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Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality

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RationalEgoistSG

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OK, but errors are "man-made" facts, too. Do you believe errors are immoral?

Again, that depends on the root of the error. Is the error caused by a lack of knowledge or by an evasion of reality or by a lack of proper focus? An error still fits the "choice" criteria.

"Natural" is not a very clear term, but I would say it is quite obviously incredibly, sadly detrimental to one's life.

Do you think pedophilia originates in the same manner as homosexuality, one of the two "plausible" theories you mentioned previously?

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Again, that depends on the root of the error. Is the error caused by a lack of knowledge or by an evasion of reality or by a lack of proper focus?
OK, yes, I meant error of knowledge. So, then a desire that results from errors of knowledge, or from biological factors cannot, in itself, be called "immoral," right?

Do you think pedophilia originates in the same manner as homosexuality, one of the two "plausible" theories you mentioned previously?
I don't really know, never having studied it. But basic sexual attraction, regardless of its target, is so deep-rooted that I'd expect it to be one of those.

Mark

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So, then a desire that results from errors of knowledge, or from biological factors cannot, in itself, be called "immoral," right?

I agree.

But basic sexual attraction, regardless of its target, is so deep-rooted that I'd expect it to be one of those.

Speaking for myself, I have some problems with it. I would liken pedophilia more to rape than to homosexuality.

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First, I'm away from fast internet and have been dialing in over my wireless phone at great expense, so I haven't been able to read quite *everything* since I last posted, but there are a few points I want to make.

Paedophilia (and ephibophilia) differs from homosexuality in that the former are desires to commit immoral acts, and the latter isn't. At least, no one has yet demonstrated that homosexual behavior is immoral per se. People throwing around the paedophilia strawman are only trying to shock others by means of their opponents' responses. The paedophilia argument, even from the not-acted-upon standpoint, is specious and does not deserve to consume any further topic space.

'Desire' is a word which needs clarification. Desire is something unique to man, and is a response to his rational virtues. Desire is always *always* a philosophical response.

'Reflex' is the proper term for an uncontrollable physical or biological response. Reflexes are the mechanism by which the body protects itself from harm. This includes the hunger reflex, the gag reflex, the sexual arousal reflex, and others. Many reflexes can be temporarily supressed by force of will - man can starve himself to death, supress the gag reflex, and decide not to act on sexual arousal. Even physical addiction to substances can be viewed as a reflex. The point is that the reflex itself is not moral or immoral, but the way the mind deals with it is. If someone obsessed constantly about how much he hated his palletar nerve reflex and wasted considerable effort and time trying to suppress it, this would be immoral. But if the reflex leads to truly destructive behavior, like drug addiction, suppressing it can be very moral.

'Instinct' is a type of knowledge specific to non-human animals. Instinct is knowledge instilled from birth: for birds, how to build a nest; for squirrels, which nuts to eat and which nuts not to eat. Man has no instinct whatsoever: he relies on conceptually derived knowledge in order to survive. Man has no 'instinct for self-preservation:' if he did, infants could be left in the forest to fend for themselves, and to positive effect no less. Man has no 'instinct for propogation,' either. Man does have a very complex set of reflexes, but all they tell him is that there is a need: they do not tell him how to fulfill it.

Homosexuality is in all likelihood derived from an abnormal sexual arousal reflex. By the way, I should specify, since there was some confusion, that 'abnormal' is a term which applies only to concretes: this plant has an abnormal growth, and that man has an abnormal reflex. It does *not* apply to choices, as there is no universal *normal* for choices, only what is right for the individual. The terms 'abberant' and 'deviant' have been applied to choices, but these are sociological terms, and all sociology is bunk for the same reason. None of these words has an inherent negative moral judgment attached to it. Anyway, back on track: Homosexuality is in all likelihood derived from an abnormal sexual arousal reflex. This is why it often manifests long before a child has any concept of sex of 'normalcy' as it is applied to sexual relations. I don't like the notion that homosexuality can be of a purely conceptual, environmental cause: it would require some very serious, upper-level implicit conceptualization on the part of the child, and once the child were old enough to cognate on such levels explicitly, the allegedly 'deeply ingrained behavior ' could be reconceptualized and easily modified. The 'behavior's' resilience to such efforts, the low long-term success rate of those few who do make progress in those efforts, and the ease with which many college philosophy professors reject the implicit conceptualization of infancy which taught them that reality is real and that things behave according to their identites, all speak to likelihood of a reflexive (and by extension biological) origin to homosexuality.

