The Instigator
thg
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
Bruinshockeyfan
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points

Is the argument "no harm to others" effective in establishing the acceptability of homosexuality?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
thg
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/10/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,678 times Debate No: 35455
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (4)

 

thg

Con

In the ongoing larger debate on the moral acceptability of homosexuality, I often hear the following argument employed by the pro-gay contingent: "It does no harm to others, so we should not condemn it, but should deem it morally acceptable."

While "harm done to others" surely has some relevance to any comprehensive moral system, the way this argument often is used in the ongoing debate on the moral acceptability of homosexuality falls short.

I will be arguing that this argument has a number of problems and is not effective in conclusively establishing the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior (that is, I will be CON). Notice this is not a debate on whether homosexual behavior is acceptable or not, but we are focusing on one of the common arguments employed by the pro-gay side. I happen to believe the anti-gay counterpart to this argument (that homosexuality should be condemned because it is harmful...to the partners as well as to any children in their care) also has problems, and we might even allude to it, but we are focusing mainly on the pro-gay argument.

My opponent will be arguing that the "does no harm" argument is an effective plank in the pro-gay platform (PRO).

I thank my opponent for accepting this challenge, and I look forward to a spirited debate!


Bruinshockeyfan

Pro

I do think that" not harming others" is an effective argument for establishing the acceptability of homosexuality.

It is effective because it physically doesn't harm anyone. Homosexualslity is not going to physically hurt you, cause pain or damage, cost you or anyone money, and is harmless to your well being. I dont see how people are so upset and make a big deal over homosexuality. Its none of you buisness and isn't gonna ruin your life. I think that argument is perfectly acceptable for the pro gay side because its just stating how homosexuality isnt going to hurt anyone. I know many people say its used to much but the only reason people use it is because it makes a clear point pro gay isnt going to hurt you, literally, physically and financially.
Debate Round No. 1
thg

Con

Let me begin by stating that I believe this idea about "not harming others" is an extremely complex one. Debating philosophically about any topic is not an easy task, and I believe this topic is not easily solved (regardless of which side of the debate we may adopt)...and so I respect my opponent for taking this "bull" by the horns.

I will now try to organize my portion of this debate by first listing what I believe to be my opponent's claims (I want to be sure we understand each other's positions as clearly as possible) as well as how I believe this line of reasoning is commonly used by the pro-gay side of the larger, ongoing debate on the moral acceptability of homosexuality.

Following are my opponent's claims:

1. The "does no harm to others" argument is effective because it [that is, homosexual behavior] doesn't harm anyone. The argument is effective because homosexuality doesn't "physically hurt" anyone, doesn't "cause pain or damage", doesn't cost anyone any money, is "harmless to your well being", and "isn't gonna ruin your life".

2. This entire issue shouldn't upset people and is none of their business.

3. The "does no harm to others" argument is perfectly acceptable because it's just stating how homosexuality isn't going to hurt anyone and "makes a clear point that [being] gay isn't going to hurt you, literally, physically, and financially."

I respect my opponent's feelings on this issue, but I contend that she has not provided any supporting arguments or evidence for her claims. While I anticipate many will agree with my assessment of my opponent's supposition, I believe it is ironic that often the pro-gay contingent (even well-educated proponents) often employ this very same approach...claiming that homosexual behavior harms no one without really substantiating their claim (but rather assuming that their position is "common sense" and needs no substantiation...you know, the ol' "I don't have to prove homosexuality is harmless...it's obvious to anyone with half a brain", etc.).

At this point I would like to refute each of the above claims:

1. Claiming "the does no harm to others" argument is effective BECAUSE homosexuality does no harm to others is circular reasoning...a classic no-no in any self-respecting debate. If homosexuality truly doesn't harm anyone, and IF that can be substantiated somehow, then, of course, we might agree that such an argument potentially has merit. But without any substantiation, this is like saying, "Homosexuality is dangerous BECAUSE it is dangerous" (a version of this argument too often used by the anti-gay contingent). When the pro-gay contingent hears this argument from the anti-gay side, it is quick to ask, "But HOW is homosexuality dangerous?...don't just tell us it's dangerous and then close your argument...tell us how it's dangerous, and we might have something to debate about." Likewise, when the pro-gay side claims homosexuality is harmless BECAUSE it is harmless, the anti-gay contingent often (correctly) asks the pro-gay side to substantiate this claim...as it is just as circular as the anti-gay stance.

