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Homosexuality, morality, choices, nature.

bladerunner060
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8/20/2013 11:41:23 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
This post is a split off from:

http://www.debate.org...

I just realized my next response was gonna be a big ol' wall of text specifically to thg, and figured it was time to split it off.

The general topic is:

Is the "naturalism" argument, for or against homosexuality, valid? How are the moral dimensions of sexual behavior in general, and homosexuality specifically, justified?

thg, a theist, is on the "anti-gay" side of things, but recognizes that a major dimension of his position is based on his theology. He does, I believe, however, think that he has non-theological grounds for his case. We haven't gotten to them yet, as we are discussing the general method of acceptable grounds for making a moral judgment in the context of sexual behavior.

me (bladerunner060), an atheist (more specifically an agnostic atheist), is on the "pro-gay" side of things. I believe, in general, that things are a-moral until argued otherwise.

(thg and I both agree that the naturalism argument is a failure, although I maintain that it can be appropriate to respond to it within its own framework by, for example, demonstrating to someone who is arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore immoral that it is, in fact, natural)

(We have been contending on whether homosexuality is a "choice", but we both agree that is largely irrelevant to the moral dimension...though I'm coming to think that, down the road a bit, we might actually find a place where it's applicable)

We haven't dealt overmuch with the specific morality, nor with the legalistic arguments (which can be seaprated from morality).

Anyway, that's the background of the wall-o-text I'm posting.

So, without further ado, I'll post the response I was coming up with (and apologies for it being multiple posts):

At 8/19/2013 10:00:49 PM, thg wrote:

Assuming something is unacceptable is not the same thing as "taking a stand" on something. I may assume that rain makes the corn grow, but that is not the same as taking a stand on it or making it an issue for discussion or politics.

Well, but if you're in power, and you make that assumption...you don't have to "take a stand" per se, it just is by your authority, right?

I guess my point is to agree that it was an assumption, but to disagree that because it's an assumption it's not a reflection of the "anti-gay" side. It may just be semantical quibbling, so rather than terms like taking a stand, let me say:

It was an assumption for a long time.
That assumption has been combated recently, in part because society has moved away from the "heretics/questioners of status quo must be executed" model of governance.
There are those who continue to believe the assumption is true, and have put thought into it.
There are those who do not believe the assumption is true, and demand justification.
That justification, in terms of legality, has been found wanting.
That justification, in terms of morality, has been so frequently sidetracked into irrelevancies and fallacies that it's hard to really say anything about it.

You're right that societies have viewed askance at homosexuality as a general rule. But that doesn't mean it therefore doesn't need justification. It still needs justification...so my point was that, when speaking of limiting people's ability to do things (get married, for example), justification has to be provided, and if it cannot be provided, then that's a problem for the limitation.

Not sure what your point is here. It sounds like we may agree.

I think so. That just was a clarification of part of my position, or at least an attempt at one.

I'm saying any sexual behavior, majority view or not, needs justification when anyone disagrees or asks for moral underpinnings. It's not a matter of BOP. And it's not about who had which view first. It's about whenever there is a disagreement, each side should present its best case. The "natural" argument doesn't really cut it, whichever side of the debate we're on. I think we agree here.

We agree on the "natural" part. I'm not sure I agree on the "any sexual behavior...needs justification" part.

I am generally of the opinion that, rather, things are assumed morally neutral unless a case can be made for them to be immoral or moral.

For example: As a general rule, I find masturbation to be a-moral. It's an individual, doing somethign with their own body. I don't think you can effectively ask for justification of this, rather, I think the a-morality is to be assumed unless a case for the IMmorality can be made.

Does that make sense?

I'd be interested in hearing more about your point here. Why is voluntary self-imposed morality such a great thing? And why is it morally binding? How are we so sure that our self-imposed mores aren't diametrically opposed to others' self-imposed mores...or to some divinely established mores? I don't believe it's quite as easy to establish as you imply. But I'm definitely interested in this topic.

Well, I don't know if I'd say "great thing", per se, just "easy to defend" thing. Contracts become meaningless if they can be violated with impunity.

Well, in order to have a thing enshrined in law, it should be properly defined, don't you think? And if elements of that definition cannot withstand scrutiny, then that definition is almost certainly flawed.

Maybe. But not necessarily, and not where sexual behavior is concerned.

Why is sexual behavior a special class?

It might be very nuanced. That doesn't mean the underpinnings are flawed. Relativity is complex and not well understood. That doesn't make it a flawed theory. People may be flawed, along with laws. That doesn't mean all mores are invalid.

Well, but that's an appeal to ignorance, isn't it? You can't win a debate (which is not to say you have, that's the indefinite pronoun "you", not you you) by appealing to saying "well, there MIGHT be an argument I just haven't thought of!" As soon as you think of it, sure, we can debate that argument's merits, too, but until then we will work with the arguments we have.

Again, this all depends. If homosexual behavior is, in fact, immoral and can, after all, be chosen, and if gay influence can actually affect how people's sexual orientation ends up, then the pro-gay platform could be conceived as being an imposition on society. When pro-gay people say they are not imposing their morals on the anti-gay contingent, they really are being myopic. They, in fact, often draw analogies to racial discrimination. The way society is moving, the anti-gay contingent is going to be viewed just as we view racists (which, of course, can implicate us socially, professionally, and legally). I'm not saying the pro-gay contingent is wrong. I'm saying that the claim that it is not imposing cultural standards is a myth.

That's what I was kind of getting at with the point about discrimination laws.

Though I will say about your arguments regarding general social consequences, that while that may be so, it has no bearing on the actual morality, and until a case has been made it's not inappropriate to treat the anti-gay folks like the racists, who ALSO could theoretically have a case...but haven't made it.

One can only hope.

Lol, indeed.
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bladerunner060
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8/20/2013 11:41:57 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
As in, still gay but okay about it?

And now straight, and ok with it. I know several of these folks personally, so I confess it is anecdotal, but pretty persuasive, nonetheless.

I can understand how that would be persuasive. But did they change their behavior, or their personality? Are they utterly unattracted to the same sex now, whereas they were fully attracted before?

The studies, however (which have been limited), have shown that to not be the case.

However, I happen to believe in the "spectrum" concept of sexuality, which means that there are those who are attracted to both sexes in various proportions. Granted, I also happen to think I fall pretty far on the "hetero" side of that spectrum.

I tend to agree with some of your points here. But I disagree that pedophilia is "clearly" immoral. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Forcing a kid to go to school is not a matter of consent or control. No one thinks that is immoral. Why do you presume that sexual encounter always MUST be a matter of consent and control? I believe I agree it is...but I'm curious as to why you believe it is. The variety of cultural norms should be instructive. Most people had shorter life spans than we do today, so it's no surprise that romance and marriage were sought in younger years. Some laws are still on the books, even in the US, that approve of marriage and the age of consent to the tune of 12 yr old and less. So, is it merely our longer life spans that makes acting on certain "natural" attractions a huge crime? What are your reasons? I'm not being confrontational here. I'm really interested.

I don't take it confrontationally (and this is why I was so defensive earlier when I was afraid you thought I was being confrontational. This has been a rather enjoyable interchange of ideas).

Well, there's consent, which is generally applicable, and custodianship.

With custodianship, the consent doesn't matter, but your "forced" behaviors should be wholly for the benefit of your charge. You only "force" them to do things that are in their best interest (school is in a child's best interest). I don't believe anyone can make a case that getting your own sexual gratification is in the charge's best interest (whether that charge be a child or a handicapped adult). Neither can one argue that, even if they are somehow giving the charge sexual gratification, it's in the child's best interest (there's pretty clear and well-known demonstrable harms that far outweigh any possible argument for short-term pleasure).

But there's a difference between behavior and inclination. Someone can't really "choose" to not want to smoke. They can choose to not actually smoke.

Maybe. But this, too, does not establish moral status of the behavior.

Indeed.

So I'm still not exactly sure what point you're trying to make here.

Just a point in reference to the choice concept which, we've agreed, is irrelevant to the moral dimension.

I know I used to have inclinations (sexual or otherwise) which I've changed by years of habit and commitment. I'm not sure "inclinations" are any less morally charged than behaviors...or, to put it another way, I'm not sure inclinations are not necessarily a form of behavior (I'd say the same about "beliefs"). In fact, one of the most common forms of "justification" is to claim that "lusting in one's heart" is unavoidable, while "acting" on it is...so, of course, I can "lust" all I want.

I think here we start to have problems stemming from the concept of what a "choice" is, and it might require further defining. But, as we both agree, it's kind of irrelevant to the moral dimension.

By the way, our posts may be crossing each other's...but I just wanted to say, I'm enjoying this discussion immensely. This is why I joined DDO, to discuss this very topic. You are one of the first who has actually stuck with my (understandably annoying) persistence.

I am enjoying the dialogue, as well! And I almost never let anything drop, which is sometimes a failing. But here it's not, because this dialogue is rather pleasant despite it being on opposite sides of the aisle on several items.

So huzzah!

I suppose...but then we'd have to define "movement"; certainly it was often frowned on by authorities, yes?

Agreed.

Okay.

