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Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality

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RationalEgoistSG

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Ayn Rand explicitly said homosexuality is immoral. With respect to Objectivism, isn't it (mostly) the responsibility (burden) of those Objectivists who disagree with her to show why they think she was wrong? This should be particularly true if you ALSO believe that Objectivism is "what Ayn Rand said and wrote" on morals, etc.

Objectivism is not "what Ayn Rand said and wrote." It is those fundamental philosophical positions for which she explained her reasons. I believe AR's only statement on the immorality homosexuality was an assertion in a Q & A period, with no justification of that assertion. It's unreasonable (and distinctly non-Objectivist) to ask that we show why Ayn Rand was wrong on an issue when she never explained why she thought she was right. Objectivism is not a religion.

(Leonard Peikoff, incidentally, agrees that Objectivism has nothing to say about the morality of homosexuality. Objectivism's position on sex, he says, is that it's good.)

So, as others have pointed out, the onus of proof remains on those who claim homosexuality is immoral.

Mark

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Objectivism is not "what Ayn Rand said and wrote." It is those fundamental philosophical positions for which she explained her reasons.

i did not say "what Ayn Rand said and wrote". I said "what Ayn Rand said and wrote" on morals, etc.

I believe AR's only statement on the immorality homosexuality was an assertion in a Q & A period, with no justification of that assertion.

I don't know if I would call this a mere assertion "with NO justification for that assertion":

Q: This questioner says she read somewhere that you consider all forms of homosexuality immoral. If this is so, why?

A: Because it involves psychological flaws, corruptions, errors, or unfortunate premises, but there is a psychological immorality at the root of homosexuality. Therefore I regard it as immoral. But I do not believe that the government has the right to prohibit it. It is the privilege of any individual to use his sex life in whichever way he wants it. That's his legal right, provided he is not forcing it on anyone. And therefore the idea that it's proper among consenting adults is the proper formulation legally. Morally it is immoral, and more than that, if you want my really sincere opinion, it is disgusting.

When someone says "because ...," and "therefore ...", their statement is no longer merely an assertion "with no justification of that assertion". I can understand someone saying "i do not understand her reason / justification", but to deny that she ever gave a reason? Hmm.

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(Leonard Peikoff, incidentally, agrees that Objectivism has nothing to say about the morality of homosexuality. Objectivism's position on sex, he says, is that it's good.)

I don't know if you meant it this way, but I absolutely hate it when people use that "sex is good" statement as an a-contextual cudgel to silence anyone who would use the words "sex" and "immoral" in proximity. After all, is sex with a prostitute "good?"

The point is that sex must be done properly to be good; it's not just "good." If it's not done properly, then it's actually quite, quite bad, morally speaking.

[edit: to clarify, I'm not talking about the mechanics of it here, but the moral aspects, such as who one's partner is or why one engages in sex]

Edited by Inspector
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I don't know if I would call this a mere assertion "with NO justification for that assertion":

When someone says "because ...," and "therefore ...", their statement is no longer merely an assertion "with no justification of that assertion". I can understand someone saying "i do not understand her reason / justification", but to deny that she ever gave a reason? Hmm.

The quote of mine you are responding to says "I believe AR's only statement [...] was an assertion". Since writing that post I've seen the actual quote. Now that I've seen the one-sentence response, I'd say that she gives only a hint as to the reasons for her evaluation. But please let's stop quibbling and get to back to your claim.

Is it your position that the statement qualifies as a sufficient philosophical explanation of why homosexuality is immoral? And is it your position that AR's judgment of homosexuality as immoral is part of Objectivism? And is it your position that any Objectivist who denies the immorality of homosexuality must "show why they think [AR] was wrong?" That in any discussion with Objectivists, those who think homosexuality is immoral need no more justification for their position than to point to these one or two sentences from a Q&A?

Mark

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Black Daimond, you are right that what i said as it stands is fallacious, but you ignored what it was in response to:

Masculine-- Possessing or exhibiting traits and actions congruent with a man's identity, including but not limited to-- stength, pride, confidence, rationality, and attraction to the oposite sex, i.e., feminine worship.
[emphasis mine]

He included heterosexuality in his definition of musculinity, so that was my point. My point was that he was begging the question.

