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American Philosophical Association petition calls for APA to discriminate against Christian institutions

You can read it here.

Christian, and other religious, philosophers who maintain traditional views on the intrinsic purpose of human sexuality would do well not to publish or defend their views in print or at conferences until they have received tenure.

What this petition reveals is that there are many in our profession who are willing to employ their clout to punish institutions that, and by extension individual religious philosophers who, will not acquiesce to their disputed views on human sexuality and the nature of the human person. Apparently, many in the APA want to declare, without discussion, debate, or serious reflection, one question of philosophical anthropology forever settled and off limits.

According to the petition, and the APA provision it cites, a religious institution may hold certain religious beliefs about human sexuality, but it may not conduct its business as if those beliefs are true. I am at a loss to see how this is consistent with any serious and substantive understanding of religious liberty. It seems, then, that for the signatories, consenting adult citizens who build and establish academic institutions within the confines of deep and sophisticated religious traditions, can never in principle trump the interests of consenting adult citizens who engage in particular sexual practices. This means, of course, that philosophers employed at Christian institutions ought not to be terminated for any sexual act done in private with a consenting adult. If, for example, Baylor University were to discover that one of its married faculty members was committing adultery with another married faculty member, it ought not to act on its Christian beliefs without provoking judgment on the part of the petition's signatories. So, according to this petition, Christian institutions are morally required to act as if their beliefs are false, even if these institutions, its founders, its members, and its constituencies all believe they have good reason to believe that their beliefs are true.

In the name of standing against discrimination based on sexual orientation, this group of philosophers is demanding that the APA discriminate against institutions that do not embrace one particular, and far from established, view of sexual orientation and human sexuality.

The persecution of serious Christians is no longer a "slow train coming," to quote Bob Dylan, it is picking up speed.

Comments (169)

So now it is just the American Polemical Association. Great.

Wow. Cthulu's State Church priests out themselves. Thanks M. Moldbug.

Go ahead and call me a legalistic nit-picker if you will, but it seems to me the schools in question could point out that "sexual orientation" isn't per se the same thing as "sexual activities." It's entirely possible that someone of a homosexual "orientation" could adhere to the ethical policies of those institutions, perhaps even because he himself believed his orientation to be objectively disordered. I quite realize that in our day and age "non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" is _taken_ to mean "no discrimination on the basis of sexual behavior," but in and of itself the phrase "sexual orientation" does not mean that.

You are right Lydia. That to me is what makes this statement seem uncharacteristically frank with it's opening statment: "Many colleges and universities require faculty, students, and staff to follow certain ‘ethical’ standards which prohibit engaging in homosexual acts. It's almost like a Freudian typo from people well-trained to keep to the abstract world of "orientation" while letting the ever-leftward swimming Cthulu do his work under the surface.

My guess is we may be witnessing a development of doctrine in the Secularist Magisterium. All local, state, and national laws against "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" are now interpreted to mean "discrimination on the basis of sexual acts." I guess they now feel they needn't pretend otherwise anymore, especially if pretending otherwise would limit their ability to stomp on some Christian institutions. The activists have gotten away with persecuting businessmen on the basis of this interpretation of the phrase for years, so now they're moving on to apply that to larger institutions in the academic world. We'll see if they succeed.

Lydia:

I read the policy the same as you. I thought, "Wait a second. If all these institutions forbid are acts, then they actually don't discriminate based on sexual orientation per se." But this then leads to the question: How can so many really smart philosophers, including some philosophers of law who are trained how to read statutes, miss that distinction?

I think you're right, Lydia. They don't see the difference between orientation and practice. But that is very strange, since they are in fact asking Christian institutions to retain their orientation and not engage in certain Christian acts of institutional leadership. So the complaint, ironically, assumes the distinction.

This, by the way, is what happens when a profession, once dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom, gets hijacked by those who treat its membership and its departments as so many stories on an academic Entertainment Tonight. The Philosophers' Gourmet could use a dash of hemlock, if you can find its mouth.

Frank

I guess they now feel they needn't pretend otherwise anymore, ...
Not since Lawrence vs. Texas.

I would point out that this situation highlights another way in which homosexual "marriage" is going to end up being important in legal and quasi-legal settings even beyond "non-discrimination." Schools located in states that do not recognize homosexual "marriage" can say that they require a pledge of no sexual acts outside of marriage and that the "no homosexual acts" requirement is just a sub-category of that requirement. However, a school located in a state that recognizes homosexual "marriage," is not going to be able to use that claim in quite the same way.

I can predict the response to the distinction between sexual orientation and sexual acts:

"If a university says it allows students to be Catholic, but prohibits them from practicing 'Catholic acts,' we would all recognize its transparent violation of religious liberty."

Ridiculous? Yes. But this is precisely where the debate will settle. Leftists of my acquaintance will regard this argument as beyond refutation.

"If a university says it allows students to be Catholic, but prohibits them from practicing 'Catholic acts,' we would all recognize its transparent violation of religious liberty."

Good point, Christopher. However, this is precisely what the APA petition is suggesting for Christian institutions. It does not mind Catholic (and other Christian) institutions existing and hiring philosophers as long as those institutions don't practice Christian moral theology.

The important question is not so much about why and wherefore is this happening.

The bigger question is what happens next after this?

I've found most of the sessions at APA conferences not to be worth the travel time and cost. (One of the exceptions: a session, a few years back, at which F. Beckwith critiqued Boonin's book on abortion.) For the most part, the conferences are interesting only because of the job interviews that take place there. Moreover, the APA's only useful publication is "Jobs for Philosophers". If the APA were to do this it would make itself irrelevant to a significant portion of its membership. I'm not so sure that that would be a bad thing, given the nonsense that goes on in the APA: the various PC groups on which it squanders its funds (sessions for one-legged lesbian latino philosophers, and the like). This would prompt the creation of a real alternative to the APA, which is badly needed, IMHO.

On the other hand, the move is deply problematic for other reasons. I would have no quarrel if all of the APA's member institutions received no money from the government. However, the academics who are now kicking the Christians out work for institutions that are fully or partly funded by taxpayer money. Their conference funds and APA fees are subsidized by taxpayers. Christians are expected both to subsidize those who discriminate against them and to fund their own conferences.

Trp:

Nice insight on the state institution angle. That never occurred to me.

Thank you for your kind words about my Boonin-session. That took place in March 2005 at the Pacific APA.

This got me thinking. In the APA, there are philosophers who hold to a position on personhood similar to Peter Singer's. That is, they maintain that infanticide is morally permissible. In most cases, their hiring is uncontroversial, since such ideas and arguments are considered "cutting edge" in ethics.

So, for the APA the question of the morality of extra-marital sexual acts (including homosexual acts) is a closed question answered in the affirmative and thus there is only one legitimate and defensible point of view. On the other hand, the question of the morality of killing of infants is an open question in which there is a wide range of legitimate and defensible points of view.

The proposal is indeed significant most for its symbolic meaning. Many Christian institutions have faculty and administration who get themselves into a state of angst wanting to make sure they are academically respectable. This has caused a good deal of mischief, if only in the fact that institutions of higher education should get on with doing what they do well rather than wasting time and energy on squabbles and worries over their "institutional identity," and Christian schools have already done far too much of this. The message that would be sent by the proposed policy would be, "He who is not with us is against us. Institutions that are not entirely on-board with the current left-wing social agenda will be branded as not academically serious."

Many Christian institutions have faculty and administration who get themselves into a state of angst wanting to make sure they are academically respectable. This has caused a good deal of mischief

This is SO true . . . you have no idea . . . :-(

As Lydia has guessed, sexual orientation and sexual acts are being conflated in activist rhetoric and possibly even in law. I have seen the distinction criticized by activists in several places, but cannot find a good example from a brief google search.

I am sad to see that no Catholic schools have been targeted by name in the APA petition.

Professor Warfield is correct that I should have not included all those schools in one full swoop. I mistakenly moved from that list to my judgment and suggested exercise. However, I wasn't referring to the Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. I was referring to another one. My apologies. I will remove my paragraph as well as Professor Warfield's comments.

FJB

Professor Beckwith,

Although you've written here about the discussion on the Leiter blog, I've not seen you directly engage the philosophers posting there, responding to their criticisms and such. Why not?

It never occurred to me to go to the leiter blog, since I heard about the petition from a few students. My comment here had it's genesis with those students. Thank you, though, for stopping by. Feel free to visit, and/or contribute, any time.

Apparently, many in the APA want to declare, without discussion, debate, or serious reflection, one question of philosophical anthropology forever settled and off limits.

The claim that many in the APA have made a declaration on this issue without giving the matter serious discussion or reflection is an empirical claim and I wonder if you have any evidence for it. I doubt that you do. It is an insult to many professional philosophers and I'm sure that you'll want to take it back after giving the matter some serious reflection.

You wrote:
According to the petition, and the APA provision it cites, a religious institution may hold certain religious beliefs about human sexuality, but it may not conduct its business as if those beliefs are true. I am at a loss to see how this is consistent with any serious and substantive understanding of religious liberty.

Is that the product of serious reflection? You honestly believe that it is inconsistent with any substantive understanding of religious liberty for an organization such as the APA to have an anti-discrimination policy that a school must conform to in order to use the JFP. According to your response to the petition, members of the APA are not at liberty to run their own organization as if their beliefs are true. I'm at a loss to see how this is consistent with any serious and substantive understanding of the rights of the members of the APA. It seems that on your view, consenting adult citizens who build and establish organizations such as the APA can never in principle trump the interests of bigots who wish to discriminate against members of the APA in a way that the members of that organization widely regard as objectionable. So, according to your response, philosophers are morally required to act as if their beliefs are false, even if the APA's members all believe they have good reason to believe that their beliefs are true. Honestly, if you don't like the APA's stance on bigotry, advertise for jobs elsewhere. The APA has no right to change the hiring practices of religious institutions and I don't see why people with fringe moral beliefs have the right to complain about how the APA conducts it's business. Those matters have been dealt with in house and should continue to be dealt with in that way. Deal with it.

The original post (and thus ensuing discussion) rests on a fundamental mistake - one that trained philosophers should take pains to avoid.

You characterize the petitioners as holding that:
"[A] religious institution may hold certain religious beliefs about human sexuality, but it may not conduct its business as if those beliefs are true."

But this conflates two important issues: 1) One's beliefs about human nature and about the appropriate range of sexual behavior and romantic partnerships; 2) One's beliefs about how to treat those that don't share one's views about human nature.

The petition makes no challenge at all to anyone acting on their first belief. It doesn't request that you engage in homosexual relationships, have sex outside of marriage, attend gay weddings, or support gay pride parades. It does, however, insist that you recognize that yours too is a "disputed view on human sexuality and the nature of the human person," and that you not discriminate against an already disadvantaged group of job applicants on that basis.

Having made this distinction, you may want to go on to insist that what is central to your religious tradition is not only a certain view of human nature and sexuality, but also the view that people who disagree (and act on that disagreement) are so bad as to be disqualified as teachers and as colleagues. But if you do that, you thereby put yourself into a bind. You're left insisting that, in the face of disputed accounts of both human nature and of the appropriate response to such disagreement, you insist that religious institutions should be free to choose to associate only with those who agree with you, but that the members of the APA "may not conduct its business as if [their contrary] beliefs are true." What principle could possibly underlie such a double standard?

You're right that the petitioners are insisting upon dissociating with those with whom we have a fundamental disagreement, but you fail to identify the relevant disagreement point. It is not 'religious institutions' as such, nor is it those people and institutions who disagree with our view of human nature and sexuality (indeed, I doubt the petitioners share a single view on that topic; some may even share your view of the matter). The relevant disagreement is over what is appropriate grounds for employment discrimination. Ours is a more expansive principle of toleration - disagreement over human nature is tolerated, while disagreement over the importance of toleration is not. You are, of course, free to defend a more restricted principle of toleration, but you cannot at the same time complain that we are being insufficiently tolerant.


But this conflates two important issues: 1) One's beliefs about human nature and about the appropriate range of sexual behavior and romantic partnerships; 2) One's beliefs about how to treat those that don't share one's views about human nature.
Folks who are following this discussion who have not yet agreed with me that liberalism is first and foremost a political doctrine, with everything that follows from that fact, might want to pay attention to the behaviors and particular asserted positions in this particular incident.

I think that where "how to treat people" means, "You have to hire people to be faculty members," we have moved into Crazy Land. Since when is it "treating people" badly not to make them authority figures in an institution of higher education? Obviously it is perfectly legitimate to have ethical standards of conduct for faculty. Most schools, for example, require teachers to refrain from sexual relationships with those who are presently their students, to refrain from using racist epithets, and so forth. To say that one must have no ethical code for one's faculty at all or that refusing to hire people who won't abide by some ethical code is _mistreating_ those people is not only absurd but not what the liberal really believes.

In other words, I think this illustrates that liberals _talk_ like they are making a purely non-substantive, metalevel, "political" (or procedural) claim, when really their gripe is substantive: It's not that they think no school should have a code of ethics for faculty but that they happen to disagree with this particular ethical code used by these institutions--namely, one that requires faculty not to engage in homosexual acts.

By the way, I am not asserting that the APA _may not_ conduct its business in such-and-such a way (as if I'm trying to force them to stop). I'm saying it's _stupid_ for the organization to conduct its business in the way proposed, that it's a form of unphilosophical bullying of the institutions involved, that it has the effect of trying to shut down debate on the subject among philosophers across the country, and that it isn't even required by the actual policies of the APA. If the APA wants to be a self-avowedly narrow-minded leftist self-congratulation club rather than a professional organization that conducts itself professionally, this is the way to go.

To say that one must have no ethical code for one's faculty at all or that refusing to hire people who won't abide by some ethical code is _mistreating_ those people is not only absurd but not what the liberal really believes.
Liberalism does not conceive of itself as an ethical or moral code in the same sense as other ethical or moral codes. It conceives of itself as a dispassionate objective formal referee at the political level with no substantive commitments to a particular substantive moral view of human nature and morality. This view is incoherent, as I've discussed ad nauseum. From my perspective on liberalism, Lydia, you keep seeing that liberalism is incoherent and concluding that because it is incoherent liberals don't really believe it. But they do really believe it.

Lydia,

Who here claimed to be making a purely procedural, non-substantive claim? Not me, and certainly not Clayton Littlejohn, who referred to anti-homosexual codes of conduct as "bigotry" and referred to those who defend such policies as holders of "fringe moral beliefs." If anyone is trying to settle things on purely procedural grounds, it is those who insist that the APA must defer to universities with anti-homosexual codes of conduct, even where its members disagree with them, simply because they are religiously based. Similarly, if you go to the discussion on Leiter's blog you'll find that most of the people invoking purely procedural standards are the apologists for anti-homosexual discrimination. You'll find the advocates of the petition quite clearly and explicitly taking moral stands of just the sort you note: we happen to think, not only that this ethical code is incorrect, but also that it wrongly disadvantages an already disadvantaged group.

But you still haven't recognized my other main point: for any procedural complaint you make ("it's unphilosophical bullying," "it shuts down debate"), there is a parallel complaint against anti-homosexual codes of conduct. You think it's wrong to engage in homosexual conduct; I think it's wrong to deny someone a job on the basis of homosexual conduct. If it's "unphilosophical bullying" for me to lobby the APA to exclude job advertisements based on my judgment, it's all the more a case of bullying for you to deny someone a job on the basis of your judgment. If restricting job advertising "shuts down debate," doesn't restricting who gets jobs do so equally?

If it's "unphilosophical bullying" for me to lobby the APA to exclude job advertisements based on my judgment, it's all the more a case of bullying for you to deny someone a job on the basis of your judgment. If restricting job advertising "shuts down debate," doesn't restricting who gets jobs do so equally?

Since when is a university, particularly a religiously oriented one, the same type of thing as a philosophy professional organization? Different type of entity, different priorities. But the philosophy professional org. usually prides itself on being the broader-minded of the two entities. Hence the irony of the present situation. But as I said, the policy proposed does not follow from the APA's policies in any event. The burden of proof is on those who want to claim discrimination purely on the basis of orientation as opposed to acts by some particular institution. And considering that the obvious intent is for open and active homosexuals to be able to get jobs at such institutions, that's hardly going to happen.

Not me, and certainly not Clayton Littlejohn, who referred to anti-homosexual codes of conduct as "bigotry" and referred to those who defend such policies as holders of "fringe moral beliefs." Similarly, if you go to the discussion on Leiter's blog you'll find that most of the people invoking purely procedural standards are the apologists for anti-homosexual discrimination.
And this, for those watching at home, is where the worm turns; and this is precisely why social conservatives, if they actually plan to do anything constructive in opposing liberalism, should stop acting the part of watered-down liberals themselves. Free Love is now the Free Love Dominatrix; and the benighted untermensch must submit.

So you concede that anti-homosexual conduct requirements are unphilosophical bullying and that they have the effect of shutting down debate. You only maintain that such bullying and debate-stopping is appropriate to (at least some) religiously affiliated universities.

The "act vs orientation" distinction has already been thoroughly debunked in the thread on Leiter's blog; anyone who's interested can see the arguments there.

As a logical necessity broad-mindedness can only go so far without becoming simple-minded passivity. It seems you can't make up your mind - you want to criticize liberals for trying to weasel out of taking substantive moral stands in the face of disagreement, but when we actually make such stands you accuse us of being narrow-minded. In the name of broad-mindedness, sometimes a stand must be taken against the narrow-minded (which, by your own admission, the religious institutions in question are).

