Friday, June 7, 2013


A Facebook friend points out that those Catholics who support "gay marriage" use anecdote the same way the proponents for Lying do.  He calls the use of anecdotes in these cases "an emotional device to avoid sinful behavior".  Or, I would say, to avoid thought.

Thus, you can side-step the principle that the Church teaches that Lying is always wrong by bringing up an anecdote that makes an emotional common sense appeal - "What should I tell my wife if she asks me if this dress makes her look fat?"  Such an anecdotal hypothetical skirts the principle and distracts by focusing on a feeling.

Likewise, you can side-step the nature of marriage altogether by saying, "My nephew was seriously depressed, but ever since he went to New York and married his gay lover, he's been very happy."

So, Lying Apologists, watch out.  Your techniques can be used by folk whose heresies you would normally abhor.


Nate Winchester said...

And shall we start bringing up who all in the Bible was obsessed with legalism and the wording of laws & tradition?

Or shall we see how many times you invoke anecdotes on this blog?

You're right though, we should all be wary of the rope we pick to hang ourselves...

Paul Stilwell said...

The defense of lying as a pro-life tactic is one great big obsessive form of legalism in line with the Pharisees who tinkered around so they could exempt themselves from supporting widows and robbed them instead.

The legalism rests completely on those defending lying as a tactic.

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions from anyone as to how to answer such "feeling comments" in relation to so-called gay marriage debates? I had come across such a tactic on the subject of co-habitation, ex "oh our cousin had lived with her boyfriend before they got married and lived in the same house after they married, and now look how fine things went". Didn't know how to answer that, or rather found this fallacy to dumb to be used as a counterattack.

Some advice would be appreciated. Thanks.


Elizabeth said...

A great response is usually along the lines of: "Um-hmm. I assume you have a point. Could you clarify it for me? What does your [anecdote] have to do with determining morality? Should I be consulting him whenever I have a moral decision to make, or is it only you who does that?"

Tom Leith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Leith said...

I've never seen a snarky response bear good fruit.

The same point could be made by saying something like "so all's well that ends well?" The answer will likely be "yes". Then you know you're talking to a Consequentialist. You can move from there to the kind of argument a rules-based Utilitarian makes: "What would happen if everybody did that?" The evidence about what would happen is all around us -- women and children with no husbands or fathers, living in poverty, on and on. Even if it works out OK for a majority, is it worth the societal dislocation is undoubtedly causes to permit the behavior? You can move on from there to a principled morality based in human nature that gets away from Consequentialism and away from the idea that "liberty" is the highest good. But then you'll have to convince your conversation partner a fixed human nature exists and come to an agreement about what that nature is.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, thanks very much for the witty advice.

Tom, thank you very much for your imput also; so to ask "what would happen if everybody did that" and take on the tactic mentioned above, can it be also a good tactic on the subject of so called gay marriage?

Until i anticipate humbly for other responses, i'm definitely writing yours (Liz & Tom's) down. Thank you again :)

Tom Leith said...

I wouldn't use this for "gay" "marriage" or the closely-related problem of contraception.

The problem with talking with most people about "gay" "marriage" is twofold:

1) Lots of people are Dualists even if they don't know it -- they think there is a "self" separate from their bodies. This leads to things like sex-change operations.

2) Lots of people are practical Atheists and can't recognize any objective purpose in the universe, and that includes their own bodies. They'll often talk about purpose as something they've given themselves. For them, "find your purpose in life" isn't nearly the same as "discern your vocation". The one is about creating or choosing a purpose for oneself, the other is about discovering something objective -- knowledge of self. They don't recognize an objective purpose or meaning in their own bodies, and therefore they see nothing wrong with separate "selves" doing what they will with them.

The whole "gay" "marriage" thing comes from a faulty understanding of the human person (so do contraception and abortion). Until we come to a very widespread agreement about the nature of the human person, any "restriction" on voluntary behavior will be seen as an irrational, superstitious exercise of brute power.

I recommend Grigis et. al. "What is Marriage?" a small book anyone can read and understand. And everyone should learn a bit of philosophy, at least the broad currents.

Joey Higgins said...

I always ask how one consecrates the "marriage" in the case of homosexual marriages/unions.

Most people raise an eyebrow and state they hadn't thought about it that way, but they never change their position. It's difficult to "logic" someone out of a clearly emotional decision.

People like "equality," "fairness," "love," letting people do what they want; especially when that involves not having to tell people, "No, you can't do this."

Anonymous said...

As i was looking up on Girgis' book i stumbled across "Getting the Marriage Conversation Right; A Guide for Effective Dialogue" by William May. Seems like a convincing read. Though will definitely place "What is Marriage" on my Must Wish List first :)

God bless all of you who kindly responded to me and my question/personal researching. I definitely find here the perfect place for solid answers, without search engines placing unnecessary garbage on my computer screen :P