When faced with a difficult philosophical quandary, it is often important to investigate whether or not the right question is even being asked. All too often, it seems to happen that two sides of a debate end up talking past each other, or arguing on an issue that isn’t actually relevant to the question at hand.
One such irrelevant questions has become central in the debate about homosexuality in the public sphere – whether or not homosexuality is “natural.” By natural, I take most people to mean genetically determined, while the opposite camp would call it a choice.
But what are we trying to get at here? There is, of course, a purely scientific question of whether or not homosexuality is genetic, but that is not the question as it appears in public debate. Rather, it seems to me clear that what is being investigated is of a moral nature. In the end, what people are fighting about is whether homosexuality is wrong or right.
Given that this is really what the debate is, the question arises – is the genetic “naturalness” of homosexuality even relevant? It seems to me that both sides of the issue have assumed it is, but might they be making a mistake?
There are many “natural” things most people would still judge to be wrong. There are genetic diseases, for example, and it even seems that there are born sociopaths. Both of these things are genetically “natural” and both are things we would eliminate given the chance.
Conversely, many “unnatural” things are quite good. I think, for one, that most Americans think government is ultimately a good thing , yet government could hardly be called natural, and a cure for cancer, if we developed one, would similarly be “unnatural.”
So, let us imagine homosexuality is, in fact, simply a matter of choice. Would the game be up? Would gay-rights activists throw up their arms in despair and admit they were wrong all along? Of course not, because the question of whether it is right or wrong still stands.
Or imagine the opposite case – homosexuality is proved to be genetic beyond any shadow of a doubt, so thoroughly that no one thinks it can be disputed. Again, those who oppose homosexuality would continue to do so, because the question of right would still not be answered.
I have mostly avoided this particular topic on my blog, and, for the most part, I plan on continuing this policy, as I’m not much of a fan of being flamed. However, I wanted to, without coming down on either side of the issue, air my thoughts on this confusion.
Thank you, and have a good night.