And also, the onus is not on us or anybody to prove a negative, whether its against Ayn Rand or god or both. The onus was on her when she made the statement, and the onus is on anyone else who makes that statement.

Edited by IAmMetaphysical
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That in any discussion with Objectivists, those who think homosexuality is immoral need no more justification for their position than to point to these one or two sentences from a Q&A?

Mark

Besides that, Harry Binswanger has indicated that in private conversations years later, Miss Rand acknowledged the inadequacy of that view and said that she could not say for sure that all homosexuality was immoral, and that a lot more work needed to be done. I don't have a reference for HB; it comes second hand to me from someone who I think got it from HBL.

Edited by dondigitalia
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Besides that, Harry Binswanger has indicated that in private conversations years later, Miss Rand acknowledged the inadequacy of that view and said that she could not say for sure that all homosexuality was immoral...

On Peikoff's position:

(Leonard Peikoff, incidentally, agrees that Objectivism has NOTHING to say about the morality of homosexuality.
-emphasis mine.

For the record, on this topic, I agree with Dr. Peikoff's assessment; yes, IT IS AN ERROR, but no, it may not be worth it to "fix" it in many cases.
-emphasis mine.

dondigitalia, i prefer to have actual quotes of what a person said rather than second-hand information. as indicated in the Peikoff example above, Mark is very confident that Peikoff says Objectivism has NOTHING to say on this subject, while Inspector gives us SOMETHING that Peikoff said on this subject (presumably derived from Objectivism).

In the absence of an actual reference to something published, it is difficult to accept anyone's claim of what someone said on something (their memory might not be serving them very well, after all).

For now, you will forgive me for sticking with what we know Ayn Rand actually SAID.

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Is it your position that the statement qualifies as a sufficient philosophical explanation of why homosexuality is immoral? And is it your position that AR's judgment of homosexuality as immoral is part of Objectivism? And is it your position that any Objectivist who denies the immorality of homosexuality must "show why they think [AR] was wrong?" That in any discussion with Objectivists, those who think homosexuality is immoral need no more justification for their position than to point to these one or two sentences from a Q&A?

Mark

Mark, what i said was 1. i assume that the 'default position' of this forum is that Ayn Rand's philosophical propositions are TRUE. And that therefore, 2. it should be expected that the one who disagrees with any of her propositions should - at least ON THIS FORUM - prove his/her claim.

3. Objectivism is what Ayn Rand said and wrote (we have to know it - so it should be published) on morals, etc ('etc' includes metaphysics, politics, art, epistemology, er... etc).

4. Ayn Rand said homosexuality is immoral, and she did not merely assert it. She gave a reason for her position.

Now you want to find out if i think her explanation is sufficient. That's a different issue altogether. Do i think her explanation on art is sufficient? whether one finds a particular explanation sufficient depends on a lot of factors, mostly about that individual - e.g. their background in that field, etc (i found my first lecture on quantum mechanics sufficient, but my friend did not). Personally i think her position is consistent with other things she has said (like her position on femininity, hero worship, tabula rasa, etc), so this particular line (in the Q&A) might not be sufficient on its own, but in that wider context of other things she has said, i find it *basically* sufficient (like my quantum mechanics lecture, i can then build up from there in my own mind.)

I do not think she considered 'homosexuality' such an important issue that she would dedicate a whole book /lecture to it. Neither did she say too much about many other subjects (music?) that we might consider important today. But her position is clear in these issues and they are consistent with her whole philosophy.

i do not believe that she made her statement on homosexuality lightly. She was obviously conscious of her entire system when she passed that judgment.

(And by the way, it was not just once that she made a statement on this subject as the quote above shows. The questioner said "I HAVE READ SOMEWHERE that you consider..." which means there is at least one other published account of Rand's position.)

That in any discussion with Objectivists, those who think homosexuality is immoral need no more justification for their position than to point to these one or two sentences from a Q&A?

where did you get this idea from?

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Read page 2. :P

Thanks, that clears up some confusion I had. Actually, I did read the thread, but it looks like everything didn't stick. Oh, and shoot me a post number next time (my settings include 10 posts to a page).

Mark, what i said was 1. i assume that the 'default position' of this forum is that Ayn Rand's philosophical propositions are TRUE. And that therefore, 2. it should be expected that the one who disagrees with any of her propositions should - at least ON THIS FORUM - prove his/her claim[...]