In the name of broad-mindedness, sometimes a stand must be taken against the narrow-minded.
Exactly. The untermensch is always implicit in liberalism.

When I was going to APA meetings looking for a job I was single. I am now quite happily married, but when I was job-hunting there was no guarantee that this I would get married. Therefore had I signed on to work at one of those institutions, I would have been required to remain celibate unless and until I got married (and remember I had no way of knowing that I would eventually marry).

Are we going to say that these institutions discriminate against unmarried heterosexuals? Why then say that they discriminate against homosexuals?

Look, Derek, it's probably not worth my time trying to clarify this, so I'll make one stab: For umpety years now liberals have been telling conservatives that, hey, no one is trying to tell them they can't have their private groups that agree to live according to their standards. Well, in case you haven't noticed, ethical standards against a number of different sexual activities, including not only homosexual acts but also (as Frank has pointed out) heterosexual adultery have been part of the religious codes of numerous religions and Christian denominations from time out of mind. Now, the APA purports to be a _philosophical umbrella organization_. It doesn't purport to be a private religious institution of like-minded individuals trying to carry out a particular vision of the good life, a particular religious identity, etc. But for a similar umpety years now the APA has provided a clearinghouse for jobs in philosophy as a service to its members, and those jobs have been advertised from a _wide range_ of types of institutions and departments: Catholic, Protestant, evangelical, secular, small private, large state, continental, analytic, conservative, liberal, Thomist, etc., etc., etc. That's part of what a large, nationwide, professional organization does. It brings its members together with potential jobs at a whole bunch of different institutions and sorts of institutions. Now, suddenly, we're hearing that the APA members are shocked! shocked! to discover that the traditional religious ethical norms of thousands of years are being used, as they have been used *all along*, as a condition of employment at distinctively religious institutions in those traditions, and suddenly having such a code of conduct is supposed to be so far beyond the pale that a nationwide professional umbrella organization is being asked to make it (in the middle of a recession, in a field where jobs are never all that thick on the ground) *that much harder* for its members to get together with potential employers, as a *brand new* expression of horrified disapproval of some of those potential employers.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Unprofessional to the max. But as I said, what this apparently means is that some people want the APA to be the philosophical equivalent of a religious institution of its own. Perhaps you should think of a name for your religion.

These academic institution that prohibit homosexual conduct also prohibit all sexual conduct outside of the confines of marriage. There is a consistency here. One that is not borne from animus, hatred, or bigotry, but one that comes from a particular understanding of men and women, as complimentary for the actualizing of the institution of marriage and for the formation of the first civil society. This view, of course, may be wrong. And it is clearly a minority view within professional philosophy. But it is a respectable view, one defended in some of the best philosophy journals, many in which I would love to have my own work published. It seems to me that the attempt to professionally segregate institutions based on their embracing of this obviously not irrational view is not the consequence of sober and thoughtful deliberation arrived at through extended debate and interaction with contrary points of view. It is, after all, a petition, the sort of political device associated with social enthusiasms that, though at times philosophically defensible, are often driven by passion and not reason.

At these Christian institutions, the very ones accused of immorality by Mr. Bowman and others, there is a sense of community and devotion to others that far surpasses anything I have experienced at the secular institutions that I have had the honor to have had academic appointments. I recall vividly cases in which colleagues have fallen into immorality and they have been forgiven, restored, and encouraged by the community.

There is much of what I believe that I wish were not so. But I cannot unbelieve those things. They are things that I have reflected on, thought about, argued with, and finally embraced. I suspect that many of my fellow travelers, at Christian institutions, have gone through similar wrestlings with the angel of the Lord and the ever-present voice of Socrates calling us to question, prove, persevere, and think. What I find particularly troubling is that my secular brethren--for whom I have great respect and have learned much--sometimes diminish the significance of the conclusions many of us draw as mere visceral bigotry.

Only Fat Tuesday remains.

Perhaps you should think of a name for your religion.
Oh, pick me! Pick me!

Liberalism. Do I win?

I'm thinkin' maybe, Zippy. It's looking like that would work. With a capital L, of course. They can all get together on Sundays and read...oh, I'm not clever enough to think of something good for them to read on Sundays.

They could always read from the Book of the Prophet Rawls (PBUH).

Professor Beckwith's comment regarding Singer's views on moral personhood is shamefully dishonest. The APA's position is in opposition discrimination on the basis of (many things, but this discussion is about) sexual orientation. This position is consistent with there being various "live philosophical issues" concerning sexual orientation. It is also consistent with any religious belief you could name--nothing in the policy prohibits believing that homosexual acts are morally wrong. The policy simply says that institutions that actually engage in discriminatory practices may be subject to censure by the APA.

The analogous position with respect to the morality of infanticide would be to prohibit philosophy departments that engage in infanticide from advertising in the JFP. This is consistent with there being any number of live debates concerning the morality of infanticide; it is consistent with individual philosophers or philosophy departments believing or affirming that infanticide is morally permissible. The analogy is false and dishonest.

This is, of course, to say nothing of the outlandish and insultingly ignorant comparison between homosexual orientation and the murder of babies.

Furthermore, the idea that "how we treat people" extends to decisions concerning hiring people to positions of authority does not involve a trip to "Crazy Land." Quite the contrary. Imagine for a second that the decision not to hire the person to an authority position was based on the candidate's African ethnicity, or her Catholicism. In such a case, I find it hard to imagine that there is any serious doubt that the candidate has been treated unfairly, in spite of the fact that the treatment involved not being hired to an authority position.

What many commentators on this thread seem not to realize, despite the best efforts of Derek Bowman, is that their position is inconsistent. To see this, consider the following.

(1) The APA is a private institution and, as such, has the right to decide how to handle questions of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation/act that have not been decided, definitively, in the broader culture. Accordingly, the APA is perfectly within its rights to decide that Christian colleges and universities who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation/act should not be allowed to advertise within the APA's journal.

(2) Christian colleges and universities are private institutions and, as such, have the right to decide how to handle the hiring of their own faculty, whether faith-based statements should be signed in hiring, and whether those statements should include reference to sexual orientation or activity of whatever kind.

(3) Christian colleges and universities, as private institutions, do NOT have the right to be supported or enabled by another private institution, the APA, in their performance of activities that the APA has decided--rightly or wrongly--to be discriminatory.

(4) If these colleges and universities really do reject "liberalism," then instead of themselves complaining about their own "discrimination" at the hands of the APA (which sounds very much like the kind of complaint one associates with liberalism), they should just form their own philosophical association, with their own journal, and advertise their jobs there.

"(4) If these colleges and universities really do reject "liberalism," then instead of themselves complaining about their own "discrimination" at the hands of the APA (which sounds very much like the kind of complaint one associates with liberalism), they should just form their own philosophical association, with their own journal, and advertise their jobs there."

Separate but equal. Been there, done that.

As for as Singer's position, take deep breath Mr. Zero (no relation, I presume, to Mr. Empty Set. :-)). Here's what I was driving at: no one gets hot under the color about Singer's views and calls him a "baby killer" on, for example, the Leiter Report. But I simply raise the question of the professional prudence of sequestering and banning ads by Christian schools that require particular conduct on the part of their faculty and students and I am a defending "bigotry."

The distinctions you make, though technically correct, are not how the facts on the ground get cashed out in real life. If I may quote Stanley Fish, "save the world on your own time." http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Education/?view=usa&ci=9780195369021

WJ, I'm going to say it again for myself: I'm not saying the APA should not be _allowed_ to adopt this dumb policy being proposed. I'm saying that the policy _is_ dumb, is a _change_ from what has previously been done, and would do harm to APA members in the service of some new gesture of allegiance to a fairly narrow liberal dogma according to which institutions that ask their faculty to observe the broad code of sexual ethics that includes (but isn't limited to) abstaining from homosexual acts are just beyond the pale and must be entirely disassociated with. For the APA to do that is for the APA to act like a bunch of liberal ideologues, to treat their liberalism as a religion in its own right, and to be so concerned about narrowing and refining their liberal identity as an organization that they change their policy regarding advertisements, making it harder for philosophers to find jobs, when helping philosophers to find jobs has been one of their main functions.

"Separate but equal. Been there, done that."

I am sorry, but I do not see how this response addresses anything in the above argument.

I take it that you do not really mean to equate the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, according to which PUBLIC discrimination against blacks was encoded under the law, to the APA's hypothetical decision not to advertise for universities whose hiring practices it believes to be discriminatory. This would, after all, be a hysterical comparison. But then I fail to see where my original argument fails. Instead of selling out to the hostile camp of ever-encroaching liberalism, why not just set up an alternative philosophical association that is explicitly Christian?

Lydia,

I see that is what you are saying. But your arguments that this policy would be a "dumb change" don't seem to be gaining any traction among the majority of APA members, who comprise the audience you need to convince.

Much better, say I, to let those liberals alone, with their crazy notions that the orientation/act distinction is fallacious and that, even if it wasn't, it would still be unfair to homosexuals who, unlike heterosexuals, are debarred in principle from enjoying the "acts" that would follow upon their orientation.

This kind of thinking will no doubt lead to all manner of perfidy; and so it is better for Christian colleges and universities to refrain from engaging with the ultimately bankrupt theological assumptions of the majority of the APA's members, and instead to cultivate new springs of non-homosexual goodness, to wit, a New Philosophical Association. This NPA will devoted to freeing Christian philosophers of goodwill everywhere to not hire people based upon their sexual activities.

I understand that you are using a sarcastic tone, wj, but I'm going to respond as if you are speaking in good faith:

I think it would be a darned shame if the APA went in this direction. I have no doubt that the APA leadership is exceedingly liberal. But it doesn't follow that they have to narrow their associations in this fashion, and to do so will be to narrow their ability to be of service to philosophers themselves; it would also have the indirect effect of narrowing participation in their conferences, thus making those conferences less interesting. Extremely conservative though I am, I know full well that plenty of philosophers derive benefit from JFP and from the APA conferences where interviews take place. Some of these philosophers would be well-suited for the jobs at the institutions in question and, heaven knows, need all the lines on jobs they can get. So you can be as sarcastic as you want about "cultivating new springs of non-homosexual goodness," but you know as well as I do that this would in practice just make life that much more difficult for (in particular) Christian grad students going on the job market who need to be able to find jobs to apply for and get their interviews as efficiently as possible. Well do I remember the days in my own family's life when it would have been prohibitively expensive (for example) to go to more than one job-search big yearly conference, very hard to fit two such conferences into the final year of graduate school, and when it was very important to be able to do as much interviewing as possible at one place and time. This policy would be a lose-lose proposition. It would de facto lower the quality of applicants for jobs at these institutions by making job searching, advertising, and interviewing more inconvenient, and it would, by the same token, lower the number of jobs that applicants found out about or were able to interview for. Bad for the philosophers, bad for the departments, bad for the APA conferences, bad for the profession.

The Christian colleges _could_ and probably _would_ advertise in other venues, develop alternate organizations, and the like. The point however is that everybody would be the loser by the APA's making such moves necessary in the name of an empty liberal gesture of their own.

But your arguments that this policy would be a "dumb change" don't seem to be gaining any traction among the majority of APA members, who comprise the audience you need to convince.
I hope that the majority of the APA are not under the impression that how dumb an idea is depends on what the majority thinks of it.

I think you are misrepresenting the facts of the case, and possibly the truth of any authority your claims have against an objectivist ethics. The discrimination against homosexuals cannot be sugar-coated as Christian moral theology. You cannot mask injustice with beliefs that are unjust, period. I don't know a Kantian that could universalize the maxim "We ought to practice discrimination against homosexuals", nor do I know a utilitarian of any stripe that would maximize the practice of discrimination, and lastly, nor do I think protecting such practices as religious freedom of a religious institution leads to a flourishing society. Any way you cut it, ethical theories I think stand on firm agreement that we shouldn't discriminate against people, and this includes homosexuals. Moreover, if you think I am reading any of these basic normative theories wrongly, then you should provide me an argument as to why I should think otherwise. It is this extreme burden you have that makes it highly implausible.

These schools are religious, and in my mind, religion is literally 100% true (I would venture an opinion that some aspects of religion are allegorically true) fact, anyone that thinks so is ontologically irresponsible. To act on right reason, we must make sure that the reasons we act on are ontologically reliable and true, that whatever the source of normativity is for practical reasoning, it must be ontologically viable. People make claims that their reasons have religious authority, but since religion isn't true, then those reasons for acting are based on a false ontology. False ontologies cannot ground reasons for acting. This is what you are doing. Religious reasons cannot ground morality. If a religious reason is allegorically true, then it is because such a reason finds agreement with an independent source of normativity.

One reason why Singer has not been met with epithets such as "baby killer" is that Singer has not killed any babies. I am confident that, were he to kill a baby, the subsequent condemnation would be swift and universal, just as the condemnation of anti-gay bigotry ought to be. I fail to see the point you're making.

Furthermore, I reject in the strongest possible terms this comparison between homosexual orientation and behavior and the killing of babies. The idea that homosexuality is morally wrong is silly; the idea that it is in any way comparable to infanticide is offensive in the extreme; the idea that refusing to hire someone because he or she is gay is "not bigotry" because the bigot is Christian, or views homosexuality as morally wrong, or has a religious motivation, is laughable. As is the idea that members of the GLBTQ community (and their allies?) are morally unfit to serve as professors.

I cannot believe that you invoked the injustice that was Plessy v. Ferguson in this context. I just fell out of my chair. For one thing, the issue is the degree to which Christians are entitled to have separate schools. Just think of it: you argue that separate, Christian-only schools should be free to violate the APA's anti-discrimination policy without also having to advertise in separate, non-APA publications. You want to be separate sometimes, but not all the time, I guess.

For another thing, why couldn't the GLBTQ community and their allies say the same thing to you? (Hint: we could.) You're the one who advocates forcing homosexuals to be separate from you by refusing to hire them on the basis of their orientation. I, on the other hand, advocate the censure and abolition of such discrimination. I would like to see members of the GLBTQ community have access to all of society's institutions, whereas you would like to see certain of those institutions closed off to them. In this disagreement, you are the segregationist and I am the integrationist.

I don't get why you mention the Stanley Fish quote. Although I wouldn't characterize my project here, commenting on this blog, as "saving the world," I am on my own time. More importantly, though, this point also makes a better argument for my position than yours. If, as the back cover of Fish's book claims, the role of academia is to advance knowledge, to equip students to do the same, and not to promote good moral character or end social ills, then the sexual practices and/or orientations of professors are irrelevant. If you argue that sexuality is a qualification for academic employment, then you must argue, contra Fish, that it is the academic's job to promote (your version of) "good moral character." I'm afraid that you're the one who's trying to save the world on company time.

I hope that the majority of the APA are not under the impression that how dumb an idea is depends on what the majority thinks of it.

You mean majority opinion isn't all that it's cracked up to be?

ethical theories I think stand on firm agreement that we shouldn't discriminate against people

That's the kind of statement I just cannot take seriously. I realize that not all the people supporting the petition to the APA are the same person, but it's interesting to see how they disagree among themselves without seeming to realize it. One commentator here implies pretty openly that the APA would be discriminating as it saw fit and that this is fine. Now along comes another supporter of the petition arguing that we should never "discriminate against people"--Not for _any_ reason? You can't think of _anything_ that should distinguish among people? I mean, reductio: Throw all job candidates' names in a hat and pull one out. Hire him. I know, I know, immediately up goes the cry, "That's not what I meant!" But then you shouldn't say that. _Of course_ we should "discriminate against people." I bet every liberal in this thread would refuse to hire a job candidate who showed up at the on-campus interview spewing racist epithets every other word (unless maybe he was a Muslim anti-semite, in which case an exception might be made). But seriously, of _course_ we should sometimes discriminate against people. The argument is just over when and how and for what we should discriminate against people. Sheesh.

Any way you cut it, ethical theories I think stand on firm agreement that we shouldn't discriminate against people, and this includes homosexuals.
Then there shouldn't be any authority at all, private or public, because authority just is discrimination: the drawing of distinctions between persons and their claims, making judgments on the validity, invalidity, and priority of those claims, and enforcing those judgments. Of course we should never unjustly discriminate: but then the idea that we shouldn't discriminate supervenes over the idea that we should not act unjustly, and opens up the discussion to what is and is not substantively unjust. The whole concept of 'discrimination' reveals itself to be irrelevant.

Am I the only one who sees this whole discussion and incident as a laboratory demonstration of what we were just talking about here at W4, before Frank's first post on the petition? The lab rats are performing precisely as predicted by the theory.

Of course we should never discriminate:

Why is the term itself, "discrimination", being largely employed here and, incidentally, misconstrued as being wholly pejorative when, in fact, in certain practical matters, one should rightly practice "discrimination" as in the matter concerning select television programming for our children, the specific company one chooses to keep as well as, concerning society in general, that discrimination which ultimately must be so practiced as a matter of prudence as well as justice in order to draw the fine line (i.e., "discriminate") between criminals & innocent civilians in order to establish a more safe and proper society by enacting such laws that consequently "discriminate" the two and accordingly mete out Justice to those individuals that must be discriminated against (i.e., locking them away, segregating them from society itself)?

Folks would here have you believe that "discrimination" is generally such a dirty term when, in all actuality, in practical and specific circumstances, it is not and, indeed, can even be deemed an utter necessity.

