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Plan B And Degenerative Definitions

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Aspazia has more on Plan B.

To to add a brief addendum to our discussion last week, Santorum’s attempt to re-define Plan B is sort of a definitional equivalent of a degenerative research program. It’s true on some levels that all definitions are arbitrary, and Santorum’s attempt to redefine abortion so as to encompass preventing a pregnancy as well as terminating a pregnancy. You can’t prove that such a definition is incorrect (although you can say that his attempts to fool his audience to think that Plan B is an abortifacient under existing technical definitions is dishonest.) But then we have to ask–is Santorum’s definition useful? Does it describe the relevant concepts more accurately? And the answer, of course, is no. This definition would have many logical consequences–seeing birth control as roughly morally equivalent to abortion, seeing the number of embryos that don’t implant as a health crisis far worse than AIDS and cancer put together, etc.–that Santorum is obviously not willing to embrace. His definition has no conceptual value at all–its only value is the crudely instrumental political one of evading his extremely unpopular position on emergency contraception
by conflating it with the more contested issue of abortion. And, therefore, it should be rejected by anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty.

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