...In the debate section. But whether or not this was a philosophical conclusion at the time of her death is in dispute.

As for point number four, anybody on this forum who gave "reasons" as sparse as those she offered in that Q&A would be asked to elaborate, and rightly so. Seeing as how she isn't around to do so, the job is left to those living who hold that position. This brings us back to "a different issue altogether."

You seem to think that her position on homosexuality was clear. If it truly is clear, it should be a simple task for you to spell it out for us. You'd have an easier time of it than showing her position on music, since she didn't have one.

By the way, I'd like to see if you would address what I said in post #712 regarding hero-worship, since EC hasn't yet done so.

(And by the way, it was not just once that she made a statement on this subject as the quote above shows. The questioner said "I HAVE READ SOMEWHERE that you consider..." which means there is at least one other published account of Rand's position.)

Resorting to second-hand accounts?

Edit- added bit about post #712, changed 1 sentence for clarity, added hyphen. Fun with edit!

Edited by FeatherFall
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Resorting to second-hand accounts?

No. Ayn Rand HERSELF heard the questioner say he/she "read this somewhere" and Ayn Rand did not dispute it but instead elaborated on it. That's first hand. (she would have said "i was misquoted" if the "reading" - the only stated source of information this questioner had on this issue - was false.)

You seem to think that her position on homosexuality was clear. If it truly is clear, it should be a simple task for you to spell it out for us. You'd have an easier time of it than showing her position on music, since she didn't have one.

Her POSITION is clear enough: it is immoral. And it is "a simple task to spell it out" for you (her position, that is): I-M-M-O-R-A-L. :)

I did not claim that her EXPLANATION is also clear enough (if taken only from that one occasion), but that it should be taken in the context of other things she has said on other subjects that are connected to this subject. That in itself makes it much less than simple, admittedly, which is why this debate has gone on for 30 pages!

She didn't have any position on music? (You say that so confidently, FeatherFall).

By the way, I'd like to see if you would address what I said in post #712 regarding hero-worship, since EC hasn't yet done so.

I believe the question you are referring to is this: "Can you offer convincing evidence that she implied heroine worship was the essence of masculinity?"

No, i can not because i do not believe the essence of masculinity is heroine worship - or that her statement implied this (a small logical fallacy was committed by EC in that statement - it's non sequitur).

By the way, some people like 'Capitalism Forever' have said some interesting things on this forum that are possible valid expansions of her statement and they have not been defeated by anyone who is suggesting that no one has made any elaboration of her statement.

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Blackdiamond, I am not going to hypothesize Ayn Rand's choices given differing situations. Do you see how this course is futile? It would, however, be efficacious to actually cite a different source for that opinion.

Her POSITION is clear enough: it is immoral. And it is "a simple task to spell it out" for you (her position, that is): I-M-M-O-R-A-L.

All right. At one point (maybe more), during a Q&A, her position on the "psychological immorality" was clear. But software nerd brings up a good point, what the heck does that mean? Does it belong in the realm of philosophy, and thus a part of Objectivism, or is it part of psychology, and thus, not a part of Objectivism?

Ayn Rand usually backed up her assertions. This instance is an exception. Now, again, I must ask you to explain how the context of other things she has said supports her conclusion. If you prefer, don't even reference her, just tell me why homosexuality is immoral.

I can think of several concrete examples of homosexuality being immoral. But they all rely on showing how it would be wrong given a specific person's value context. I am looking for the reason why homosexuality is immoral in every case.

She didn't have any position on music? (You say that so confidently, FeatherFall).

Touché. I'll qualify: She clearly distinguished music from other art forms. She explained that the psycho-epistemological role of music was reversed compared to the other arts, and stated that there are personal and cultural differences in experiencing music. But, she explicitly said a valid objective criterion for evaluation has yet to be found. Her position is incomplete, and not relevant to the discussion anyway.

You mentioned some of Capitalism Forever's relevant posts. I'll go back and check some of them out. But, if you have a specific one in mind, a post number would be nice.

Edited by FeatherFall
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In Ayn Rand Answers, pg. 18, she says;

All laws against homosexual acts should be repealed. I do not approve of such practices or regard them as neccessarily moral, but it is improper for the law to interfere with a relationship between consenting adults.
(Italicized emphasis mine)

I would not say that that answer makes for a clear, unqualified statement that "homosexuality is immoral". In fact, it leaves wide open the idea that its moral status is contextual.

