Argument "from nature" should be dropped from both sides of the debate on homosexuality
Debate Rounds (5)
The "pro-gay" side of the homosexuality debate often counters this argument (often quite eloquently) by pointing out that there are many natural things that are bad and many unnatural things that are good...that we cannot use "nature", per se, to condemn homosexuality. I believe the pro-gay side is correct in this critique.
Nevertheless, the pro-gay side often turns right around and presents its own brand of the argument from nature: that there are natural instances of homosexuality in the animal and human world, and that many (if not all) homosexuals are born that way...and that, therefore, homosexuality is totally acceptable.
My position is that what is good for the goose is good for the gander: I don't believe the moral acceptability or condemnation of homosexuality can be bolstered by either version of this kind of argument "from nature", and each side would be better off dropping this line of reasoning from the larger debate.
I figure my opponent likely will agree with my initial premise that both anti-gay and pro-gay contingents commonly utilize this sort of argument...otherwise s/he likely would not accept this debate challenge...but I am open to debating even that part of my initial premise. Nevertheless, if my opponent agrees with the initial premise, then we should be able to easily proceed with the topic at hand: that the argument(s) "from nature" are flawed and should be dropped from the larger debate on homosexuality.
Allow me to begin this round by first thanking my worthy opponent for accepting this debate challenge, and for providing a provocative first round post.
Next, I shall attempt to elucidate my argument from R1 with a bit more detail. Then I will try to offer a more direct critique of my opponent's argument from R1. So here goes...
My general stance in R1 is as follows: arguments "from nature" that try to justify or condemn homosexuality are flawed and should be dropped from the larger debate on homosexuality.
Let us look a bit more closely first at the "nature" argument as it seems most commonly used by the anti-gay contingent. The claim is that homosexuality is "unnatural" and, therefore, should be condemned as immoral. Perhaps we could put it in the following format:
1. Sexual behavior that is unnatural is immoral.
2. Homosexuality is unnatural.
3. Therefore, homosexuality is immoral.
My first problem with this is the first premise...that unnatural sexual behavior is immoral. Granted, we may be dealing with semantics to some degree here, but I fail to see the necessary correlation between sexual behavior that is unnatural and sexual behavior that is immoral. Wearing condoms, taking viagra, being on the pill, among a whole host of other things, are not particularly "natural", but few would argue that this category of things correlates necessarily with immorality. I suppose that some folks who are disabled or possibly ill might engage in various forms of sexual behavior...to the degree that we might deem their behavior unnatural...but surely few would argue that these situations necessarily correlate with immorality.
My point is that the very claim that morality can be based on "what is natural" is itself fraught with ambiguity and inaccuracy. Granted, what many folks may mean by the term "unnatural" goes deeper than what may be a relatively superficial use of the term. For example, they may assert that there is something about "purpose" and "moral imperative"...that can be derived from what "nature intended"...or that can be derived from divine design. But I would posit even in these cases that the debate would be better served if they would go ahead and explain such points rather than simply dismiss as immoral any sexual behavior that is "unnatural." Furthermore, I would continue to ask for clarification re: how they derive their conclusions. Why do they assume that "unnatural" is bad?
Some might argue that "unnatural" means abnormal or rare, and, therefore, bad. Here, too, however, I beg to differ. Why should we assume that "abnormal" or "rare" is unnatural or wrong...even in the arena of what most of us would call "nature"? The rarest species of flora and fauna not only occur in nature, but often are held in the highest esteem. A high IQ may be abnormal or rare, but that doesn't make it immoral or unnatural. Acts of kindness are abnormal and rare. Sexually speaking, someone may be abnormally well-endowed. That does not mean s/he is unnatural or immoral.
I believe that nature, ultimately, is a mixed bag. There are lots of things in nature that are good, lots that are bad, and most things, most likely, are neither good nor bad. The same applies to the "unnatural" world. Assault weapons and cyber-hacking might be deemed relatively bad (depending on your perspective), while open heart surgery usually is deemed to be an amazing (though highly unnatural) human achievement.
The point is that the way things are (whether natural or not) cannot be a reliable indicator of the way things ought to be. The behavior or state of being in question may be good, bad, or indifferent, but we cannot derive such judgment simply from whether it occurs in nature or is artificially imposed.