Sexual mores (albeit with several variants) are some of the most universal parts of the human story. While we may questions some of the specifics, we also should question how we came to have any of them in the first place. Asking everyone to change their sexual perspective that has been the dominant view (at least the religious one) for the bulk of the history of civilization should not be done with such little regard for how we all got our views in the first place. Maybe some of our views our wrong. But maybe some of them are reflective of a divine wisdom and a view that treats sexual encounter as one of the most precious and sacred of human experiences. We would do well do investigate our views with the greatest of care.

Well, but asking for justification would be asking for how we got them in the first place, right?

Ha...you'd think!...One can only hope! If you are making the point I think you're making, we agree on more than I thought!

Then I hope I'm making the point you think I'm making?

Saying something is a choice implies that someone could will X or Y, and they've chosen Y. I believe this can rightly be applied to behaviors, but not generally to foundational aspects of personality. Did you "choose" to be heterosexual? Do you "choose" to prefer vanilla or chocolate?

"Foundational aspects of personality" are not necessarily unchosen...nor clearly defined. A preference for vanilla, for example, might be accidental, random, devoid of any moral underpinnings. On the other hand, if I had a cruel parent who forced me to eat vanilla as a kid, I might abhor it.

But is that abhorrance a "choice"? I mean, you may go to therapy, and overcome the things which caused you to have a reflex negative reaction, and go to take a big bite...and still hate the taste.

There are far too many possibilities.

Fair enough. Which is why I think it's generally inappropriate to make the positive claim that it IS a choice. I don't think it has been fully established in either direction, though I think the evidence tends towards the "not a choice" side in regards to the attraction itself, depending on the definition of "choice".

Again, choice and preference and tendency and behavior and inclination...all these things have potential moral implications...depending on how they came about, what they mean in relation to society, and what they mean in relation to God.

I'm not sure I can agree that inclination has moral implications, and, remember that I'm an atheist, though an agnostic one; so while I can agree that they MIGHT means something in relation to God, that's a tough row to hoe with me.
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thg
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8/20/2013 5:10:14 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Many thanks to bladerunner for starting this new split-off thread. This kind of discussion is one of main reasons I joined DDO. I have been working for years on a sexual morality project and am interested in why people subscribe to their sexual moral standards. I believe it is an intriguing topic because of several reasons, including:

1. Sexual standards are some of the most universal aspects of human experience. Everyone has them.

2. While sexual standards vary, they are amazingly similar from culture to culture, regardless of religion, locale.

3. The usual supports for moral standards (harm, nature, consent, evolutionary survivalism...) simply don't work with sexual morality (IMO).

4. People feel more passionate about their sexual standards than almost anything else, and they often feel as they do without really questioning many of their basic presuppositions about why sexual morality should be a concern in the first place (you know...it's just "common sense"...or "everyone knows"...or "I can't believe you believe that way"...).

Bladerunner is one of very few folks on DDO so far who has indulged my concerns, and has shown great patience with my (often annoying) persistence. Most get frustrated quickly with my line of questioning. For example, I asked someone on another thread, "And just where do you believe we got the idea that pedophilia is wrong...?" The answer: "Because it "harms" the child and is without the child's "consent". But then I usually persist: But where did we get the idea that sexual encounter harms the child or needs consent: we force kids to go to school and no one complains about that." Often the answer is...you guessed it..."Come on, THAT's different! Everyone knows it harms the child. I can't believe you believe otherwise!..." and so on.

So, this thread is for those of you who are willing to dig deeper. Full disclosure: if you say things like "common sense" or "everyone knows", I'll jump on it like a dog on a June bug. For those that are pro-gay, that is exactly the kind of answer people used to give (and many still give) to "prove" their anti-gay view is valid. If it doesn't work for them, it shouldn't work for any pro-gay stuff either...or any view, period.

thg, a theist, is on the "anti-gay" side of things, but recognizes that a major dimension of his position is based on his theology. He does, I believe, however, think that he has non-theological grounds for his case. We haven't gotten to them yet, as we are discussing the general method of acceptable grounds for making a moral judgment in the context of sexual behavior.

Again, thx to bladerunner for summarizing our previous exchanges. I'd like to amend it somewhat. I am not (necessarily) on the "anti-gay" side of things. I am more on the fence on some things (surely most are aware that many theists are pro-gay, and I personally know several atheists who are vehemently anti-gay, so there is no direct correlation between theism and being anti-gay). I am particularly interested in the ongoing debate on homosexual behavior and sexual morality in general, and I tire of so many arguments being used by BOTH sides. I'm just as critical of many anti-gay arguments as I am of pro-gay arguments.

As for "non-theological" arguments...it's more accurate to put it this way: I believe, ultimately, we must trace our moral standards to divine revelation and God-instilled moral imperatives. But I believe we can investigate WHY God might have instilled those particular imperatives. I believe that investigation doesn't necessarily have to always include faith-based claims. We should be able to find common ground regardless of our religious or philosophical leanings. Again, I tire as much of faith-based claims that are shallow as much as of any claims that are shallow. But, usually, somewhere in the explanation, I make a statement of faith...that I believe God did things a certain way and had a REASON for doing so. If you don't believe God had anything to do with it and we still agree on some things, great. But, chances are, if you try to explain your moral standards using the usual suspects (harm, consent, nature, evolution), I tend to remain unconvinced, and will relentlessly pursue your presuppositions. So it's not that I claim to have "non-theological" bases as well as "theological" ones, but that I simply believe the theological explanations are more cohesive. While I believe that applies to other claims (like where we came from, our purpose in life, etc.), I believe it applies ESPECIALLY to sexual standards. My view is that the non-theological explanations tend to lean strongly toward moral subjectivity and an "anything goes" stance, which I find most people (even ones who say they believe it) ultimately do not live by.

me (bladerunner060), an atheist (more specifically an agnostic atheist), is on the "pro-gay" side of things. I believe, in general, that things are a-moral until argued otherwise.

(thg and I both agree that the naturalism argument is a failure, although I maintain that it can be appropriate to respond to it within its own framework by, for example, demonstrating to someone who is arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore immoral that it is, in fact, natural)

Just to be clear: I agree with bladerunner that the anti-gay fallacy (that being gay is bad BECAUSE it is unnatural) needs to be debunked. I disagree that this should be done by committing the same fallacy on the pro-gay side. That is, the pro-gay side should show that homosexual behavior is just as natural as a bunch of other things, and there are many "unnatural" things that are perfectly OK morally...but then the pro-gay side should NOT proceed to claim that homosexual behavior is OK BECAUSE it IS natural. This is just perpetuating the same fallacy committed by the anti-gay side. BOTH sides should drop this argument "from nature". A given behavior cannot be justified OR condemned using this kind of argument "from nature".

So, without further ado, I'll post the response I was coming up with (and apologies for it being multiple posts):

I hope others will get on board with this discussion. If you join, however, be prepared for some tough scrutiny. My preference is that we refrain from sarcastic barbs, profanity, and trolling...though I know I can't police all that. Just sayin...I believe this whole thread will be more productive if everyone maintains respect and decorum.

I also believe that there is no need to bandwagon about who is pro-gay and who is not. This is a discussion about philosophical and theological bases for why we believe and behave the way we do. There is plenty here to discuss rationally and civilly, regardless of which side of the fence we're on, and even if we are passionately opposed to the other side.

Also, my schedule keeps me pretty busy, so I have to take breaks every now and then (some of us have to eat and pay bills...and pay regular visits to our local table tennis club...to which I'm headed presently)...but I'll be back tonight. Looking forward to all the comments.
thg
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8/21/2013 12:51:03 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
It [the questionable nature of homosexual behavior] was an assumption for a long time.
That assumption has been combated recently, in part because society has moved away from the "heretics/questioners of status quo must be executed" model of governance.
There are those who continue to believe the assumption is true, and have put thought into it.
There are those who do not believe the assumption is true, and demand justification.
That justification, in terms of legality, has been found wanting.
That justification, in terms of morality, has been so frequently sidetracked into irrelevancies and fallacies that it's hard to really say anything about it.

I agree with most of this characterization. The only part I really question here is the notion that the world's (negative) assumptions re: homosexuality have changed because "society has moved away" from antiquated "models of governance". We "enlightened" folks love to believe we are so much more enlightened than all those poor folks in our past who didn't have all the glorious benefits of our superior education and knowledge. The fact is there are lots of things we have improved upon and reformed (such as, say, the institution of slavery and racial discrimination), at least in some areas of the world, but there are lots of things for which I'm not so sure our marks are that exemplary (settling differences through violence, neglecting the world's poor and hungry, prioritizing industry and profit over caring for ecology, and liberalizing all manner of recreational drug use and commercialized sex, to name a few). One can find examples of atrocities in the past that we have since condemned. One does not have to look hard to find examples of present-day atrocities that are sure to be condemned in the future. There is no reason to believe all our moral policies today are exemplary, and we should not make an appeal to our "enlightened" present as a basis for why we should buy into the moral acceptability of non-traditional sexual behaviors. We can make other arguments, but the appeal to our "more educated" status is not a reliable line.