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Mark, what i said was 1. i assume that the 'default position' of this forum is that Ayn Rand's philosophical propositions are TRUE. And that therefore, 2. it should be expected that the one who disagrees with any of her propositions should - at least ON THIS FORUM - prove his/her claim.

3. Objectivism is what Ayn Rand said and wrote (we have to know it - so it should be published) on morals, etc ('etc' includes metaphysics, politics, art, epistemology, er... etc).

4. Ayn Rand said homosexuality is immoral, and she did not merely assert it. She gave a reason for her position.

I disagree with basically everything here. To put the developed, published philosophical works of Ayn Rand -- those that comprise Objectivism -- on the same level as her brief, extemporaneous answers to questions on topics covered nowhere in Objectivism proper, is ridiculous. The answer we are talking about, even in the context of her developed philosophy, does not come anywhere near to being a philosophical justification for her judgment. Demanding that any Objectivist here who disagrees with her statement prove the morality of homosexuality, or show how she was wrong on this issue, is therefore unreasonable. If someone wants to take that germ of an argument, integrate it with the rest of Objectivism, and make a proper case for the immorality of homosexuality, I wish him good luck.

I do not think she considered 'homosexuality' such an important issue that she would dedicate a whole book /lecture to it.

I agree, and therefore, unlike most of her moral positions -- the ones that comprise the Objectivist ethics -- we don't have a philosophical justification for her opinion on homosexuality. Which is why it's unreasonable to demand that Objectivist discussions of the issue assume the truth of that opinion or show how it's false.

where did you get this idea from?

Well, if you don't expect Objectivists to see the answer (in the context of the rest of the philosophy) as proof of the immorality of homosexuality, then why would it be assumed as a 'default position'?

Mark

Edited by mwickens
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In the English language, the masculine form of a word usually assumes the feminine form. In other languages, for instance, French, saying the masculine form of a word has significance. Ayn Rand often used the masculine form of "adult human" (man), when she was referring to any adult human. She was usually very careful with word choice. Can you offer convincing evidence that she implied heroine worship was the essence of masculinity?
No, and truthfully I was not convinced that it necassariy followed from her statement on femininity either. Actually like Inspector said in the post right after my definition it may make more sense to think of the essence of masculinity is to be a hero, i.e, to act as a man should and ought to according to his identity as a man. Now my stronger argument is on the issue of the essence of femininity being hero worship which is straight from Miss Rand's writing and I think is unobjectable to anyone who considers themself an Objectivist. Obviously when she is talking about femininity she is speaking of traits that are proper for a female. And like I stated earlier a "hero" must be male. So translated the essence of acting in accordanance with being a female is worshipping (feeling attraction to) the "manly" masculine traits of a man. This is also common sense and and is readily observable to any person who has ever been involved in a romantic relationship with the opposite sex. It also does away with lesbianism (if that's a word) the female label for homosexuality in one broad stroke.

So if it has been shown from Miss Rand's own statement implicitly that female homosexuality is incongruent with femininity and females are of the same species as "Man" (they are) then it follows (is NOT a non-sequitor) that regardless of the exact "essence" of the term masculinity that male homosexuality is also necassarily not congruent with being a man. If homosexuality is not consistent with femininity then why should it be consistent with masculinity? In short--it's NOT.

Now even here I still haven't "proven" that homosexuality is immoral, however I have shown that it is inconsistent with the traits that a proper man or women ought to exhibit via just examining Miss Rand's one statement that IS included in the "official" Objectivism corpus. Now, you take that with the informal remarks made by her on the subject and we have a good deal of at least circumstantial evidence of the immorality of homosexuality.

Now that it is established that homosexuality is counter to the traits of masculinity and femininity ("maleness" and "femaleness"), what else would it take to establish it as immoral? Well, that's obvious. That it is a choice (at whatever level) and that it counter to a man's life qua man.

As Objectivists we all know that mans mind is born tabula rasa. So, while there is no denying that biochemical reactions play a large part in man's sexual drive, ultimately he chooses what he is attracted to even if it was automatized subconciously at a young age. I (unfortunately) read a story in the newspaper today about a guy who would sneak on to this ladies property at night and do the nasty with her goats. Now, I would hope that no one here is going to argue that his sexual attraction to goats isn't a chosen responce based on some obvious phychological problems. So ultimately, homosexuality IS and MUST BE a CHOICE. That places it square in the realm of morality.