I know that by "discrimination", Mr. Zero didn't mean "making distinctions". He meant the traditional categories of usually unjust (at least in the American context) discrimination: race, sex, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation. The kinds of discrimination that are subject to some level (e.g., strict) of government scrutiny. Zero didn't say that because it's a blog comment, so legitimate time-saving measures are usually used, and Zero expected, I think, charity in your interpretations of his comment.

Still, even taking Mr. Zero's comment as he/she _obviously_ intended it, I think the claim that every moral theory agrees that such discrimination is wrong is false. Many advocates of natural law theory, for instance, think there is something morally significant and different about homosexual sex (and for the same reasons, they think there is something morally significant and different about oral and anal sex, as well as masturbation, for heterosexuals).

Another thing: I should think that Zero is in favor of race-based affirmative action, which discriminates in favor of some candidates, and against others, on the basis of race. Assuming I'm right (which I may not be), I imagine Zero can give any number of plausible justifications for such disparate treatment; e.g., it advances the mission of the university (or it's to make up for unjust past discrimination, or it promotes diversity, or it helps society at large change patterns of segregation, etc.). Just as a point of sociological interest, I would be interested in knowing whether he thought that reasonable people could oppose affirmative action without revealing themselves to be bigoted. If so--and I assume he will admit as much--is the problem with discrimination against those engaging in homosexual sex simply that there are no good arguments for its permissibility?

Let's be really clear here. I gave an argument in the hopes that philosophical logos would wind up winning people's rational capacity for the same logos. I did so in an ethical context, and thus let's see my base assertions put on the table: 1) I never made an argument for the authority of morality, I assumed it along with the three traditional normative theories of ethics provided simpliciter Kantian deontology, act utilitarianism and virtue ethics. 2) I assumed that morality has content, implying the agreement about morality's content from three divergent theories isn't a sign of predictable lab rat liberal adherents, but drawing more on the conclusion that these ethical viewpoints find convergence in morality's content. Convergence is a sign of a morally true claim keeping open which of the three theories actually has the true story about the truthmaker of normative claims (what I called the source of normativity in the earlier post).

When I use the word discrimination, I mean the type of bigorty that is intuitively wrong. I am not being open with respect to its definition, nor do I think it irrelevant. I am talking about the type of systemic attitudes that hinder socially, politically and economically a target group fromf irrational hatred.

I think it is ethically responsible of us to hire candidates who demonstrate good character. That's not the type of discrimination I mean. That's more an aretaic evaluation of someone's character. I think someone can rationally still defend Israel by the way, and think that how Israel acts is immoral also. Again, the reasoning and the caricature you offer are far from what is really the case.

the traditional categories of usually unjust (at least in the American context) discrimination: race, sex, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation.

As far as I know, sexual orientation (much less specific sexual acts) has not yet officially risen to the "strict scrutiny" standard at the federal level (though it may have risen to that level unofficially), nor is it a "traditional category of unjust discrimination." It is, in fact, a quite _recent_ category for which injustice in discrimination is claimed, much more recent than race or even gender. And the fact that this hodge-podge of characteristics--race, gender, religion, sexual orientation--has in recent years come to be considered by many people to be a set of "unjust" considerations in business interactions is to no small degree an historical accident. Heaven knows they don't form a natural kind!

I don't actually think that it's a matter of uncharity not to allow someone to get away with a sweeping statement like "we shouldn't discriminate against people, and this includes homosexuals" as if this were some sort of truth known by the natural light, especially when "discriminating against homosexuals" means "asking homosexuals not to engage in homosexual acts." Such statements just manifest sloppy ways of thinking, especially given the wording. "We shouldn't discriminate against people" is supposed to be the overarching principle and "this includes [sexually active] homosexuals" is just supposed to follow from this more general proposition.

I appreciate, Bobcat, your comments about various moral theories. It's entirely bizarre to me that people should act like everyone has always known that "we shouldn't discriminate on the basis of homosexual acts" and that all moral theories agree on this statement. Explain that to the democracy of the dead, including lots of dead philosophers, including lots of dead philosophers who held to lots of well-worked-out moral theories.

I mean the type of bigorty that is intuitively wrong.

That is, um, not helpful. Surely it's occurred to you that Frank and the rest of us are not going to agree that for a school to ask its faculty and students not to engage in various acts outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage (including, inter alia, homosexual acts) is "the type of bigotry that is intuitively wrong" or, indeed, any sort of bigotry at all.

I mean, this is just astonishing. This is Christian morality as it *always has been*. The APA offices have not been struck by lightning by the god of tolerance for all these years for publishing ads for jobs in philosophy (without a scarlet letter, even) by Christian institutions that have and always have had a _perfectly ordinary Christian code of sexual conduct_ and now, suddenly, it's this big urgent deal to ban those ads from JFP. Have you guys no sense of proportion? None at all? Not even a little one?

And the fact that this hodge-podge of characteristics--race, gender, religion, sexual orientation--has in recent years come to be considered by many people to be a set of "unjust" considerations in business interactions is to no small degree an historical accident. Heaven knows they don't form a natural kind!
A matter we've also previously discussed here at W4.

Am I the only one who sees this whole discussion and incident as a laboratory demonstration of what we were just talking about here at W4, before Frank's first post on the petition?

It's not just you. It's fun to be able to predict the plays from Tyrano-Anarchy Inc. Not so fun in that there does not seem to be darn much we can do about it beyond get through it all without being bullied into confessing that it is right that they win.

The word 'discrimination' is used in the United States almost exclusively to make reference to a morally relevant difference in treatment of two groups for a morally irrelevant or morally insufficient reason. Discrimination, so understood, is morally wrong. Pointing out that the word 'discrimination' also has other uses is at best irrelevant (even if there is an etymological connection); at worst, it is equivocation.

I didn't say anything about whether all ethical theories say discrimination is wrong. I doubt all of them do: Nihilism is a theory, and it doesn't say anything is wrong. I argued, however, that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is in fact wrong.

I also didn't say anything that would commit me to one view or another about affirmative action. AA is a blanket term covering a wide variety of practices and institutions, and I don't have a single view about everything that has been or deserves to be called AA. There is a wide variety of reasons to oppose AA, not all of which involve bigotry.

The problem with anti-homosexual bigotry is not simply that there is no good argument that it is permissible. The problem is that there are sound arguments that it is impermissible. Several of these arguments have been accidentally advanced by Prof. Beckwith himself.

Discrimination, so understood, is morally wrong.
Tautologically so, yes. Which brings us back to the substantive issue of what is in fact objectively morally wrong: the use of the term "discrimination" is entirely superfluous.

Mr. Zero,

The word 'discrimination' is used in the United States almost exclusively to make reference to a morally relevant difference in treatment of two groups for a morally irrelevant or morally insufficient reason.

Discrimination concerning Homosexuality is not against a certain class of people (as can be said of discrimination against such people as Blacks, Asians, etc.) but, rather, against the Act of homosexuality itself.

If you should so consider them as such, who can rightfully contend against the Murderers who can likewise be considered as such (i.e., a specific class of people), most especially given the supposed genetic component that is purportedly responsible for their being Murderers as the Homosexuals are likewise said to be themselves Homosexuals?

Further to the above, can we unjustly discriminate against the Murderers who are but victims of faulty genetics much like the Homosexuals?

Aristocles,

It's really hard to tell what you're trying to say, but it's possible that you're saying arguing that for a Christian university to refuse to hire someone who performs homosexual acts is morally equivalent to a refusal to hire a murderer. One substantial moral difference between homosexual sex and murder is that nobody dies because of homosexual sex (or rather, except in very rare occasions, not typically, and it's not the point). Nobody's physical safety is threatened by the presence of homosexuals, the way it would be threatened by the presence of murderers.

Furthermore, as Beckwith points out, you should save the world on your own time. It is not the job of the academic to instill good moral character or to cure society's ills. Also, as Beckwith points out, separate but equal is inherently unequal. By carving out a space for yourself, separate from the GLBTQ community, you hurt yourself as well as them.

By carving out a space for yourself, separate from the GLBTQ community, you hurt yourself as well as them.

Good grief. But for the APA to carve out a space for itself separate from a whole bunch of whole traditionally Christian institutions who are offering jobs for philosophers and who employ interesting philosophers with interesting things to say who are thus less likely to come on hiring searches to APA conferences doesn't, of course, hurt anybody.

Lydia said:

That is, um, not helpful. Surely it's occurred to you that Frank and the rest of us are not going to agree that for a school to ask its faculty and students not to engage in various acts outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage (including, inter alia, homosexual acts) is "the type of bigotry that is intuitively wrong" or, indeed, any sort of bigotry at all.
I mean, this is just astonishing. This is Christian morality as it *always has been*. The APA offices have not been struck by lightning by the god of tolerance for all these years for publishing ads for jobs in philosophy (without a scarlet letter, even) by Christian institutions that have and always have had a _perfectly ordinary Christian code of sexual conduct_ and now, suddenly, it's this big urgent deal to ban those ads from JFP. Have you guys no sense of proportion? None at all? Not even a little one?

In response, I had a fuller definition from the post that started with a claim of a moral intuition. I think it is helpful in the sense that I am a moral intuitionist in the Rossian sense, and secondly when I provide a definition of discrimination, the full definition was:


I mean the type of bigorty that is intuitively wrong. I am not being open with respect to its definition, nor do I think it irrelevant. I am talking about the type of systemic attitudes that hinder socially, politically and economically a target group fromf irrational hatred.

It's naive to think that Christian morality has "always been." The different developments in Christian history point to a sustained disagreement on a variety of factors that don't prove conclusive agreement on our moral duties in a Christian context. Worshiping of idols and the large differences between Catholicism and Prostestant sects, the wars justified in the name of one sect over another, and the hippie messages of love and understanding in Christ and the vengeful imagery in the Old Testament are reasons to be skeptical you ever had knowledge of a transcendent moral code.

You cannot hide behind your religion claiming a moral right to mask indifference, apathy and injustice. I don't know why it suddenly came about. But either case, it is wrong, and I know perfectly good decent people that live normal lives as homosexuals. To think that an institution should find homosexuality a criteria for not hiring a philosopher is ludicrous. To me, it's like discriminating against a candidate because they're left-handed. For years, the same level of justification used against hiring homosexuals has portrayed homosexuals as deviants and monsters.

Also, as Beckwith points out, separate but equal is inherently unequal.
Which yet again raises the substantive question, in this case of what we are separating, what we are treating equally, and what we mean by 'treating them equally'. As a general abstract state of affairs divorced from substantive moral judgments of what is good and evil, "separate but equal" (or "separate and unequal" for that matter) is, like "discrimination", neither good nor bad, desirable nor undesirable, etc.

So people should really stop talking in that language. If you think sodomy is a positive good and everyone benefits from exposure to it, and should be forced to live their lives in a way in which they are constantly exposed to it, by all means just say that; and don't pretend that the claim gains some kind of color of moral superiority through the incantations "discrimination" or "equality".

But for the APA to carve out a space for itself separate from a whole bunch of whole traditionally Christian institutions who are offering jobs for philosophers and who employ interesting philosophers with interesting things to say who are thus less likely to come on hiring searches to APA conferences doesn't, of course, hurt anybody.

I think you're being a little melodramatic here. Nobody is suggesting that Christians whose hiring practices discriminate against GLBTQ philosophers should be kicked out of the APA. It's just that the APA shouldn't run their employment ads. Which, I can only imagine, is what the Christian institutions would choose to do if some GLBTQ group were to run a job ad in their newsletter.

So people should really stop talking in that language.

Look, Beckwith brought it up. I just pointed out that it supports my position better than it supports his.

If you think sodomy is a positive good and everyone benefits from exposure to it, and should be forced to live their lives in a way in which they are constantly exposed to it, by all means just say that; and don't pretend that the claim gains some kind of color of moral superiority through the incantations "discrimination" or "equality".

I am flabbergasted. GLBTQ professors do not use class time to engage in sodomy. Nobody is going to expose anybody to any sodomy. Whatever sodomy there is takes place behind closed doors and between consenting adults. Who said sodomy is intrinsically valuable? It's not--it's morally neutral (though, like anything, it can be used for good or evil).

My point is that someone's feelings about sodomy have no bearing on his or her qualifications with respect to academic positions, and so using feelings about sodomy as a criterion for employment is discrimination, and is morally wrong.

My other point is that when you rule out the idea of hiring members of the GLBTQ community before you even meet them, you cut yourself off from a whole world of potentially meaningful interactions. You might like the person. You might learn from the person. The person might be a gifted professor. They might learn something from you, too. You'll never know, though, because your anti-gay prejudice blinds you and cuts you off from them, and them from you. That is why "separate but equal" is inherently unequal, and why it hurts everyone, even you.

I knew it wouldn't be long before the Sean Pennesque Voice of the Puritan would appear.

Which yet again raises the substantive question, in this case of what we are separating, what we are treating equally, and what we mean by 'treating them equally'. As a general abstract state of affairs divorced from substantive moral judgments of what is good and evil, "separate but equal" (or "separate and unequal" for that matter) is, like "discrimination", neither good nor bad, desirable nor undesirable, etc.

That was a point I attempted to make in my previous comments here:

Why is the term itself, "discrimination", being largely employed here and, incidentally, misconstrued as being wholly pejorative when, in fact, in certain practical matters, one should rightly practice "discrimination" as in the matter concerning select television programming for our children, the specific company one chooses to keep as well as, concerning society in general, that discrimination which ultimately must be so practiced as a matter of prudence as well as justice in order to draw the fine line (i.e., "discriminate") between criminals & innocent civilians in order to establish a more safe and proper society by enacting such laws that consequently "discriminate" the two and accordingly mete out Justice to those individuals that must be discriminated against (i.e., locking them away, segregating them from society itself)?

with further example here:

Discrimination concerning Homosexuality is not against a certain class of people (as can be said of discrimination against such people as Blacks, Asians, etc.) but, rather, against the Act of homosexuality itself.

If you should so consider them as such, who can rightfully contend against the Murderers who can likewise be considered as such (i.e., a specific class of people), most especially given the supposed genetic component that is purportedly responsible for their being Murderers as the Homosexuals are likewise said to be themselves Homosexuals?

At any rate, I was attempting to point out that homosexuality, like murder, is essentially a moral wrong and hardly neither morally irrelevant nor morally insufficient especially where Christianity itself is concerned.

More importantly, given that such acts in Christianity is traditionally deemed, as even the Writings of St. Paul would have it, one of those considerably significant crimes against God Himself (cf Romans 1, 1 Cor:6), it should not be at all so surprisingly inconceivable that a Christian institution would take measures accordingly -- unless, of course, Freedom of Religion is specifically restricted to only how the secularists and the atheists would like for us to practice it.

Nobody is going to expose anybody to any sodomy.
Baloney.

Let me be clear: I think normal married heterosexual relationships for the sake of raising children are a healthy positive good, necessary for society and the common good. Everyone, even those who don't like that for whatever reason, must live their lives exposed to married couples, mothers and fathers, and the concomitant understanding of everything that entails. Every child is necessarily in the ordinary course of things exposed to the birds and the bees. To live in any society at all, at least any society which has existed up to now, is to be forced into exposure to heterosexual relationships, familes, children, the works. If you don't like them, well, tough cookies.

However, homosexual relationships are not a society-constitutive positive and necessary good in this manner. (I believe they are in fact destructive of society; though I think that homosexuals sometimes take too much of the heat for modern society's sexual self-destructiveness, and the bulk of the self-destructiveness comes from fornicating, contracepting, and aborting heterosexuals. Be that as it may).

If you want to treat sodomy as a society-constitutive good though, to force everyone to live their lives exposed to sodomy and sodomitical relationships because you think they are a positive and necessary good, by all means fess it up unequivocally. But don't pretend (even to yourself, for Pete's sake) that that isn't what you are doing, and don't pretend that incantations like "equality" and "discrimination" lend any positive moral color to your position.

Mr. Zero wrote:

"I didn't say anything about whether all ethical theories say discrimination is wrong."

You're right. I attributed something Ed said--"Any way you cut it, ethical theories I think stand on firm agreement that we shouldn't discriminate against people, and this includes homosexuals"--to you. My apologies.

Going on, I think this argument should change a bit. The people who think same-sex relations are morally wrong should explain why this think this (or they can just point to the debate Alex Pruss is having with Christopher Lee on Prosblogion), or we should be talking just about whether it's permissible for colleges to say that people who are active homosexuals should not be allowed to teach there, just as straights (or gays) who masturbate, have oral or anal sex, have pre-marital sex, or who watch pornography should not be allowed to teach there.

One thing I don't understand, though, is how anyone can think that colleges that forbid chaste homosexuals from teaching are nonetheless not in violation of APA guidelines. Does anyone here think that?

Zippy wrote: "If you want to treat sodomy as a society-constitutive good though, to force everyone to live their lives exposed to sodomy and sodomitical relationships because you think they are a positive and necessary good, by all means fess it up unequivocally."

Mr. Zero said that "Who said sodomy is intrinsically valuable? It's not--it's morally neutral (though, like anything, it can be used for good or evil)." I don't see why you think he thinks that he thinks that sodomy is a society-constitutive good, though. Where you and he differ is that you think that sodomy is intrinsically bad, whereas he thinks it's neutral. Because you think it's bad, you think that approving of homosexual relationships--that is, thinking of them as having the same moral status as heterosexual relationships--is bad, whereas he thinks not doing so, given the moral neutrality of homosexual sex, is bad. Am I missing something?

Zippy,

...don't pretend that incantations like "equality" and "discrimination" lend any positive moral color to your position.