You're right that societies have viewed askance at homosexuality as a general rule. But that doesn't mean it therefore doesn't need justification. It still needs justification...so my point was that, when speaking of limiting people's ability to do things (get married, for example), justification has to be provided, and if it cannot be provided, then that's a problem for the limitation.

I would say it doesn't really do much good to argue that one side or the other needs to carry the BOP here. If the majority view throughout history has been skeptical toward homosexual behavior, and if SSM is just now becoming an issue in our long history, it seems to me that those who want to change such a long-standing construct should have the BOP. Surely we all acknowledge (..?..) that many "majority" stances throughout history have been wrong (slavery...though I'm not sure this ever was really the "majority" view). But some have stuck (thou shalt not steal). So whether a view has been long held or not is sort of a moot point. I agree both sides need to come up with sound bases for their moral standards, especially now that we have a substantial disagreement and cultural shift in the works.

The idea that "limiting" a behavior should have the BOP also fails. Most any behavior with any moral component has limits. Eating is wonderful, but there are limits, beyond which lie many dangers. Sexual morality has always been characterized by limits and taboos. Again, moving a behavior that has long been understood to be taboo from the taboo list to the OK list probably needs the BOP, not the side that believes in the traditional view (..."because it is placing restrictions on rights"). The very notion that someone has a "right" in the first place is based on the presumption that the behavior in question is OK. I don't hear anyone complaining that we are taking away a criminal's rights by making laws or placing him in jail (the need for prison reform notwithstanding). But, again, no need to play the BOP to one side or the other. Let's just present our various reasons for believing the way we do.

We agree on the "natural" part. I'm not sure I agree on the "any sexual behavior...needs justification" part.

I am generally of the opinion that, rather, things are assumed morally neutral unless a case can be made for them to be immoral or moral.

For example: As a general rule, I find masturbation to be a-moral. It's an individual, doing somethign with their own body. I don't think you can effectively ask for justification of this, rather, I think the a-morality is to be assumed unless a case for the IMmorality can be made.

Again, I'm more likely to shy away from "assuming" a behavior is OK as a default. Yes, if it has been accepted by the majority throughout the bulk of history, I suppose we might be prone to assuming its moral innocence. But, again, I believe we should be interested in why it has been so accepted for so long. Even if we may agree that a behavior is morally neutral or OK, I believe it behooves us to dig deep into our presuppositions and figure out why it is OK...at least we should try to figure out if it serves any good purpose. Even if our investigation yields nothing to change our minds about that behavior, we still might discover underpinnings that will help us when we explore other more questionable behaviors. To me, our investigation shouldn't assume too much at all...all sexual behaviors are fair game.

If you mean that we might as well start by placing all behaviors in a middle neutral column, then, gradually, as we go down the list, give reasons for why we move a behavior to the OK column or the BAD column, I suppose I can go along with that...it's just that I believe it's a fairly obvious matter of sociology and history that most behaviors have been long assumed to be in the OK or BAD column, and I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that as our default...then presenting our best shot at why each behavior is where it is...and, if shifted, why we should accept the shift.

I'd be interested in hearing more about your point here. Why is voluntary self-imposed morality such a great thing? And why is it morally binding? How are we so sure that our self-imposed mores aren't diametrically opposed to others' self-imposed mores...or to some divinely established mores? I don't believe it's quite as easy to establish as you imply. But I'm definitely interested in this topic.

Well, I don't know if I'd say "great thing", per se, just "easy to defend" thing. Contracts become meaningless if they can be violated with impunity.

Yes, but the fact that contracts are made meaningless if there is no accountability is no guarantee that the particulars of a given contract are sound to begin with. Lawyers don't just target contractual breaches...they also target the terms of contracts. Many folks are released from contracts because of the terms. We should be at least as concerned with whether our "self-made" standards pass theological and philosophical (and moral) muster as we are with whether we establish or abide by them. Which, of course, leads us to the issue of objective morality. But we don't necessarily need to get into this heavily right now.

if elements of that definition cannot withstand scrutiny, then that definition is almost certainly flawed.

Maybe. But not necessarily, and not where sexual behavior is concerned.

Why is sexual behavior a special class?

I agree that we need to put our sexual standards under tough scrutiny. I just believe that the usual suspects for determining moral standards (harm, consent, nature, evolutionary survivalism) tend to fall short when applied to sexual morality.
thg
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8/21/2013 12:58:00 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
It might be very nuanced. That doesn't mean the underpinnings are flawed. Relativity is complex and not well understood. That doesn't make it a flawed theory. People may be flawed, along with laws. That doesn't mean all mores are invalid.

Well, but that's an appeal to ignorance, isn't it? You can't win a debate (which is not to say you have, that's the indefinite pronoun "you", not you you) by appealing to saying "well, there MIGHT be an argument I just haven't thought of!" As soon as you think of it, sure, we can debate that argument's merits, too, but until then we will work with the arguments we have.

Agreed. But I believe most folks haven't delved deeply enough into their presuppositions to really figure out why they hold the sexual standards they do. I believe there are MANY arguments that people either haven't thought of or have ignored for too long. I would never include in a debate, "Well, I'm right and you're wrong because there's still another argument out there that you haven't thought of." But I might say something like: "You appear to be correct, but maybe that's because you haven't considered particular arguments." Then...either at that point or some other time, I would hope to bring those arguments to the table.

Again, this all depends. If homosexual behavior is, in fact, immoral and can, after all, be chosen, and if gay influence can actually affect how people's sexual orientation ends up, then the pro-gay platform could be conceived as being an imposition on society. When pro-gay people say they are not imposing their morals on the anti-gay contingent, they really are being myopic. They, in fact, often draw analogies to racial discrimination. The way society is moving, the anti-gay contingent is going to be viewed just as we view racists (which, of course, can implicate us socially, professionally, and legally). I'm not saying the pro-gay contingent is wrong. I'm saying that the claim that it is not imposing cultural standards is a myth.

That's what I was kind of getting at with the point about discrimination laws.

Though I will say about your arguments regarding general social consequences, that while that may be so, it has no bearing on the actual morality, and until a case has been made it's not inappropriate to treat the anti-gay folks like the racists, who ALSO could theoretically have a case...but haven't made it.

One can only hope.

Lol, indeed.
bladerunner060
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8/21/2013 12:58:35 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 12:51:03 AM, thg wrote:
It [the questionable nature of homosexual behavior] was an assumption for a long time.
That assumption has been combated recently, in part because society has moved away from the "heretics/questioners of status quo must be executed" model of governance.
There are those who continue to believe the assumption is true, and have put thought into it.
There are those who do not believe the assumption is true, and demand justification.
That justification, in terms of legality, has been found wanting.
That justification, in terms of morality, has been so frequently sidetracked into irrelevancies and fallacies that it's hard to really say anything about it.

I agree with most of this characterization. The only part I really question here is the notion that the world's (negative) assumptions re: homosexuality have changed because "society has moved away" from antiquated "models of governance".

That's not what I was indicating. I was indicating that combating the idea of homosexuality's improper nature was likely to get you burned at the stake in olden times. It's one of the supposed crimes of the Templars, wasn't it?

So, not that the CHANGE has happened, but that the CHALLENGE has happened because it's more possible to challenge such things. No reference (necessarily) to the validity of the change itself.
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thg
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8/21/2013 1:07:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 12:58:35 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 8/21/2013 12:51:03 AM, thg wrote:
It [the questionable nature of homosexual behavior] was an assumption for a long time.
That assumption has been combated recently, in part because society has moved away from the "heretics/questioners of status quo must be executed" model of governance.
There are those who continue to believe the assumption is true, and have put thought into it.
There are those who do not believe the assumption is true, and demand justification.
That justification, in terms of legality, has been found wanting.
That justification, in terms of morality, has been so frequently sidetracked into irrelevancies and fallacies that it's hard to really say anything about it.

I agree with most of this characterization. The only part I really question here is the notion that the world's (negative) assumptions re: homosexuality have changed because "society has moved away" from antiquated "models of governance".

That's not what I was indicating. I was indicating that combating the idea of homosexuality's improper nature was likely to get you burned at the stake in olden times. It's one of the supposed crimes of the Templars, wasn't it?

So, not that the CHANGE has happened, but that the CHALLENGE has happened because it's more possible to challenge such things. No reference (necessarily) to the validity of the change itself.

Got it. Give me a sec and I'll post the rest of my responses to your previous posts... maybe then you can respond, and maybe we can manage to keep our posts in some chronological sequence (ha ha .... yeah...like that's possible!).
bladerunner060
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8/21/2013 1:11:30 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I would say it doesn't really do much good to argue that one side or the other needs to carry the BOP here. If the majority view throughout history has been skeptical toward homosexual behavior, and if SSM is just now becoming an issue in our long history, it seems to me that those who want to change such a long-standing construct should have the BOP.

Why? Merely because of the history?

Surely we all acknowledge (..?..) that many "majority" stances throughout history have been wrong (slavery...though I'm not sure this ever was really the "majority" view). But some have stuck (thou shalt not steal). So whether a view has been long held or not is sort of a moot point. I agree both sides need to come up with sound bases for their moral standards, especially now that we have a substantial disagreement and cultural shift in the works.

