The Instigator
ThePhilosophersDeduction
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Contradiction
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

RESOLVED: Gay marriage should be legal in all of the U.S.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Contradiction
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/7/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,995 times Debate No: 20918
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (15)
Votes (2)

 

ThePhilosophersDeduction

Pro

Gay marriage seems to take up a lot of debate nowadays, and I wanted to get my opinion out in the open. Before I begin a road map of what I will review in my debate, I would like to state that I am heterosexual.

To make this debate as clear as possible, I would like to offer the following definitions.

Homosexual (or Gay): Sexually attracted to people of one's own sex.
Legal: Of, based on, or concerned with the law: "the American legal system"
All: Used to refer to the whole quantity or extent of a particular group or thing.

"I see the policy of opposing same-sex marriages or unions, whatever you call it, as bigotry or discrimination."
Patrick J. Kennedy

It is because I agree with Patrick J. Kennedy that I must affirm today's resolution: RESOLVED: Gay marriage should be legal in all of the U.S.

The value I will be upholding in this debate is justice, which is the quality of being fair and reasonable. Justice balances the rights of every individual. Justice should be valued above all other possible values because when debating the laws that apply to all of those that life in the United States, we must be fair and reasonable to everyone; essentially, we need to be just.

My value of Justice will be upheld by the criterion of providing equality. Equality is, in a purely formal sense as understood by Aristotle, justice. We can understand equality as fundamental equality in the sense that all human beings have the same fundamental moral status. By providing equality, we can achieve true justice.

Now, onto my first contention. When gays are refused the right to marry in certain states, they are denied opportunities in life that should be provided. Marriage itself should be valued as a right, and when it is, we can see that by not providing this right to gays in today's society, we do not allow for justice to take place because we do not offer equality.

I will close my part of round 1 with 1 contention, I will elaborate this point, create new ones, and defend my view in further rounds.
Contradiction

Con

Let me first say that it is a pleasure to be debating ThePhilosophersDeduction. The question of same-sex marriage is one of the hottest topics currently debated in society, especially given today's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals against California Proposition 8. My opening argument will consist of two parts: first, an evaluation of Pro's argments; second, an exposition of my positive argument against same-sex marriage.

Justice, Equality, and Aristotle

Pro argues that justice is a central notion in this debate. The conception of justice that he operates under is based on a sense of equality under in which "all human beings have the same fundamental moral status." He appeals to Aristotle in support of this view.

But this is both uninformative and factually incorrect. Aristotle understood justice not in terms of equality, but in terms of desert. [1] Justice is giving each person what is deserved of him. This of course is determined by human nature. Moreover, the purpose of civil government is to advance a common partnership in the good life – also known as the common good. But what is the good life? Aristotle defined goodness in terms of virtue, which is determined by a thing's function. Just as a good knife is one that cuts properly, a good person is one who lives in accordance with human nature. Accordingly, the common good must always be in accord with human nature. Accordingly, Aristotle would never have approved of same-sex marriage (Or homosexuality for that matter), for it is contrary to human flourishing. The idea of human nature is thus crucial to Aristotle's political thought.

Moreover, what exactly does "equality" mean? If by that we mean giving each person what he deserves, then this collapses into Aristotle's desert based theory of justice in which desert is based on human nature. And as we have seen, this doesn't bode well for the advocate of same-sex marriage. Additionally, desert is tied in with the idea of rights -- you can't deserve something you don't have a right to. So the real question here is: Is there a right to same-sex marriage? If Pro answers "yes," then he has to justify this right. Note that he cannot appeal to equality, for that is an implicitly circular argument. After all, since the opponent of same-sex marriage denies that equality includes said right, one cannot appeal to it without begging the question.

We also need to note that equality/desert/rights will vary depending on what we're talking about. Indeed, equality, desert, and rights must all be defined in terms of what a thing is -- it's essence. After all, when we're talking about equality, we have to always ask, "Equality in regards to what?" Morally speaking, everyone is equal. The homosexual and heterosexual have the same intrinsic dignity. But in regards to the institution of marriage, we first have to determine what marriage is before we can know what's equal or not. Otherwise we'd be putting the cart before the horse. So my opponent begs the question when he says that legalizing same-sex marriage is a matter of equality. That only follows if you assume in advance a conception of marriage which includes same-sex couples.

Against Same-Sex Marriage

Marriage is an institution that is primarily centered around two things: procreation and child-rearing. It is for this reason that the state confers legal and economic benefits upon married couples, for it recognizes that child-rearing is a hard task. Since procreation and child-rearing are essential to the advancement of society, the state has a vested interest in protecting a stable relationship under which this can take place. The state therefore ought to give special recognition to heterosexual unions, for they function as a precondition to society. Relationships which do not have procreation as their core do not deserve such recognition, for they are not foundational to society. The recognition of homosexual unions as marriages would therefore be unjustly denying the special social value of heterosexual unions.