I don't know your actual exposure to products of the entertainment industry or mass media in general and their various manifestations both on television (be it the news or entertainment programming) and in the theatre; however, such "incantations" have long been held by such homosexual advocates as well as their so-oriented adherents as actually "lend[ing] positive moral color to [their] position" and under which they continue to prop up their agenda.

Next Stop: Civil Rights for those who deal in Catamites!

I don't see why you think he thinks that he thinks that sodomy is a society-constitutive good, though.
He says it is morally neutral but that everyone benefits from exposure to it: that "separate but equal" w.r.t. homosex hurts everyone. That this is equivocal is a bug in his discourse, not a feature.

Lydia wrote,

"As far as I know, sexual orientation (much less specific sexual acts) has not yet officially risen to the "strict scrutiny" standard at the federal level (though it may have risen to that level unofficially), nor is it a "traditional category of unjust discrimination." It is, in fact, a quite _recent_ category for which injustice in discrimination is claimed, much more recent than race or even gender."

I didn't say that sexual orientation had. What I did was lump sexual orientation in which "The kinds of discrimination that are subject to some level (e.g., strict) of government scrutiny." In other words, all of them are subject to some level of scrutiny, I think. Race is subject to strict scrutiny. Sex is not. But sex discrimination is subject to some level of scrutiny. I take it that sexual orientation is as well, though I could be wrong on that.

I shouldn't have said "traditional" category of unjust discrimination. What I meant was the kind of discrimination that many laws prohibit. E.g., a lot of states (all?) have laws that prohibit, say, firing someone from a job just because he's gay. That is indeed very recent (the last 15 years or so?), but it appears on almost all secular statements of what is considered to be unjust discrimination.

just as straights (or gays) who masturbate

I can't imagine anyone going into an college job and saying to the Pres, "Oh and by the way, I masturbate to pornography frequently and I plan on organizing a Masturbator's Pride Parade in the town." I can however imagine someone demanding housing for him and his gay lover and recognition of their "marriage" and suing the crap out of the college if they so much as raise an eyebrow.

...such "incantations" have long been held by such homosexual advocates as well as their so-oriented adherents as actually "lend[ing] positive moral color to [their] position" and under which they continue to prop up their agenda.
Of course. Which is why, in addition to simply pointing out that they are content-free incantations, I also recommend that conservatives stop using this kind of language. As the reactions to Frank have shown, to do so is to concede the field before the contest even begins.
I can't imagine anyone going into an college job and saying to the Pres, "Oh and by the way, I masturbate to pornography frequently and I plan on organizing a Masturbator's Pride Parade in the town."
Give it some time.

Zippy,

The assertion of a claim does not make it true, or that it is held for good reasons:

believe they are in fact destructive of society; though I think that homosexuals sometimes take too much of the heat for modern society's sexual self-destructiveness, and the bulk of the self-destructiveness comes from fornicating, contracepting, and aborting heterosexuals. Be that as it may


Your argument is thus:

I claim p (where p is the proposition: homosexuals are destructive to society)
p is true.

Not much of an argument and quite stupid. Arguments from revelatory texts are equally bizarre and carry no persuasive force. There is no reason any religious advocate can give that there text is more special than any other religion. They take the following form.

Religious sacred text T claims p (where p is either interpreted or literally claims: homosexuals are destructive to society)
Therefore, p is true.

The goal of philosophical reasoning is to start with reasons that are initially plausible for all to accept. I would wager these two arguments don't start with such reasoning, and likewise, don't really eventually provide a basis for thinking that homosexuality is a criteria for job competency.

Zippy wrote,

"He says it [i.e., sodomy] is morally neutral but that everyone benefits from exposure to it: that "separate but equal" w.r.t. homosex hurts everyone."

I take it by "sodomy" you don't mean the actual sex-act--he clearly didn't favor showing, to the public, instances of anal sex. What he wrote was this: "when you rule out the idea of hiring members of the GLBTQ community before you even meet them, you cut yourself off from a whole world of potentially meaningful interactions. You might like the person. You might learn from the person. The person might be a gifted professor. They might learn something from you, too. You'll never know, though, because your anti-gay prejudice blinds you and cuts you off from them, and them from you. That is why 'separate but equal' is inherently unequal, and why it hurts everyone, even you." In other words, if you don't allow homosexuals to teach at Christian institutions, it will hurt those institutions because homosexuals may have valuable insights that you don't get if you don't interact with them.

Now, you may take the hiring of a homosexual to count as an instance of condoning sodomy. But you may not: I know of several secular philosophers who think that being a Christian is quite immoral, but some of them are willing to hire Christians if they think they're good philosophers, and may even want to talk to them, just to understand how Christians think. I don't think they would see this as condoning Christianity. Maybe they're wrong, though.

Ed:
Quite right, I wasn't making an argument in what you quote. I was just stating what I think is true.

The goal of philosophical reasoning is to start with reasons that are initially plausible for all to accept.
I'm not a philospher, but that made me laugh out loud! I've read enough philosophy to get a real kick out of the notion that every one of them is in lock step agreement, even on premises let alone on arguments.

Gee Zippy, I didn't realizing you were making a full argument against homosexuality in one sentence. Methinks someone is running to the goal post and declaring "touchdown"! an week before the game begins.

I take it by "sodomy" you don't mean the actual sex-act
No, I do mean the actual sex act, if you read my follow up comment. Everyone necessarily is eventually exposed to the birds and the bees, and the notion that there can be free and open homosexual relationships protected by law without exposing everyone to sodomy is tommyrot. My view is that homosex should probably be legally tolerated to some extent, but, like many vices, kept in the closet.

Ed wrote, concerning Zippy's "argument":

"Your argument is thus:

"I claim p (where p is the proposition: homosexuals are destructive to society)
"p is true.

"Not much of an argument and quite stupid."

You're right, that wouldn't be much of an argument. But Zippy wasn't giving an argument for the claim that homosexuals are destructive to society. He just expressed his belief. If I asked you, "do you think murder is wrong?" and you said, "yes", it would be odd if I replied, "well, *that's* not much of an argument!"

Going on: "Arguments from revelatory texts ... carry no persuasive force."

They don't? They do to a lot of people who accept those texts. They also sometimes convert people who don't accept the texts.

"There is no reason any religious advocate can give that there text is more special than any other religion."

Seriously? How do you know such a sweeping claim? How many reasons for accepting one revelatory text over another have you encountered? Have you, say, looked at Tim and Lydia McGrew's argument for the historicity of the resurrection? Have you compared the moral precepts of one supposedly holy book to another and noticed any differences?

"They take the following form.

Religious sacred text T claims p (where p is either interpreted or literally claims: homosexuals are destructive to society)
Therefore, p is true."

No, they don't always take that form. Sometimes they work as follows:

Religious sacred text T is reliable because of reasons R1, R2, ... Rn.
Religious sacred text T claims p (where p is either interpreted or literally claims: homosexuals are destructive to society)
Therefore, p is true.

"The goal of philosophical reasoning is to start with reasons that are initially plausible for all to accept."

Really? For *all* to accept? How many philosophical arguments succeed that rely on only such premises? Why not start with premises that are reasonable to a very large number of people? What argument can you give me that I should think "all" instead of "most" or just "all ratioanl people"? And will it have premises that I and all the people here can accept?

Zippy wrote,

"No, I do mean the actual sex act, if you read my follow up comment."

I think I was typing while you were typing. But I still don't know which comment you mean. What's the time-stamp?

"Everyone necessarily is eventually exposed to the birds and the bees, and the notion that there can be free and open homosexual relationships protected by law without exposing everyone to sodomy is tommyrot."

By "exposing everyone to sodomy" do you mean exposing people to the concept of sodomy? You couldn't mean that, because even the Bible mentions it (although only by name, not by description, so maybe you do mean that). So is what you mean "exposes people to relationships where it is known by everyone that sodomy takes place, even if it doesn't literally take place in front of them"?

I was attempting to point out that homosexuality, like murder, is essentially a moral wrong and hardly neither morally irrelevant nor morally insufficient especially where Christianity itself is concerned.

I guess we just have a bedrock disagreement, then. I still don't see why homosexuality is wrong--I'm disinclined to take St. Paul's word for it. This doesn't speak to the issue of whether the APA, whose position is that this attitude is mistaken and that any resulting refusal to consider homosexuals for employment is an instance of bigotry, ought to run your employment ads.

If you want to treat sodomy as a society-constitutive good though, to force everyone to live their lives exposed to sodomy and sodomitical relationships because you think they are a positive and necessary good, by all means fess it up unequivocally. But don't pretend (even to yourself, for Pete's sake) that that isn't what you are doing, and don't pretend that incantations like "equality" and "discrimination" lend any positive moral color to your position.

As I said before, I don't see sodomy as particularly valuable in itself. I see the relevant society-constitutive values as being the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that people should be allowed to live, be free, and try to be happy in whatever way they like. I believe that this freedom, and not any absence or presence of sodomy in particular, is what makes the United States a great country.

The fact that you can't see past this sodomy stuff is deeply weird. I say that you're free to take or leave sodomy as you see fit, like everyone else. I say that cutting yourself off from homosexual people hurts you both, because people benefit from exposure to people. People benefit in particular from exposure to people who are different from them--who have different experiences and backgrounds and beliefs. Gay couples are not evil, they're people in love. Many of them are good, interesting, talented people who would make wonderful college professors, would make wonderful friends, and who could deeply enrich your life, if you could get past your anti-gay prejudice.

Zippy,

I've read enough philosophy to get a real kick out of the notion that every one of them is in lock step agreement, even on premises let alone on arguments.

Please tell me you were employing rhetorical irony in all this.

My view is that homosex should probably be legally tolerated to some extent, but, like many vices, kept in the closet.

No, that doesn't work. If it is legally tolerated, say alcohol or cigarettes, wouldn't it be unjustly discriminatory to refuse someone employment based only on that criterion of behavior?

Step2, are you really saying that it would be unjust to refuse to hire someone because he's a chain smoker? Comes in smelling like cigarettes, perhaps, which grosses out the customers (for example). You might think it over-the-top or something, but _unjust_? Really? And alcohol? So if I'm a third-generation Baptist teetotaller and run a trucking firm, it's _unjust_ for me to demand that my truckers be teetotallers?

Bobcat, you mention

In other words, all of them are subject to some level of scrutiny, I think.

A lawyer in the crowd can correct me if I'm wrong, but _all_ laws are subject to "some level of scrutiny." Minimal scrutiny is sometimes called the "rational basis test." There's not something special, officially, yet, at the federal level for laws regarding homosexual conduct. Lawrence proceeded by treating minimal scrutiny as if it were strict scrutiny, as Scalia pointed out. Gender is now subject to strict scrutiny. I don't think it should be, but officially, it is.

a lot of states (all?) have laws that prohibit, say, firing someone from a job just because he's gay.

Not all.

"A lawyer in the crowd can correct me if I'm wrong, but _all_ laws are subject to 'some evel of scrutiny.'"

Here's what wikipedia says:

"Strict scrutiny is the most stringent standard of judicial review used by United States courts reviewing federal law. Along with the lower standards of rational basis review and intermediate scrutiny, strict scrutiny is part of a hierarchy of standards courts employ to weigh an asserted government interest against a constitutional right or policy that conflicts with the manner in which the interest is being pursued."

If the above is to be believed, it would seem that only those laws where an asserted government interest against a constitutional right is invoked requires a form of scrutiny.

As for sex discrimination, the wikipedia article on intermediate scrutiny reads:

"In the context of sex-based classifications, the intermediate scrutiny test applies not only to the federal government, but also to state and local governments (via the Fourteenth Amendment). It also applies to both legislative and executive action whether those actions be of a substantive or procedural nature."

But hey, wikipedia could be wrong.

Oops. I forgot to add, about sex discrimination: "Regarding sex-based classifications, however, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718 (1982), added the requirement that, to be valid, a sex-based classification requires an "exceedingly persuasive justification." In practice, this means that Court examinations of sex-based classifications are closer to strict scrutiny."

So it looks like the truth about sex discrimination is somewhere between what Lydia and I say, but closer to what Lydia says.

So if I'm a third-generation Baptist teetotaller and run a trucking firm, it's _unjust_ for me to demand that my truckers be teetotallers?

Yes.

Okay, Bobcat. Let's view your version reprinted here without the dreaded quote function:

Religious sacred text T is reliable because of reasons R1, R2, ... Rn.
Religious sacred text T claims p (where p is either interpreted or literally claims: homosexuals are destructive to society)
Therefore, p is true.

And you also assert that we shouldn't start with premises that are accepted by all people, but instead start with reasonable premises that are reasonable to some, or a large group. Well, if we accept your reasonable to some constraint, then we're just limiting the persuasiveness of reason to the dynamics of various groups in competition with various groups. Such implication would be relativism, and that is certainly neither what proponents of religious revelation in texts want, nor I as a moral philosopher. In this case, the polemics of religion would simply be one among many.

Furthermore, you can engage in all the apologetics you want--Christianity makes too many outlandish claims (as do all religions) about the nature of reality. I cannot sanction truth for the beliefs of any Christian. They're ludicrous, a modern mythology masquerading as divinely revealed truth. This is what I cannot stand as well. The reliability criterion/criteria wouldn't be able to justify any beliefs of the outlandish nature. Moreover, there is a huge disconnect between our common moral intuitions and what is biblically revealed. Consider Leviticus where I would have to stone my own daughter for talking back to me. Such literalism could not be true. Any sensible moral agent could never think they have just cause to stone their daughter over refusing to take a bath. Certainly, kids shouldn't be permitted to usurp sound advice from mothers and fathers, and I will sanction my children (when I have them) for talking back to me. However, I will never stone my own daughter. The revelatory argument would have us committed to the content that follows.

Similarly, I do not think that the argument of revelatory texts has much to offer us in the way of what our moral duties are. Consider any number of issues. What does the bible have to say about the use of contraceptives really? What about the spatiality of moral agents committing acts of political hate speech on the internet? What about hate speech? There are a host of issues that evolve in modern society that the Bible is silent on. If there are duties that the Bible cannot weigh in on, then some other theory must be consulted about the action-guidance required. If that's the case, then there is reasonable grounds to dismiss the Bible as a source of morality, including hiring practices of institutions of higher learning.

Bobcat:

So is what you mean "exposes people to relationships where it is known by everyone that sodomy takes place, even if it doesn't literally take place in front of them"?
Where those relationships are understood -qua- sodomitical relationships as a normal thing, accepted by society, one lifestyle choice among many on offer, against which it is wrong to discriminate, etc. Yes.

Mr. Zero:

The fact that you can't see past this sodomy stuff is deeply weird.
It is weird to focus on precisely what is substantively at issue?

My point, Bobcat, is that minimal scrutiny (rational basis) is still _some_ level of scrutiny. There is strict, intermediate, and minimal. As things presently stand, "sexual orientation" discrimination in state or local law is _supposedly_ no more subject to federal scrutiny than "discrimination" on the basis of, say, being a Republican.

If it is legally tolerated, say alcohol or cigarettes, wouldn't it be unjustly discriminatory to refuse someone employment based only on that criterion of behavior?
No way.
Similarly, I do not think that the argument of revelatory texts has much to offer us in the way of what our moral duties are.

I believe one moral philosopher in particular by the name of Aurelius Augustinus had actually addressed this topic quite extensively in his book De Civitate Dei.

It is weird to focus on precisely what is substantively at issue?

Like a lot of things, it depends on what is at issue. If it's whether sodomy counts as a reason not to hire someone for a professor job, it kind of is. Why, of all the things that people do, does that one bug you so much? Why is it so impossible to believe that a member of the GLBTQ community might have valuable talents that would make the person an excellent professor, teacher, friend, or conversation partner? Why does the fact that some person engages in sodomy disqualify him or her from a professor job or from playing any role in your life? (I assume this is the case because you haven't corrected me in Idunno how many comments.) I mean, the very fact that people are out there doing it seems to really, really bother you. So, yeah, it is weird.

Why does the fact that some person engages in sodomy disqualify him or her from a professor job or from playing any role in your life?

Yeah -- why not even the Pederasts, too, no?

Is there no limit as to the various reprehensible acts you seem to consider morally irrelevant? Most especially, given this is a Christian institution we are talking about?

Zero (Again, what would it really hurt for you guys from whereever [Leiter?] to call yourselves "Fred" or something instead of these non-human handles?),

You said,

I think you're being a little melodramatic here. Nobody is suggesting that Christians whose hiring practices discriminate against GLBTQ philosophers should be kicked out of the APA. It's just that the APA shouldn't run their employment ads. Which, I can only imagine, is what the Christian institutions would choose to do if some GLBTQ group were to run a job ad in their newsletter.

Let's not beat around the bush: We have had in this very thread the distinct proposal by wj, obviously sympathetic to the petition, that Christian institutions go form their own philosophical associations. You know how the APA job search thing works. If the more radical proposal in the petition is followed, these institutions will not be permitted to advertise at APA functions for their jobs. That would also mean, presumably, not being able to put up ads on the ad hoc bulletin boards at the APA conferences. (I assume those bulletin boards are still used these days.) Presumably it would also mean that any interviewing at APA conferences that these institutions did would have to be informal and, in a sense, "under the table." If, for example, there are interviewing rooms or tables provided at conferences for participating institutions, these would presumably not be available to these institutions. Now, this undeniably is an attempt to get the Christian institutions to do _exactly_ what wj has proposed--to go away and build their own sandbox--run their own hiring conferences, start their own organization, etc. Which is going to mean less contact between a _whole lot_ of philosophers from those institutions and you secular guys. If we're going to go wringing our hands about how much we harm ourselves by separating ourselves from groups of other people, then this move by a *national organization* that purports to represent *American philosophers generally* and bring them into contact with each other for their mutual benefit is going to lead to a lot more "separating" of people from other people who might do them good, have valuable insights, etc., than the policies of a few individual institutions.