Yes, but the question is "where's the presumption". In general, the presumption IMHO is that things are a-moral until shown otherwise.

The idea that "limiting" a behavior should have the BOP also fails. Most any behavior with any moral component has limits. Eating is wonderful, but there are limits, beyond which lie many dangers.

Dangers, yes, but (barring ridiculous examples such as cannibalism, etc.), I don't think gluttony is a moral wrong, except inasmuch as things like obesity cause you to burden others later.

Sexual morality has always been characterized by limits and taboos. Again, moving a behavior that has long been understood to be taboo from the taboo list to the OK list probably needs the BOP, not the side that believes in the traditional view

Again, though, that's the "appeal to antiquity". It's fallacious.

The question is, what should we presume X behavior to be? I would argue the starting point is ALWAYS that it is a-moral. Whether it's a "new" behavior or not, if we're going to discuss the morality of it, we need a starting point. Neutral seems to be the best starting point, to me. If you're going to argue that, because antiquity viewed askance at it therefore we should assume it's morally wrong until proven otherwise, I'd have to ask you to justify that.

(..."because it is placing restrictions on rights"). The very notion that someone has a "right" in the first place is based on the presumption that the behavior in question is OK.

Not really, or at least not quite in the way you're thinking. For example, not being able to punch someone is a limit on my freedom of movement. But it can be justified, and trivially. If we start from the discussion point that "is punching people wrong", it's valid to point out that it's a limitation on your right of freedom of movement, isn't it? And we aren't presupposing that PUNCHING is correct, right?

I don't hear anyone complaining that we are taking away a criminal's rights by making laws or placing him in jail (the need for prison reform notwithstanding).

Ah, but that's because the case for doing so is trivial.

But, again, no need to play the BOP to one side or the other. Let's just present our various reasons for believing the way we do.

Again, though, I have to know where you start to understand the context of your points.

Are you starting from the presupposition that it's morally wrong? Or from the presupposition that no moral claim can be made (which is how I was using a-moral, if perhaps I was either unclear or incorrect in usage)?

After all, why are you even assuming there's a moral dimension in the first place?


Again, I'm more likely to shy away from "assuming" a behavior is OK as a default.

Can you justify that a bit further?

To me, our investigation shouldn't assume too much at all...all sexual behaviors are fair game.

It seems though that you're presupposing a moral dimension where one might not be present.

If you mean that we might as well start by placing all behaviors in a middle neutral column, then, gradually, as we go down the list, give reasons for why we move a behavior to the OK column or the BAD column, I suppose I can go along with that...it's just that I believe it's a fairly obvious matter of sociology and history that most behaviors have been long assumed to be in the OK or BAD column, and I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that as our default...then presenting our best shot at why each behavior is where it is...and, if shifted, why we should accept the shift.

Well, a middle neutral column would be an "ok" column, wouldn't it?

It wouldn't be a "good" column, it wouldn't be a "bad" column; it would have no moral dimension until that dimension's justified.

For example: as a general rule, walking down the street for no reason is a-moral. It's not a morally "good" thing. It's not a morally "bad" thing. It's...just a thing. You can add conditions that might send it into the "good" column (if you suppose doing things for health are good, and that you're walking for your health), or the "bad" column (if you suppose that the actions leading to a bad action are also bad actions, and that you're walking to go murder someone). But if I just said "Bob's walking down the street", there wouldn't really be a moral dimension...it would be a-moral.

Right?

Maybe. But not necessarily, and not where sexual behavior is concerned.

Why is sexual behavior a special class?

I agree that we need to put our sexual standards under tough scrutiny. I just believe that the usual suspects for determining moral standards (harm, consent, nature, evolutionary survivalism) tend to fall short when applied to sexual morality.

I'm not sure that "nature, [and] evolutionary survivalism" are ever valid things to base a moral judgment on, and I don't think harm and consent are different (well, I mean, they're DIFFERENT, because all different harms are different, but I mean in their bearing on the argument) in the case of sexual morality.
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bladerunner060
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8/21/2013 1:12:09 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 1:07:42 AM, thg wrote:

Got it. Give me a sec and I'll post the rest of my responses to your previous posts... maybe then you can respond, and maybe we can manage to keep our posts in some chronological sequence (ha ha .... yeah...like that's possible!).

Well, dang it, I already blew that. And twice now, by posting this!
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Myristicin
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8/21/2013 1:23:17 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Hey I just started an account on this site as it'd be nice(and fun) to refine my argumentative skills. This is the first time I will be debating, so I'm new to this.

Please excuse me interjecting,

*Homosexuality by nature is a process of evolution, and therefore should be accepted even only if strictly scientifically accepted
*Basing that homosexuality is immoral and should be unacceptable based on a religion is archaic
*Homosexuality is a choice of an individual, and engagements sexual or asexual in nature , are between two individuals who have accepted homosexuality, therefore creating laws that regulate homosexuality go against free-will and thus are also even more controversial than homosexuality itself.

These are three viewpoints, any takers to debate me?
thg
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8/21/2013 1:51:28 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/20/2013 11:41:57 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
As in, still gay but okay about it?

And now straight, and ok with it. I know several of these folks personally, so I confess it is anecdotal, but pretty persuasive, nonetheless.

I can understand how that would be persuasive. But did they change their behavior, or their personality? Are they utterly unattracted to the same sex now, whereas they were fully attracted before?

I believe some I know truly have changed. But this all is somewhat moot. IF their original traits were THAT ingrained (whether by birth, environment, or both), then we might construe that they have made a major shift. But we could also assume that everyone has some degree of potential for attraction to the opposite gender to begin with, and that their homosexual attraction is a kind of imposed aberration...and that they finally were able to become their true selves. The jury is still out on all this. The science...and, unfortunately, even the anecdotal evidence...is just not comprehensive and reliable.

The studies, however (which have been limited), have shown that to not be the case.

I'm very skeptical about many such studies, whichever side of the debate they appear to bolster.

However, I happen to believe in the "spectrum" concept of sexuality, which means that there are those who are attracted to both sexes in various proportions. Granted, I also happen to think I fall pretty far on the "hetero" side of that spectrum.

I totally agree with you here. This is a concession not many are willing to make.

I tend to agree with some of your points here. But I disagree that pedophilia is "clearly" immoral. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Forcing a kid to go to school is not a matter of consent or control. No one thinks that is immoral. Why do you presume that sexual encounter always MUST be a matter of consent and control? I believe I agree it is...but I'm curious as to why you believe it is. The variety of cultural norms should be instructive. Most people had shorter life spans than we do today, so it's no surprise that romance and marriage were sought in younger years. Some laws are still on the books, even in the US, that approve of marriage and the age of consent to the tune of 12 yr old and less. So, is it merely our longer life spans that makes acting on certain "natural" attractions a huge crime? What are your reasons? I'm not being confrontational here. I'm really interested.

I don't take it confrontationally (and this is why I was so defensive earlier when I was afraid you thought I was being confrontational. This has been a rather enjoyable interchange of ideas).

Cool! If only more threads could be like this!...


Well, there's consent, which is generally applicable, and custodianship.

Of course, as you know, I don't buy that "consent" is a reliable indicator of moral acceptability. We force kids (and each other, but especially kids) to do a lot of things that go totally unquestioned (school enrollment, eating supper, mowing the lawn). Why is sex so "sacred" or "special" that we have to have a kid's consent? This is a point to which I have yet to hear a persuasive answer (that is, a non-theological one). I just don't get it. Most people just insist it's "common knowledge".

With custodianship, the consent doesn't matter, but your "forced" behaviors should be wholly for the benefit of your charge. You only "force" them to do things that are in their best interest (school is in a child's best interest). I don't believe anyone can make a case that getting your own sexual gratification is in the charge's best interest (whether that charge be a child or a handicapped adult). Neither can one argue that, even if they are somehow giving the charge sexual gratification, it's in the child's best interest (there's pretty clear and well-known demonstrable harms that far outweigh any possible argument for short-term pleasure).

I'm not disagreeing that often there may be harms and selfish motives...though I would submit there is no reason to not apply these metrics to all kinds of sexual encounter. But I would still hope we could pursue WHY sexual encounter is not beneficial like so many other activities. Forcing a child to learn to swim, play piano, or play baseball can be very traumatic...and can scar a kid for life. If we question these constructs, we always blame the parent's or instructor's methodology, never the actual activity. Why is sex INTRINSICALLY considered to be off limits for kids? This is the thing. This is what most folks don't seem to get. If we don't define sexual morality in terms of some instrinsic (I'd say God-given) value, we really have no basis for claiming the behavior itself is what is doing any harm (or good). I believe it is completely possible that sexual encounter (even that is considered "deviant" and that includes kids) can be completely pleasurable for all parties involved...but that STILL doesn't make it right. And, just as the pro-gay contingent claims that much maladjustment or damage to homosexuals is the cause of social pressure rather than their own guilt, so those so-called studies about "harm" to kids can be critiqued as being unwilling to target social pressure as the reason for the "harm" rather than the actual activity itself. It cuts both ways. As for "short-term" pleasure...why do you presume that it is always "short-term". Why couldn't it have lasting (positive) impact?


