Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Loaded Language" [Megan]

As I reread Christopher Kaczor's The Ethics of Abortion, I paid closer attention to Kaczor's introductory passages, particularly one on "Loaded Language."

Kaczor does a fantastic job of laying groundwork for both sides of the debate to read his book by addressing which terms he will use and why at the outset.

Communication is key if there is to be productive dialogue in any argument (used in the traditional sense of the word), and choosing the best words to convey your message effectively cannot be done without some careful thought. In this case, using terms like "pro-abortion" and "anti-choice" cause one or the other side of the debate to bristle. The result, most likely, will be that your dialogue partner will shut him/herself off from the rest of what could have been a fruitful conversation.

Kaczor uses the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice," which, he explains, appear to be the names each view prefers for themselves. Likewise, when referring to the unborn, he chooses scientifically accurate terms such as "human fetus" and "human being in utero."

Pro-lifers, are you using your language wisely — intentionally choosing words that will advance your arguments in such a way that your pro-choice counterparts will listen? Or are you firing with loaded language that meets stone-walled silence or hostile retaliation?

As ambassadors for the truth, it's something to consider.


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  2. The problem is that "pro-choice" is just a propaganda term. It's because "choice" is an abstraction which is meaningless when you're talking about something specific.

    The terms "anti-abortion" and "pro-abortion" are perfectly legitimate. The issue isn't lost in pretense. Of course, pro-aborts intentionally misconstrue the meaning of the term "pro-abortion" because they want to hide behind the meaningless abstraction of "choice".

  3. Drew, I agree with you regarding the legitimacy of the terms "anti-abortion" and "pro-abortion." And when it comes to the abstraction of the "choice" in "pro-choice." We work very hard to point out that abstraction in our trainings. This post was meant to point out that there are times when using terms that may fan the flame of your opponent's anger works against the advancement of edifying argument. Choosing words wisely is always a necessity, and situations may sometimes call for the terms in question. Thank you for your thoughts!

  4. Megan, i have real problems with using the term "pro-choice". i don't want to legitimize the word. Why let pro-aborts hide the killing behind a fig leaf term?

    i understand why you may use the term so you don't upset pro-aborts. It's a political move. But it seems the cost (to truth, to clarity) is too high.

  5. Hey Drew, I can definitely identify with what you're feeling. I've written some thoughts on this that might be helpful. They're in the same vein as Megan's post. Sorry to link drop, but I'm getting ready to facilitate a Justice For All training/outreach in Irvine and I don't have time to do more than say, "here's a potentially helpful link."


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