I mean, let's put this in perspective: A seriously Baptist institution will often require all its faculty to be Baptist. That results in a lot of separation, but I presume nobody is proposing that such a school should automatically and on that basis be debarred from advertising in JFP. What do you think a traditionally religious institution _is_? If it's serious, it's an attempt to create a distinctive community that voluntarily agrees to represent the distinctive norms of that religion. It would be incredibly stupid to expect that this would never have anything to do with sex, for crying out loud!

On the other hand, an organization like the APA purports to be representing philosophers from throughout the whole country, to be representing and trying to serve a whole profession. The implicit comparison in your above quotation between the APA and a religious organization (between JFP and a religious college's newsletter!) simply reinforces what I've been saying all along: The proposed policy involves in practice asking the APA to act like a small religious community trying to enforce its religious (liberal) ethical norms upon all member institutions, which is surely at a whole 'nother level of consequences from actions taken at individual institutions. Is that really what the APA should be doing? Is that really in the best interests of the profession or of philosophers?

Mr. Zero:

If it's whether sodomy counts as a reason not to hire someone for a professor job, it kind of is ["deeply weird" to focus the discussion on sodomy].
OK. I guess I'll leave it to folks to make up their own minds on whether they think that is deeply weird.
Why, of all the things that people do, does that one bug you so much?
It doesn't. I have all kinds of socially unacceptable opinions about all kinds of things. This just happens to be the subject we are discussing right now.
Why does the fact that some person engages in sodomy disqualify him or her from a professor job [at an orthodox confessionally Christian institution]?
It seems to me that to ask the question is to answer it. These institutions are there to teach from the foundational perspective of their respective confessions; people go to them, parents send their kids to them, specifically in order to get precisely that sort of education. More than that, they are formative institutions where the social and religious setting, and role models, are in some ways more critical than the formal education itself.

(Parlaimentary note: if you think any of my quote editing/munging was unfair or inaccurate by all means speak up).

Ed wrote, "And you also assert that we shouldn't start with premises that are accepted by all people, but instead start with reasonable premises that are reasonable to some, or a large group. Well, if we accept your reasonable to some constraint, then we're just limiting the persuasiveness of reason to the dynamics of various groups in competition with various groups. Such implication would be relativism, and that is certainly neither what proponents of religious revelation in texts want, nor I as a moral philosopher. In this case, the polemics of religion would simply be one among many."

Well, I'm a moral philosopher too, and I have to wonder what philosophy you've been reading. In case you haven't noticed, a lot of philosophers, especially moral philosophers, have become more modest in their epistemic claims. Read, say, the introduction to Korsgaard's The Sources of Normativity or Nozick's Philosophical Explanations. Hell, read Rawls's A Theory of Justice. From what I've observed, a lot of people go in for this "reflective equilibrium" business. You probably think they're nuts, but if you do you're in a great deal of trouble, by your own lights. For now you must come up with an argument against using reflective equilibrium as a method of testing one's moral theories and intuitions, and you have to make this argument using premises that all philosophers, as well as everyone else, accepts. I wish you good luck; if you succeed, you'll get your article published in Nous, J Phil, or Phil Review, and then you'll have wheelbarrows full of articles written in response to you, a la Gettier. Or your work will be rejected by all journals as crankish.

Going on ... "Furthermore, you can engage in all the apologetics you want--Christianity makes too many outlandish claims (as do all religions) about the nature of reality. I cannot sanction truth for the beliefs of any Christian."

Well, I'm sorry I don't have your sanction. But if it's all the same to the sanctioning committee, I'm going to keep on believing my arguments that consist only of reasonable premises, or premises that are more reasonable than their denials, or premises entailed by reasonable premises.

Finally, "What does the bible have to say about the use of contraceptives really? What about the spatiality of moral agents committing acts of political hate speech on the internet? What about hate speech?...There are a host of issues that evolve in modern society that the Bible is silent on. If there are duties that the Bible cannot weigh in on, then some other theory must be consulted about the action-guidance required. If that's the case, then there is reasonable grounds to dismiss the Bible as a source of morality, including hiring practices of institutions of higher learning."

Couldn't it be that there are some moral principles that one can find articulated in the Bible? And couldn't it further be that many of these overarching principles are ones you find attractive--they seem to offer a compelling way of living one's life? And finally, couldn't it further be that these principles can be applied to discrete situations? And if so, couldn't one then figure out what the Bible has to say about hate speech on the Internet?

If not, then why the hell do you read Aristotle or Kant or Mill? Where, say, in The Metaphysics of Morals did Kant write about hate speech on the Internet? Maybe it was in the Typic from the Critique of Practical Reason? That sounds likely; I don't know that part very well.

I have all kinds of socially unacceptable opinions about all kinds of things.

Isn't that the problem? These educational institutions want to actively insulate themselves from outside social pressure yet any professional organization that refuses to make exceptions to accommodate them is perversely accused of discrimination. You all don't want separate but equal, but there is only one side actively pushing against equality.

Where, say, in The Metaphysics of Morals did Kant write about hate speech on the Internet? Maybe it was in the Typic from the Critique of Practical Reason? That sounds likely; I don't know that part very well.
ROFL!
ROFL!

Is that really Zippy? Zippy is not known to emote -- especially given his remarkably taut personality.

We have had in this very thread the distinct proposal by wj, obviously sympathetic to the petition, that Christian institutions go form their own philosophical associations.

That's not what the petition says, and it's not the position I advocate. As a staunch integrationist, I reject any such proposal.

The difference between the hypothetical baptist college you mention and the one's barred from advertising in the JFP (were the APA to apply its policy) is that the baptist school does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (or else it would be barred for that reason, and we wouldn't be having this discussion). As far as the APA is concerned, the school is free to pursue its religious mission and to advertise in its pages, so long as that mission does not involve discrimination. If, for example, the college refused to hire someone on the basis of African ethnicity, that would be wrong, too (not that I think this is a component of Baptist belief). And then the school would deserve to be barred from the JFP.

That said, I am of the view that the hypothetical Baptist school might do itself and its students a favor by having a diverse faculty that included people of varying backgrounds, religious views, and sexual orientations. There is a wide variety of people in the world, and such a school would do well to acquaint its students with it. The variety, I mean.

I guess I'll leave it to folks to make up their own minds on whether they think that is deeply weird.

Fair enough. You kept bringing it up, though. I have been focusing on the people themselves, who they are, what they can teach us, and how we should all treat each other, whereas you have been focusing on this one thing that some of them sometimes do.

I have no objection to any of your munging.

These institutions are there to teach from the foundational perspective of their respective confessions; people go to them, parents send their kids to them, specifically in order to get precisely that sort of education. More than that, they are formative institutions where the social and religious setting, and role models, are in some ways more critical than the formal education itself.

I would argue that there are some distinctions that are permissible, such as religious affiliation, and some that are not, such as sexual orientation or ethnic background. I would argue that a secular organization such as the APA is under no obligation to run job ads for institutions that discriminate on such bases. Such a mission is also hard to square with Prof. Beckwith's insistence that we not change the world on company time. (Though, to be honest, I was somewhat mystified by that comment.)

I blog and post as Mr. Zero. I am pseudonymous, but I maintain a consistent nickname.

It seems that all that is left to do is repeat from Dr. Beckwith:

According to the petition, and the APA provision it cites, a religious institution may hold certain religious beliefs about human sexuality, but it may not conduct its business as if those beliefs are true. I am at a loss to see how this is consistent with any serious and substantive understanding of religious liberty.

So, we're waiting. Just how is this consistent with any serious and substantive understanding of religious liberty?

to make exceptions to accommodate them is perversely accused of discrimination.

Nope. On its face, the APA policy in question doesn't say that institutions may not publish ads if they ask their members to refrain from homosexual acts. It says that they may not discriminate on the basis of orientation. So far, the circulators of the petition itself have merely claimed the former re. the institutions, not the latter.

And may I say right here that if the APA policy really did mean that no religious institution that asked its members, as members of a voluntary association, to agree to abide by traditional Christian ethical sexual norms, could advertise in the APA's job paper, then this would be a _problem_, for reasons I've already cited. I mean, we're talking about a fair number of institutions here, many of them with respected philosophy departments, all of which have previously been allowed to advertise in this organization's job newspaper. Surely there should be some serious thought put in before cutting jobs from all of those institutions out of the JFP publication. This has negative consequences and it chops up the philosophical community in ways that would be detrimental both to individuals and to the profession itself. I don't know what you mean, Step2, by "there is only one side actively pushing against equality," but I'd like you to note that the petition is suggesting a _change_ in APA practice. Who's doing the pushing? The Christian institutions are very happy to associate with the APA. They don't try to avoid contact by not going to APA conferences! It's the new policy proposed that pressures them either to give up the identity they've had _all along_ or to go play in their own yard.

They don't try to avoid contact by not going to APA conferences! It's the new policy proposed that pressures them either to give up the identity they've had _all along_ or to go play in their own yard.

Yes. And true to form, we got the old switcheroo. I don't know how many times I've been on a Catholic forum and someone comes on and asks, "Is [insert deviant sexual practice] ok?" We of course reply no it is not and give reasons why. At this point we usually get accused of being obsessed with the practice in question. Quotha? He brought it up not us. It's not obsession on our part when it's not an answer you don't like. We got the same here when the question was why Zippy was supposedly obsessed with sodomy. This is dirty pool.

According to the petition, and the APA provision it cites, a religious institution may hold certain religious beliefs about human sexuality, but it may not conduct its business as if those beliefs are true. I am at a loss to see how this is consistent with any serious and substantive understanding of religious liberty.

Prof. Beckwith misunderstands the function and purpose of the APA's nondiscrimination policy. The APA is not saying that religious institutions may not conduct their business as though their religious beliefs are true. Religious institutions are permitted to do whatever they want, within the law. What the APA will not do is run ads from institutions that discriminate on the basis of (a bunch of things but this discussion is about) sexual orientation. It's not a policy about what religious institutions may do; it is a policy about what the APA will do.

Scott W,

I apologize if I seemed to be playing dirty. In all honesty, it seemed weird to me, though perhaps it is my fault. This is what I thought happened: I said that cutting oneself off from homosexual people harms everyone, since it deprives each party of the opportunity to interact with and learn from the other. Zippy replied by saying something about the status of sodomy as a value.

I did not bring up sodomy. Zippy did.

So I said, I don't think sodomy is intrinsically valuable; I think people are valuable (even if they engage in sodomy), and that liberty is valuable. Zippy said something else about sodomy being valuable, and suggested that I was being dishonest, possibly with myself. I said, I am trying to focus on the people involved, and I think it's weird that you keep bringing up sodomy. He said, sodomy is the issue. I said, I thought the issue was how we should be treating people and how if we can see past our prejudices and get together, we can learn from one another and enrich each others' lives. He said, no, sodomy is the issue. That's the context in which I said I thought the focus on sodomy was weird. I guess I still think it is.

within the law.

Say what? Um, no. Which law, exactly, are you trying to say some school listed by the petition is breaking? Which school? Or is "law" here a metaphor for "APA policy [as interpreted by the petition signers]"?

Mr. Zero:

I did not bring up sodomy. Zippy did.
Actually neither of us brought it up. It is the substantive subject matter of the petition we are all discussing. Why you think it is deeply weird to discuss the substantive subject matter of the petition in a discussion about that petition is itself rather mysterious.

Lydia,

I said that schools are free to do whatever they want within the law. This does not imply or suggest that any school was breaking the law.

The point of the comment was that the APA policy places no (extra-legal) restrictions on what religious-affiliated schools may do. The APA's policy is a restriction on the APA's behavior: the APA will run no advertisement from a school that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. This does not violate the religious freedom of any individual or college. If you do something I regard as wrong, my refusal to participate does not violate your freedom. Even if your activities are not illegal.

I have no idea why you focused on such a small, off-hand, irrelevant part of the comment. You didn't really think that "within the law" was the point of the comment, did you?

Well, yes, Zero, it certainly did rhetorically sound to me like, inter alia, you were implying that the APA was merely acting according to the law, applying the law to its own circumstances, etc. If that isn't what you meant, my apologies for misinterpreting.

But I might as well ask: Do you or don't you want the APA policy (as you understand it) to be, in fact, the law, so that the religious schools in question would be at risk of fines, etc., from government rather than merely having trouble getting out their job ads?

Zippy,

I thought that the petition was about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, not about sodomy in particular. Although many homosexual couples engage in sodomy, not all of them do, and many heterosexual couples do. You used the word 'sodomy' before anyone else, and you suggested that I thought it was intrinsically valuable to society, even after I denied that I attach any value to sodomy at all. I don't care about it. I see it as a related, but tangental issue.

To see why it is tangental, suppose that an openly homosexual man applied for one of the jobs covered by the petition. Suppose that he had been legally married in Massachusetts to another man. Suppose that they were deeply in love, cohabitated as a couple, could be described as "flaming", but never ever engaged in sodomy. Suppose they are not lying, are deeply religious, and they were willing to sign an article of faith to that effect. Would you regard this man be qualified for the job? I suspect not. I suspect that it is the orientation, and not the sodomy in particular, that you find objectionable, though I am willing to be proven wrong.

Lydia,

I was saying that the APA's policy does not represent a restriction on the behavior of the affected schools. They are legally permitted to discriminate, but the APA is legally permitted not to participate.

Yes, I think that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should be against the law.

Bobcat,

Ed wrote, "And you also assert that we shouldn't start with premises that are accepted by all people, but instead start with reasonable premises that are reasonable to some, or a large group. Well, if we accept your reasonable to some constraint, then we're just limiting the persuasiveness of reason to the dynamics of various groups in competition with various groups. Such implication would be relativism, and that is certainly neither what proponents of religious revelation in texts want, nor I as a moral philosopher. In this case, the polemics of religion would simply be one among many."

Well, I'm a moral philosopher too, and I have to wonder what philosophy you've been reading. In case you haven't noticed, a lot of philosophers, especially moral philosophers, have become more modest in their epistemic claims. Read, say, the introduction to Korsgaard's The Sources of Normativity or Nozick's Philosophical Explanations. Hell, read Rawls's A Theory of Justice. From what I've observed, a lot of people go in for this "reflective equilibrium" business. You probably think they're nuts, but if you do you're in a great deal of trouble, by your own lights. For now you must come up with an argument against using reflective equilibrium as a method of testing one's moral theories and intuitions, and you have to make this argument using premises that all philosophers, as well as everyone else, accepts. I wish you good luck; if you succeed, you'll get your article published in Nous, J Phil, or Phil Review, and then you'll have wheelbarrows full of articles written in response to you, a la Gettier. Or your work will be rejected by all journals as crankish.

Going on ... "Furthermore, you can engage in all the apologetics you want--Christianity makes too many outlandish claims (as do all religions) about the nature of reality. I cannot sanction truth for the beliefs of any Christian."

Well, I'm sorry I don't have your sanction. But if it's all the same to the sanctioning committee, I'm going to keep on believing my arguments that consist only of reasonable premises, or premises that are more reasonable than their denials, or premises entailed by reasonable premises.

Finally, "What does the bible have to say about the use of contraceptives really? What about the spatiality of moral agents committing acts of political hate speech on the internet? What about hate speech?...There are a host of issues that evolve in modern society that the Bible is silent on. If there are duties that the Bible cannot weigh in on, then some other theory must be consulted about the action-guidance required. If that's the case, then there is reasonable grounds to dismiss the Bible as a source of morality, including hiring practices of institutions of higher learning."

Couldn't it be that there are some moral principles that one can find articulated in the Bible? And couldn't it further be that many of these overarching principles are ones you find attractive--they seem to offer a compelling way of living one's life? And finally, couldn't it further be that these principles can be applied to discrete situations? And if so, couldn't one then figure out what the Bible has to say about hate speech on the Internet?

If not, then why the hell do you read Aristotle or Kant or Mill? Where, say, in The Metaphysics of Morals did Kant write about hate speech on the Internet? Maybe it was in the Typic from the Critique of Practical Reason? That sounds likely; I don't know that part very well.


I do not think highly of Kantian ethics, and you're right to point out that some contemporary NeoKantians are modest in their claims. Moreover, Kantian ethics is better at informing us about our negative duties more than our positive duties. Would Kant support a strong authoritarian constitution that demanded respect and outlawed hate speech? Perhaps, at first, then as we learn in Perpetual Peace, morally right constitutions will lessen the authority of the state and give more autonomy to the rational will to express itself more openly. At that point, hate speech might need not be a legislated form of immorality, but simply recognized as an immoral practice. I don't know what Kant woudl say. Having read Korsgaard and Rawls, but not Nozick (beyond a TAing chapter on Wilt Chamberlian), I think modesty about what we can claim in any moral epistemology is not the issue, merely some form of reliabilism about which the Bible can inform us about moral conduct. That's the issue you pointed towards, and that's where I am skeptical. Unlike the Bible, there is a certain connection made between the formulations of the categorical imperative and testing various maxims. It is still possible to get more traction out of a Kantian based system than simply relying on the variegated hermeneutics of Biblical revelation.