The pro-gay contingent often counters this argument "from nature" by pointing out that homosexuality can be seen to occur in nature. This is true and is a good corrective to the anti-gay stance. Nevertheless, the pro-gay contingent often proceeds from this point to make the very same philosophical error it has just critiqued. How so? The pro-gay contingent claims that, because homosexuality occurs in nature, it should be deemed acceptable morally. The pro-gay contingent attempts to bolster this claim by further asserting that many homosexuals (if not all) are born gay.
Perhaps we could put it thusly:
1. Sexual preference/behavior that occurs naturally is morally acceptable.
2. Homosexuality occurs naturally.
3. Therefore, homosexuality is morally accpetable.
If I may, I'd like to quote Dean Hamer, one of the scientists who was credited with discovering the "gay gene". Hamer discounts the "gay gene" as hype: "We knew it would be a difficult search since sexual orientation, even in men, was only partially genetic, and since the genetic component probably involved many different genes, not a single switch that said gay or straight. What we were looking for was one of many different factors that influenced sexual orientation, not a single, all-powerful 'gay gene'. Despite the hype, there is no such thing." [p. 193, LIVING WITH OUR GENES, Hamer, Doubleday, 1998] No less an intellect than Harvard scholar Ruth Hubbard also doubts studies that purport to demonstrate a direct and necessary correlation between the hypothalamus and homosexuality [p.95-95, EXPLODING THE GENE MYTH, Hubbard, Beacon Press 1993].
So the claim that most (if not all) homosexuals are born that way itself is shaky. To be sure, my opponent, to his credit, exhibits intellectual honesty and admits to this ambiguity...something many on the pro-gay side of the debate seem reluctant to admit. Nevertheless, I would suggest that he extends the flaw of this position to another similar point: that, even if we don't know what causes homosexuality, "science has been able to demonstrate...that sexuality is something that is embedded at a very young age and is not possible to change."
I really don't want to play the "prove it" card, but I have to say my opponent must be reading different sources than ones I have read. My experience and research leads me to believe that sexuality may be embedded at a very young age, and may not be alterable, but that such findings (pro or con) are largely anecdotal. But (maybe) more on this in the next round.
More important, my point is that it really does not matter if my opponent's scientific claims are valid. The argument "from nature" is still flawed, even if we corroborate scientifically that one's sexuality is naturally or irretrieveably embedded. Even if we could prove that something occurs naturally or is nurtured (to the point of becoming one's nature), its morality cannot be derived from the cause. Say, for example, a Charles Manson or a pedophile is genetically prone to certain criminal behaviors (or was nurtured to the point of no return). It really doesn't matter how strong of a nature or nurture component is involved...such embedding does not therefore justify the behavior.
Likewise, if such embedding results in something that cannot be altered later in life, we still would not justify the behavior.
One can argue that homosexual behavior is not criminal like these examples. But this is exactly my point! Let us discuss how homosexuality is different...and, perhaps, morally acceptable or not...but we should do so more effectively if we would lay this "from nature" argument to rest. Claiming that homosexuality is naturally embedded and cannot be changed does nothing to distinguish homosexuality from these bad behaviors. If anything, it places them all in the same basket and just feeds into the anti-gay stance that they all are unnatural and immoral. This pro-gay version of the "from nature" argument is really no more sound than its anti-gay counterpart.
So, for purposes of this particular debate, I maintain that the argument(s) "from nature" commonly employed by both sides of the larger debate on homosexuality are flawed and should be put to rest.
I now give the floor back to my opponent.
Zach5714 forfeited this round.
Not sure if my opponent has conceded...or just forfeited a round. I'll forfeit this round as well...and see if my opponent will respond.
Zach5714 forfeited this round.
My opponent has forfeited again. Perhaps s/he is conceding? I'll extend the debate and see if s/he responds during the last couple of rounds.
Zach5714 forfeited this round.
Once again, my opponent has forfeited his/her round. I'll extend the argument through this last round.
Zach5714 forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Complete forfeit. The forfeit obviously causes the conduct to go to Pro. It also means that Con did not refute any of Pro's arguments, allowing Pro to win those points as well. Con had some present/past tense issues, so lost the spelling and grammar (there was also the brick format and other issues). The main recommendation I would give to Pro is to use sources for their arguments.
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