Choosing to love a person based on the non-essential characteristic of biological sex is just as immoral as any other judgment based on a non-essential. For most people, such a choice never even enters the mind. It does for some, though it seems more disproportionately to those who have ever closely examined their sexuality, especially homosexuals, since they have had to deal with the social stigmas placed on them. A lot of homosexuals make this choice and are immoral for doing so. Some heterosexuals also make this choice and are immoral for doing so. The moral thing for everyone to do is to examine their responses, determine their nature, understand them, and then choose to act for the right reasons - choose whom to love based on mutually shared values. The mind is powerful enough create the biological response if the impetus is strong enough, but working against the reflex for the wrong reasons is as immoral as slavishly abiding by it. Homosexuality makes it *easier* to love someone of the same gender, but does not make it *impossible* to love someone of the opposite.

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Sorry, I'm new to the thread and haven't really read much of it. However, I'd like to point out that Qwertz's paragraph 'Reflex' is quite contradictory.

Qwertz, first, you state that "'Reflex' is [...] an uncontrollable physical or biological response." Emphasis added. Then you say that many reflexes can suppressed. First you say they are uncontrollable, then you say they are controllable. Can you clarify that?

Also, hunger isn't a reflex, it is an urge, or an instinct (sorry, I'm translating from my own language) for food. A reflex would be salivating when you see roasted turkey after not having any food for two days. You say that reflex is a biological response, but you do not say to what - it is a response to external stimuli. Hunger thus cannot be a reflex because absence of food is not a stimulus - it is an absence of one.

Furthermore, you state that sexual arousal is a reflex. I need proof to back this up. For the sake of the argument, I will suppose this really is true. In this case, all debate about homosexuality must stop, because the issue is not debatable, on the same principle on which the issue whether or not a man must eat to survive is not debatable. It is then a metaphysically given fact that some men are homosexual, and going against that is going against man's nature.

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Choosing to love a person based on the non-essential characteristic of biological sex is just as immoral as any other judgment based on a non-essential.

So many questions come to mind. What is a non-essential characteristic? Why is biological sex non-essential? Is it immoral to prefer a certain body type, a certain hair color, etc.? If a person is perfectly virtuous, shares your values, but you find him or her unattractive physically and sexually, is that immoral?

And how does one "choose to love a person" at all? You can (and should) examine your emotional reaction to make sure it's rational. And whether to pursue it must be decided based on your current circumstances. But otherwise, "falling in love" is not a bad phrase. Like all emotions, it just happens. Now, if you meant that you should prime your subconscious by rationally convincing yourself that certain characteristics are inessential to your romantic partners, I understand, though I still think the choice of words is misleading.

For most people, such a choice never even enters the mind.

This is so bizarre, I think I must have misunderstood you. You're saying that most people don't care about the sex of their romantic partner?

Mark

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Qwertz, first, you state that "'Reflex' is an uncontrollable physical or biological response." Then you say that many reflexes can suppressed. First you say they are uncontrollable, then you say they are controllable. Can you clarify that?

Yes I can. Suppression is not control. If I had meant control, I would have said control. In the case of suppression, the reflex still remains in full effect, but the action which the reflex induces (the gagging of the throat, the kicking of the leg, the sating of hunger etc.) is, by will, not carried out. The reflex still exists - it is not affected in any way: it is merely rendered ineffectual.

Also, hunger isn't a reflex, it is an urge, or an instinct (sorry, I'm translating from my own language) for food.
The translation is imprecise, then. In English, the word 'instinct' means (basically) inherited knowledge. Hunger is not knowledge, it is a reflex (or, more precisely, a collection of similarly motivated reflexes, but interestingly enough not including salivation: salivation is not a response to the stimulus of an empty stomach, but to the stimulus of food itself.) Salivation is the body preparing to take in food, and not part of hunger, which is the body complaining about a lack of food. One can include stomach pain, borborygmi and the like with the reflex of hunger, but the more important reflexive pathway is the crave reflex, which is a response to a lack of nutrition. The crave reflex does not, however tell us what to eat, so it is not knowledge, and the word 'instinct' does not apply. Humans are born tabula rasa ('empty slate').