And, I do buy into reflective equilibrium about trying to get one's moral principles in line with one's intuitions and vice versa. However, it's the starting point that's again at issue. If your ethical reasons for not wanting to hire a homosexual are informed in some way as we've spelled out (using your formulation for the ethical reasons following Biblical revelation) originate in revelation, then subsequently interpretation, then the source of normativity is dependent on the reality of God revealing one sacred text to humankind, and that God exists as known through the Bible--in the very same book that thinks Grasshoppers have four-legs (Lev. 11:20-22), or that the time to create the Earth was a literal 7 days long (contrasted to the standard 4-5 billion year estimate of geophysics). These outlandish claims are not true given the inference-to-best-explanation when we weigh in the universe as studied empirically and the separate body of beliefs of revelation. Of course, we can cash this out to a whole room of people of the Faith. I'm not going to do that. I'm just saying there are good prima facie reasons for thinking that the Bible is not a reliable indicator of morally true reasons, and leave open that as the Bible alone stands to compare to what I take to be three-main stream forms of ethics (deontology qua Kantianism, consequential theories and virtue ethical theories), these have better proposals about what is morally right and good.

My skepticism is aimed at providing reasons for thinking that the reasons informing the moral code of said universities isn't true. Beckswith wanted debate or reflection as to whether or not the petition was a good idea. I'm trying to be that force here. I've been really driving at the insight that any moral theory is good only if it can generate action-guidance. If it cannot do that reliably (as you claimed that R1, R2...Rn could provide), then that's a reason for rejecting a moral theory--here, it targeted any religious reasons derived from the Bible.

Certainly, we might find principles in the Bible out of abstraction, or encountering the text in some way. However, I do not think you discover the text's content as you think you do. Instead, whenever we want to understand a text, we relate to it as sitauted historically finite beings. What I think confuses the issue is that people regard the Bible as a text with a meaning that transcends time and place. This is wrong. Instead, we are production of our historical situation and our encounter with tradition so understood -- what Gadamer would call a "fusion of horizons."

To make your argument stronger, I would think that a Biblical conception of morality requires being supplemented with, say, an additional normative theory, like Christian virtue theory of ethics. That gets you a little further in providing action-guidance, and would be a way to meet my central criticism.

Best,

Ed

They don't try to avoid contact by not going to APA conferences! It's the new policy proposed that pressures them either to give up the identity they've had _all along_ or to go play in their own yard.

The only new policy is that the APA is being challenged by its own members to abide by their own proclaimed standard or stop pretending it is a real standard. Not being a member, I don't care either way, but I think it very important that a philosophical association be honest with its members about what its actual role is.

I was saying that the APA's policy does not represent a restriction on the behavior of the affected schools. They are legally permitted to discriminate, but the APA is legally permitted not to participate.

Yes, I think that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should be against the law.

So essentially you are saying we'll let these schools get away with insisting on faculty behavior consistent with their creed for now until we muster enough legal pressure to force their hand? Isn't saying, "Well the APA isn't telling them how to run their schools" being coy?

Mr. Zero:

Suppose they are not lying, are deeply religious, and they were willing to sign an article of faith to that effect. Would you regard this man be qualified for the job?
You mean someone like David Morrison, if he were a philosopher? You bet.
I suspect not.
You suspect wrong.

Thanks for your more temperate and nuanced response, Ed. I'll put my snark down if you continue to keep your earlier indignation in its holster. I'll get to your interesting reply in a bit. Now, I'm going to eat some pizza.

Best,

Bob

Zippy,

Fair enough. I said I was willing to be proven wrong, and I accept that I was. Although it wasn't really clear to me that David Morrison is in a long-term, sexless marriage with another man, as I specified in my example.

Perhaps I am fuzzy on the concept of sodomy, but what about lesbians? What about a couple consisting of a male-to-female transgendered person and a female-to-male transgendered person? Pre-op? Post-op?

Scott,

I don't see how it's coy. The APA is not telling them how to run their schools. We, the membership of the APA, are asking the APA to conduct itself in a manner consistent with its own principles, which include a conviction that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong.

I was asked a direct question about my opinion concerning the rightful legal status of such discrimination--this was not a part of my argument as I presented it. The APA is not a law enforcement agency; it is not a political action committee; it is not a lobbying firm. The APA is not working to affect this change in the law. I acknowledge the legal fact that it is permissible, that this legal fact does not square with the moral facts, and while I hope that someday this discrepancy will be repaired, I don't see the APA playing an active role. Could you explain how this is coy? I thought I was being straightforward.

I think your admission, Mr. Zero, does bring back the relevance of the quotation Scott gave from the original post. In the world you seek to bring about, it _would indeed_ be the case that religious schools "may not conduct their business as if their religious beliefs were true." If you can't see and admit that this sort of "soft" pressure--shunning by a large-scale professional organization--is societally a step in the direction of that world, then you're not as smart as I think you are. My guess is that's a recommendation of the petition for you.

I am of the view that the hypothetical Baptist school might do itself and its students a favor by having a diverse faculty that included people of varying backgrounds, religious views, and sexual orientations.

It's one thing to argue that sexual orientation shouldn't matter in hiring (not that I find the argument convincing for religious institutions), but to think that having faculty with diverse sexual orientations will positively benefit students is utter poppycock.

Minor aside: I notice that Brian Leiter was only the second signatory rather than the first. Won't that hurt his and his institution's ranking?

Mr. Z:
It has been a number of years since I last spoke to David Morrison in the comboxes of another blog, but other than the formality of a legal 'marriage' I understand that that was exactly his situation.

Lydia answered Mr. Zero better than I could have. If these schools were legally forced to abandon behavioral standards for its faculty, the only thing we would hear from the APA is either a). formal approval or b). crickets chirping. If any of them ask, "How this is consistent with any serious and substantive understanding of religious liberty?" I'll eat my hat.

Zippy,

Fair enough.

Lydia,

I think discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong and ought to be against the law. It is obvious that there are limits on the behavior of religious institutions--not every religious institution is morally or legally permitted to behave as though all of its beliefs are true. Religions that teach that black people are inferior to white people may not discriminate on the basis of race; religions that teach the value of plural marriage may not have their marriages legally recognized; religions that permit homosexual marriage are in the same boat; religions that teach the value of human sacrifice may not sacrifice humans.

Of course the APA's position represents a "societal" step. Who said it's not a step? It's not a particularly big step, since the policy is already in the books. And the APA isn't a driving force in this societal change, since it doesn't even enforce the policy it has adopted. It seems to me that society as a whole is quickly waking up to the fact that members of the GLBTQ community have the same rights as everyone else--although prop 8 passed last year, it passed by a substantially smaller margin than a similar law in 2000--and this includes rights against unfair hiring practices. The reason I signed the petition is this: discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is morally wrong, on a par with discrimination on the basis of gender and race, and the APA ought not involve itself with its practice.

The APA's policy does not involve shunning. Shunning is a practice in which the shunned individual is literally ostracized and made to leave the community. (It's also somewhat of a religious concept. It's not normally a secular weapon.) That's not what's happening here. Nobody is kicking anybody out of the APA. Although the APA shouldn't run discriminatory job ads (and neither should the discriminators), the discriminators will not (and should not) be compelled to leave the association.

I still don't see how any of this adds up to "coy." It seems perfectly straightforward to me. The discrimination is wrong; the APA has a policy against running discriminatory job ads; the petition asks the APA do enforce its own policy. The petition does not ask the APA to shun or excommunicate offenders. It does not ask the APA to lobby Congress to adopt its views as law. I didn't sign the petition because I think this kind of discrimination should be illegal; I signed it because I think it's wrong.

Scott W,

If these schools were legally forced to abandon those of their behavior standards that result in discriminatory hiring practices, that would be awesome. However, it's not the point or purpose of the petition. And nobody would ask "how is this consistent with religious liberty" for the same reason nobody asks that question about racist churches. The fact that you think God told you to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation doesn't make it right--lots of horrible things have been done by people who thought they were acting on behalf of God. Like all liberty, religious liberty has limits.

Ed wrote,

"Certainly, we might find principles in the Bible out of abstraction, or encountering the text in some way. However, I do not think you discover the text's content as you think you do. Instead, whenever we want to understand a text, we relate to it as sitauted historically finite beings. What I think confuses the issue is that people regard the Bible as a text with a meaning that transcends time and place. This is wrong. Instead, we are production of our historical situation and our encounter with tradition so understood -- what Gadamer would call a 'fusion of horizons.'"

Earlier you claimed that philosophical arguments must have premises that everyone accepts. I said, no, they need only be reasonable to a large group of people. You called that relativism. Now, you're saying that seeing time-transcending meanings in a text is not the way people encounter texts. Instead people encounter texts using their own cultural and historical baggage. Given your earlier epistemological principles, I can't imagine that you think this is the way people *should* encounter texts. So I take it what you're saying is that we can't rely on the Bible as a source of morality because it's a text, and as a matter of fact we read texts only through the prisms of our historical biases.

But first, your earlier epistemological principles are way too strong.
Second, even if most people read texts that way, it doesn't follow that they have to.
Third, I do take into account the historical situation of the writers of the Bible when I read it. That doesn't mean that one can't abstract from it time- and culture-transcending principles.
Fourth, Christians need not rely just on the Bible. They may rely on the entire historical tradition of Bible interpretation and lived Christianity. And that tradition extends to now.

Anyway, why not take the Bible to be reliable? You say a couple of things. First: "Unlike the Bible, there is a certain connection made between the formulations of the categorical imperative and testing various maxims. It is still possible to get more traction out of a Kantian based system than simply relying on the variegated hermeneutics of Biblical revelation." Well, a lot of philosophers (I'm not one of them) would deny that there's very much connection between the formulations of the categorical imnperatives and testing various maxims. Second, there's plenty of connection between Biblical principles and the way to live life. "Turn the other cheek", for example, and the Golden rule are both principles that it's easy to imagine can be applied. Same with Thou shalt not murder.

Second, you write: "If your ethical reasons for not wanting to hire a homosexual are informed in some way as we've spelled out (using your formulation for the ethical reasons following Biblical revelation) originate in revelation, then subsequently interpretation, then the source of normativity is dependent on the reality of God revealing one sacred text to humankind, and that God exists as known through the Bible--in the very same book that thinks Grasshoppers have four-legs (Lev. 11:20-22), or that the time to create the Earth was a literal 7 days long (contrasted to the standard 4-5 billion year estimate of geophysics)." I don't think anyone's--or anyway, almost no one's--ethical reasons originate entirely in the Bible. People are raised by their parents, in communities, and by television, and all those things have been shaped to a greater or lesser degree by Biblical as well as non-Biblical principles. But at any rate, why give the Bible any warrant at all? After all, this is a book that says that grasshoppers have four legs and that the earth was created in seven literal days (actually, I don't think this last claim was meant to be taken literally, but rather to signify varieites of ontological dependence; but I digress). The first thing to note is that if the Bible is wrong about these facts, it doesn't follow that it's wrong in its moral claims. After all, no one says that the Bible was literally written down by God. Rather, at best the people who wrote were inspired by God. But they were fallible people and they could have made mistakes. I don't think this fact impugns the reliability of all Biblical principles. Just like I could tell you something wrong without therefore being wrong about everything. Second, if God exists, then it would seem to me that he would be more interested in how humans behave than in their beliefs about grasshoppers. After all, Christians take it that he has initiated a plan of Atonement, the point of which is to bring people back into unity with him.

Mr. Zero

I rest my case. I think the incoherence of your position and descent into platitudes is laid out for all to see and I can add little at this point. I'll let you have the last word.

These people should also petition to exclude all Catholic schools from the APA. After all, the Church will only consider Catholic males for the priesthood, episcopacy, etc. Isn't a lesbian Satanist, a Jewish transsexual, or a member of any other group just as able as a Catholic male to lift a chalice and host, and do all that other stuff at the altar?

Bobcat,

I appreciate the calm response, and I'll holster my own ego (a point it seems flawed in men characterized by a propensity to intellectual reflection). Hope your pizza went well. There is no good pizza other than NJ/NYC. Everything else is just mediocre. I digress.

Now, you pick me up on my Gadamerian thesis that all textual understanding is historicized between what comes from tradition and my need for current self-understanding, a fusion between the horizons of past and present. In this way, there is still tradition effecting us and also that we cannot help but use our biases for a precondition to understanding. I do not mean this thesis is in a very epistemological sense (I encountered some months ago an article in the Canadian J of Philosophy that argued hermeneutics as a form of foundationalism), but rather what is constitutive of how any text can be encountered. Call this commitment a commitment to phenomenological description about our texztual encounters. I remain silent on whether such a phenomenological description is epistemological or metaphysical, but simply a feature of the textual encountering experience. I assume no problem with taking it as an epistemological thesis, but merely wanted to be exact.

You wrote, "Earlier you claimed that philosophical arguments must have premises that everyone accepts. I said, no, they need only be reasonable to a large group of people. You called that relativism. Now, you're saying that seeing time-transcending meanings in a text is not the way people encounter texts. Instead people encounter texts using their own cultural and historical baggage. Given your earlier epistemological principles, I can't imagine that you think this is the way people *should* encounter texts. So I take it what you're saying is that we can't rely on the Bible as a source of morality because it's a text, and as a matter of fact we read texts only through the prisms of our historical biases."

I think the Gadamerian attempt at describing what is involved in self-understanding to be true for all human beings. The claim to start with premises that everyone accepts applies to the appeal to Gadamer as Gadamer explains truthfully how we relate to texts. We relate to tradition phenomenologically as that which is handed down, as you say raised within tradition fostered with our current historical situatedness--what I previously called the fusion of horizons. This doesn't imply relativism about the description of what it is know a text. It merely describes the universal condition under which that experience takes place. Moreover, this is not a prescriptive about how we *should* relate to texts. Denying this description is, I argue, false. You can now see why I think that thinking otherwise is false.

Continuing with your post, you wrote, "But first, your earlier epistemological principles are way too strong. Second, even if most people read texts that way, it doesn't follow that they have to. Third, I do take into account the historical situation of the writers of the Bible when I read it. That doesn't mean that one can't abstract from it time- and culture-transcending principles.Fourth, Christians need not rely just on the Bible. They may rely on the entire historical tradition of Bible interpretation and lived Christianity. And that tradition extends to now."

Now, if you take into account the historical situation of the writers, you are implicitly committing what I think cannot be claimed that we have an understanding of the past (what we really have is a claim of understanding the past as I encounter it with my own historical situation). You fall on one-side of that fusion of horizons, but understanding is only for the present. As such, we cannot transcend the boundaries of historicity and have knowledge of authorial intention in any way other than how we bring ourselves to the text. This is an active skepticism that we can ever know truly the fully disclosed moment of the author's genius. In addition, this is also situated in Gadamer against Schleiermacher's biblical hermeneutics who thought we could recreate within ourselves the moment of authorial genius to understand a text. Again, these approaches deny that self-understanding transformed through an encounter with a text is historicized. I honestly think your fourth and fifth point in congruity with what I have here.

Let's move to your next series of points about the reliability criterion, these concern the last two paragraphs of your post. These paragraphs are:

"Anyway, why not take the Bible to be reliable? You say a couple of things. First: "Unlike the Bible, there is a certain connection made between the formulations of the categorical imperative and testing various maxims. It is still possible to get more traction out of a Kantian based system than simply relying on the variegated hermeneutics of Biblical revelation." Well, a lot of philosophers (I'm not one of them) would deny that there's very much connection between the formulations of the categorical imnperatives and testing various maxims. Second, there's plenty of connection between Biblical principles and the way to live life. "Turn the other cheek", for example, and the Golden rule are both principles that it's easy to imagine can be applied. Same with Thou shalt not murder.

Second, you write: "If your ethical reasons for not wanting to hire a homosexual are informed in some way as we've spelled out (using your formulation for the ethical reasons following Biblical revelation) originate in revelation, then subsequently interpretation, then the source of normativity is dependent on the reality of God revealing one sacred text to humankind, and that God exists as known through the Bible--in the very same book that thinks Grasshoppers have four-legs (Lev. 11:20-22), or that the time to create the Earth was a literal 7 days long (contrasted to the standard 4-5 billion year estimate of geophysics)." I don't think anyone's--or anyway, almost no one's--ethical reasons originate entirely in the Bible. People are raised by their parents, in communities, and by television, and all those things have been shaped to a greater or lesser degree by Biblical as well as non-Biblical principles. But at any rate, why give the Bible any warrant at all? After all, this is a book that says that grasshoppers have four legs and that the earth was created in seven literal days (actually, I don't think this last claim was meant to be taken literally, but rather to signify varieites of ontological dependence; but I digress). The first thing to note is that if the Bible is wrong about these facts, it doesn't follow that it's wrong in its moral claims. After all, no one says that the Bible was literally written down by God. Rather, at best the people who wrote were inspired by God. But they were fallible people and they could have made mistakes. I don't think this fact impugns the reliability of all Biblical principles. Just like I could tell you something wrong without therefore being wrong about everything. Second, if God exists, then it would seem to me that he would be more interested in how humans behave than in their beliefs about grasshoppers. After all, Christians take it that he has initiated a plan of Atonement, the point of which is to bring people back into unity with him."

Before beginning, let me summarize important points in order to respond nuanced to your cited text above. You assert that we can take the Bible reliably (even if it commits serious empirical errors of judgment). Such errors are products of human-inspired-by-God-authors. These are, after all, fallible epistemic agents. However, that is not the point of God's inspiring the Bible, but rather that God's teleological plan of atonement matters not if these authors get empirical claims right about grasshoppers, but that some divine wisdom gets through--especially about the plan of Atonement. I'll respond with the fact that while it might not impugn all Biblical principles, it doesn't do a service to deny the same impugning either way. If it is the case that empirical judgments are wrong, then what is to stop us from thinking that there were not other serious errors in terms of moral knowledge. It would seem your defense harms my criticism at the expense of the claims you would want as well.