But there's a difference between behavior and inclination. Someone can't really "choose" to not want to smoke. They can choose to not actually smoke.

Maybe. But this, too, does not establish moral status of the behavior.

Indeed.



I know I used to have inclinations (sexual or otherwise) which I've changed by years of habit and commitment. I'm not sure "inclinations" are any less morally charged than behaviors...or, to put it another way, I'm not sure inclinations are not necessarily a form of behavior (I'd say the same about "beliefs"). In fact, one of the most common forms of "justification" is to claim that "lusting in one's heart" is unavoidable, while "acting" on it is...so, of course, I can "lust" all I want.

I think here we start to have problems stemming from the concept of what a "choice" is, and it might require further defining. But, as we both agree, it's kind of irrelevant to the moral dimension.

I'm not sure I agree that choice is unrelated to morality. I'd agree that NOT having a choice doesn't guarantee that the behavior in question is OK. What I'm asserting above, however, is that I believe we CAN change our inclinations and desires. I do not believe they are any more sacrosanct or unchangeable than our behaviors. I agree it is very difficult to draw a clear line between where "desire" cuts off and "behavior" begins. If I really want to kill you, but am prevented from doing so (perhaps even by my own fears), the lack of actual behavior doesn't change the nature of accountability if you ever discovered my intentions. I may not go to trial, but we'd have a hard time being friends.
thg
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8/21/2013 2:00:58 AM
Posted: 3 years ago

Again, choice and preference and tendency and behavior and inclination...all these things have potential moral implications...depending on how they came about, what they mean in relation to society, and what they mean in relation to God.

I'm not sure I can agree that inclination has moral implications, and, remember that I'm an atheist, though an agnostic one; so while I can agree that they MIGHT means something in relation to God, that's a tough row to hoe with me.

Sure. But even when I claim God to be back of moral imperative, I believe we can discuss the "why"? When we do so, we may discover some elements of our "beliefs" and moral underpinnings that make sense to each of us. This is where I believe we can find common ground. For example, when I claim that God designed sexual encounter to be among our most precious and treasured experiences, I believe there is something about that that resonates even with non-theists. There is something about this that makes sense. Without this construct of intrinsic "preciousness", our sexual mores just don't make a whole lot of sense. This is at least part of what I've been trying to get across.
thg
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8/21/2013 2:41:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 1:11:30 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
I would say it doesn't really do much good to argue that one side or the other needs to carry the BOP here. If the majority view throughout history has been skeptical toward homosexual behavior, and if SSM is just now becoming an issue in our long history, it seems to me that those who want to change such a long-standing construct should have the BOP.

Why? Merely because of the history?

I'm not that adamant about this. But take, for example, the construct of slavery. We all assume now that it is a terrible and immoral construct (for the most part, anyway). We might even go so far as to say that the anti-slavery contingent doesn't NEED to prove anything...it's the pro-slavery crowd that needs to defend themselves. But that's only because we assume we are right! If we had argued that way in 1860 and following, I'll bet we'd still own slaves in the US today. It was incumbent upon the minority to argue their case...at least until they became the majority. But I'd say I'm not too strong one way or the other. I say where there's a disagreement, each side should present its best case, and not rely on the assumption of "rightness" and that the "other" side is the one that needs to come up with the goods. Regardless of who's right, this kind of BOP card is unlikely to persuade the other side, so I believe it's better to drop it from the debate.

Surely we all acknowledge (..?..) that many "majority" stances throughout history have been wrong (slavery...though I'm not sure this ever was really the "majority" view). But some have stuck (thou shalt not steal). So whether a view has been long held or not is sort of a moot point. I agree both sides need to come up with sound bases for their moral standards, especially now that we have a substantial disagreement and cultural shift in the works.

Yes, but the question is "where's the presumption". In general, the presumption IMHO is that things are a-moral until shown otherwise.

But I'm saying that's a dangerous presumption, ESPECIALLY when applied to sexual morality. Since it is not so obvious why sexual standards are so strongly held, and since they have been so strongly held for so long, I'm not sure we can just sit back and consider that all behaviors are OK until proven guilty. Why not accept the historical record as the default...that some things have been deemed BAD, others OK, and now let's go over our respective lists and figure out why they are the way they are, and why they need to be changed, if at all.

The idea that "limiting" a behavior should have the BOP also fails. Most any behavior with any moral component has limits. Eating is wonderful, but there are limits, beyond which lie many dangers.

Dangers, yes, but (barring ridiculous examples such as cannibalism, etc.), I don't think gluttony is a moral wrong, except inasmuch as things like obesity cause you to burden others later.

Hmm. Maybe. I'd say the presumption that gluttony is NOT a moral wrong, in light of its historical place on the "sins" list and its obvious socio-cultural harm, is shaky at best. Even so, however, I still say we should get to the bottom of why we consider it moral or not.


Sexual morality has always been characterized by limits and taboos. Again, moving a behavior that has long been understood to be taboo from the taboo list to the OK list probably needs the BOP, not the side that believes in the traditional view

Again, though, that's the "appeal to antiquity". It's fallacious.

Again, I'm opting both views need bolstering...the "neutral" default doesn't work. I'm only saying that IF anyone has the BOP, the force of history should force the "newer
view" to carry it.

The question is, what should we presume X behavior to be? I would argue the starting point is ALWAYS that it is a-moral. Whether it's a "new" behavior or not, if we're going to discuss the morality of it, we need a starting point. Neutral seems to be the best starting point, to me. If you're going to argue that, because antiquity viewed askance at it therefore we should assume it's morally wrong until proven otherwise, I'd have to ask you to justify that.

Well, maybe, but I think we'd just end up in the same "opposite" camps. For example, if we (supposedly) start at a neutral default with, say, traditional, heterosexual, marriage, I'll likely appeal to a long-standing, innate or God-designed ideal which makes good sense to me. Even if we both believe it's "just fine", I'll move it quickly to the "good" side of morality...likely before either of us has had a chance to condemn it. On the other hand, if we start with pedophilia, we likely are going to appeal quickly to the usual suspects (harm, consent, etc.), at which point the underlying assumption is strongly in favor of condemnation...and either one of us will be assuming the BOP to prove it's just fine. In the end, I really don't think it works to start out "neutral"...and even if we could, I don't think it affects the outcome...so my preference is to start with our default list of GOOD and BAD behaviors, then compare notes. My point is, when we get to homosexual behavior (which we presume is more on the fence than perhaps these first two examples), it doesn't really help the GOOD side to insist that we begin with homosexual behavior "in the middle", and it doesn't really help the BAD side to insist that we start it in the BAD side. We're going to end up having to defend either view...and that is what I hope to do in this thread. It makes sense to me to start by saying that homosexual behavior has been largely listed on the BAD side throughout history, and that, while this doesn't prove it's bad, it may help us make some progress if we investigate WHY it has been thought of thus for so long. That's really all I'm saying.


(..."because it is placing restrictions on rights"). The very notion that someone has a "right" in the first place is based on the presumption that the behavior in question is OK.

Not really, or at least not quite in the way you're thinking. For example, not being able to punch someone is a limit on my freedom of movement. But it can be justified, and trivially. If we start from the discussion point that "is punching people wrong", it's valid to point out that it's a limitation on your right of freedom of movement, isn't it? And we aren't presupposing that PUNCHING is correct, right?

Hmm. Maybe we're mixing metaphors here. I'd say that it's more about context and purpose. "Punching" may be perfectly OK in a boxing match, but not outside the ring. So if someone decides to punch outside the ring and we stick him with limits, he could say, "But you're limiting my rights...let's start with the assumption that MY rights are being violated...then, once you prove that's NOT what's happening, I'll comply." It all depends on how we first define the behavior and the associated rights. Limits can, after all, apply to the initial actor or to the purpose or to the context. When two or more people's rights are limited (as would be the case in your example), there is little good in appealing to the neutrality of an isolated act ("punching"). It all depends on how it's being enacted and limited. If I'm getting your analogy wrong, please correct me.
thg
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8/21/2013 3:20:32 AM
Posted: 3 years ago

I don't hear anyone complaining that we are taking away a criminal's rights by making laws or placing him in jail (the need for prison reform notwithstanding).

Ah, but that's because the case for doing so is trivial.

I'm not sure what you mean here. IF we assume homosexual behavior is OK, then, of course, you are perfectly right to make the "rights" argument. IF we assume homosexual behavior is wrong, then the "rights" argument doesn't cut it. So...what to do? Since we may disagree, the thing to do is table the "rights" argument at least until we can establish whether homosexual behavior is right or wrong. We can't use the "rights" argument, in other words, to justify the behavior. That's just as circular and question-begging as "homosexual is OK because it's natural". The "rights" argument is essentially the "justice" argument. Many pro-gay folks contend that we should approve homosexual behavior because that is the "just" thing to do. But this begs the question. Why is it just to approve homosexual behavior and disapprove of, say, pedophilia? We are back to the same old grind. We need to come up with other bases. Once homosexual behavior is deemed to be good or morally neutral (like, say, handedness...the old Quaker argument), THEN, of course, most of us should have no problem being appalled at all the injustice and prejudice going on (I'd say much of which goes ignored even by today's pro-gay contingent...but we'll get to this later). Otherwise, we are justified in our reservation and our desire to investigate the matter further before we make final decisions. Meanwhile, I'd opt that each side try to be as civil to the other side as possible, and refrain from unnecessary bullying and discrimination...I'd say that doesn't necessarily have to include legalizing gay marriage or full "moral" approval, but we should refrain from most of what we deem to be "unfair" legal and social treatment...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

But, again, no need to play the BOP to one side or the other. Let's just present our various reasons for believing the way we do.