As an aside, I'm not sure why my opponent brought up the parameter of finance. I'm not discounting its relevance completely, but I don't believe it really has much impact on what we are trying to debate here. But, just to clarify, I certainly don't believe we can construct a reliable moral system based on how much a behavior costs, lest we condemn everything that is expensive. Feeding thousands of starving people may cost a lot of money, but that surely doesn't make it immoral. But I'd prefer to leave this point out of the debate, if my opponent agrees...I'm happy to strike it from the record.

I believe my opponent correctly acknowledges that there are several types of "harm"...physical pain as well as harm that may come to one's well-being. Indeed, I would add that some "harm" is provisional and actually is a good thing (such as, say, chemotherapy, which often causes a lot of pain and sometimes even death, but which, nevertheless, most people would embrace as at least one effective way to treat some forms of cancer).

But this leads to another crucial point. When we say "does no harm", we need to be fairly specific (so we might, for example, limit our context to, say, "ultimate harm" in some life-changing, cataclysmic or eternal sense). But we also need to allow that our stance on "ultimate harm" (that is, harm that truly is ultimately bad or destructive with no redeeming quality) depends a great deal upon what we believe about the behavior in question to begin with. If we believe, for example, that homosexuality goes against the ideal purpose for human sexuality and marital fulfillment, then we could argue that partaking in homosexuality does, indeed, harm us in some kind of ultimate sense. If, on the other hand, we believe that homosexuality is perfectly OK, then, of course, we will argue that it is harmless. But, again, this entire line is circular. To make this line effective, we first must establish (if we can) our parameters for what makes a thing harmful or not, then we must demonstrate that a thing actually causes the harm we claim it does.

To be sure, there have been hundreds of "studies" done on this very topic...attempts to actually substantiate the danger or OK-ness of homosexuality. I will not cite them all here, but I challenge my opponent (or anyone else) to find even one study that reliably and persuasively provides evidence that homosexuality is harmful or not harmful. My contention is that EVERY such study (that has any ounce of credibility) never concludes more than that homosexuality APPEARS to cause some harm or APPEARS to cause no harm. The evidence and research in such studies is largely anecdotal, depending on personal testimony more than actual scientific and medical evidence. Again, such studies often depend on what the researchers PRE-suppose: for example, if a gay person appears to be maladjusted or emotionally damaged, the pro-gay contingent will claim that such damage likely has been caused by anti-gay sentiment. But the anti-gay contingent often just as viably claims that the person likely has been damaged because they have participated in a lifestyle that runs counter to healthy (and spiritual?) self-fulfillment. Each side's bias is understandable...but NEITHER side can really be finally substantiated. Again, it all depends on how you view homosexuality to begin with! This is one of the main reasons why the "does no harm" argument...at least in its common form...falls short. (And, by the way, not that it should matter that much, but statements by the APA and AMA regarding whether or not sexual orientation is biological and/or can be seen as a disease or maladjustment are, contrary to popular opinion, NOT as conclusive as many claim...check it out on the internet).

2. The notion that this issue should be no big deal and is "nobody's business" really has no relevance to this debate. We are not debating whether the larger issue is a big deal or anyone's business...we are debating whether a particular argument is flawed.

3. My opponent really makes the same philosophical mistake here that we covered under "1" above: her argument is circular.

Allow me to raise another concern...perhaps something we can cover in subsequent rounds. If we deem homosexual behavior to be "harmless" in the way my opponent (and the pro-gay contingent) claims, I believe it is instructive to apply this argument to other sexual behaviors. For example, various (so-called) deviant or immoral sexual behaviors (such as group sex, polyamorousness, incest, even pedophilia) could just as easily pass the "does no harm" test. Is my opponent advocating we deem all these behaviors to be morally acceptable as well? I'm not trying to "trap" my opponent so much as I believe discussing this issue can lead us to insights into our present discussion.