Furthermore, you state that sexual arousal is a reflex. I need proof to back this up.

It's a point open to debate, but I think it is based on personal experience, lots of thinking, and the existence of infantile sexual arousal and juvenile masturbation; more specifically, human beings experiencing sexual arousal before they are capable of understanding what it is, or even that it is happening.

What is a non-essential characteristic?

One with no moral significance and which does not make a man a man. Oh dear, using 'man' in the philosophical sense here is going to get confusing. Try "One with no moral significance and which does not make a person a person." That's a little better. Being male or female does not make you human.

Is it immoral to prefer a certain body type, a certain hair color, etc.?
Insofar as you would reject a more qualified candidate based on these characteristics, yes.

If a person is perfectly virtuous, shares your values, but you find him or her unattractive physically and sexually, is that immoral?

'Physically' and 'sexually' are different words and have different meanings. If you find a person's physical appearence repulsive or unattractive, how can they possibly share your values? Shared values will result in shared value judgments. It makes no sense that you would find someone who shares your values physically unattractive. So yes, that situation demands a certain duplicity, hypocrisy and evasion, so it would indeed be immoral, but not for the reason you imply. Now sexual arousal is (as I said above, this is debatable) reflexive. If you don't find the person sexually arousing, that's fine. You can still become the very very best of friends, much like Hank and Francisco became by the end of Atlas Shrugged.

And how does one "choose to love a person" at all? You can (and should) examine your emotional reaction to make sure it's rational. And whether to pursue it must be decided based on your current circumstances. But otherwise, "falling in love" is not a bad phrase. Like all emotions, it just happens.
Emotions are the "lightning calculator" (sorry, again, I'm out of town, so I don't have my Rand books handy to give a direct reference to that) of values: they reflect precisely a person's deeply held ethical system. They do not 'just happen' unless you leave them unquestioned. I use the phrase 'choose to love a person' to distinguish it from the common conception of blind love implied in the phrase 'fall in love.' You have total control over whom you choose to love insofar as you have rationally defined your values. By defining your values, you are in essence defining a romantic relationship and the person who can fulfill that relationship. This is how you choose the person to love.

This is so bizarre, I think I must have misunderstood you. You're saying that most people don't care about the sex of their romantic partner?

No, I am saying that most people never have occasion to question the sex of their partner: why they chose a woman over a man, for example. This is only partially related to the fact that most people never have occasion to question why they love the person they say they love at all.

-Q

Edit: fixed quote formatting, added 'tabula rasa' remark.

Edited by Qwertz
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I.e., he should be masculine, hold himself in a confident manner (not prance around like a fairy), he should take an interest in women, etc.
Being homosexual has nothing to do with 'prancing around like a fairy'. Having an interest in women has nothing to do with 'being masculine'. The heros of ancient Greece are about as masculine as you can get, yet I doubt they would have conformed to our cultural notions of heterosexuality.

A man is a rational animal. Homosexuality is not part of animality.
This is either false, or vacuous (take your pick). Its obviously true that animals dont self-identify as homosexual, but intercourse between animals of the same sex does happen. Also if humans are animals, then anything a human does is by definition 'part of animality'.

A man can choose it (to like other men).
This is a misuse of the word 'choice'. Being homosexual is not like the choice to eat fish for dinner instead of steak. There is no reason to think that attraction to men is in general a product of conscious decision, and talk of 'unconscious choices' lacks sense.

He is a man acting, posing, whatever you want to call it as a female.
Being homosexual has nothing to do with being, or acting, female.

What matters is that while he is alive he acts as a man should and not contradictory to it. I.e., not act as a women or have sexual thoughts or fantasies, ect., that are only proper to women.
This is meaningless.

I would liken pedophilia more to rape than to homosexuality.

You arent distinguishing between thoughts and actions. Paedophilia (= being attracted to children) isnt immoral. However, a person who acts on these desires and has sex with a prepubescant child is acting immorally. Paedophiles who manage to control their urges throughout their life deserve nothing but praise and respect - it must be exceptionally difficult.