Again, though, I have to know where you start to understand the context of your points.

I think by now you might know my "starting" position better. But I'll try to restate my position: I believe every thinking person has a list of GOOD and BAD sexual behaviors. Most folks don't question their lists that much. But they PASSIONATELY believe their list should be maintained. Homosexuality, at least until recently, has clearly been on the BAD list for most folks. So has pre- and extra-marital sex, incest, group sex, pedophilia, and a bunch of other things. Traditional marriage, on the other hand, has been on most GOOD lists throughout history. I say let's try to figure out why these lists are the way they are...both our own as well as other's...and we likely can come up with a composite list that reflects a pretty universal moral standard. Let's figure out WHY. Then, if we wish to change the list, let's figure out WHY.

Here is my big problem, and the one I've been trying to get to ever since I joined DDO: when it comes to homosexual behavior, the REASONS people present to bolster their case for moving homosexual behavior from the BAD list to the GOOD list are:

1. Circular
2. Inadequate to explain intrinsic sexual morality
2. The very same reasons that would apply to most other things on the BAD list that many of those same people would NOT want to move.

That's where I'm coming from. Sure, I have moral skepticism based on theological underpinnings, but my skepticism is largely philosophical. I believe the justification for homosexual behavior is largely circular, begs the question, or does not distinguish one BAD sexual behavior from another. If someone could provide me with better reasons or sound theological underpinnings, I'd be happy to move any BAD item to the GOOD side, let alone homosexual behavior. Heck, I'd probably love it if having multiple sex partners could be moved to the GOOD side (speaking of accommodating some of my sexual fantasies....!). But I need better reasons than "it doesn't harm anyone", "it's consenting adults", "it's natural", "it's their right", and so on. I just don't believe you can build a viable sexual morality using these arguments (theist or not).

Are you starting from the presupposition that it's morally wrong? Or from the presupposition that no moral claim can be made (which is how I was using a-moral, if perhaps I was either unclear or incorrect in usage)?

As I said earlier, it doesn't matter too much to me either way...but, yes, my default is that some sexual behaviors are OK, some are not (few, if any, are "neutral"). I want to know WHY...and I want to know why we might change our lists here or there.


After all, why are you even assuming there's a moral dimension in the first place?

Well, yes, of course this is a perfectly legit question (now you're sounding like me). My answer is, given history, sociology, psychology, theology, my upbringing, my friends, my own marriage, my own various experiences, and my own inner sense of moral imperative, I believe strongly that morality is a requisite part of human experience, and I believe sexual morality is absolutely part of that construct. Assuming otherwise leads me to conclude that "anything goes"...which I believe doesn't work for sexuality any more than for just about anything else in life. So, yes, this may be somewhat circular...but, sooner or later, it has to come down to a statement of belief. I believe that God designed us to be accountable morally, and I believe he instilled in us a moral compass, and my compass tells me that sex is among our most precious and precarious experiences and needs to be approached with great care. So, yes, I admit that, eventually, I appeal to a faith-based claim. But I still believe there is a lot we can discuss about WHY I believe God may have designed sex this way...and that we can find common ground in our investigation.

Give me one more post...then I should be done and will turn the floor back to you...or anyone else!
thg
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8/21/2013 3:48:28 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Again, I'm more likely to shy away from "assuming" a behavior is OK as a default.


Can you justify that a bit further?

I believe I already addressed this above. Let me know if you'd like me to elaborate further.

To me, our investigation shouldn't assume too much at all...all sexual behaviors are fair game.

I think too highly of sexual encounter (and sexual standards) to just assume everything's fair game. Philosophically, however, if it's a matter of investigating WHY we believe in certain standards, then I'm with you...everything's fair game...which is why I see no reason to just "assume" pedophilia or incest (two of the big BAD players) should be automatically left on the BAD side...with no sound reason for condemnation.

It's why I prefer to shelve the bigger ongoing debate on homosexual behavior and just focus on the reasons people commonly present to justify and condemn it. We are not about pegging whether each of us is theist, pro-gay, or whatever. This is a philosophical exercise that should hold up regardless of where we take our "big" stand. I don't imagine that either of us will change our view on the big issue (we, in fact, just might agree on the big issue...), and I believe a lot of these kinds of discussions become counterproductive when the big issue becomes so much the focus that we lose sight of the planks in our platforms. On the validity of specific arguments, however, I am VERY open to seeing the errors (mine or anyone else's), and it appears you are too.

It seems though that you're presupposing a moral dimension where one might not be present.

Well, sure...but I'm willing to put my presuppositions to tough scrutiny. You're likely one the best ones to do the job.

If you mean that we might as well start by placing all behaviors in a middle neutral column, then, gradually, as we go down the list, give reasons for why we move a behavior to the OK column or the BAD column, I suppose I can go along with that...it's just that I believe it's a fairly obvious matter of sociology and history that most behaviors have been long assumed to be in the OK or BAD column, and I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that as our default...then presenting our best shot at why each behavior is where it is...and, if shifted, why we should accept the shift.

Well, a middle neutral column would be an "ok" column, wouldn't it?

Which just proves my point. Why insist on a middle column when all you're really doing is insisting we start out with "everything's OK"? And starting out with "everything's OK", as I implied earlier, is, I believe, disingenuous. I doubt anyone really believes that. I know we shouldn't make too many assumptions...but this one I'm pretty sure is on solid ground.

It wouldn't be a "good" column, it wouldn't be a "bad" column; it would have no moral dimension until that dimension's justified.

Fair enough. But I would add..."or condemned"... in other words, if we stick with your model, we really can't assume GOOD or BAD, so the BOP is on justification just as much as it is on condemnation. Again, I'm not that concerned, as I believe we'll end up discussing pertinent stuff anyway.

For example: as a general rule, walking down the street for no reason is a-moral. It's not a morally "good" thing. It's not a morally "bad" thing. It's...just a thing. You can add conditions that might send it into the "good" column (if you suppose doing things for health are good, and that you're walking for your health), or the "bad" column (if you suppose that the actions leading to a bad action are also bad actions, and that you're walking to go murder someone). But if I just said "Bob's walking down the street", there wouldn't really be a moral dimension...it would be a-moral.

Sure. Agreed. But, as in most things in life, very rarely can we isolate "just walking down the street"...and, especially, "for no reason" (as you imply). I'd just say that I believe this kind of isolation is nigh impossible for sexual behavior.


Maybe. But not necessarily, and not where sexual behavior is concerned.

Why is sexual behavior a special class?

I agree that we need to put our sexual standards under tough scrutiny. I just believe that the usual suspects for determining moral standards (harm, consent, nature, evolutionary survivalism) tend to fall short when applied to sexual morality.


I'm not sure that "nature, [and] evolutionary survivalism" are ever valid things to base a moral judgment on, and I don't think harm and consent are different (well, I mean, they're DIFFERENT, because all different harms are different, but I mean in their bearing on the argument) in the case of sexual morality.

On this last point, you and I are in complete agreement.

And, I believe I'm done responding to all your most recent posts. So I'll rest my case for the time being and turn the floor back to you (or anyone else). I may respond to the new guy... otherwise, I'll wait till you give the word before I chime in again. I'll also send the link for this thread to some others I think would enjoy reading it or joining in.
thg
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8/21/2013 3:58:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 1:23:17 AM, Myristicin wrote:
Hey I just started an account on this site as it'd be nice(and fun) to refine my argumentative skills. This is the first time I will be debating, so I'm new to this.

Great! Welcome to DDO! There are a lot of great folks here. You sometimes have to endure some rudeness (unfortunately)...and some tough scrutiny (fortunately)...but if you're wanting to hone your debating skills, this is the place. These forum threads are great, but I've found the formal debate format forces me to be concise, and is a great exercise.

Please excuse me interjecting,

Bladerunner and I don't have a monopoly on this thread or any other. You certainly are not interjecting at all.

*Homosexuality by nature is a process of evolution, and therefore should be accepted even only if strictly scientifically accepted
*Basing that homosexuality is immoral and should be unacceptable based on a religion is archaic
*Homosexuality is a choice of an individual, and engagements sexual or asexual in nature , are between two individuals who have accepted homosexuality, therefore creating laws that regulate homosexuality go against free-will and thus are also even more controversial than homosexuality itself.

These are three viewpoints, any takers to debate me?

Sure, I might be happy to debate you. You can join in this thread and express some of your arguments...and/or you can issue a formal debate challenge. You can issue an open challenge (which can be accepted by anyone) or you can challenge a specific person. If you haven't already, I'd highly recommend you visit the debate.org forum and check out some of the threads there (including a tutorial and orientation). Once you browse the site and participate in some stuff, you'll get a feel for it, and you'll learn the ropes quickly.