So how do we decide whether a given choice is moral or immoral? As Objectivists we make that call based on whether or not a given choice is good or bad for our lives in the context of living as a man ought to live. Now the following argument at first glance may appear to be an instance of begging the question or circular reasoning, but in reality it is not. For the instance of femininity we have previously come to the conclusion that a woman ought to be attracted to the best in men because that is the best way for her to be in congruence with her identity as a woman. Via symmetry and the fact the man and women are of the same species, and that the reason why there is any difference between the sexes is because of the fact of the need of sexual ATTRACTION, we come to the conclusion that homosexuality is a contradiction of the most basic traits of Man. And this is why at its root homosexuality is immoral, because it requires Man to live in contradiction of his basic identity and in contradiction to traits that make him a man.

While the contradiction can NOT metaphysically be practiced, i.e, a man can't be a woman and "really" acquire her traits and vice versa, it can be practiced on a psychological level. And therein lies the root of homosexuality's immorality. For psychological reasons and faulty automatised false premises man has made a choice to alter in his mind what can NOT be altered on a metaphysical level. He has arbitrarily at some point in his past to act counter to the masculine traits that his identity to live as a man qua Man requires.

Now, I will grant that since the choice was probably made early in life that the roots of this would be hard to untangle and therefore on a relative scale I don't think the degree of immorality is very high. But it DOES exist. Also since it is to a degree immoral and it is based on a contradiction of a mans identity at the deepest level it MUST to some degree cause MORE psychological and therefore epistemological problems to some degree in the homosexuals life. I would liken the effect to someone who somehow stole a large sum of money and then "got away with it". The negative effects are there they just might not be overpowering.

All that said, I hold out the possibility that I may be wrong about all this. I don't think that I am and I think that any problem found in my reasoning will be more a lack of my preciseness in words or an analogy that doesn't mesh perfectly. Truthfully, I've never really done a lot of thinking on this subject because one-- it never really interested me, and two-- I just took it as nearly self-evident that homosexuality must be immoral. I've never thought and still don't think it's high on the list of immoral actions-- maybe on the level of "white" lies or a little worse, but my main aversion to it is that it is disgusting. I will admit I feel the same level of disgust towards homosexuality as I do for the goat-f*cking example I relayed above.

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I disagree with basically everything here. To put the developed, published philosophical works of Ayn Rand -- those that comprise Objectivism -- on the same level as her brief, extemporaneous answers to questions on topics covered nowhere in Objectivism proper, is ridiculous.

Mark, i will touch on this only briefly because we might be going off topic here - off thread. I got this from the Wikipedia (a web site founded and owned by an Objectivist, incidentally):

Inside the Objectivist movement, there has been considerable dissension and criticism about Ayn Rand's work and her rightful legacy. Leonard Peikoff, the executor of Ayn Rand's estate and her intellectual heir promotes Objectivism as a "closed system" that consists merely of WHAT RAND HERSELF WROTE AND SAID, and considers any disagreement with anything Rand said as a betrayal of Objectivism. THE AYN RAND INSTITUTE (ARI) IS ALIGNED WITH PEIKOFF'S VIEW of Objectivism.

Another school of thought was started by David Kelley, an academic once affiliated with Vassar College who later worked as an independent writer. In his essay, "A Question of Sanction," and later in his pamphlet, "Truth and Toleration," he argued for greater open-mindedness in working with other groups. Kelley also argued that Objectivism is an "open system" that can evolve beyond Rand's own writings and beliefs, and can even in principle correct her mistakes.

- emphasis mine.

And I got this from the "Forum Rules" of this web site (whose appearance, very incidentally, looks a lot like wikipedia):

(1) This site supports discussion of, first, the principles of Objectivism, as defined by the works of Ayn Rand AND SUPPORTED BY THE AYN RAND INSTITUTE
- my emphasis.

