Where did my logic fail me?

I thought I was being logical in arguing that Grace Poe was not eligible for the presidency of the Republic.  Apparently, I was wrong.  The Supreme Court has ruled that she is qualified.  In an attempt to keep faith with rationality, no matter how trying the circumstances might be, I will review my premises and my lines of proof, in the hope that I am convincingly shown where my logic failed me.  Spinoza took to the axiomatic method — the procedure that argues from axioms and definitions — to leave no doubt that he was not merely being provocative nor controversial.  He of course learned this from Euclid.  I learn it from both.

I start with the following Propositions, which I take to be axiomatic, not in the sense that they are self-evident but because they are the givens in this case.

Proposition 1:  To be president of the Philippines, one must be a natural-born Filipino.  (Art. VII, 1987 Constitution)

Proposition 2:  A natural-born Filipino is one who was born of a Filipino father.  (Art. IV, 1935 Constitution)

Proposition 3: Grace Poe is a foundling.  (Admission)

Definition: A foundling is one of unknown parentage, whose birth circumstances are likewise unknown and who is found as an infant.

Conclusion 1:  Because of the Definition and Proposition 3, then whether or not Ms. Poe complies with Proposition 2 is, at best, doubtful.

Now: To say that it is doubtful that Ms. Poe was born of a Filipino father, is to say: “It is possible that she was born of a Filipino father”.  Unfortunately, it is also to say: “It is possible that she was not born of a Filipino father.”

Conclusion 2:  Proposition 1 is likewise a modal proposition.  “To be president of the Philippines, one must be a natural-born Filipino” is, in logical terms, “To be president, it is necessary that one be a natural-born Filipino”.

“Necessary” is defined as: It is not possible that it should not be so.  (This should be render in symbols, but aware of the general aversion for anything remotely mathematical, I have avoided the symbols.)

In other words: For Ms. Poe to be eligible for the presidency, the very possibility that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen should be excluded.

But Conclusion 1 has precisely pointed out that this possibility is not excluded in the case of Ms. Grace Poe.  Therefore, she cannot be eligible for the Presidency.

Here is the argument again, this time, in sentential form:

To be President of the Philippines, one must be a natural-born Filipino.

Therefore: Owing to the necessity of the requirement, the very possibility that a candidate is not a natural-born Filipino should be excluded.

Under the 1935 Constitution, one was natural-born only if one was born of a Filipino father.  (For purposes relevant to the present discussion).

Ms. Poe is POSSIBLY natural-born, but AS POSSIBLY not natural-born, precisely because she is a foundling.

A foundling is one whose parentage is unknown and whose birth circumstances are unknown, who is found, as an infant.

Since one cannot argue from POSSIBILITY (she is possibly a natural-born Filipino) to FACT (she IS a natural-born Filipino), then she does not comply with the requirement of the Constitution.

This is, I willingly admit, as far as the logic goes.  Spare me the hogwash that the life of the law is not logic but experience, for while experience goes into the crafting of law, the application of the law has to be logical, otherwise it is unreasonable, and if unreasonable, unfair!

I have not yet read the judgment and the separate opinions.  When I do so, I hope to see where logic failed me, but until that time, I think that the rules of logic led to one conclusion — one that the Supreme Court did not reach!

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Topics: Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino , Where did my logic fail me? , Grace Poe
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