In English, the word 'instinct' means (basically) inherited knowledge.
Inborn behavior patterns is more accurate. Talking about 'knowledge' makes it sound like we mean knowledge of facts (such as knowing that Paris is in France) rather than knowledge of how to do things (such as knowing how to ride a bike). Edited by Hal
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Qwertz: "Paedophilia (and ephibophilia) differs from homosexuality in that the former are desires to commit immoral acts, and the latter isn't."
This is a circular argument. We are trying to establish if homosexuality also involves a desire to "commit immoral acts", so how can you use your answer - that it is not - in your argument to show why it is different from paedophilia?

Qwertz: "At least, no one has yet demonstrated that homosexual behavior is immoral per se.

How do we demonstrate that it is immoral when the very attempt to do so is dismissed as "comparing something immoral with something not immoral?" That's all i will say about your contribution.

For those who have just joined the debate, the paedophilia analogy that i introduced is taken only for one aspect of it - desire - not the choice of acting on that desire. I was hoping to establish that at least at that level, those who are dismissing the judgment of homosexuality on the mere premise that there are not enough biological/psychological studies to enable this judgment, should consistently say this about the paedophilia DESIRE as well, or else. Or else, they should explain why they will not mind passing moral judgment without enough scientific facts about its roots.

Rational cop, when i talk about the desire ASPECT of homosexuality, i only mean to differentiate it from the choice of ACTING on that desire, which is another aspect altogether and is judged differently (property rights, etc). The reason i decided to limit the discussion to the desire aspect is so that we can discuss its comparison with paedophilia at that level alone and not be taken up with the human rights abuses involved in one of these.

I think Rational cop has understood me here since he admits that desires can be morally judged.

Mark. You are confusing two things: the experience of a certain desire, and the desire ITSELF. You can not morally judge a person who experiences a particular desire, but you can say whether that particular desire is right or wrong. But when i ask about the latter, you keep answering for the former. In short, i can say, "i have just experienced the desire to have sex with my goat - am i immoral? no. is this a moral desire? no." Since it is not a moral desire, I should not have anything to do with it. If it seems to be happening unconsciously, as an objectivist i should identify its roots so that i could know how to get rid of it, instead of just ignoring it.

Mark, you do agree there is such a thing as an evil thought, right? If you do experience that evil thought - the experience does not make you evil if you are good, but neither does your experiencing it (as a good man) change the moral status of the thought. Desires, thoughts, and even philosophical ideas can have a moral status - do you agree?

So, i am surprised that you think there is nothing morally wrong with the person who says, "i have these fantasies of having sex with children and i enjoy them, and i will continue having them - although i will never do anything to children." To you, it is only a problem if he acts on it. And to Rationalcop, they are wrong only because he can not fulfil them.

So, perhaps i should ask: what if this person can experience some sexual fulfilment through a computer virtual reality sexual experience with these babies? can we say he is perfectly moral since he is not harming any child and since he is not harming himself any more (by rational cop's definition of harming oneself)?

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So, perhaps i should ask: what if this person can experience some sexual fulfilment through a computer virtual reality sexual experience with these babies? can we say he is perfectly moral since he is not harming any child and since he is not harming himself any more (by rational cop's definition of harming oneself)?
No, this wouldnt be morally wrong. It wouldnt even be illegal under current US law afaik. I think some people will argue that having heterosexual sex in a similar environment would be immoral (for the same reason they think masturbation is immoral), but this wouldnt apply to the paedophile because he has no other outlet for his desires. Edited by Hal
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I think Rational cop has understood me here since he admits that desires can be morally judged.
He can speak for himself, but his last response indicated to me he believes only that desires that stem from irrationality or evasion can be said to be immoral. And I, only for the sake of clarity, am distinguishing between that irrationality (which can be judged morally) and its resulting psychological state (which can't).

Mark. You are confusing two things: the experience of a certain desire, and the desire ITSELF. You can not morally judge a person who experiences a particular desire, but you can say whether that particular desire is right or wrong.

But when i ask about the latter, you keep answering for the former. In short, i can say, "i have just experienced the desire to have sex with my goat - am i immoral? no. is this a moral desire? no." Since it is not a moral desire, I should not have anything to do with it. If it seems to be happening unconsciously, as an objectivist i should identify its roots so that i could know how to get rid of it, instead of just ignoring it.