As I've said before, to say that this is "discrimination" is mistaken. Before we can claim that the traditional conception of marriage would discriminate against homosexual couples, we must first ask “What is marriage?”, for if marriage is heterosexual in nature to begin with, we are not denying any "right" to same-sex couples by denying them marriage. To assume otherwise is to engage in circular reasoning. The central question, therefore, is over the definition of marriage. Talk of discrimination can only be brought up once this more fundamental notion is established.

It may be objected that such reasoning prevents sterile heterosexual couples from marrying due to the fact that they are unable to procreate. But this objection fails to understand the argument. Marriage is not based on the ability of the individual couple to procreate, but on a type of relationship in which procreation is inherently possible to begin with. Males are meant for coupling with females, even if it does not result in procreation all of the time. By contrast, homosexual relationships are such that procreation is impossible in principle. Thus, such relationships cannot qualify as marriages. In sum, it confuses acts that are reproductive in type with acts that are reproductive in effect.

Neither will comparing homosexual marriage to interracial marriage work, for the analogy falsely assumes that there is no essential difference between race and gender. While race is irrelevant to the purpose of marriage, gender most certainly isn’t. Therefore, the state has a principled reason to exclude couples from entering into marital relationships on the basis of their gender.

Finally, the essence of marriage is not love. While love may certainly play a large role within marriage, marriage is not ordered around it. Simply because two individuals love each other does not give them warrant to marry. On this overly broad understanding of marriage, the state would have no reason to exclude any types of relationships as long as those involved “love” each other. Self-marriage, incestuous marriage, polygamous marriage, group marriage, etc… would not be excluded under this view.


With that, I turn it over to Pro for his rebuttal.

______

1. Michael Sandel, Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 192-195
Debate Round No. 1
ThePhilosophersDeduction

Pro

I would first like to thank Contradiction for taking the Con side and arguing a very controversial topic with me. I enjoyed reading his response very much, and will propose my rebuttal.

First, I would like to point out a few flaws in Cons argument. "Justice is equality, but only for equals; and justice is inequality, but only for those who are unequal." is the reference to Aristotle that my point was conveying. I was not defining Justice as Equality, but Equality as Justice. Aristotle claimed that equality was justice in and of itself.

I would also like to point out that his argument under the tag line: "Against Same-Sex Marriage" should gain no Con ground because I believe I have read this previously in "Love Is Not All You Need" written by Tim Hsiao. All arguments in this section will be negated because it is only evidence, there are no original claims, no original tag lines, and no original content whatsoever by the Con.

However, after checking under the tag line of "Justice, Equality, and Aristotle" I have found no such plagiarism, so I will pose my rebuttal only addressing these arguments.

I would first like to propose a counter definition of "human nature,"being that it is the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans." According to this definition, human nature is the portion of our psychological characteristics that are the same. What the Con argues is the "heterosexual nature." By using the narrow definition that the Con provides, we would ultimately call homosexuals inhuman. As I stated before, the value of this debate will be Justice, and indirectly referring to a homosexual, whether intended to or not, as inhuman is clearly not just. Therefore, this argument will be negated as well, as it covers no ground under the value and criterion of justice and equality. Under the constitutions dictation, "all men are created equal." We all have equal moral status until people taking the Cons side of the argument come up and claim that those with homosexual beliefs are not.

For all of these reasons, please vote pro in this debate.

*The United States Constitution
*http://rationalgang.com...
Contradiction

Con

My responses will be brief, seeing that Pro neglected to respond to a substantial portion of my argument.

First, Pro accuses me of plagiarizing my argument against same-sex marriage. This charge is false: I wrote the article in question. If one checks the link he provided, my username is listed right next to the author's name. Now aside from this charge, Pro did not respond to the arguments I provided. Henceforth, extend my arguments.

Now regarding Pro's proposed definition of human nature, I'd like to make several points. First, why should we accept it? What makes his account of human nature superior to the one I provided (one which is grounded in biological function). Second, Pro's account of human nature puts the cart before hte horse. We have these psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits precisely because we share a human nature which they are grounded in. Hence, it is more ontologically basic to ground human nature in biology, as opposed to these traits (which themselves are grounded in biology). Third and most importantly, Pro completely misses the point. I provided a definition of human nature in terms of biological function, and my argument is based on that conception of human nature. Showing that my argument fails under another account of human nature thus completely misses the point, since it was never meant to accomodate that conception to begin with.

