A Natural Law Critique of Same-Sex Marriage

In this paper I will argue from a Natural Law Metaethic by offering three objections to certain underlying notions that are foundational to arguments for same-sex marriage. I will argue that same-sex marriage entails a constructionist position on
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   WilliamsonA Natural Law critique of Same-Sex MarriageBenjamin WilliamsonPHIL 3!" #t$icsMarc$ 3!% &!'( 1   WilliamsonIn t$is )a)er I will argue from a Natural Law Metaet$ic *+ offering t$ree o*jections to certain un,erl+ing notions t$at are foun,ational to arguments for same-sex marriage #.en t$oug$ a natural law metaet$ical a))roac$ is t$e )rimar+ Metaet$ic *eing utili/e,% t$at ,oes not necessaril+ mean t$at ot$er metaet$ical a))roac$es are not in .iew 0or exam)le% a ,eontologist coul, tal1 a*out t$e ,uties )arents $a.e to t$eir offs)ring in .irtue of t$eir *iological an, uniquel+ social relation an, t$at same-sex marriage ,iminis$es certain ,uties )arents $a.e to t$eir c$il,ren *+ granting s)ecial cre,ence to a,ult ,esires t$an eac$ c$il,2s nee,s Similarl+% a utilitarian coul, argue t$at t$e o.erall net cost of )ermitting same sex marriage greatl+ excee,s t$e net *enefit it woul, *estow on t$e a.erage num*er of citi/ens in t$e nite, States 4r if one wis$e, to a,.ocate a ,i.ine comman, t$eor+% one woul, argue t$at same sex marriage .iolates 5o,2s ,esign for marriage an, $ence ,iso*e+s ,i.ine comman,s 0inall+% as a natural law t$eorist% I woul, ,iscuss $ow $uman nature in reference to gen,er an, sexualit+% t$e common goo,% an, $uman )ur)oses s$e, incre,i*le lig$t on $ow marriage s$oul, *e construe, As it will  *e antici)ate,% t$ere will *e numerous meta)$+sical assum)tions t$at will *e illuminate, an,  *riefl+ ,efen,e,I will argue t$at same-sex marriage entails a constructionist )osition on gen,er% sex% an, t$e famil+% a constructionist .iew of $uman telos% an, un,ermines marriage equalit+ *+ its own  )rinci)les Natural law t$eor+% *+ contrast% affirms t$e following .iews as true" an essentialist 2   Williamson.iew of gen,er% sex an, t$e famil+% an Aristotelian-6$omistic conce)tion of $uman telos% an, t$at marital rig$ts are ultimatel+ groun,e, in t$e teleological function of $uman nature% not mere $uman ,esires or consent 0inall+% I will target t$e fun,amental meta)$+sical issues t$at lur1  *e$in, certain arguments for same-sex marriage% attem)t to s$ow t$e+ result in certain a*sur,ities an, re)resent an inferior mo,el of marriage t$an t$e tra,itional .iew Same-Sex Marriage entails social constructionism on gender and sex Social constructionism 7 $ereafter S8 - essentiall+ argues t$at certain )ro)erties li1e gen,er% sex% gen,er roles% etc are not roote, in $uman nature *ut are flui, an, ,iffer cross-culturall+ As William S Wil1erson in $is essa+ Social Constructionism and Essentialism  ex)lains% 9Social constructionists argue t$at $uman sexualit+ c$anges wit$ c$anging cultural an, social circumstances% so t$at t$e ga+ an, les*ian i,entit+ an, sexual orientation familiar to our current time an, location cannot *e foun, in ot$er times an, )laces: '  #ssentiall+% one2s sexual i,entit+ an, orientation are constructe, *+ t$e culture an, societ+ one in 6$is seems to *e aform of social con.entionalism Wil1erson also claims t$at it is im)ossi*le for t$ree ,ifferent sexual orientations to exist wit$out *eing affecte, *+ $uman inter)retation &  Human inter)retation )la+s an essential role for creating t$e )articular orientation in question ,esires 7 or one2s orientation 7 are e)istemicall+ an, contextuall+ se)arate, from t$e i,entit+ forme, *+ t$e in,i.i,ual It coul, not *e t$e case% accor,ing to Wil1erson% t$at t$e same sexual ,esire in two ,ifferent )eo)le woul, lea, to ,ifferent i,entities  *ecause inter)retation ,etermines w$ic$ ,esire is manifesting t$e i,entit+ it e.entuall+ ex)resses 1 William S Wil1erson% Social Constructionism and Essentialism  In ;W$at Is 5a+ an, Les*ian P$iloso)$+<; Meta)$iloso)$+ 3=% no >- ?4cto*er '% &!!@" >>= P$iloso)$ers In,ex wit$ 0ull 6ext% #BS84$ost ?accesse, 0e*ruar+ &=% &!'