A very confused argument against homosexuality

On my last post, in which I chastised Rob Schwarzwalder for his dimwitted argument against homosexuals in the Boy Scouts, I received a comment that contained only a link. I clicked the link, and I was taken to a very short blog post. The person who posted the comment left no context to indicate the meaning of the link, so I will have to assume that it was meant as a rebuttal to my argument. I would like to take this opportunity, then, to break down the argument I found in this little blog post, here on my own blog.

It starts:

To the advocates of homosexual marriage: what is the purpose of sex? “The expression of love between two people in a committed relationship.” Wonderful.

Whoa there. You don’t get to answer the question that you posed to someone of an opposing viewpoint. If you’d like to debate, you have to address the points they make; not the points you imagine they would make given your question. That’s called attacking a straw man, and it doesn’t bode well for you.

As for your assumption, I take issue with all three points. First, sex does not have to be an expression of love. In many cases it is simply an expression of attraction. In others it is an expression of love. And in the case of rape, it is an expression of power. Second, sex is not limited to people in committed relationships. One night stands are just as legitimate a form of sex as is marital sex. And finally, sex is not confined to only two people – to which the adventurous among us can attest.

It sounds to me as though you have simply defined where you find meaning in sex. It’s a perfectly acceptable stance for you to take, but do not assume that your definition is representative of the entire human population.

This means you find prostitution immoral. It contravenes the purpose of sex.

Do I? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. You don’t know, because you’re making up an argument that is totally unsubstantiated by the words of your opponent. In my case, I do find prostitution immoral in most situations, but not because it violates your narrow definition of sex. When I philosophize to determine whether or not I find something to be immoral, I take into consideration a number of factors – foremost whether the act causes any type of harm to a person or a group of people. In the case of prostitution, many woman and men are harmed because of the act. In some cases, they are forced into it. In others, they are abused by their pimps. One could also consider the implications prostitution has on women as a group – does it lend to the continuing objectification of women? Does it create a system in which some women feel the only way to provide for themselves is by selling their bodies? These are the questions I ask, rather than does it contradict my view for how sex should take place.

Now, do I find prostitution immoral in all cases? I doubt it. If a consenting adult pays another consenting adult money to teach the first adult something about sex, is it prostitution? In countries such as the Netherlands, where prostitution is a unionized profession, do the women choose the job voluntarily? These are complex questions to which your binary test cannot be applied. It is foolhardy for you to think such dilemmas are so simple.

Does this, therefore, make you unscientific, hate-filled and whorophobic? You’d likely reply, “No.”

What we have here is a false comparison. Opposing homosexuality because of religious reasons is by definition unscientific. My approach to the question of prostitution must be carried out scientifically, and I am not relying on my subjective morals to come to a conclusion. Furthermore, though I’m opposed to men (by and large) taking advantage of prostitutes, I’m not attacking the rights of the prostitutes in order to solve the problem. See the difference?

You would contest such a description because you understand the following: (1) moral judgment requires man be free, no matter what the Calvinists and philosophers say; (2) any behavior could be said to be partially induced by genetics, especially having a mistress; and (3) the moral vision that supplied you with the purpose of sex is not a matter or product of scientific inquiry.

Such convoluted reasoning (again coming from the viewpoint of your absurd strawman) is difficult to follow, but I’ll give it my best shot. (1) If I understand correctly, you’re proposing that in order to determine something to be moral or immoral, humans must have the ability to make decisions, which can then be judged to be good or bad. I would probably agree, but free will is a tricky subject that you have again condensed far too much. (2) If you’re going to propose that behavior could be the result, even if partially, of genetics, why emphasize having a mistress? That seems an odd non sequitur. (3) No, the moral vision that you supplied for the purpose of sex is not the product of scientific inquiry. I think that determining the purpose of sex is definitely a matter of scientific inquiry. And, as I have mentioned, I think that determining whether or not something is moral must be done scientifically as well.

If the Fool were to say that the purpose of sex was fun and babies, you might grow worried over where such a philosophy would lead.