I turn the floor over.
Bruinshockeyfan

Pro

Bruinshockeyfan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
thg

Con

I'll extend my argument and hope that my opponent shares her opinions. I'm sure she will have some good things to say, and I hope she won't hesitate to hold up her end of this debate.
Bruinshockeyfan

Pro

I understand from your point that by saying not doing harm to other can be like saying homosexuality is dangerous because its dangerous. I disagree because homosexuality is certianly not dangerous. It doesn't physically put homosexuals in danger, it doesn't put people in danger, it really doesn't put anything in danger at all.

I am short on time and apologize for making my argument short.
Debate Round No. 3
thg

Con

Thanks to my opponent for sticking this out and posting even though she is short on time.

I don't believe she introduced anything new in her last post, so perhaps there is no need to refute it, except to simply repeat that her argument still is circular.

If I may, I'd like to introduce a couple of (relatively) new points into the discussion. I will not bother to quote specific studies here, but incidents of disease and depression have been found to be quite prevalent among homosexuals (at least, male homosexuals)...the percentage of which is greater than the average population. I personally don't buy that this "proves" that homosexuality is dangerous...though there are many who DO subscribe to this line of reasoning. By this line of reasoning, however, lesbian sex should be deemed the MOST moral of all, and heterosexual sex should be condemned (because it is more risky than lesbian sex). I doubt my opponent would support this line of reasoning. Likewise, we really can't condemn homosexuality based on the fact that it may be MORE dangerous than other forms of sexuality. But this also doesn't mean we must buy into the claim that homosexuality is NOT dangerous. It is just as risky as a lot of other things in life. My point is...so what? Many of us do risky things all the time...that doesn't mean we are immoral. My point is that this "harmful" or "not harmful" argument doesn't really speak to the morality issue here. Neither side of the debate can prove that homosexuality is either harmful or not (especially not to the end that we can establish clear moral boundaries), so I believe the entire "harmless" argument is weak.

Furthermore, as I mentioned in my earlier post, moral parameters are very difficult to come by when it comes to sexual behavior. Most folks, for example, are opposed to incest (I take this to be an apparent fact of sociology). But medical studies have shown that the risk to offspring are minimal...not nearly as bad as what many of us have been led to believe. Furthermore, many incestuous partners easily can choose not to have kids. So...if we are going to be consistent with the "does no harm" argument, my opponent must also accept incest as completely acceptable, as incest does no more harm than homosexual behavior (possibly even less harm).

We could even go further and suggest that the "harmless" argument could be applied to pedophilia. Of course, most folks are quick to point to the "harm" this does to children, and that children who are victims of this kind of behavior grow to be maladjusted. But studies that express this kind of concern are anecdotal and inconclusive. When folks claim that homosexuals are maladjusted, the pro-gay contingent often insists THAT'S BECAUSE SOCIETY HAS BEEN SO CONDEMNING toward homosexuals and studies showing harm are inconclusive. Likewise, folks could just as easily claim that victims of pedophilia grow to be maladjusted BECAUSE SOCIETY HAS BEEN SO CONDEMNING of pedophilia...and that studies to the contrary are inconclusive. Here again, the question is, WHY DO WE BELIEVE PEDOPHILIA OR INCEST IS WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE? I am not suggesting there is no answer to this question...but simply that the argument "from harm" is inadequate to the task.

My point is that we still are begging the question of WHAT MAKES A SEXUAL BEHAVIOR RIGHT OR WRONG? Answering with "BECAUSE IT HARMS" or "BECAUSE IT DOES NOT HARM" is circular...and begs us to answer why we believe a behavior is wrong in the first place.

I continue to maintain that the argument "from harmlessness", as it were, is weak at best, counterproductive at worst, and that it finally does not serve the purpose of legitimizing homosexual behavior.

