false statistics to do it, is all I'm asking.
I probably should have made it clearer from the start (although I do think I mentioned it in the previous topic) that I was not relying in Smith's statistics. This is about philosophy. Again, frankly, I distrust statistics, especially sociological ones, and I invest very little stock in them even when they suit my case. I am not attempting to prove the case from statistical data (as I said, it would not matter much to me if the statistics were flatly the opposite), but I am aiming at producing an insight in the reader towards the nature of human sexuality and responsibility.
What can we say for certain? Are human sexuality and marriage viewed the same today as they were by our great grandparents? A thing is handled the way we understand it. If people start putting dogs in chairs at the table, and read books to them, and dress them, we can believe quite rightly that peoples' understanding of what a dog essentially has changed. It is very clear that the very idea of what marriage and sex are, has also changed. So with the dog, we ask: is this change of understanding a good or bad one? That is, does it conform to the reality or not? We ask the same for changes in marriage and sex. This reflects a fundamental shift in the way they are understood. Are they real things, or based on real things? If so, they have an objective reality to them. If we conceive of them differently at one time than another, then we need to evaluate whether our understanding of them is true or false.
I have to say, I am not a professional philosopher, and I don't even know how to go about and treat this problem in a comprehensive and intelligible way. Yet, I really wasn't trying to. Go back to my original post---
I only said this was for thinking about, for examining life and what we believe about reality. I didn't say I was going to offer syllogistic proofs or that I had infallible data. I haven't dealt falsely with anyone.
I wished to provide something to read, something which actually has very few statistics. Look, here are parts of her speech that I just set myself to look at, and they have no statistics and yet each section should be sufficient in and of itself to lend itself to thoughtful cogitation, which could set a man to inductively reach a principle about human sexuality.
Children help parents grow in virtue. Natural Law. The Natural purpose for sex: babies and bonding. Babies are treated as burdens. Contraception excludes God from sex. Treating fertility as a disease. Contraception prevents total self-giving. Using good means for a good end. Abstinence is a way of expressing love. Increased respect for self and spouse. Respect for God. Enhanced communication. [and there are more than just these]
All of these are useful things to consider, and all of them, I say again, could lead a person to a sudden insight into the debate about contraception, sex, marriage, humanity, virtue, happiness, meaning, life, etc... That's what I was aiming for.
Re-posted to for re-wording. Also I'm terribly sorry for my long posts. I genuinely feel bad.
If people start putting dogs in chairs at the table, and read books to them, and dress them
I've seen all three things on the Internet. What a time to be alive.
Have you ever stopped to think and forgotten to start again?
I try not to say 'lol' anymore, but that is worth an lol.
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