Are you referring to yourself in the third person as “the Fool”? Anyway, if you were to say that the purpose of sex was fun and babies, I’d say you likely would have a healthier understanding of sex than you do currently, but that’s really a subjective personal issue. I would have no quarrel with that definition of the purpose of sex (such a silly concept in the first place).

You might not be mollified by my assurances that the moral envelope would not be pushed further. You might claim that my formulation of sex’s purpose was self-serving. And the Fool might reply: that’s what a whorophobe would say.

You’re lucky I took a look at the tags you added to this post; otherwise I might not have noticed that you were trying to make an argument for the slippery slope of accepting homosexuality. Either way, the point you are so poorly trying to make has already been shredded. What, in your mind, is the envelope that might be pushed should advocates of gay marriage have their way? And would you please address the implied negativity of sex being self-serving? A freshman course in logic would serve you well in this arena.



Filed under Atheism/Religion

4 responses to “A very confused argument against homosexuality

  1. foolproofed

    Haha, okay. A few points.

    1. Lighten up. And give the “all bow before my clearly impressive intellect” tone a rest. It makes one think you’re insecure, which I’m sure you’re not. Or perhaps survey your readers as to how the tone plays with them.

    2. You spent the first part attacking my “definition” of sex. I wasn’t defining sex. I wasn’t concerned with what people actually do, but with our notion of what they should do. Also, it is not a straw man if actual proponents within the homosexual community view the purpose of sex as such. Which some do. You might not. So be it.

    3. I don’t know if you view prostitution as immoral or not. But most do, I assume. The point of bringing up prostitution is not to make a “false comparison,” but to look at another arena in which we reason morally and analyze why we reach the conclusions we do there to help us in the sphere of homosexuality. There are principally two modes of moral reasoning: (1) utilitarianism and (2) deontologicalism. The former divides right and wrong based on harm (and its adherents usually define “harm” in purely materialist terms), and the latter divides right and wrong based on the obligations given by God or inferred from nature. Neither one is more scientific than the other because science says nothing as to standards of behavior (cf., the law of the jungle). And we all utilize both modes because they both overlap in the margins. Proponents of homosexuality usually operate under the utilitarian mode (homosexuality doesn’t harm anyone, therefore, it’s not wrong). The point in raising prostitution is to show that these same proponents likely hold other moral positions based not on utilitarianism but on deontologicalism, i.e., they find something wrong even though no physical harm has resulted. The question that follows then is: where does this standard of behavior come from if it’s not based on harm? Everyone has these notions of standards or purposes, but where do they come from? The leading candidates are society or God.

    4. The moral envelope I’m referring to is another act that most everyone would view as wrong but which is okayed under the utilitarian mode of reasoning. For example, if a brother and sister who are in love and agree to be sterilized, should there marriage be prevented? If so, why? Where’s the harm?

    5. Forgive for me for not giving you enough context. The reason I posted the argument is to give you–someone who seems rather snidely assured in their stance for homosexuality–a brief snippet of a mode of moral reasoning that you use (we all use) and which is valid but which also undermines homosexual behavior, at least potentially. The point being that just because someone utilizes such a mode does not therefore make them hate-filled as some have been labeled for their position. It just makes them someone with whom you disagree. No harm there.

    Have a good one.

    The Fool

    P.S. I’ve had my freshman course in logic. Do universities these days offer courses in manners?

    • NewDreamsOldEarth

      1. I’ll keep my tone, you keep yours. This is not the forum to lecture me on niceties.

      2. No, what you did was spend the first part of your argument floating your own conceptualization of what the meaning of sex is, and then you spent the remainder of your argument attacking someone who would utilize your reasoning. Sorry, but that’s a strawman.

      3. You would know what I thought of prostitution had you bothered to read my response in its entirety. I laid out my views pretty clearly. Since when doesn’t “science [say anything] as to standards of behavior”? To close that door immediately is to voluntarily shut yourself off from scientific inquiry. Some scientists do argue for standards of behavior and morality, and they do so without interjecting your god.

