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I'm trying to understand the arguments and logic that make up the three statements statements below (taken from the graphic novel Persepolis as the government's arguments for making women covering their hair mandatory):

"To protect women from all the potential rapists, they decreed that wearing the veil was obligatory.

Women's hair emanates rays that excited men. That's why women should cover their hair!

If in fact it really is more civilized to go without the veil, then animals are more civilized than we are!"

The first statement is possibly "appeal to fear, and the second statement possibly falls into the "appeal to ignorance" category, but I would love some more insight. The closest I came up with for the third statement is possible modus ponens -- but I don't think that's quite right, and am not sure what kind of fallacy it really is.

I really appreciate any help understanding!

  • The difficulty in the analysis is in making explicit the implied premises. For instance, in social contexts it is rational to say that obligations/duties on one party implies rights of another party. Therefore, if women are obligated to cover their hair to prevent being raped, then this implies that men have a right to rape women. There is no logical inconsistency here, but it violates just about every ethical standard or moral code that I know of. – Kevin Holmes Aug 20 '14 at 16:45
  • This section on the SEP article on the analysis of rights might help your analysis of these kinds of things in the future: plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/#2.1 – Kevin Holmes Aug 20 '14 at 16:56
  • @KevinHolmes Thanks for that article, that definitely makes more sense to analyze the first statement in terms of rights, rather than logical fallacy. I'm really interested in trying to understand the reasoning behind statement 3 in particular if you have any ideas? – sammis Aug 20 '14 at 18:00
  • I would say that the premise is similar to the first one, that women have the power to incite lust in men, and that therefore women are responsible for the lust of men. A society of lustful men isn't civilized is another premise. Basically, here as before, women are burdened with all the responsibility of a man's sexuality. Men seem to be allowed to do as they please, and it is a woman's burden to ensure that men behave in a civilized way...by not causing men to want to have sex with them. I guess it counts as a fallacy to argue on false grounds. – Kevin Holmes Aug 20 '14 at 19:21
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From a purely logical point of view :

The first statement is equivalent to a conditional statement (Material implication), namely : If we require women to wear the veil, then we will protect woman from rape. In order to show this statement is false, we need to show that it can be the case that the antecedent (the "if" part) is true while the consequent (the "then" part) is false. With this in mind, statement one is false for the simple reason that many women have been raped while wearing a veil.

Similarily, the second statement is equivalent to the conditional statment : If women cover their hair, then it cannot emit the rays that excite men. The consequent here is plainly false since although a woman's hair may excite a man, it is not because it is emitting mysterious rays. However, in order to look at the statement logically, we need to assume that a woman's hair does indeed emit these mysterious rays. In this case, the statement is false for the same reasons that statement 1 is false, namely that many women have been raped while wearing a hair covering.

The third statement is more opaque. It is stated as a conditional statement, so in order to show it is false, we need to show that it is possible for the antecedent to be true while the consequent is false. This follows from the fact that rape is commonplace in the animal kingdom. However, it is not clear that civility is a term applicable to members of the animal kingdom.

Edit: Let's face it. We live in a world where men will turn to fresh fruit for satisfaction. Can anything prevent rape?

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  • Re "statement one is false": only if the term protect means absolutely prevent. Common usage of protect also encompasses attempts to protect, (which may fail), or protective measures that reduce harm, (but don't necessarily eliminate it). – agc Mar 17 '19 at 1:19
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I don't know the inherent truth behind the first statement, with no background on 'they' and the setting within this statement was made I don't know enough about it. To me the second statement seems more like jumping to conclusions. The third statement appears to me to be an appeal to nature.

For matters like these here's an infographic I like to refer to hosted at informationisbeautiful.net

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