Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Logical Fallacy

Dean Jorge Bocobo criticized the argument, made by Secretary Rick Saludo,
"that the (present) situation is nothing like 1972 martial law, pointing out the continued operation of media and the availability of the courts."
Mr. Bocobo argues that Secretary Saludo's argument falls because of the fallacy of false analogy. He says that
"Proclamation 1017 State of National Emergency is closer in its preparatory role to the 1971 lifting of the writ of habeas corpus, which also allowed the warrantless arrests"
As I have argued similarly as Secretary Saludo, I take exception to Mr. Bocobo's argument. In this case, I cannot see how Secretary Saludo can be guilty of the false analogy fallacy. People were saying that President Arroyo's declaration of Proclamation 1017 is like President Marcos' declaration of Proclamation 1081. So Secretary Saludo correctly compared the situation after the declaration of PP 1017 where media continued to operate and where courts continue to function with the situation after President Marcos declared proclamation 1081 where all media and the courts were closed.

In fact it was Mr. Bocobo that changed the parameters of the argument. He did not compare PP 1017 with Proclamation 1081, he compared PP 1017 with the 1971 lifting of the writ of habeas corpus. But this was not what Secretary Saludo was responding to, he was responding to the critics that were comparing PP 1017 with Proclamation 1081. They were not comparing PP 1017 with the lifting of the writ of habeas corpus. They were shouting at the top of their lungs Martial Law! Martial Law!

In the internet, there is such a thing as Godwins Law which states
"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"
Hitler is used here because online discussion usually gets very heated and in the heat of the moment somebody will usually compare their opponent or their opponents position with Hitler or the Nazis. In online discussion groups, the person who raises the Hitler card is usually considered the loser.

Raising Godwins law is apt in this instance and I quote from Wikipedia
"Godwin has argued, that hyperbolic overuse of the Hitler/Nazi comparison should be avoided. Avoiding such hyperbole, he argues, is a way of ensuring that when valid comparisons to Hitler or Nazis are made, such comparisons have the appropriate impact."
My point here is that we should not overuse the Martial Law comparison because as stated above, it belittles the Filipinos Martial Law experience. The same can be said of EDSA or People Power, every rally or mobilization is billed as People Power that the term is losing its meaning.

I propose that when columnists, pundits, bloggers, etc. find themselves invoking the Martial Law comparison, they should immediately delete and re-write the sentence using a different more descriptive term or phrase. Only if the term Martial Law can describe the phenomena should we use it.


Rizalist said...

Nice try you've got the logical armamentarium. But you have to admit, forgetting about Saludo or what the context of his statement was, that Proclamation 1017 is a lot like the 1971 lifting of the Writ of habeas corpus. It's obviously not a martial law declaration under 1987 charter, but it has resulted in a very similar set of events as followed in 1971, a ratcheting up of authoritarian rule. Fortunately we are no longer the sheep that Marcos had on his ranch. We are more like stampeding bulls, madder than heck for the brazen new attempt at fascism. thanks

roy choco said...

Yes, I agree. I wrote about how I believe that Martial Law, the Marcos variety, will never happen because of the efforts of Filipinos.

Mark said...

"Lifting" of the writ of habeas corpus is different from "suspension" of the writ of habeas corpus. The former is vague because only the "suspension" can be "lifted" while the latter is actually what Marcos did prior to declaring Martial Law in 1971.