I'll let my opponent take the floor (and feel free to take your time).
Bruinshockeyfan

Pro

Bruinshockeyfan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
thg

Con

Ah... apparently, my opponent simply hasn't the time or the interest to finish this debate. I'm disappointed, as I was hoping she would share some challenging thoughts. If anyone else out there would be interested in this debate, please don't hesitate to engage me at any time.

I'll extend my argument and hope my opponent comes back with a strong rebuttal and concluding statement.
Bruinshockeyfan

Pro

Im really sorry for forfeiting. I can do a simular debate some other time when im less busy.

As you said, homosexuals have more depression and STDs in males. That is true. The depression i can see is because society hasnt excepted homosexuality yet. I know how diverse this country is and how many differnt opinions there are on homosexuality. I do agree that homosexuality is dangerous for the people participating in it, mainly males, but thats not reason to not except it. I belive when people are saying its harmless to others they mean the general public, not the homosexuals.

Thanks for setting up this debate. Hopefully when im not busy we can do another. Again i apologize.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by thg 4 years ago
thg
Thanks to thp078 for voting, and for the comments. It is difficult to see how my opponent's arguments weren't circular, and I certainly didn't intend to "make myself sound intelligent" (probably couldn't if I tried), but I appreciate anyone taking the time to vote, whether the votes go my way or not.

In reading your other posts/debates on DDO, however, I notice that you are quite articulate and interesting, and I really hope I can pursue more exchanges with you. I hope you will feel free to be a little more detailed in your critique of this debate, as I can always use any help I can get. I would really like to talk more about what you think on this topic (or anything else), and perhaps we can even make good adversaries in a debate ourselves. I'm more interested in exchanging ideas than I am in winning debates, so any response is greatly appreciated.
Posted by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
I'll do this debate with you.
Posted by thg 4 years ago
thg
Just a follow-up note. I certainly respect that my opponent had little time to participate in this debate...and that she had the courtesy to acknowledge that and apologize. Such courtesies, I'm finding, are fairly rare on DDO, and it is refreshing to receive them.

I believe my opponent made a fairly good point in her last round: that many people assume "harm" in this discussion to mean harm that comes to the general population.

I agree that this often is assumed. Some insist, for example, that the inability to procreate should lead us to conclude that homosexual behavior is immoral. I believe this line of reasoning is fallacious. This would mean that any sexual/marital relationship that doesn't reproduce children is immoral.

Another version of this argument that "harm comes to the general population" involves the socio-political influence that a growing acceptance of homosexual behavior can foist upon the world...that this causes more people to accept it and, therefore, is harmful. But once again, I contend that this line is circular or begs the question, at best. Why, in other words, is it wrong if more and more people accept it? Many of these folks insist homosexual behavior should not be accepted because "the majority of folks throughout history have condemned it". Even that argument has flaws, but it surely is something to consider. But, then, now that more people are accepting of homosexual behavior, these same folks are saying that the growing acceptance is now harmful. This is circular. It does not establish why homosexual behavior should be considered harmful in the first place.

A big reason I am so frustrated with the ongoing larger debate on the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior is because both sides continue to submit arguments that are circular or unsupportable. I'm wondering if anyone else is frustrated as well.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by snamor 4 years ago
snamor
thgBruinshockeyfanTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Cons valid points that were ignored. Pro ff.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 4 years ago
donald.keller
thgBruinshockeyfanTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: I've been questioning this for a while. Thanks Con. Pro ff'd TWICE, and his logic was flawed, as the Con intended to show.
Vote Placed by DudeWithoutTheE 4 years ago
DudeWithoutTheE
thgBruinshockeyfanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: While I agree with Con's critique of his opponent, I don't think he actually provides much, if any, concrete reason to negate the proposition either. Conduct to con for not forfeiting rounds, there's a clear S&G difference so hopefully that shouldn't be controversial.
Vote Placed by thp078 4 years ago
thp078
thgBruinshockeyfanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Cons unconvincing arguments seemed to be based on taking a simple, valid argument and trying to turn it into confusing dribble as a way to make himself seem intelligent. Despite having forfeited two rounds, pro still had better arguments and certainly weren't circular as con mistakenly claimed.