My point is simply that talking about a moral or immoral desire is unclear. In your example, you talk about deciding whether to act on it and whether to examine its roots. Those are clearly choices involving moral decisions.

Mark, you do agree there is such a thing as an evil thought, right? If you do experience that evil thought - the experience does not make you evil if you are good, but neither does your experiencing it (as a good man) change the moral status of the thought. Desires, thoughts, and even philosophical ideas can have a moral status - do you agree?
Thoughts are different from desires and emotions. Since the purpose of thought is to guide action, yes, they can be called moral or immoral. But here we leave automatic processes of the subconscious (emotions, desires) and enter the realm of conscious, rational, thinking.

So, i am surprised that you think there is nothing morally wrong with the person who says, "i have these fantasies of having sex with children and i enjoy them, and i will continue having them - although i will never do anything to children." To you, it is only a problem if he acts on it.
You are now talking about what a person will do as a result of his desires. Indulging in fantasy is a conscious choice, not a desire or emotion. I have no idea whether such indulgence is moral or immoral. If it keeps a pedophile from physically acting on his desires, and there are no better choices open to him, then it could be moral. On the other hand, if such indulgence makes it more likely he will offend, then it would be immoral. But I would need to be a psychologist to judge it either way.

Finally, blackdiamond, you really need to show how all this relates to homosexuality. The reason we can talk about certain aspects of pedophilia as immoral is because, in action, it involves immorality. For this example to have any relevance to homosexuality, it must be shown that homosexuality involves immorality in action. As best I can tell, the form of your argument boils down to:

Pedophilia involves desires.

Pedophilia is immoral.

Homosexuality involves desires.

----------

Therefore, homosexuality is immoral.

Since this obviously won't do, I think you need to fill in the missing piece; namely, draw some relevant relationship between pedophilia and homosexuality. Or forget about pedophilia and show how acting on homosexuality (whether it be indulging in fantasy or physically acting on it) involves immorality.

Mark

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Thanks, Mark.

blackdiamond, you really need to show how all this relates to homosexuality. The reason we can talk about certain aspects of pedophilia as immoral is because, in action, it involves immorality. For this example to have any relevance to homosexuality, it must be shown that homosexuality involves immorality in action.

Since this obviously won't do, I think you need to fill in the missing piece; namely, draw some relevant relationship between pedophilia and homosexuality. Or forget about pedophilia and show how acting on homosexuality (whether it be indulging in fantasy or physically acting on it) involves immorality.

Mark

Mark, i can not show how all this relates to homosexuality if you do not accept that one's desires can be morally judged. There is no way we are going to agree beyond this point if you do not realise this. The best i can do is to keep giving you examples and hope that by integration you will see that desires can be judged morally.

A person who hates Jews is not morally wrong, according to you, if he does not act on that hatred (emotion). Paedophilia is not the only example i have used in my argument; i have also tried using racism, phobias, etc, and as far as i can see, you are quite intellectually honest, so i don't know where the problem is.

Thoughts are different from desires and emotions. Since the purpose of thought is to guide action, yes, they can be called moral or immoral. But here we leave automatic processes of the subconscious (emotions, desires) and enter the realm of conscious, rational, thinking.

The purpose of thought is to guide action? That sounds a lot like pragmatism, incidentally.

Pragmatism: Developed by William James and Charles Sanders Pierce, it is a philosophical doctrine stating that the test of the truth of a proposition is its practical utility, the effect of an idea is more important than its origin, and the purpose of thought is to guide action.

http://members.tripod.com/megan365/id104.htm

But that's just a small observation.

You are now talking about what a person will do as a result of his desires. Indulging in fantasy is a conscious choice, not a desire or emotion. I have no idea whether such indulgence is moral or immoral. If it keeps a pedophile from physically acting on his desires, and there are no better choices open to him, then it could be moral. On the other hand, if such indulgence makes it more likely he will offend, then it would be immoral. But I would need to be a psychologist to judge it either way.

A person who hates Jews decides that he will just watch movies in which Jews are murdered as this will keep him from ACTUALLY murdering Jews. He feels enough satisfaction from just seeing a movie in which they are murdered. We can't judge his emotion about Jews and we can not even judge his fantasies and so on, as long as this does not lead to any harmful action. Hmm, Mark.

