Monday, June 30, 2008

Sexual Orientation not Chosen

One does not choose to desire anything; thinking otherwise is what Ryle called a category mistake. I do not choose to desire a glass of water; I just desire one. The same goes for belief. I can no more choose to believe in God than I can choose to believe that there is a computer screen in front of me. That being the case, it matters not a lick whether one’s sexuality is biologically based or otherwise.

What really seems to be at the heart of dispute is whether one’s sexual orientation can change. Available evidence, especially with regard to males, is it can not be changed. Orientation seems to be far less varied than behavior. (Women who identify as bisexual respond to erotica of all sorts; their bisexual male counterparts on the other hand only respond to one or the other.) This has led those opposed to fundamentalists to claim victory. Both sides are guilty of confused thinking though. Just because sexual orientation can not be changed does not mean that this settles the issue. Pedophilia also seems to be immutable, but that does not make diddling kids morally permissible. Homosexual behavior is morally permissible because there is no harm in two consenting adults of the same sex engaging in sexual behavior and with regard to morality no harm no foul.


Red Tory said...

Hmmm. This argument doesn't seem right to me. Your analogies don't seem to fit. In fact, people can choose to believe in God, or at least choose to willfully suspend their disbelief. I know many people who fall into this category. Also, one can "choose to desire a glass of water" by virtue of the same decision-making process that allows them to reject drinking a glass water (W.C. Fields being the most notable example — ostensibly because "fish had sex in it").

Koby said...

My grade school teachers always told me that “I believe that it is raining” was nothing but a long winded way of saying “it is raining.” Leaving aside the fact that “I believe’ is used to indicate less confidence then a firm “it is raining out”, they were right. The question is why. I believe Donald Davidson provides an answer. Belief and meaning are inseparable. Knowing meaning the radical interpreter can infer belief and conversely knowing belief he can infer meaning. For example if a friend says “it is snowing” when it actually hailing out and continually refers to the hail as snow, I take it that he wrongly believes it is snowing. Conversely if that same friend says “that freighter is sinking” when it is clearly a ferry that is sinking and previously that friend had referred to that ferry as a ferry, I assume that he misspoke and what he meant to say was “that ferry is sinking”. In order to make sense of what my friend says I have to be charitable. We can of course explain an apparently incoherent belief system by reference to false beliefs but what we literally can not make sense of is the same person holding contradictory positions at the same time and that is what suspending disbelief in god would amount to. Whatever would my friend mean if he both believed that the ferry is sinking and not sinking?

>>>>> Also, one can "choose to desire a glass of water" by virtue of the same decision-making process that allows them to reject drinking a glass water I

Horny fish may quell any desire to down a bottle of Evian in much of the same way that thoughts of a dead friend and the risk of contracting Hep C may quell a junky’s desire for heroin. To use the language of an angered or distracted lover, “I am no longer in the mood”. When desire can not be vanquished one has no recourse of choosing not to desire what you desire. One must choose whether to act on one’s desires.