Anyway, welcome...and I look forward to further dialogue.
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8/21/2013 4:00:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
@thg: Would I be correct in assuming that part of your position against homosexuality is that there currently exists an anti-homosexual stigma within a good portion of the human population, that it has existed throughout history, and that homosexuality's acceptability (moral or otherwise) should be placed under scrutiny for this stigma's existence?
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8/21/2013 4:26:48 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The following will be from the stance of an ethical naturalist:
I posit that ethics is developed with a basis of human telos..
For one to discern 'twixt a thing's morality, immorality or a-morality, one must measure it by goal-orientation. If the thing benefits the achievement of the goal, then it is good. If it detriments it, then it is bad.. if it neither helps or harms the goal, then it is neutral.
^may or may not be wrong
To better apply this theory, I would like to posit a goal (not necessarily correct):
The human goal by which morality stems is based on achieving the greatest measurement of freedom, life (includes lifespan) and livelihood of as great a portion of the human race as possible.
Let us assume the above position were true. How exactly does homosexuality detriment any of the abovementioned factors more than it does neutrally affect or benefit them?
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thg
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8/21/2013 4:32:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 4:00:05 AM, Beginner wrote:
@thg: Would I be correct in assuming that part of your position against homosexuality is that there currently exists an anti-homosexual stigma within a good portion of the human population, that it has existed throughout history, and that homosexuality's acceptability (moral or otherwise) should be placed under scrutiny for this stigma's existence?

I have actually not taken a definitive position on the larger issue of the moral acceptability of homosexuality. My big concern and focus for the moment is on the arguments I'm hearing...from both sides of the larger debate, many of which I find lacking. When I'm critiquing pro-gay arguments, people think I'm anti-gay. When I'm critiquing anti-gay arguments, people think I'm pro-gay. I prefer to remain on the fence and critique all arguments that are fallacious, regardless of which side is making the argument. I think the larger debate would be better served if more people dropped their agendas to "convert" their opponents and simply focused on subjecting their various arguments to tougher scrutiny. Once we rid ourselves of the weak arguments, we are more likely to arrive at better conclusions.

I think what you're asking is: does the history of the world's perception of homosexual behavior compel us to question why it should be so viewed...and, if that view is to be changed to one of moral acceptability, why should we go along with this change?

My answer is...the world's moral standards are certainly intriguing to me, and I definitely want to investigate how and why they came about...and doing so surely will help us to formulate our own moral standards.
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8/21/2013 4:48:24 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 4:26:48 AM, Beginner wrote:
The following will be from the stance of an ethical naturalist:
I posit that ethics is developed with a basis of human telos..
For one to discern 'twixt a thing's morality, immorality or a-morality, one must measure it by goal-orientation. If the thing benefits the achievement of the goal, then it is good. If it detriments it, then it is bad.. if it neither helps or harms the goal, then it is neutral.
^may or may not be wrong
To better apply this theory, I would like to posit a goal (not necessarily correct):
The human goal by which morality stems is based on achieving the greatest measurement of freedom, life (includes lifespan) and livelihood of as great a portion of the human race as possible.
Let us assume the above position were true. How exactly does homosexuality detriment any of the abovementioned factors more than it does neutrally affect or benefit them?

I certainly could go along with much of your reasoning here. My main concern as regards sexual morality and homosexual behavior, however (as you might guess), is that you don't allow much account for faith-based claims...specifically, that sexual morality must include...as one of its goals...God-sanctioned ideals...and that a given sexual behavior, even if it might conform to all your constructs (above), might still fall short of a God-sanctioned ideal. One can certainly question why there would be a God-sanctioned ideal that is not related to one of your stated constructs. I would say that it is, but that it might be quite subtle. For example, I believe that God designed sexual encounter to be among our most pleasurable experiences. But I also believe He designed it to be a unique indicator of ultimate fidelity. True, this construct is a faith-based claim which might have to rely on an ultimate faith-based claim...something like, this is just the way God designed things...but I still maintain it makes good sense. That is, sexual encounter may not be immoral because of all the usual suspects (does harm, is not consented to, does not contribute to procreation, etc...), but works as an indicator of fidelity PRECISELY because it has NO OTHER raison d'etre but that it is an indicator of fidelity. In other words, my commitment to limiting my sexual encounter to my spouse is NOT because of any OTHER moral consideration at all...except for the sole reason that it is an expression of my love for her and her alone. I'm not sure anything else in life could play this role like sex can, and I'm not sure sexual morality works unless we include this "purpose" or "teleology". Thoughts?
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8/21/2013 5:11:34 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 4:48:24 AM, thg wrote:
At 8/21/2013 4:26:48 AM, Beginner wrote:
The following will be from the stance of an ethical naturalist:
I posit that ethics is developed with a basis of human telos..
For one to discern 'twixt a thing's morality, immorality or a-morality, one must measure it by goal-orientation. If the thing benefits the achievement of the goal, then it is good. If it detriments it, then it is bad.. if it neither helps or harms the goal, then it is neutral.
^may or may not be wrong
To better apply this theory, I would like to posit a goal (not necessarily correct):
The human goal by which morality stems is based on achieving the greatest measurement of freedom, life (includes lifespan) and livelihood of as great a portion of the human race as possible.
Let us assume the above position were true. How exactly does homosexuality detriment any of the abovementioned factors more than it does neutrally affect or benefit them?

I certainly could go along with much of your reasoning here. My main concern as regards sexual morality and homosexual behavior, however (as you might guess), is that you don't allow much account for faith-based claims...specifically, that sexual morality must include...as one of its goals...God-sanctioned ideals...and that a given sexual behavior, even if it might conform to all your constructs (above), might still fall short of a God-sanctioned ideal. One can certainly question why there would be a God-sanctioned ideal that is not related to one of your stated constructs. I would say that it is, but that it might be quite subtle. For example, I believe that God designed sexual encounter to be among our most pleasurable experiences. But I also believe He designed it to be a unique indicator of ultimate fidelity. True, this construct is a faith-based claim which might have to rely on an ultimate faith-based claim...something like, this is just the way God designed things...but I still maintain it makes good sense. That is, sexual encounter may not be immoral because of all the usual suspects (does harm, is not consented to, does not contribute to procreation, etc...), but works as an indicator of fidelity PRECISELY because it has NO OTHER raison d'etre but that it is an indicator of fidelity. In other words, my commitment to limiting my sexual encounter to my spouse is NOT because of any OTHER moral consideration at all...except for the sole reason that it is an expression of my love for her and her alone. I'm not sure anything else in life could play this role like sex can, and I'm not sure sexual morality works unless we include this "purpose" or "teleology". Thoughts?
The concept of using religious deity(or deities) in establishing argumentative premises was relatively foreign to me until more recent years (I see it quite often on DDO). In my perspective.. including God as a basis for a premise/concept is synonymous to including any of an immense quantity of deities as a basis for a premise/concept.. I can't seem to wrap my head around the concept of 'God-sanctioned ideals' any more than I can do so for 'Allah-sanctioned ideals'.
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8/21/2013 5:13:11 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
THis might actually be due more to my 3rd -person Agnostic/Buddhist background than anything else.
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8/21/2013 5:20:40 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 4:48:24 AM, thg wrote:
I'm not sure sexual morality works unless we include this "purpose" or "teleology". Thoughts?

Agreed.. I can't deny that teleology had to be assumed. I was trying to establish that if we were to assume teleology, then homosexuality is probably more acceptable than not.
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thg
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8/21/2013 5:25:41 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The concept of using religious deity(or deities) in establishing argumentative premises was relatively foreign to me until more recent years (I see it quite often on DDO). In my perspective.. including God as a basis for a premise/concept is synonymous to including any of an immense quantity of deities as a basis for a premise/concept.. I can't seem to wrap my head around the concept of 'God-sanctioned ideals' any more than I can do so for 'Allah-sanctioned ideals'.

Nothing wrong with your honesty here. I'm not asking you to believe or accept my faith. I'm asking you to consider whether or not my explanation for my faith-based claim makes any sense. I'm not so interested in getting you to believe in God (though that might be wonderful). And my intention is not to simply say, "If you don't believe in God, then we have nothing more to say to each other." My intention is to explain why I believe God designed sex the way he did (rather than just say he did...as many of my fellow believers tend to do)...and see if it makes sense to anyone. I believe it makes good sense, and is consistent with what I believe are largely universally accepted norms throughout the entirety of human experience. I'm interested to know if you think any of my previous description of the "sacredness" or preciousness of sexual encounter makes any sense to you...is it consistent with what you see in the world?...is it consistent with your own inner feelings?
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8/21/2013 5:28:19 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 5:20:40 AM, Beginner wrote:
At 8/21/2013 4:48:24 AM, thg wrote:
I'm not sure sexual morality works unless we include this "purpose" or "teleology". Thoughts?

Agreed.. I can't deny that teleology had to be assumed. I was trying to establish that if we were to assume teleology, then homosexuality is probably more acceptable than not.

Cool. Then we have grounds for some agreement even if we may have different explanations for how we got to this point.