Pro has not responded to the charge that he misinterpreted Aristotle, nor has he responded to the charge that same-sex marriage would be prohibited under Aristotle's own political and ethical theory. Hence, extend my arguments there. Aristotle's understanding of "justice" and "equality" actually goes against Pro's case. Nor has Pro been able to provide an account of justice and equality that is non-question begging, per my previous criticisms. If Pro is to refute my arguments, he must thus abandon an Aristotelian conception of justice.

I turn it over now to Pro.
Debate Round No. 2
ThePhilosophersDeduction

Pro

Before I will begin Cross Examination I would like to apologize for dropping necessary arguments of Cons case. He wrote the article in question, and he has properly extended his arguments.

I also apologize for the lack of expected structure, I am new to this debate atmosphere, I study a different form.

1.) Essentially what you're saying is that Aristotle would not have condoned homosexuality, at all, correct?

2.) What value are you upholding by what criterion?

3.) How do the two link?

4.) How is your definition of "human nature" superior to mine, specifically?

5.) Why can the judges not view my definition as legitimate in this debate?

6.) What is your personal definition of "Justice?"

7.) What is your personal definition of "Equality?"

8.) When was the article (previously in question) written?

9.) How did I not address your attack on my Aristotle contention about equality and justice definitions?
Contradiction

Con

In this round I will respond to Pro's questions as well as ask some of my own.

1) Essentially what you're saying is that Aristotle would not have condoned homosexuality, at all, correct?

2) What value are you upholding by what criterion?

3) How do the two link?

ANSWER:

Let me first note that my rebuttal was in regards to an Aristotelean conception of marriage, not homosexuality per se. To frame the question in terms of homosexuality is thus a red herring. What you should really be asking is about Aristotle's view on the nature of marriage. Hence, his view of homosexuality is more-or-less irrelevant, since it's marriage we're talking about. Now that being said, the term "homosexuality" in your question is a bit vague. By that, do we mean a homosexual orientation or homosexual conduct? It is unclear that Aristotle had anything to say on the former, but he did regard the latter as being intrinsically immoral and depraved. [1] At the very least, this follows directly from an Aristotelian natural law conception of ethics. For Aristotle, morality is defined in terms of virtue, or acting in accordance with a thing's function. Just as a good knife is one that functions properly, so is a good sexual organ one that procreate. Homosexual conduct, because it frustrates the natural function of our sexual organs, is immoral. So is oral sex, anal sex, contraception, and just about every element of a libertine sexual morality.


Now since Aristotle's political theory is based on a large part on his views about human nature, it follows that a just society cannot be one which endorses behavior which is contrary to human flourishing. Human flourishing, if you remember, is defined in terms of our function. So it follows in a straightforward fashion that the common good cannot include same sex marriage -- at least for Aristotle. It's also worth noting that this can still be the case even if homosexuality is not immoral, for even granting that morality is not determined by function, it does not follow that the essence of marriage is something other than a union of man-woman that is intrinsically directed to procreation. That would require an additional argument in the realm of metaphysics.

But, as I have already said in the first paragraph, this question is more or less a red herring.

4) How is your definition of "human nature" superior to mine, specifically?

5) Why can the judges not view my definition as legitimate in this debate?

ANSWER:

Several reasons. First, you appealed to specifically Aristotelian premises in formulating your argument. The account of human nature I proposed is the same as Aristotle's. [2] So if you're going to use an Aristotelian argument, we might as well also use his account of human nature. To do otherwise would seem to engage in selective "cherry-picking." Second, my account of human nature is more metaphysically basic. The various psychological and behavioural characteristics you mentioned are themselves grounded in a more basic biological framework which determines what these characteristics are. Hence, it is this ground which should be considered the framework for human nature, for this is what psychological and behavioural capacities flow from. The very reason these traits are shared is because they flow from a biological essence that all humans share by virtue of being a member of a natural kind. My conception of human nature would not, as you alleged, result in our calling homosexuals inhuman. All that would follow is that homosexual conduct is contrary to nature, not a homosexual disposition. Third, your conception of human nature is too vague and uninformative. What are these psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral dispositions? Which ones are relevant, and what should we do when they conflict? Moreover, to even answer the first question is to give an account of these traits such that they are grounded in biologically basic notions. For these reasons, then, your account of human nature is inadequate. Hence, one should consider my account over yours.


6) What is your personal definition of "Justice?"

7) What is your personal definition of "Equality?"

