In computer talk, it's like an IF/THEN statement. IF such happens, THEN thus happens. We're familiar with the classic.
All humans die. (major premise)
I'm human. (minor premise)
I will die. (conclusion)
Both premises and the conclusion are solid.
Although we may more properly call it enthymeme because they usually leave the major premise unsaid.
It is wrong to take human life. (major premise unsaid)
Human life begins at conception. (minor premise)
Abortion takes human life and is, therefore, wrong. (conclusion)
Are the premises and conclusion of this syllogism solid? We may argue many cases where taking a human life is morally right. Self-defense, war, capital punishment. You may agree or disagree but there is basis for argument. So also may you argue the minor premise and its conclusion.
Expanding on what Chrystia Freeland said on this week's Real Time with Bill Maher, the "Every Sperm Is Sacred" bunch have painted themselves into a rhetorical and logical corner.
Of course Mourdock believes that life is a gift from God even though it may be the product of rape. I think that he truly and honestly believes what he said. Just watch him.
The syllogism will not let him reach any other conclusion any more than an IF/THEN statement will veer from its path. I've done some very simple programming and the crucial step is testing. Do each of your programming statements lead to the result you want? Perhaps their syllogism is constructed to lead to the desired result. Or have they just not tested it adequately?
Okay, I think most of us can agree that it's wrong to unjustifiably take a human life so let's let the major premise stand and argue justification. I wonder if Mourdock felt as bad when stuff hit the fan for him as when a woman finds out her violation resulted in conception. Mourdock is already over the worse of the approbation. He may lose his election. Or he may win. In any case, his life will not be irrevocably changed. How can they ignore the self defense argument when it comes to the mother's life?
Personally, I have a lot of problems with the rape exception and all the other exceptions because I just plain can't buy into the minor premise. The fetus is a human life when it can survive outside the womb. That's what I believe. Until birth the life is hypothetical.
I don't believe an embryo is life. It has life. In the same way that my heart has life. The same way my tonsils and blood have life. None of my body parts will spontaneously continue to have life when removed from body any more than the pre-viable fetus will. If my heart is removed I will cease to have life yet not so with my tonsils or a reasonable amount of my blood.
These arguments have all been made ad infinitum about abortion. Magical thinking abounds throughout the spectrum of their philosophy.
Obama is not an American citizen.
Only citizens can be president.
Therefore Obama cannot be president.
Global warming. The economy. Foreign policy. The list is almost endless.
I don't entirely object to magical thinking. We all need something sometimes. I object to magical thinking as a basis for policy decisions. I object to the lack of intellectual rigor which prevents these people from testing the coherence of their premises and conclusions.