Where’s the evidence for prolife hypocrisy?

By Bruce Blackshaw, Nicholas Colgrove, Daniel Rodger.

We recently published a paper entitled ‘Prolife hypocrisy: why inconsistency arguments do not matter’, which we discuss in this blog post. The paper was a general defence against inconsistency arguments: Arguments that claim prolifers only care about fetuses, not X, where X is anything critics think is worth doing to save people’s lives. It might be preventing miscarriages or feeding the hungry. To summarise our original paper, we argue that to make a judgement that someone is being hypocritical with regard to a certain belief isn’t straightforward—we must take into account other beliefs the person may hold.

William Simkulet has found our defence against inconsistency arguments unconvincing. We welcome his critique, as he has been an important contributor to these kinds of arguments, and informed criticism can only improve the debate.

Simkulet makes the point that our other beliefs must be able to justify the attention that prolifers give to opposing abortion, rather than all the other causes that could help save lives. We agree, but point out that this is incredibly easy to do—if prolifers believe that opposing abortion is the most important issue, then this justifies the attention they give it! Sure, we might be wrong to hold this belief, but being wrong isn’t being hypocritical. And, we argue, we are not obviously wrong.

There’s a bigger problem, though. A continual theme of these arguments is the lack of evidence showing that prolifers fail to help people in ways critics want them to. Critics just don’t seem to do their research before making these claims, and they don’t cite any references. They seem unaware, for example, of the very prolife Roman Catholic Church’s long-standing commitments to health, education and helping the poor.

For this reason, we urge our opponents to put their criticisms on a firmer empirical footing. One way to do that might be to investigate how generous prolifers are compared with others in donating time and resources to the causes critics have highlighted—especially those that help people that are born, such as improving healthcare and reducing poverty. Critics may be surprised by what they find.

Paper title: Inconsistency arguments still do not matter

Authors: Bruce P. Blackshaw, Nicholas Colgrove, Daniel Rodger

Affiliations: University of Birmingham; Wake Forest University; London South Bank University.

Competing interests: None



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