(and by the way, would you say hatred of Jews is only immoral because "in action, this involves immorality"? What about if someone just hates them and does not even wish them to be murdered? He just hates them for being Jewish - that's all. is that 'emotion' of hatred amoral? OR: substitute 'gays' for 'Jews' in that statement, and see if you can now integrate.)

As best I can tell, the form of your argument boils down to:

Pedophilia involves desires.

Pedophilia is immoral.

Homosexuality involves desires.

----------

Therefore, homosexuality is immoral.

Your syllogism above is not an honest representation of my argument (unless you have read something into it). I have not argued anywhere for the immorality of homosexuality. I am simply attacking the argument against the immorality of homosexuality; one argument in particular: that one can not judge unless there is sufficient evidence from biology / psychology about the roots of homosexuality. I am doing this by taking similar areas in which psychology/biology might not have complete or even sufficient evidence but judgment has been passed by most rational people, including Objectivists (and just not because of the action - as in hatred of Jews example above). This is not the same as me saying that "therefore, homosexuality is wrong" as your little straw man syllogism above says. I do believe homosexuality is wrong, but at this stage i do not claim to have demonstrated this already.

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I do believe homosexuality is wrong, but at this stage i do not claim to have demonstrated this already.

Whatever agreements you think you and I share, this isn't one of them.

You have had several long posts now to get to a point. If you want to make a case that "homosexuality is wrong", can you please get to it?

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At this point blackdiamond is the primary cause of my premature baldness.

Desires do not exist in a vacuum. Desire is *always* desire for something. In the case of paedophilia, it is a desire to have sex with children. Whether or not the person acts on the desire is irrelevant - the desire is immoral because it is a desire for something immoral. Homosexuality is not a desire for immoral action, and you have failed spectacularly in demonstrating otherwise. Paedophilia is not analogous to homosexuality in any way until you show us why homosexual behavior is inherently immoral. It's not a circular argument, because comparing paedophilia to homosexuality is specious until you prove that it isn't.

I have not argued anywhere for the immorality of homosexuality. I am simply attacking the argument against the immorality of homosexuality

Argh! But you are attacking the argument against the immorality of homosexuality, not by presenting a case for the immorality of homosexual behavior, but by taking the immorality of homosexual behaviour as granted! The people you are arguing with do not take the immorality of homosexual behavior as a given! You have to demonstrate to us why you think homosexual behavior is inherently immoral, ie bad for a man's life as a man.

The reason any desire or belief is immoral is not because the desire is a detached, extracontextual, universal evil, but because our desires inform our behavior (Dr. P said something like this somewhere, but again, I don't have my books handy). If the behavior is immoral, the desire is immoral. Desire does not exist in a vacuum. Desire cannot be evaluated extracontextually. Desire separated from the object of desire is meaningless. There. I've said it three different ways. Maybe it will sink in.

I do believe homosexuality is wrong, but at this stage i do not claim to have demonstrated this already.

You are saying you hold a belief for no reason? You have not demonstrated the immorality of homosexuality even to yourself? Why do *you* think homosexuality is immoral? Stop trying to convince us and just tell us why *you* believe it. Or is that what you've been doing? Because if it is, well, it's not a very well reasoned belief.

-Q

PS - Wow that was kind of snarky. No personal offense is intended, blackdiamond, I just get riled up when people don't adhere to context.

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Enough has been said on why the analogy with paedophilia does not work. I just thought of a better analogy: if we assume that homosexuality is a psychological abberation.

The example is a bit long, but I think that's required, to build the appropriate context.

I have an Objectivist friend who was brought up in India as a vegetarian. Even years after becoming an Objectivist, he does not eat meat. He has no moral issues with it. He even knows that it is a psychological issue that he can probably change if he spends the time. He knows this because a couple of times he has eaten meat by mistake and has liked it. However, when he knows it is meat, he start to get nausea when he tries to eat it.

He assumes that this is not biological (i.e. it is not like lactose-intolerance) but psychological; and, that it's based on all the things he has heard, growing up, from friends and family. He knows it is completely moral to eat meat. He knows he's missing something good in life. His few personal attempts to change it have not been successful. So, like some people go and get (say) a phobia of snakes cured, he could go get his "phobia" of meat cured.