ANSWER:

My definition (and the definition that I believe is correct) of justice is "giving each person what he is due." That is, justice is about desert. Indeed, this was how Aristotle himself understood justice. But of course, we cannot know what some person deserves without first knowing some facts about who that person is. Hence, to understand justice we must necessarily understand what human nature is. And on the Aristotelian account of human nature, there is to be found no right to same-sex marriage because it conflicts with our proper functioning. Equality incorporates this understanding of justice, and is hence the state of giving a group of people the same amount of what they deserve. The two are more-or-less identical. From this we see that the same-sex marriage debate is neither an issue about equality nor is it about justice. It is about what rights people have in the first place. If there is no right to same-sex marriage, then one cannot be said to deserve that right. One must thus argue for the existence of such a right. Appealing to justice and equality then is circular reasoning. Equality is only an issue when people are denied something they deserve. If they do not deserve it to begin with, then there's nothing unequal going on. You have to prove that there is a right to same-sex marriage, not just assume it.


8) When was the article (previously in question) written?

ANSWER:

Late May, I believe. You can sift through my debate record -- I've been pretty much using that essay as my main argument for nearly all of the same-sex marriage debates I've been involved in.

9) How did I not address your attack on my Aristotle contention about equality and justice definitions?

ANSWER:

You offered an incorrect understanding of how Aristotle viewed equality and justice. I responded by giving a proper definition of these two notions that is in line of how Aristotle himself viewed it. You did, in all fairness, attempt a response, but it glossed over the main points in my rebuttal. You cited a statement by Aristotle in the Politics where he stated that "Justice is equality, but only for equals; and justice is inequality, but only for those who are unequal" -- but this leaves entirely unanswered the question of who equals are. For that, you have to appeal to Aristotle's theory of human nature -- which ends up hurting the case for same-sex marriage.

QUESTIONS TO PRO


1. What is marriage?


2. If marriage is merely an emotional union, then what are the state's interests in recognizing it to begin with?

3. Is a relationship in which procreation is intrinsically possible more valuable, ceteris paribus, than a relationship in which this is impossible?

4. Would you agree that heterosexuals unions have special social value that other unions lack because of the unique possibility of procreation by nature?

5. How many people can enter into a marriage, and what non-arbitrary criteria do you use to justify this?

6. Can incestuous or polygamous couples marry (homosexual/heterosexual), and by what non-arbitrary criteria do you justify this?

7. What are rights grounded in?

8. Do you believe in natural rights? Explain why you do/do not
______

Sources

1. cf. John Finnis, "Law, Morality, and Sexual Orientation" in John Corvino (ed), Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality (Rowman and Littlefield: 1997)
2. Edward Feser, The Last Superstition (St. Augustine's); Rich Machuga, In Defense of the Soul (Brazos); Rich Cameron, "Aristotle's Teleology," Philosophy Compass 5/12 (2010): 1096–1106.


Debate Round No. 3
ThePhilosophersDeduction

Pro

ThePhilosophersDeduction forfeited this round.
Contradiction

Con

Arguments extended.
Debate Round No. 4
ThePhilosophersDeduction

Pro

ThePhilosophersDeduction forfeited this round.
Contradiction

Con

Arguments extended. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 5
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ThePhilosophersDeduction 5 years ago
ThePhilosophersDeduction
I apologize for being absent for the final two rounds of this debate. We experienced a close death in the family and I did not have the time, nor patience, to debate this topic.
Posted by ThePhilosophersDeduction 5 years ago
ThePhilosophersDeduction
In my form of debate, you will respond to my questions, and ask your own within this round. I will respond to your own, present my rebuttal, and continue with the debate in Round 4.
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
That wasn't stated in the terms, but I'm fine with that.
Posted by ThePhilosophersDeduction 5 years ago
ThePhilosophersDeduction
Oh, and I had originally planned the 3rd and 4th rounds to be Cross-Examination rounds. Is the Con okay with that?
Posted by ThePhilosophersDeduction 5 years ago
ThePhilosophersDeduction
That is exactly what I was telling you to do. I'm used to a different form of debate, please excuse my diction.
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
I need not restate arguments if they were not initially responded to in the first place. I will simply indicate "arguments extended."
Posted by ThePhilosophersDeduction 5 years ago
ThePhilosophersDeduction
That was not my point. For you to extend your arguments you need to restate them, and negate my claim in the round itself. I cannot reopen your own arguments for you.
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Evidence pertains to the resolution only. It's absurd to say that every debater has to prove in the round that he is arguing that his arguments are genuinely his. Otherwise, this same standard could be applied to your own arguments (ie: "Unless you prove to me that you wrote that, I will not countenance it").
Posted by ThePhilosophersDeduction 5 years ago
ThePhilosophersDeduction
For your arguments to extend to the next round, they must be presented again.
Posted by ThePhilosophersDeduction 5 years ago
ThePhilosophersDeduction
Evidence must be supported in the argument itself. Not after the fact.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Doulos1202 5 years ago
Doulos1202
ThePhilosophersDeductionContradictionTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff Con offered well versed and strong arguments as always.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: FF, cons point of procreation stood in the end.