      Furthermore, if your argument was about distinguishing the two modes and how we use them both, then why in the world did you create this term “whorophobic”? I’ve got an idea: it was because you were creating a comparison that doesn’t make any sense in practice.

      I agree that we should ask from where do our standards of morality originate, but a) there is no way of proving a god exists – much less that your god is responsible for morality, and b) I still see no reason to arbitrarily blind ourselves to scientific inquiry when it comes to morality.

      4. So let me get this straight: Are you suggesting that if we allow homosexuality (because utilitarianism and stuff!), we might next promote incest? Are you putting heterosexuality, homosexuality and incest on a continuum, or are they just in the same box? Why not replace “homo” with “hetero” and have the same discussion? I’m really asking – I don’t understand the point you are trying to make.

      5. Forgive me for being “snidely assured in [my] stance for homosexuality.” Wait, no, screw you for not being supportive of gay rights and homosexual marriage. How dare you think that this is even a conversation about giving them rights? They are people. Homosexuality is not unnatural. We (straight people) don’t give them rights; they have rights. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality, yet you have the audacity to argue against it. Shame on you.

      • foolproofed

        2. I read your whole post. You can’t get from “is” to “ought.” But go ahead and try to spell out how science helps you develop morality. Note Hume before you do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is–ought_problem.

        3. When did I say I thought homosexuality was wrong? I did suggest that it could be labeled as such using the same modes of reasoning that people use to label all sorts of behavior as wrong. That’s the point of bringing up prostitution.

        4. Forget about sex. Just think about this. If the line between right and wrong is divided by harm (i.e., physical harm), then what behavior is okay? Do your answers accord with your intuition about what is right and wrong? If not, then what might be missing from utilitarianism?

        5. What is a right? Where do they come from, assuming they exist at all? I would imagine you’d think the notion of rights ridiculous and non-existent like fellow atheist George Carlin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWiBt-pqp0E

        6. My real question is: why aren’t you a nihilist? Especially in view of what Nietzsche has already said:

        If one were omniscient, one would be able to calculate each individual action in advance, each step in the progress of knowledge, each error, each act of malice. To be sure, the acting man is caught in his illusion of volition; if the wheel of the world were to stand still for a moment and an omniscient calculating mind were there to take advantage of this interruption, he would be able to tell into the farthest future of each being and describe every rut that wheel will roll upon. The acting man’s delusion about himself, his assumption that free will exists, is also part of the calculating mechanism.

        I.e., there’s no such thing as freedom. And if there’s no freedom, then there’s no freedom of thought. And if there’s no freedom of thought, then you would have thought what you think regardless without any way of knowing what you think is true. Perhaps your next post can explain why Nietzsche is wrong and why you’re not a nihilist.

      • NewDreamsOldEarth

        2. My argument is that we should explore morality (and why we act morally) scientifically. Not that I have a definite, scientific understanding of morality now. I do act upon those morals, and I’ll get to that later.

        3. You addressed your post to people who support gay marriage. Was I to assume that you were addressing the post to yourself, and were arguing with yourself for the fun of it? You’re missing that you suggested it could be labeled wrong based on your own mode of religious reasoning.

        4. I never restricted my basis for morality to physical harm, or even harm alone. I’ve stated that these problems are complex and involve multiple barriers.

        5. Your imagination has gotten in the way before, and it gets in the way now. I’m not going to write an epic here in the comment thread. I believe that we have rights, and that will have to suffice.

        6. Now we’re getting into the complexities of free will. I’m glad. Perhaps I am a nihilist. Perhaps I’m not. I find it fascinating to try to wrap my mind around whether or not we have a choice in anything we do – from what we eat to what we think. Maybe we don’t have a choice, and morality is an illusion. These are all interesting things to think about, but I do know that I act (either voluntarily or involuntarily) based on my own set of morals (which I may or may not have had a choice in choosing), and those morals dictate that restricting the rights of homosexuals is wrong.

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