However, he does not think it is worth his time to work on this problem. A meat eater might think that food-choices become extremely limited if one is only vegetarian. And people who convert to vegetarianism might also think that. However, cultures where vegetarianism is the norm have quite a range of choices within that. Now, if he were to have some reason to change this some day -- say he met a woman who loved meat and it was becoming inconvenient to be vegetarian -- then he might work on it. Until then, he figures he has other things on which to spend his time rather than therapy.

I see nothing wrong with that decision: very reasonable. Now, if it was not vegetarianism, but rather a fear of eating any food, that would be different. That would be affecting him enough that any reasonable person would get it fixed. Similarly, if it was some type of kleptomania, where he wanted to steal food, it would make sense to work on it. As it stands however, what is a typical human value (i.e., meat as food) has become -- for psychological reasons -- an optional value that he is not interested in pursuing, because his hunger and his taste buds get satiated delightfully by different means.

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I've been playing catch up with this thread for quite some time, and while some of the following points have been addressed, they have not all been addressed to my satisfaction. I will begin with my hypothesis regarding sexual desires, address some contextually appropriate terms, compare some different types of sexual acts in relation to morality, and make a conclusion regarding the topic of this thread.

Hypothesis: Human sexual desires are the result of value judgments made early in life, often (but not always) before the result of these judgments can be predicted.

Terms: The following quotes were taken from _The_Ayn_Rand_Lexicon_, Published by Penguin Group, Copyright 1986.

Moral Judgment, pg. 311:

A man's moral character must be judged on the basis of his actions, his statements and his conscious convictions -- not on the basis of inferences (usually, spurious) about his subconscious.

A man is not to be condemned or excused on the grounds of the state of his subconscious.

Moral Judgment, same page:

It is not a man's subconscious, but his conscious mind that is subject to his direct control--and to moral judgment. It is a specific individual's conscious mind that one judges (on the basis of objective evidence) in order to judge his moral character.

The passages from which these quotes came were intended to persuade the reader that moral judgments must be made, and to explain on what basis they are to be made -- they explicity rule out making judgments regarding the subconscious mind.

Subconscious, pg. 482:

Your subconscious is like a computer -- more complex a computer than men can build -- and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance -- and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions -- which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values.

In the latest quote, Rand asserts that emotions are evidence of subconscious convictions. But in the quotes regarding moral judgment, she maintains that morality does not apply to the subconscious. It follows that emotions (and desires) are amoral. However, when we say that our specific desire is moral or immoral, what we mean is we desire something that is good or bad, based on a certain standard. Because the desire itself is not a conscious decision, it cannot be properly called moral or immoral.

I feel that I have to also explain that, if the desire is a result of conscious convictions, it again is not the desire who's morality can be questioned; it is the conscious convictions that lead to that desire that are open to judgment.

Sex, pg. 485

The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think -- for the same reason -- that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one's mind, choice or code of values[...][...]Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions.

Love, pg. 266

Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of unbreached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest values in the person of another -- an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire. Such a man (or woman) is incapable of experiencing a sexual desire divorced from spiritual values.

Thought Exercise: To my knowledge, Rand never made an argument regarding the morality or immorality of homosexual acts between two people who share romantic love. I would like to compare the morality and immorality of several types of sexual desires. I will compare acts of heterosexuality, homosexuality, pedophilia and bestiality.

Heterosexuality: The desire to have sex with a consenting adult is amoral. Engaging in sex with a consenting adult is moral when both adults share the same core values and admiration of each other, as well as a sexual desire. Engaging in the act is immoral if the adults do not consent, do not share the same core values and admiration, or lack reciprocated sexual desires. Entertaining fantasies regarding the opposite sex can be moral, provided the fantasies do not replace of the actual pursuit of that value, and provided it does not create or contribute to a psychological pathology that makes it difficult to achieve value.

Homosexuality: The desire to have sex with a consenting adult is amoral. Engaging in sex with a consenting adult is moral when both adults share the same core values and admiration of each other, as well as a sexual desire. Engaging in the act is immoral if the adults do not consent, do not share the same core values and admiration, or lack reciprocated sexual desires. Entertaining fantasies regarding the same sex can be moral, provided the fantasies do not replace of the actual pursuit of that value, and provided it does not create or contribute to a psychological pathology that makes it difficult to achieve value.