( 2  I*i, 3   WilliamsonWil1erson t$us conclu,es% 9 6$ere cannot *e suc$ a singular ,esire% t$e constructionist claims%  *ecause t$e social context in w$ic$ an in,i.i,ual )ro.i,es t$e cues for inter)reting a ,esire t$at is not full+ forme, until   it $as *een inter)rete,% an, so t$e cultural factors aroun, an in,i.i,ual ,o not merel+ c$annel t$e ex)ression of ,esire% t$e+ )artiall+ construct   t$e ,esire: 3  6$ere are at least two )ro*lems wit$ Wil1erson2s anal+sis of gen,er an, sex 0irst% it seems to face t$e same )ro*lems as et$ical relati.ism% t$e .iew t$ere are no uni.ersal or o*jecti.e moral )rinci)les or norms t$at transcen, cultures at$er moral )rinci)les an, norms are constructe, *+ eit$er in,i.i,uals 7 su*jecti.ism 7 or societ+ 7 con.entionalism 6$e )ro*lem is t$at it em)lo+s w$at )$iloso)$er Louis Pojman calls t$e  Diversity Thesis  Since moral  )ractices are incre,i*l+ ,i.erse t$roug$out numerous cultures aroun, t$e worl,% t$is seems to s$ow t$at moralit+ is not a uni.ersal )$enomenon or one t$at transcen,s eac$ culture Cust li1e moral relati.ism ,oes not follow from t$e ,i.ersit+ t$esis% t$e social constructionist .iew ,oes not follow from t$e ,i.ersit+ t$esis 6$e mere fact t$at ,ifferent )eo)le in ,ifferent societies ma+ex)ress ,ifferent sexual i,entities ,oes not$ing to s$ow t$at sexual i,entit+ is constructe, one $as to acce)t an a*sur,it+ if one is to acce)t t$e S82s t$esis Since t$e logic  *etween t$e S8 an, t$e moral is i,entical an, if acce)ting moral relati.ism lea,s to *ot$ rational an, moral a*sur,ities% t$en one $as to a*an,on S8 or mo,if+ it in lig$t of certaino*jections *roug$t against it It also woul, require t$at one acce)t moral relati.ism% w$ic$ woul,un,ermine our uni.ersal sense of justice #.ents li1e t$e Holocaust% sexual traffic1ing in 6$ailan, an, ot$er countries% l+nc$ing of African-Americans ,uring t$e ig$ts mo.ement% etc coul, not *e o*jecti.el+ wrong since a))arentl+ it was )ractice, *+ some societies an, not  *+ ot$ers If t$is .iolates our ,ee)est intuitions% t$en we oug$t to reject S8 3 I*i, .4   Williamson Same-Sex Marriage entails social constructionism on human telos and sexuality  Natural law t$in1ers suc$ as Aristotle an, Aquinas *elie.e, t$at certain facts a*out $uman nature concerning our telos  $a, moral im)lications regar,ing t$e sort of we oug$t toli.e an, t$e sort of beings  we oug$t to *e one w$o ,efen,s t$e )ermissi*ilit+ of $omosexual will tenaciousl+ argue t$at consensual acts are sufficient to groun, moral  )ermissi*ilit+ an, since $omosexual acts can in fact *e consensual acts% t$e+ are morall+  )ermissi*le In $is article  Homosexuality and Morality % 5ar+ Caeger outlines Co$n 8or.ino2s 7 ,efen,er of $omosexualit+ an, same-sex marriage - fi.e ste)s in c$aracteri/ing t$e o*jections raise, *+ critics of $omosexualit+% 9it is statisticall+ a*normal% it is not )ractice, *+ ot$er animals% it ,oes not )rocee, from innate ,esire% it .iolates t$e )rinci)al )ur)ose of sex an, our sexual organs% an, it is ,isgusting or re)ulsi.e: >  0or s)ace constraints I will onl+ focus on t$e t$ir, o*jection an, Caeger2s $an,ling of t$at o*jectionCaeger rejects t$e allegation t$at $omosexual .iolates t$e intrinsic )ur)oses of our sex organs for four reasons 0irst% $e claims t$at 9t$e .ast majorit+ of sexual acts ,o not en, in re)ro,uction an, t$at some of us are Dma,e2 in suc$ a wa+ t$at we are inca)a*le of re)ro,ucing:   6$is c$arge is flawe, on at least two counts 0irst% Caeger conflates a de facto  stateof affairs wit$ a de jure  state of affairs 6$e natural law t$eorist is not   claiming t$at all marital acts lea, to intercourse *ut rat$er t$at )rocreation an, intercourse are teleologically linked   toget$er So it is guilt+ of a strawman Secon,% it sim)l+ *egs t$e question 6$e issue *eing ,iscusse, is w$et$er sex organs $a.e a teleological or ,esigne, function 6o cite factual 4 5ar+ Caeger%  Homosexuality and Morality  In ;W$at Is 5a+ an, Les*ian P$iloso)$+<; Meta)$iloso)$+ 3=% no >- ?4cto*er '% &!!@" >3 P$iloso)$ers In,ex wit$ 0ull 6ext% #BS84$ost ?accesse, 0e*ruar+ &=% &!'( 5  5ar+ Caeger%  Homosexuality and Morality  In ;W$at Is 5a+ an, Les*ian P$iloso)$+<; Meta)$iloso)$+ 3=% no >- ?4cto*er '% &!!@" >3( P$iloso)$ers In,ex wit$ 0ull 6ext% #BS84$ost ?accesse, 0e*ruar+ &=% &!'( 5
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