In terms of moral knowledge, you deny my comparison to Kantian ethics. Sure, I'll go with that. In truth, I find Ross and Aristotle ten times more likely to produce an explanation about what our duties are. The empty formalism charge of the Categorical Imperative is a famous one made against Kantians. My point was heuristic. The murky-muck of Biblical revelation isn't as clear in producing action-guidance as other mainstream normative theories, which Kantianism was one of several.

Now, why have all these points been made. The initial point was made against only certain people (among which I don't know where you stand Bobcat) who claim some privileged moral knowledge about human sexuality. A case, in point, that is severely wrong. I attempted to do this with spelling out exactly why someone might be wrong in forming a belief that homosexuals are deviant based on any claim of privilege deriving from the Bible as a source of morality. I don't feel such a method would produce reliable moral beliefs, and the result of the following belief "We should never hire Christian professors at a Christian institution" is therefore ill-formed. I agree with Socrates that it is better to suffer a harm than initiate one, and find that the very nature of Christian beliefs probably opens you up to suffering a secular form of discrimination (which would be rectified by changing one's beliefs for more reliably produced scientific ones in my opinion), yet I also find that you cannot mask your right to practice religion at the expense of illegal employment discrimination.

Best,

Ed

Shunning is a practice in which the shunned individual is literally ostracized and made to leave the community. (It's also somewhat of a religious concept. It's not normally a secular weapon.)

Ostracizing, not shunning, involves making a person leave the community for a period of time, and as Aristotle reports, it was in fact a secular weapon used by democrats against anyone deemed insufficiently democratic (much like the APA).

Yes, who was that ancient Greek who was ostracized? Clisthenes?

Certainly, a secular weapon.

I hold to the Biblical teachings concerning homosexuality, adultery and whether they are wrong or right. I believe that Christian's are called by God to first follow and obey his commands and then to follow and obey the govenments that He has set in place. Remember, God tells us that He gives and He takes away. He puts in to power, and takes that power away. Paul encourages us to obey those over us (like a slave obeying his master). We are to obey the government that is over us as long as it does not cause us to disobey Him. Also, Scripture clearly states that we will be attacked and hated for our love of Christ. If we love Christ we will obey Christ. Since Christ is God, then as we obey God we will be hated, attacked, degraded and even killed for that obedience. We will make others feel uncomfortable. We have brothers and sisters world wide that have family members killed nearly every day because of their faith in Christ and their obedience to his word.

Philip Kledzik
"An Issue of the Heart"
authorphilipkledzik.books.officelive.com

I'm a bit confused. The APA currently has a policy that claims that the behavior of the schools listed on the petition is comparable to an institution that prohibits African Americans into their university. Since Francis Beckwith is certainly not a bigot who would want to allow universities to prohibit African Americans from attending their institution, the current language of the APA's anti-discrimination policy should offend him. After all, it is the current unenforced policy of the APA (and not the petition) that calls Beckwith a bigot. Since the APA's current policy calls Beckwith a bigot, and the petition merely asks that the APA reexamine its stance I am deeply perplexed how Beckwith could disagree. Should we read this post as an indication that Beckwith agrees with the APA that he is a bigot? If he does not agree with this strong stance that the APA has already taken against people like him, why doesn't he want the APA to reexamine this stance? Again, I am deeply confused.

I can see that.

Zippy,

You say,

He says it is morally neutral but that everyone benefits from exposure to it: that "separate but equal" w.r.t. homosex hurts everyone. That this is equivocal is a bug in his discourse, not a feature.

This is a perfect instance of your fixation on sodomy preventing you from seeing my point. Members of the GLBTQ community are human beings, not sodomizing machines. The benefits you might accrue by getting to know some of them therefore might not be directly related to sodomy. The benefits might not have anything to do with sodomy at all. For many, but not all, members of the GLBTQ community, sodomy is an important part of sexual fulfillment, and in those cases, is an important component of a good life for them. (This importance of sexual fulfillment is why I regard the prohibition of homosexual sex acts as discriminatory and unfair. In addition to its being irrelevant wrt the job at hand.) But it is not the only component of the good life, and it is not the only thing they are interested in (just as it is not the only thing you are interested in). So, again, it is not sodomy itself that I regard as important. It is the individual people whom I regard as important. I see sodomy as somewhat of a side issue.

One possible benefit you might gain from a greater level of acquaintance with members of the GLBTQ community is just this recognition that homosexual sex, while important to (most of) them, is not the only interesting thing about them. You might also gain a sense for how much the sort of anti-gay bigotry hurts them. And while I doubt that you would give up your stance that homosexuality is wrong (since the Bible says it is and you believe the Bible, except, of course, for the stuff in the Bible you don't believe), perhaps your stance would be softened or tempered by a greater awareness of its human effects.

Members of the GLBTQ community are human beings, not sodomizing machines.
Of course they are. That goes without saying. But what is at issue specifically in this incident is the substantive matter of sodomy and other particular acts (acts always necessarily being acts of human beings).

For you to propose that I am "fixated" on sodomy and other behaviors when those are precisely what is at issue is at best bizarre and at worst, as other commenters have suggested, dirty pool.

This is easy to see if we consider some other kind of act that we both agree is substantively wrong. I assume, for example, that you agree with me that it is substantively wrong to torture kittens. That doesn't mean that we think it is the ultimate evil, akin to genocide, etc. It doesn't mean we are fixated on it. And it doesn't mean that we don't recognize that some people feel that they cannot be fulfilled as human beings without torturing kittens.

But suppose an institution centered around a substantive confession exists. One element of that substantive confession is respect for animals, and in order to be hired employees are required to sign a statement swearing that they have not and will not torture kittens. (Maybe there is something about the culture that makes kitten-torturing a problem, and a significant faction exists which tortures kittens).

Now in our discussion of that situation, I would focus on the specific issue of torturing kittens. The fact that I focus on the issue of torturing kittens as a behavior does not imply that I see the people who torture kittens as inhuman, less than human, etc. (In fact, the corpus of my public writing is filled with polemics against treating human beings as objects in any number of controversial circumstances). It does not imply that torturing kittens is some kind of personal issue for me, or that I have no personal familiarity with anyone who tortures kittens, that I need my horizons to be expanded by getting to know more kitten-torturers to see that they also are human beings, etc.

I would focus in that discussion on the issue of kitten-torturing behaviors, not because I am obsessed with kitten-torturing, but because kitten-torturing is precisely what is at issue. Someone who saw my focusing on kitten-torturing as odd or whatever, who constantly attempted to shift the discussion to the fact that kitten torturers are people too, would be engaging in a red herring.

In this discussion, sodomy and other behaviors are precisely what is at issue. To see discussing precisely what is at issue as a problem at all, let alone as strange or whatever, is symptomatic of something broken in the discourse of my interlocutors, in my view, not in my own discourse. The fact that I focus my discussion on precisely what is at issue is not a sign of how important that subject is to me. It is a sign of my capacity to engage in reasoned discussion.

Zippy,

In the blockquote I cited in my previous comment, you described my position as being one according to which sodomy is morally neutral but that everyone benefits from exposure to sodomy. This is not my position, as I have tried to stress. Although that position would be problematic, it is not my position. My position is that sodomy doesn't matter at all, and your insistence that it does matter closes you off from people--not sexual activities--who might increase the value of your life for you.

If this were a discussion about kitten torturers, I would agree with you that kitten torturing is morally wrong, and that a predilection for kitten-torture would be at least a prima facie reason not to hire someone for a professor job, even at a secular institution whose mission had no particular moral component (this fact is, of course, a red flag that there is some morally relevant difference between torturing kittens and having sex with members of your same gender). There are two primary reasons for this: i) that, by its very nature, kitten torture causes undeserved harm to the kittens; and ii) that there is a documented, reliable correlation between torturing animals and other, legitimately dangerous behaviors and behavioral disorders. Because of these dangers, avoiding kitten torturers is probably a winning strategy.

On the other hand, homosexual behavior is not such that by its very nature it causes undeserved harm to the participants (all the people I know who regularly engage in such behavior find it extremely rewarding and fulfilling), and is not closely related to other legitimately dangerous behaviors or disorders. Because there are no analogous dangers, avoiding homosexuals and denying them employment on the basis of their practice of homosexuality has not been shown to be a winning strategy. I argue that it is a losing strategy for both the avoider and the avoidee. (Again: not because sodomy is intrinsically valuable but because human beings and relationships between human beings are intrinsically valuable.)

Mr. Zero:

This is not my position, as I have tried to stress.
I accept that it is not your position, that is, you do not explicitly affirm it, to the extent you deny that this discussion is about sodomy. At the same time I think it quite directly follows from your position, in part because your claim that this discussion isn't about sodomy (and similar acts) is false.
...a predilection for kitten-torture would be at least a prima facie reason not to hire someone for a professor job, even at a secular institution whose mission had no particular moral component...
Ah, I see that I am in at least some senses more tolerant, open minded, and magnanimous than you. A repentant former kitten torturer with just a kitten-torturing orientation, who signed a statement that he would never torture kittens again, would at least get my consideration.
(this fact is, of course, a red flag that there is some morally relevant difference between torturing kittens and having sex with members of your same gender).
Well, now you are just begging the question. As a grave moral wrong, I believe that homosexual acts (as well as adultery, fornication, etc -- that is, any number of sexual acts undertaken by heterosexuals, which are also forbidden by the hiring institutions under discussion) are harmful to the individuals involved and society, etc.

I don't expect us to agree on that, of course. But at least we seem to have reached agreement on the meta-point that that is precisely what the discussion is about.

Ah, I see that I am in at least some senses more tolerant, open minded, and magnanimous than you. A repentant former kitten torturer with just a kitten-torturing orientation, who signed a statement that he would never torture kittens again, would at least get my consideration.

Maybe I have misunderstood the meaning of the expression 'prima facie.' Or maybe you have chosen to ignore its presence in the quoted text so as to misrepresent my position and the degree to which your position differs from mine.

Well, now you are just begging the question.

Perhaps I misunderstand the meaning of the expression 'beg the question.' I was not aware that to claim that one fact suggests another and then to provide two independent, strong reasons in favor of the suggested fact (which you chose not to quote) was to beg the question. I would have imagined that an unsupported and absurd claim that homosexual acts do harm the individuals was more question-begging than my claim, for which I provided two independent reasons.

Mr. Zero:

Maybe I have misunderstood the meaning of the expression 'prima facie.' Or maybe you have chosen to ignore its presence in the quoted text so as to misrepresent my position and the degree to which your position differs from mine.
That is a fair point, and I retract that comment. I think you probably see torturing kittens almost exactly the way I see homosexual acts: at least prima facie a history of it or predilection to it indicates a disorder in the person which may make him unsuitable for any number of jobs, absent evidence and commitment to the contrary, most especially at confessionally Christian institutions.

But hey, at least you no longer seem to think that the moral status of acts like sodomy is a strange sidetrack from the discussion.

Obviously we could start having a discussion about why homosexual acts are immoral, etc. Many reasons could be given, and a great argument would ensue, since it is hardly a cursory discussion. In fact I think your same two cursory reasons apply almost without modification to homosexual acts. I'm surprised you didn't expect me to think so.

But that wasn't really the focus of my last comment. The focus of my comment was on the fact that you seem to have conceded that what the discussion is most pertinently about is the moral status of acts like sodomy.

Actually, I think the discussion is far more pertinently about the moral status of refusing to hire someone for a professor job on the basis of homosexual orientation or activities, and most pertinently about the moral status of an institution's refusing to run the job ads of colleges and universities who discriminate on the basis of homosexual action and/or behavior, particularly when the institution and a plurality of its membership regard such discrimination as seriously morally wrong.

Of course I expected you to think that my reasons for regarding kitten torture was wrong to apply equally to homosexual activity. It's just that this belief is obviously false--no modifications that left the reasons in any recognizable form would result in reasons that apply to homosexual activity. For one thing, homosexual sex does not, by its very nature, cause unbearable pain to the participants, whereas kitten torture does, by its very nature, cause unbearable pain to at least one participant. (Of course, this is compatible with there being incidental levels of pain resulting from homosexual activity, just as there are incidental levels of pain that result form heterosexual activity, even within the confines of marriage.) On the contrary, everyone I know who regularly engages in such practices really likes it, gets a lot of pleasure from it, and regards him- or herself as incapable of living an adequately fulfilling life in its absence.

Secondly, while there is a wealth of scientific literature documenting the correlation between the torture of animals and a disposition to commit violent crimes against human beings, there is no such wealth of literature documenting any correlation between homosexuality and a disposition to commit violent crimes against human beings. (This is compatible with there being incidental levels of homosexuals who commit violent crimes against human beings.)

So I would argue that although you think that my same two reasons apply without modification to homosexual acts, they actually don't, though.

And again, now you are at least de facto on board with the fact that the central issue is the morality of homosexual acts.

What did Jesus tell the disciples to do when they were rejected on their mission? He told them to shake the dust from off their feet. Maybe this pasage is applicable in this situation.

Blake Reas

I clearly regard the issue of the morality of homosexual acts as tertiary.

Mr. Zero:

I clearly regard the issue of the morality of homosexual acts as tertiary.
Well, you claim that that is the case, but you conceded that if we were talking about acts of torturing kittens that you would have no problem with institutions discriminating on that basis; and you spent a significant amount of energy arguing that, unlike torturing kittens, homosexual acts are not immoral. So whether de jure or not, de facto you concede that the moral status of homosexual acts is central to what is at issue.

You're right that I agreed that torturing kittens would be a prima facie reason not to hire someone, and that the argument was in part based on its wrongness. It was also based on such a person's being likely to be literally physically dangerous. There are plenty of things I regard as wrong but which I would not claim rise to the level of being even a prima facie reason not to hire someone, such as adultery or illegal music downloads.

Although I have drawn several conclusions in various comments here, only one is directly related to the morality of homosexual acts, and it is related in an inessential and tertiary way to the fundamental issue of this discussion, which is the morality of the APA's non-discrimination policy. (I think that this is the issue of this thread in part because of its title, which accuses the APA's non-discrimination policy of being discriminatory.) This is because even if homosexual behavior were morally wrong, which I don't concede, it is nevertheless not dangerous in itself, and is not reliably connected to anything that is dangerous (whereas kitten torture is, on both counts). The conclusions I have argued for are (in order of importance) i) refusing to run the job ads of colleges & universities who make use of discriminatory hiring practices is not wrong; ii) that discrimination on the basis of homosexual orientation and action is wrong; and iii) that homosexual acts are not wrong. If more electrons have been spilled in defense of (iii) than (i) or (ii), it is because various posters here have argued against it with greater vigor. I just reread my previous comments, and it seemed to me that I had mostly confined myself to a defense of (i), with a couple of off-hand or parenthetical defenses of (iii) until you, Zippy, kept bringing it up.

And, of course, this discussion concerning the importance (iii) is itself somewhat less important than the fact that (iii) is true.

Mr. Zero:

This is because even if homosexual behavior were morally wrong, which I don't concede, it is nevertheless not dangerous in itself, and is not reliably connected to anything that is dangerous (whereas kitten torture is, on both counts).
IOW, news flash, you disagree with Christians about homosexual acts, and if you didn't, none of the rest of your arguments would even apply. So as a matter of fact homosexual acts are what the discussion is about, for you as much as anyone else, and moreso than additional inferences and arguments which are premised on a certain view of homosexual acts.

I can think of all sorts of reasons why liberals would not want to concede that foundational to this subject and controversy is one's view of homosexual acts, and would want to change the subject, to make it about something else which hides the substantive subject matter behind a proxy of "discrimination". But clearly it is, else you yourself would not bother to constantly talk about them once we started comparing them to acts of torturing kittens.

We could compare homosexual acts to all sorts of other things -- smoking, adultery, racist speech, bestiality, getting piercings and tatoos, being a fan of Tom Cruise, etc -- and doubtless the discussion would degenerate into anarchy over what everyone thinks about all of those substantive matters, and their relevance to hiring decisions, etc. And that is because at bottom, discussions of "discrimination" (and "harm" for that matter) are in liberal polities always a proxy for discussion of substantive moral distinctions, a means of declaring rhetorical victory while pretending not to take sides in a substantive moral dispute.

Zippy,

I don't know that you're right "you disagree with Christians about homosexual acts, and if you didn't, none of the rest of your arguments would even apply. So as a matter of fact homosexual acts are what the discussion is about". It seems to me that you could accept ~(iii) "it is not the case that: homosexual acts are not wrong" and also accept (ii), "that discrimination on the basis of homosexual orientation and action is wrong". Indeed, you could accept ~(iii) and ~(ii) and still accept (i) "refusing to run the job ads of colleges & universities who make use of discriminatory hiring practices is not wrong".

Of course, I think that people who accept (i) by and large are motivated to accept (i) because they accept (iii) and (ii). Assuming you agree with me about that, is that why you think that "if [Mr. Zero] didn't [disagree with Christians about homosexual acts], none of the rest of [Mr. Zero's] arguments would even apply"? I assume you'll respond something like, "no, the reason I said none of the rest of Mr. Zero's arguments would even apply if he didn't disagree with Christians about homosexual acts is the simple fact that none of them would apply if he didn't disagree with Christians about homosexual acts."

