March 19, 2012

In regards to your editorial of March 5, I wish to raise a few objections to your presentation of the statistical data and your subsequent interpretation of that data.

While I do not wish to dispute the theological focus of your editorial, I feel that you have greatly overstated your case. In particular you have linked the increase in extra-marital births, divorce and other social ills exclusively to the availability of contraception.

While that might be partially true, anyone with a rudimentary education in sociology necessarily knows that while factors like the wide availability of contraception may be contributors to a particular situation, they are not sufficient to completely explain why that situation has come about.

In fact, most sociological facts, such as the increase in the birth of children out of wedlock, are thought by sociologists to be overdetermined, meaning that they are the result of multiple factors, not all of which can individually be used to sufficiently explain them.

I think it is important to keep in mind that the period in which contraception has been available is one that has seen some of the most profound changes in human society (particularly in how societies are organized) of any time in history.

Thus, there are probably numerous factors not related to contraception that have led to the increase in births outside of marriage.

To attribute a complex social problem to a single, non-sufficient factor is what academics call reductionism. Such an intellectual failing does no one any good since it actually masks the root of the problem in the service of ideological goals and inevitably makes them much more difficult to solve.

Jeff Brassard