Well! I’ve been a little negligent toward this poor blog. I recently started up at a new school and I’ve been and am quite busy.
But a couple people asked me if they could read a very short essay I wrote for one of the classes I’m taking: Philosophy of Sex and Love (it’s basically an intro to ethics class in the context of sex and love). So I decided to stick it here.
The following is a response to Law Morality and Sexual “Orientation”. by John Finnis. (So read that link first.)
In Finnis’ Essay “Law, Morality, and ‘Sexual Orientation’”. Finnis argues that there is something special about a heterosexual marriage that a homosexual marriage (or any other kind of union between homosexual partners) lacks. He uses handwaving and semantics in an attempt to conceal what is clearly an iteration of the Naturalistic Fallacy, despite his outright denial that this is the case.
Though he opens with numerous appeals to authority (mostly ancient philosophers), eventually Finnis explains the basis for his argument. Finnis’ heterosexual union is special and distinct from homosexuality in that there is something special and unique to heterosexual coitus. Those involved, “function as a biological (and thus personal) unit” which enables them to promote the “common good and reality of marriage, even when some biological condition happens to prevent that unity resulting in generation of a child.” It’s notable that Finnis’ special quality is not necessarily conception, since sterile couples may also participate in his special kind of intercourse.
What is this special thing that happens when couples “unite” in such a way that doesn’t happen with homosexual encounters? Finnis also says “homosexual acts” are equal to, among other things, coitus-interruptus between married, reproductively capable partners, due to their failure to properly be an enactment of the reproductive process. So not only is it necessary for there to be a penis in a vagina, unless the sperm hits the bullseye, so to speak, the deal is off.
Finnis is well aware of the Naturalistic Fallacy and the implications it has for his arguments, as evidenced by his statement, “I reject as fallacious (and never argue on the basis of) any proposition like ‘natural functions or tendencies are moral standards and ought to guide deliberation and choice’.” He makes a preemptive defense of his assertions against accusations of the Naturalistic Fallacy by claiming his argument does not, “appeal to any norm of the form ‘Respect natural facts or natural functions’.” And yet his entire argument, it seems to me, rests on the natural function of procreation as a basic, necessary good which a homosexual union lacks, despite his assertion to the contrary. He later continues this handwaving in an even more obvious way with this line, “This kind of act is a ‘natural kind’, in the morally relevant sense of ‘natural’,” as if this type of “natural” is somehow immune from the Naturalistic Fallacy.
Not only that but, Finnis’ arguments rest entirely on assumptions about things such as basic “goods,” the nature or source of which he never specifies and so one is left only with the conclusion that these goods are intrinsic to the Universe and therefore natural as in line with the reasoning of a Natural Law Theorist. Therefore Finnis arguments, while somewhat clever in their intellectual contortions (i.e. intellectual dishonesty) cannot escape being classified under the Naturalistic Fallacy.