Friday, November 26, 2010


I have read so many different articles on the kerfuffle about the Pope's recently released comments about condoms that they have all melted together into a meta-commentary. I seldom tend to rattle my poker in the fires of contemporary "events" at FCA, not the least because so many persons (e.g.1 and e.g.2), abler than I, discuss such topics. I prefer my "issues" to be clocked by the centuries and measured by the order of angels.

But a small point I wanted to make comes in response to a comment I read in [INSERT POSSIBLE SOURCE]. The comment was something to this effect: "The Pope's advisor admitted that the AIDS crisis cannot be solved merely by handing out condoms, but something more must be done" (emphasis in original) The point the commenter then made was to the effect that such a statement admits "handing out condoms" is at least part of the solution, and hence at least minimally endorsed by the Pope. This, however, strikes me a case of a condition I dubbed today: disjunctivitis exclusivus, i.e. the confusion of an exclusive or with a conjunctive.

Let's rephrase the commenter's assertion, say, in a context about the Kurd problem in Iran: "The UN Secretary stated that the problem cannot be solved merely by decapitating any and all Kurds on sight, but something more must be done [such as providing them with political power, etc.]."

Clearly, at least on a logical plane, nothing in the Pope's statements, or subsequent clarifications, support a conjunctive interpretation. Rather, the Pope's other comments, coupled with the huge bulk of Catholic teaching on contraception, indicate that the disjunction is exclusive. Ambiguous disjunction: Either handing out condoms is not enough or something more must be done. Exclusive disjunction: Handing out condoms is not enough and therefore something else must be done to function as an acceptable solution.

A small point, as I say, but I wanted to note it before Lethe washed it away. As we all (ought to) know, the ocean's owned by the serpent.

No comments: