Did he just false dilemma himself?

Jed Babbin, over at The American Spectator, has some objections to the gender-integration of combat troops.  He breaks the issue into two questions:

First and foremost is whether the presence of women will add to or detract from the readiness and capability of the unit to perform its mission. The second is a moral question: Will having women serve in harm’s way benefit our military and society at large?

OK. That sounds fine.  Though the second moral question seems improperly formed.  Shouldn’t it be less an issue of serving society at large but more an issue of equal treatment of those in the military (i.e., not having a glass ceiling for women)?  Well, regardless, Babbin holds that the answer to the second is a NO, but he feels like the PC police will descend on him if he says much more about it:

The question of benefit to society has been mooted politically.

He then turns to the question, again, whether the presence of women will add or detract from readiness:

So we are left with the first question, which has to be answered with a resounding “no.”

Wait.  He posed the dilemma (add or detract), and now he says ‘no.’  Now, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to be arguing for a third option (though, given the way the question is posed, it should). Given what he says later (like, having women around yields “complete the destruction of the warrior culture”) it’s pretty clear that what Babbin means to say is that it will detract from readiness.  But, sheesh!  Somebody over there is playing (and being paid to be an) editor, right?


About Scott Aikin

Scott Aikin is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.
This entry was posted in False Dichotomy, ignorance of basic matters of logic and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Did he just false dilemma himself?

  1. John Small Berries says:

    Well, to be fair, “no” is an appropriate answer if the presence of women neither adds to nor detracts from the units’ readiness.

  2. Saikin says:

    Hey JSM, You’re right that the most charitable interpretation of the reply is that the dilemma is false — that there is no change in capacities. The problem is that all the reasons he gives are ones that are in the service of showing decrease. My assumption is that when Babbin went back to reply to the question, stated as increase or decrease?, he only replied to the question increase? It’s an old lesson: proofread.

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