I don't know how accurate the wikipedia statement is, but assuming it is, then i would not be unreasonable to presume that her statement on homosexuality is (or should be) an ARI position (assuming she did not later change it), and therefore of this web site (by default). It is what she SAID. When you label it under "her brief, extemporaneous answers", it seems you want to leave the impression that this is something that she just said on the spur of the moment and should therefore not be taken seriously. But as i said earlier, the questioner said "i read somewhere", which means this is not the ONLY time she said this. She had said it before this "extemporaneous answer", and she obviously had had enough time to think about it for her to say it here again.

So. What do you define as "Objectivism proper" - and where do you get that definition from?

I don't want to go too much into this, because the rules say we should stick to the question of the thread, but i just thought i should answer your statement. I don't know if the administrators will allow us to continue in this line - assuming you still do have a counter-argument. [And by the way, this is an answer ONLY to what Mark said above and not to everything else others - or even Mark - have said on the subject].

EC, interesting post. Develop the idea - i think you are on the right path!

I wish everyone here could go back to page 2 onwards and read what Capitalism Forever said on this subject (there's a number of posts he made. i didn't see a proper counter-argument to them.)

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I read his page 2 comment. Then I provided another quote from Ayn Rand that seems to open up the idea that the morality of homosexuality can be subject to context pretty much like most any other kind of action.

At the very least, it opens up some discrepancy as to whether she thought it was absolutely immoral in all cases, or mostly immoral except in a few circumstances.

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blackdiamond, Wikipedia is definitely wrong when it says that "Leonard Peikoff, the executor of Ayn Rand's estate and her intellectual heir promotes Objectivism as a "closed system" that consists merely of "what Rand herself wrote and said" -- wrong or very sloppy. This is far too widely encompassing. An Ayn Rand religion might have that as a definition, but certainly not a philosophy dedicated to reason and the discovery of the truth by each individual who accepts it. The question you might ask yourself is why any rational person would accept that definition and then propose forum ground rules based upon it.

This has nothing to do with whether I believe Ayn Rand was "serious" when she made any statement, it has to do with whether she could expect a rational person to take adopt a philosophical position based on her explanation. Philosophy does not not consist of pronouncements, but supported conclusions that other rational minds can evaluate and then accept or reject based on the arguments given.

Dr. Peikoff writes in OPAR that "'Objectivism' is the name of Ayn Rand's philosophy as presented in the material she herself wrote or endorsed" and says that OPAR is "the definitive statement of Ayn Rand's philosophy." You will not find a word about the immorality of homosexuality in OPAR -- and properly so.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on the topic. If the moderators here think that any discussion of homosexuality must start from the "default position" that it is immoral, they can say so. Until they do, I'll continue to operate under the "default position" that homosexuality is innocent until proven guilty.

(I will also add that if ARI is supposed to hold the position that homosexuality is immoral, it is very interesting that they employ open homosexuals, promote their works, and invite them to be speakers at their conferences.)

Edited by mwickens
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the reason why there is any difference between the sexes is because of the fact of the need of sexual ATTRACTION

There is no reason for the difference between the sexes. The difference just is. People (and God, if He existed) have reasons, nature does not.

Mark

Edited by mwickens
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Well, Mark, as i said - this might become a new discussion on its own. I admit i am very tempted to correct some of the things you have said in that last post, but - we must stick to the rules. [okay, just one: a definition of Objectivism as "what Ayn Rand wrote and said" would not make it a religion; just an identification. What Aristotle wrote and said could be identified as "aristotelianism" - this does not make it a religion and neither does that statement in any way imply that one must accept everything the founding philosopher "said and wrote" without question or even that one can not derive new things - it is just an integrated identification of that founder's ideas/philosophy/works, differentiated from everything else - even correct things.] Whew - i had to get that off my chest, Mr. Moderator. Sorry. I will not comment on the other points i find fallacious in Mark's last post, unless a new thread is started by someone very interested in this.

Wait - just one more. But it's a little different and a 'by the way' statement (it's in parentheses, Mr. Moderator):

(I will also add that if ARI is supposed to hold the position that homosexuality is immoral, it is very interesting that they employ open homosexuals, promote their works, and invite them to be speakers at their conferences.)

They probably also employ people who are claustrophobic - and promote their works, etc. Does that mean they accept an "irrational fear of being in enclosed spaces" as a life that is proper to man? is that their "default position"? That's a red herring, Mark. They probably also employ some very fat people, does this mean that ... (okay, blackdiamond, leave it at that).

Back to the question at hand.

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