But surely that (assuming that's your response) is not entirely right. That might be true of some of his arguments, but what about arguments like "a person's homosexuality doesn't affect his job performance"? Even if homosexual acts are wrong, that could still be true. For example, a Christian homosexual who refused to engage in homosexual sex, it seems to me, could effectively teach philosophy in a Christian environment. Going further, it might even be the case that a practicing homosexual could effectively teach philosophy in a Christian environment. At least, if a heterosexual who committed adultery could effectively, I don't see why a homosexual who had active homosexual relations couldn't effectively teach. Now, if the adulterous person flaunted his adultery, then he wouldn't be able to effectively teach--at least, not in a Christian school. And so too a homosexual who was very open about his engaging in homosexual sex couldn't effectively teach in a traditionally Christian school. But ones who kept their behavior to themselves, it seems to me, could.

Assuming I'm right, though I'm probably not, is it your position simply that it's permissible for Christian schools to discriminate only against actively practicing homosexuals? I'm guessing not.

who committed adultery

We certainly need to distinguish between a person who _committed_ any of the sexual acts forbidden by Christian schools' usual ethical codes _one time_ and a person who _went on committing_ such an act, don't we? It's been emphasized repeatedly in all these threads that the Christian schools in question have a general traditional sexual ethical code and that adultery would indeed also be forbidden. That might not preclude forgiveness in isolated cases where there was good evidence that the person really was going to stop doing so, was repentant, etc. But I think anyone who defended the codes of such schools would _not_ say that a person would be a good person to have teaching at such a school who _went on committing_ adultery, however secret he tried (probably unsuccessfully, in any event) to keep it. And in some ways, if he succeeded in keeping it secret, so much the worse, for then he would be leading a double life and adding deception--and in a sense making deception a very important part of his life--to the whole mix.

Bobcat:

That might be true of some of his arguments, but what about arguments like "a person's homosexuality doesn't affect his job performance"?
Obviously though when part of the charter of an institution is to form students with respect to what is right and wrong, a job candidate's unrepentant engagement in grave evil (according to the moral charter of that institution) affects his capacity to properly form students morally. "A person's unrepentant engagement in homosexual acts doesn't affect his job performance" is just plainly false in the context of a confessional institution which regards homosexual acts as gravely evil, so the success of that argument also depends on a particular substantive moral view of homosexual acts.

Now it might be argued that it doesn't affect his job performance in other contexts, that is, in secular institutions which do not have a religiously confessional charter and a purpose of moral formation. But I take a pretty jaundiced eye toward that kind of argument also.

Zippy writes, "a job candidate's unrepentant engagement in grave evil (according to the moral charter of that institution) affects his capacity to properly form students morally". Fair enough, but what about a job candidate's _repentant_ performance of those activities? I bring this up because Lydia writes, "We certainly need to distinguish between a person who _committed_ any of the sexual acts forbidden by Christian schools' usual ethical codes _one time_ and a person who _went on committing_ such an act, don't we?" Even if a person committed the act more than once, and you had reason to believe that he would continue to perform the act, it seems to me that it's possible that he genuinely regrets committing the act and wishes he wouldn't.

I think that this discussion also depends on the extent to which you think homosexual acts are wrong, or harm the homosexual. For instance, I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that some Christian professors regularly watch pornography and masturbate while nonetheless regretting that they do so. They might keep it secret from others, owing to their shame over it, but it seems to me that they could still teach Christian philosophy properly, because it's not as though they disagreed with the philosophy; it's rather that they had a hard time implementing it. However, it seems to me that someone who couldn't control his child-molesting impulses would be someone who, even if he understood exactly why what he was doing was wrong, and regretted doing it, shouldn't be allowed to teach at a Christian university. However, I think that pederasty is a significantly worse wrong than homosexual sex (indeed, I think there are circumstances--namely, when homosexuals are in a loving, committed relationship--when homosexual sex is not wrong at all). I take it that you probably agree with me that pederasty is worse, but go farther and think that it's not _much_ worse.

Incidentally, I think that all Christians have a hard time implementing Christianity fully in their lives and occasionally fall short. Perhaps even all Christians misunderstand various points of orthodoxy and can still be good evangelists for the faith. Nonetheless, they can still be good teachers.

Bobcat:

Fair enough, but what about a job candidate's _repentant_ performance of those activities?
Well, we discussed that already up above. A person who is repentant and committed to avoiding doing evil, but who nonetheless sometimes fails to avoid it, is very different from a person who is unrepentant in terms of his capacity to teach and morally form students at a confessional institution. (I don't have any problem with a policy that says "if you fail to avoid it you lose your job" though. Moral wrongs have consequences). I'm Catholic: there is good reason why we have a Sacrament of Confession.

Even a "repentant trying but failing" situation isn't completely irrelevant though, and in hiring professors these institutions are doubtless looking for the best they can get in the context of a relatively large number of candidates chasing a relatively small number of jobs. So unless one believed that engaging in homosexual acts is definitely not always wrong, it is hard to see how one would object it as a screening criteria. Again, the success of the argument depends on one's substantive take on the morality of homosexual acts.

I take it that you probably agree with me that pederasty is worse, but go farther and think that it's not _much_ worse.
Oh no, I would agree that pederasty is very much worse. I'll draw your attention to the fact that above I suggested that many heterosexual shenanigans - divorce, adultery, fornication, etc - are in many ways more harmful than homosexual acts. And I would put pederasty in a whole 'nother category all its own. These things are all in the category of gravely evil sins (and therefore are all harmful at the very least to the persons who do them; harm which tends to spread to others as well). But as we know, a category can cover a lot of ground.

Zippy,

So, rather than explain why you think homosexual acts are wrong, or how they harm the participants, or how the harm is so severe it approaches the level of torture, or why you think that these alleged facts imply or entail that discrimination against homosexuals (or just the actions, whatever that means) would be permissible, you'd like to keep advancing this same old argument about what the argument is an argument about. Ok. Have at it.

Mr. Zero:

rather than explain why you think homosexual acts are wrong, or how they harm the participants, or how the harm is so severe it approaches the level of torture, or why you think that these alleged facts imply or entail that discrimination against homosexuals (or just the actions, whatever that means) would be permissible, you'd like to keep advancing this same old argument about what the argument is an argument about.
There are plenty of natural law arguments about the immorality of homosexuality. No, I have no intention of getting into a lengthy discussion over them, perhaps ironically because it just isn't that important to me. You revived this discussion by addressing me, after a couple of days lull, once again taking issue with the meta-notion that the morality of homosexual acts like sodomy is central to the discussion. Whatever else may be said, it is now clear, not just from my writing but from your own, that the morality of homosexual acts like sodomy is central to the discussion.

Whatever else may be said, it is now clear, not just from my writing but from your own, that the morality of homosexual acts like sodomy is central to the discussion.

No, it's not. I concede that it is relevant in a tertiary way, but this does not entail that it is "central." But maybe I'll be convinced if you'll repeat yourself one more time.

once again taking issue with the meta-notion that the morality of homosexual acts like sodomy is central to the discussion.

This is also false. I revived the discussion because you had attributed the obviously false views that sodomy is morally neutral and that everyone benefits from exposure to sodomy. You presumed that the benefits of the kind of integration I support would stem from exposure to sodomy in particular. I pointed out that this assumption is false; my view is that sodomy is morally neutral, and that (therefore) the benefits you might accrue via exposure to homosexuals might not be sodomy-related. (They could be related to sodomy if you enjoyed sodomy, but that's inessential.) They might be related to nuclear physics, or Aristotelian ethics, or Christian theology, etc. (It's obvious that's what I meant. It's kind of odd that I would be the one accused of arguing in bad faith, isn't it?)

That you took my claim to be that everyone benefits from exposure to sodomy in the first place, and that you took my record-straightening on this score to be related to the meta-issue concerning the centrality of sodomy to the discussion is, dare I say, perhaps instances of your sodomy fixation.

...my view is that sodomy is morally neutral, and that (therefore) ...
Right. At this point, I'm just mildly curious how many times and in how many ways you will affirm that the moral status of sodomy is central to your argument while attempting to simultaneously deny it.
how many ways you will affirm that the moral status of sodomy is central to your argument while attempting to simultaneously deny it.

0.

0.

I guess Mr. Zero is a sort of neo-Cartesian: "I think, therefore I deny that I thought." Or perhaps it's a new form of syllogism: Premise one + premise two = Conclusion denying premise one. Hey, as long as I say a premise isn't central - it isn't central, and you can't tell me its central just because it's obvious! Bad Zippy!

Right. At this point, I'm just mildly curious how many times and in how many ways you will affirm that the moral status of sodomy is central to your argument while attempting to simultaneously deny it.
This is because even if homosexual behavior were morally wrong, which I don't concede, it is nevertheless not dangerous in itself, and is not reliably connected to anything that is dangerous (whereas kitten torture is, on both counts).

Since Mr. Zero acknowledges that it could be morally wrong, just not dangerous in itself, its moral status under that caveat is relevant but not central to his argument. In other words, if you show that sodomy is dangerous to those who engage in it or reliably connected to something that is dangerous, and in this case heterosexual sodomy should also be categorically banned by the schools, his argument is flawed.

Step2:

Since Mr. Zero acknowledges that it could be morally wrong, just not dangerous in itself...
The word "dangerous" here is just substituting for the gravity of the moral wrongness and its consequences. Things are dangerous when and precisely because they have bad consequences. The attempt to is-ify the ought in liberalism continues unabated, but underneath is a necessary, no matter how vehemently denied, moral evaluation of homosexual acts.

The word "dangerous" here is just substituting for the gravity of the moral wrongness and its consequences.

I agree, hence my bringing up the caveat that is implicit to his argument. If I were in denial about it, it seems I would have avoided bringing it up altogether.


Things are dangerous when and precisely because they have bad consequences.

Don't tease me with consequentialism Zippy ;)

Zippy,

I mean 'dangerous' the way I obviously meant it in the context of your comparison with torturing kittens. As it happens, kitten torture was a wonderful comparison, because torturing animals early in life is reliably correlated with the commission of violent later in life. According to numerous studies, there is a trio of behaviors--killing or torturing animals, setting fires, and bed-wetting--such that a disposition toward at least two them is considered by psychologists to be a red flag that the individual is troubled and likely to be violent towards humans. So if you discovered that one of your job candidates was torturing kittens, you should take it as a sign that this person is not the top candidate and is likely to be deeply disturbed and in need of psychological help. (It would be more than a little weird to include a prohibition on kitten torture in the job description, though.)

This "dangerousness" of animal torture is not a consequence of the act itself; it is far more likely that there is a third factor that causes both the animal-torture and the human-directed violent behavior. (It turns out that physical and sexual abuse is correlated to both things.) I'm sure you were aware that correlation is not identical to causation.

Homosexual behavior, by contrast, is not correlated with any such human-directed violence. This is independent of its moral status; any risks to the practitioners that might be involved; its alleged status as a violation of natural law; it's prohibition in Leviticus; or whatever St. Paul might have said.

Finally, a meta-comment. The fact that your argument depends so heavily on the premise sodomy is a grave moral wrong has no bearing on whether my argument depends on this premise. I don't think sodomy is wrong, obviously, and I'm willing to explain why I think so. But this willingness shouldn't be taken as evidence that it is "central" to my point; even if it's wrong, it's not wrong in a way that would compel the APA to stand idly by while a minority of Christian institutions discriminate against those who find it sexually enjoyable. Your case, not mine, depends on its being seriously morally wrong. This is why its moral status is important to you, and why it is important to you that it be important to me. Nevertheless, the moral status of sodomy is not particularly important to my argument here.

To my mind the issue is this: if a Catholic order or school was searching for a candidate who abstained from heterosexual behavior (say a priest or monk) it would be high bigotry for me as a non-Catholic heterosexual to protest this as discriminatory (on the basis of either religious bias or bias related to sexual orientation). I ought to hope that they find the best candidate possible and not stand in the way of it, though for my own part I'm sticking with my current religion and choice of lifestyle.

Some institutions will have expectations for sexual conduct; I can live with that. If I can tolerate it when those institutions expectations forbid free expression of heterosexual orientations through one's behavior, then I hope these APA petitioners (who often pride themselves on tolerance)can find it in their hearts to keep pace with an Evangelical like myself.

Quite right, Troy. And there's even more in the direction you are describing: Some schools require their professors to attend a particular type of church. I even know of a school that requires them to abstain from alcohol and attending movies. (Really.) I mean, we realize that different religious groups have different behavioral standards on *all kinds of issues*. There is something notable, and obviously related to the culture wars, in the attempt to get these particular schools branded. In fact, I would be inclined to say that the APA petition writers are focusing on this issue precisely because it aims at a wide swath of otherwise fairly _high quality_ Christian schools. They really don't care so much about the little Baptist school that requires teetotalism. They have bigger fish to fry. They want to harm the schools that have academic respectability and are, in fact, already fairly broad-minded.

The answer to my February 28, 2009 8:51 PM comment was, apparently, "at least one more time".

Dear Zippy,

Since you seem to find it impossible to argue in good faith or interpret perfectly clear sentences in the manner in which they were obviously intended (and then to whine that you're being treated unfairly—dirty pool, indeed), I will leave one last comment and allow this discussion to die. You may have the last word, which you may misuse in whatever dishonest manner you see fit.

Here’s what happened. Beckwith made a staggeringly terrible point about how the APA must regard all issues concerning the morality of homosexuality & homosexual acts as being settled, since they prohibit discrimination on that basis. But, says Beckwith, they must regard issues surrounding infanticide as being unsettled, since there is no censure of Singer-esque views on the killing of babies.

I pointed out that the APA likely would censure institutions who actually killed babies, and that this is consistent with there being a variety of unsettled issues surrounding the moral status of infants. Similarly, the APA’s policy censuring departments who actually discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation is consistent with a variety of unsettled issues surrounding the morality of homosexual acts and discrimination on that basis.

Allow me to pause to emphasize this. The central claim of my very first post here is that the APA's non-discrimination policy is consistent with there being a wide variety of unsettled issues concerning the moral status of homosexual activity. So, you see, your belief that the morality of sodomy is central to my point has been completely wrong from the very start.

Beckwith replied that nobody calls Singer a baby killer, though; and separate but equal is inherently unequal (wrt job advertisement?); and that I should save the world on my own time.

I replied that Singer never killed any babies, so he's not; that his second point was exactly right—separate but equal is unequal—I mean, duh—and, that his third point was exactly right—the purpose of the academic is to produce scholarship and scholars, and is not to produce morally upstanding people.

Allow me to pause to emphasize this. The central points of my second post here are simply to co-opt Beckwith's point about the inherent inequality associated with separation, and to point out that the discriminatory practices Beckwith defends are inconsistent with what he himself has claimed is the sole rightful function of the Academy. Again, the morality of homosexual actions are not a central component of my thesis.

I then augmented the point about separate but equal in response to something “aristocles” said.

In response to that comment, you misinterpreted me as claiming that sodomy is morally neutral and that everyone directly benefits from exposure to it.

I pointed out that this was obviously not my view, and we were off. At first, you insisted upon interpreting me as claiming that sodomy is intrinsically good; I insisted that that this is not my view because it is not. My view is that people and relationships with people are valuable, whether or not sodomy is. My ultimate view is that sodomy, right or wrong, has nothing to do with being a good professor—which, ironically, was first argued for here by Beckwith.

You insist ad nauseam that this entails a particular view about the moral status of sodomy, and that this status is of central importance; I, more truthfully, insist that it does not. Through all this, I have been willing to answer arguments for the conclusion that sodomy is wrong, but it is obvious that my central point does not hinges in any way on the moral status of homosexual activity. Your point does, but mine does not.

Finally, I will suggest that it is possible that you focus on this meta-discussion about which points are the important points, and not on the points themselves, because you are aware that you have lost the argument on its merits. So rather than defend an argument you know to be a lost cause, you pick on a nitpicky misinterpretation of my views, and needle me with it.

Through all this, I have been willing to answer arguments for the conclusion that sodomy is wrong, but it is obvious that my central point does not hinges in any way on the moral status of homosexual activity. Your point does, but mine does not.
Your position does depend on homosexual acts not being gravely wrong and harmful to society, in a manner similar to which (say) torturing kittens is gravely wrong and harmful to society. It is true that I haven't gotten (and don't intend to get) drawn into a lengthy argument over reasons why homosexual acts are gravely wrong and harmful to society, or why torturing kittens is gravely wrong and harmful to society for that matter. That is because that isn't what interests me about this discussion. What interests me about this discussion is that it is a concrete object lesson in precisely what we've recently been discussing here in the abstract.

No amount of explicit denial on your part can change the fact that your argument depends on, and you've conceded that it depends on, homosexual acts not being gravely wrong in a manner similar to (say) torturing kittens. That is to say, your argument clearly depends on the moral status - rightness or wrongness, and if wrong the moral gravity and consequences of that wrongness - of homosexual acts, depite your attempts to deny it repeatedly and your doubtless honestly-held impression to the contrary. It makes for an interesting concrete observable with respect to some of the theories of liberalism we've discussed here recently.

I realize the comments ended a while ago, but having just stumbled upon this - I had to point out one thing (that may have already been pointed out - I didn't read all the comments). A lot of the anti-homosexual posters, as well as the original author, make reference to various Greeks, including Socrates. But Socrates engaged in homosexual acts. Homosexuality isn't new, thinking it's morally wrong is.

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