Pedophilia: The desire to have sex with a child is amoral. Engaging in sex with a child can never be consensual. It is an act that is necessarily devoid of the values that make sex worthwhile. I assert that engaging in sexual fantasies that involve children is immoral because there can be no rational value in the act itself, and it can create a pathology that makes the pursuit of rational values more difficult (such as sex with a consenting adult who shares one's values and sexual desire).

Bestiality: The desire to have sex with a goat(or any non-human) is amoral. Consent can never be given by the goat, but is irrelevant because the goat has no rights. The recognition of the values that make sex worthwhile can not be present in this type of act, therefore bestiality is immoral. I assert that engaging in sexual fantasies that involve goats(or any non-human) is immoral because there can be no rational value in the act itself, and can create a pathology that makes the pursuit of rational values more difficult (such as sex with a consenting adult who shares one's values and sexual desire).

Conclusions:

1) I believe that the roots of sexual desires are the choices and conclusions that lead to values.

2) Because sexual desires are the result of conscious convictions, they can be changed through a process of identification and cognitive integration.

3) The conscious convictions are open to moral scrutiny, the desires are not. To say, "this desire is moral (or immoral)" is to mean, "this desire is for a course of action that is moral (or immoral)."

4) The requirements for romantic love can be properly satisfied both heterosexually and homosexually.

-Edit: clarified conclusions.

Edited by FeatherFall
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Mark and Qwertz,

You're not being entirely fair to blackdiamond:

He has said that the claim that “all desires cannot be morally judged” is a false one. He is right; although they are not a source of judging the person who experiences the desires, the desires themselves can and should be judged as good or evil; as for or against the life of the desirer. The one who made the claim has clarified that this is indeed true and not what he meant to say.

He is seeking an agreement on this premise before he proceeds with his argument. There is nothing wrong with that. Do you agree or disagree that desires, as such can indeed be judged as good or bad?

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Do you agree or disagree that desires, as such can indeed be judged as good or bad?

As I said, no. Desires cannot be separated from the object of desire. The object of desire determines the morality of the desire, and insofar as the object of desire is open to moral evaluation (and the bulk of them are), then the desire is also open to moral evaluation, but not separate or independent of the object of desire. You cannot drop context.

-Q

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As I said, no. Desires cannot be separated from the object of desire. The object of desire determines the morality of the desire, and insofar as the object of desire is open to moral evaluation (and the bulk of them are), then the desire is also open to moral evaluation, but not separate or independent of the object of desire. You cannot drop context.

-Q

No one, not even blackdiamond, is suggesting a drop of context. The question is whether a desire, once the context is known, can be judged as good or evil. So can they be?

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Yes I can. Suppression is not control. If I had meant control, I would have said control. In the case of suppression, the reflex still remains in full effect, but the action which the reflex induces (the gagging of the throat, the kicking of the leg, the sating of hunger etc.) is, by will, not carried out. The reflex still exists - it is not affected in any way: it is merely rendered ineffectual.

Suppression is a form of control - the reflex may still be there, but it is controlled in as much as you do not retract your hand when the doctor gives you an injection.

The translation is imprecise, then. In English, the word 'instinct' means (basically) inherited knowledge.

According to dictionary.com, instinct is also "A powerful motivation or impulse." This has nothing to do with knowledge. So, as I said, and I remember this from my biology class, hunger is instinct (or if you like, a powerful motivation or impulse) for food. Still, I think the word from my language would better translate as "urge" (unless this is a biological term which has been given a different meaning).

It's a point open to debate, but I think it is based on personal experience, lots of thinking, and the existence of infantile sexual arousal and juvenile masturbation; more specifically, human beings experiencing sexual arousal before they are capable of understanding what it is, or even that it is happening.

Are you speaking here of getting aroused when seing a specific person, or thinking about him/her, or are you talking about getting aroused for any (including no) reason?

I think this is important because if there is a certain kind of person (here referring to that person's physical looks) that triggers your sexual arousal, then as I said, all moral debate on "alternative" sexuality must stop because this is not a moral issue any more.

Edit: Added last paragraph and modified question.

Edited by source
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