As for applying my "description" to homosexual behavior, that's a longer process that involves constructs of privacy and gender...things I'm sure we'll get to eventually in this thread.
Graincruncher
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8/21/2013 6:44:04 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
1. Sexual standards are some of the most universal aspects of human experience. Everyone has them.

Just to make sure I'm on the same page as everyone (anyone) else here, I want to make sure I understand what a 'sexual standard' is.

Do I have sexual standards or is it a case of simply not seeing certain behaviours as being within the sexual sphere? I don't find shoes/feet to be in any way sexual, but some people do. I don't understand those things in terms of arousal and gratification. Is this a sexual standard or just a disinterest of the same kind as I have in, say, bridal hats or cricket? If not, what would be a sexual standard?

3. The usual supports for moral standards (harm, nature, consent, evolutionary survivalism...) simply don't work with sexual morality (IMO).

Could you clarify why sexual morality is a 'different' morality?

4. People feel more passionate about their sexual standards than almost anything else, and they often feel as they do without really questioning many of their basic presuppositions about why sexual morality should be a concern in the first place (you know...it's just "common sense"...or "everyone knows"...or "I can't believe you believe that way"...).

I'm not sure this is true. Sexual morality, in my experience, has been the area people are most ready to dismiss with comments like "horses for courses" or "what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom". Of the people I know, I can't think of any who would get worked up over sexual morality. Certainly not to the extent that they would about things like education, welfare, freedom of the press etc.

But then I usually persist: But where did we get the idea that sexual encounter harms the child or needs consent: we force kids to go to school and no one complains about that." Often the answer is...you guessed it..."Come on, THAT's different! Everyone knows it harms the child. I can't believe you believe otherwise!..." and so on.

I think my answer to this would be 'observation and experience'; of the people I know who were sexually abused as children, probably 80% have tried to kill themselves. I don't think the statistic is as high amongst people who went to school. I would contend that there is no other basis for differentiation between 'harmful' and 'not harmful'.

The idea that "limiting" a behavior should have the BOP also fails. Most any behavior with any moral component has limits. Eating is wonderful, but there are limits, beyond which lie many dangers. Sexual morality has always been characterized by limits and taboos.

I'm not sure I'm with you here. Are you saying that behaviours should proscribed until proven moral, at which point it's okay to do them? Because as far as I can tell, that's the only alternative.

Again, moving a behavior that has long been understood to be taboo from the taboo list to the OK list probably needs the BOP, not the side that believes in the traditional view (..."because it is placing restrictions on rights").

But by this reasoning, it would have been up to equal rights protesters to prove that they deserve equal rights. The pilgrim fathers would have had to prove that they shouldn't be persecuted for their religious beliefs. To take the reasoning to absurdity, has anyone ever bothered proving that cars are moral? They certainly met with opposition when they were first introduced. Had introducing things been shown to be moral?

I think most persuasively; what if interfering with people's freedom to act without giving justification were a taboo? I find this persuasive because I think that's exactly what the case is now; the majority of people in the western world would generally agree that it is bad to restrict liberty without the person doing the restricting giving good reasons for it.

I don't hear anyone complaining that we are taking away a criminal's rights by making laws or placing him in jail (the need for prison reform notwithstanding). But, again, no need to play the BOP to one side or the other. Let's just present our various reasons for believing the way we do.

But... that entire process is based on the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Again, I'm more likely to shy away from "assuming" a behavior is OK as a default.

Interestingly, a few years ago I was at a seminar at Bristol Uni and one of the neuroscientists in attendance said that their most recent research had suggested people's primary - possibly sole - method for implementing their will is essentially along just those lines. Apparently (and of course this is just one study, although as I understood it a fairly well funded one with a fair amount of data) we tend to allow our bodies to just get on with their own thing unless we see reason to not do it, at which point we send a veto note to our CNS and the action is prevented from going ahead. It was described as the higher brain functions moderating instincts that are not necessarily appropriate for contemporary environments.

Not that I'm suggesting this is a direct analogy of sexual behaviour, merely a potentially relevant piece of information when it comes to the question of "Why see/treat things in X way?".

I would also point to how this would work - or rather, wouldn't work - if applied to investigating and understanding the world in a broader sense. Do we only test a hypothesis once we have given good reasons as to why we should test it? What does it say about religious behaviours, which in the eyes of many have not been justified in this way at all? For a self-acknowledged theological position, taking that approach seems to me that you are required to justify why the behaviour predicating your argument is acceptable.

It seems to me that this argument has the same problem as the logical positivists found with verificationalism; it is unsupported by its own terms.
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8/21/2013 12:59:26 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 1:23:17 AM, Myristicin wrote:
Hey I just started an account on this site as it'd be nice(and fun) to refine my argumentative skills. This is the first time I will be debating, so I'm new to this.

Please excuse me interjecting,

Interject away!

*Homosexuality by nature is a process of evolution, and therefore should be accepted even only if strictly scientifically accepted

The broader debate here is on morals, though. Pedophilia is arguably a process of evolution, too...

*Basing that homosexuality is immoral and should be unacceptable based on a religion is archaic

Archaic?

*Homosexuality is a choice of an individual, and engagements sexual or asexual in nature , are between two individuals who have accepted homosexuality, therefore creating laws that regulate homosexuality go against free-will and thus are also even more controversial than homosexuality itself.

Well, I agree with this. It's in line with the "consent" argument.

These are three viewpoints, any takers to debate me?

thg might maybe...
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bladerunner060
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8/21/2013 1:03:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 12:58:00 AM, thg wrote:

I would never include in a debate, "Well, I'm right and you're wrong because there's still another argument out there that you haven't thought of." But I might say something like: "You appear to be correct, but maybe that's because you haven't considered particular arguments." Then...either at that point or some other time, I would hope to bring those arguments to the table.

I feel like the "You appear to be correct, but maybe..." to be kind of unfair. Your opponent can't possibly respond except, perhaps, "You appear to be incorrect, and there may be even more particular arguments against you."

While I can understand that, it appears to be a rejection of rational argument in favor of bias. You still think you're right, even though you can't combat the arguments presented to you. While it is, of course, true that there may be another argument, it seems that if you used that as justification you could do so to justify continuing to hold ANY belief.
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bladerunner060
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8/21/2013 1:07:37 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 5:25:41 AM, thg wrote:
(Left in to create notification to thg)

Rather than walls-o-text, let's try to start somewhere.

The choice argument is irrelevant to the moral question, unless the behavior or preference is established as immoral.

So, let's start from scratch on that:

Is homosexual behavior immoral?

I maintain we should start at square one: it's a-moral until we have a reason to think otherwise. Even though it has been frowned upon in ancient times. I don't think that can be a valid reason for starting from the presuppposition that it's immoral until shown otherwise.

But I think ALL behavior is A-moral until shown otherwise, and I think graincruncher was touching on that with his post, too.

So to kind of repeat (but more explicitly):

Should we assume that homosexual behavior (assuming consenting adults) is immoral, has no moral value, or is moral?
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bladerunner060
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8/21/2013 1:09:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 4:48:24 AM, thg wrote:
At 8/21/2013 4:26:48 AM, Beginner wrote:
The following will be from the stance of an ethical naturalist:
I posit that ethics is developed with a basis of human telos..
For one to discern 'twixt a thing's morality, immorality or a-morality, one must measure it by goal-orientation. If the thing benefits the achievement of the goal, then it is good. If it detriments it, then it is bad.. if it neither helps or harms the goal, then it is neutral.
^may or may not be wrong
To better apply this theory, I would like to posit a goal (not necessarily correct):
The human goal by which morality stems is based on achieving the greatest measurement of freedom, life (includes lifespan) and livelihood of as great a portion of the human race as possible.
Let us assume the above position were true. How exactly does homosexuality detriment any of the abovementioned factors more than it does neutrally affect or benefit them?

I certainly could go along with much of your reasoning here. My main concern as regards sexual morality and homosexual behavior, however (as you might guess), is that you don't allow much account for faith-based claims...specifically, that sexual morality must include...as one of its goals...God-sanctioned ideals...and that a given sexual behavior, even if it might conform to all your constructs (above), might still fall short of a God-sanctioned ideal. One can certainly question why there would be a God-sanctioned ideal that is not related to one of your stated constructs. I would say that it is, but that it might be quite subtle. For example, I believe that God designed sexual encounter to be among our most pleasurable experiences. But I also believe He designed it to be a unique indicator of ultimate fidelity. True, this construct is a faith-based claim which might have to rely on an ultimate faith-based claim...something like, this is just the way God designed things...but I still maintain it makes good sense. That is, sexual encounter may not be immoral because of all the usual suspects (does harm, is not consented to, does not contribute to procreation, etc...), but works as an indicator of fidelity PRECISELY because it has NO OTHER raison d'etre but that it is an indicator of fidelity. In other words, my commitment to limiting my sexual encounter to my spouse is NOT because of any OTHER moral consideration at all...except for the sole reason that it is an expression of my love for her and her alone. I'm not sure anything else in life could play this role like sex can, and I'm not sure sexual morality works unless we include this "purpose" or "teleology". Thoughts?

That rather begs the question of God's existence, though, which is required for the argument itself. If we dont' assume god exists, the argument falls apart for lack of teleology...
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