Sunday, September 1, 2013

An Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage Under the Paradigm of Deontology

First, let's distinguish between a moral value and a moral obligation.  Values, in this technical sense, need not be subject to Kant's categorical imperative.  Being a doctor has value, and so does being a librarian, or a teacher.  One is not violating the categorical imperative - in Biblical language, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - by choosing one vocation as opposed to another.

Kant's technical philosophical definition of the categorical imperative is this: act only in ways that you would will to be universalized.

Now, the reader needs to keep in mind that the argument against same-sex marriage (SSM) is only applicable under the paradigm of Kantian deontology.  Nevertheless, the argument adds to an already growing list of reasons to oppose SSM.  It is also assumed that adultery is wrong, which is a metaphysically certain consequence of the categorical imperative.

1. One should only act in ways that one would will to be universalized. (Premise, categorical imperative)

2. The universalization of SSM would have disastrous effects. (Premise)

3. Disastrous effects are a violation of the categorical imperative. (Premise)

4. Therefore, SSM should be avoided. (From 1 - 3)

Lest anyone object that SSM is based on a value, and not an obligation, this is demonstrably false.  Sexual acts of whatever variety are a matter of moral obligation, and not merely on value-so-defined.  Surely the advocate of SSM does not view adultery or hebophilia (sexual attraction to pubescents, roughly from the ages of 11 to 14) as anything less than violations of moral obligations.  To make homosexual acts an exception without providing any sufficient reason is to engage in special pleading.

I conclude, then, that SSM is a violation of the categorical imperative.


  1. You have not supported premise 2. SSM has nothing to do with adultery nor with hebophilia.
    So instead of me having to provide a sufficient reason to make homosexual acts an exception, you should provide sufficient reason to support your premise.
    So far, you have nothing.

  2. I didn't say SSM has anything to do with adultery or hebophilia. I stated that they all involve sexual acts, and therefore involve moral obligations as opposed to values. We might as well throw in heterosexual monogamous sex within the context of marriage. If we universalize the latter, no problem. If we universalize adultery, we end up with chaos. If we universalize SSM, we end up with the end of the human race.

    1. If we universalize Catholic priesthood,we will most certainly end up with the end of the human race.
      If, however we universalize SSM, then same-sex couples can still have children through IVF, e.g.
      So, your point is?

    2. Because IVF is so expedient, right? You have to have a sperm and an egg to fertilize a zygote. You don't get that with homosexual acts. That's my point. Besides, IVF is wrong when there are so many children in need of adoption.

    3. What's also funny about your jab against the Catholic priesthood is that if even that were universalized, children could still be produced through IVF. Your objection is therefore inconsistent.

    4. I have nothing against the Catholic priesthood. I respect everybody's choice. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church doesn't, but that's another matter. My point is that if you (mis)use the categorical imperative the way you do, you end up saying the Catholic priesthood should be avoided.
      Your argument as it is now makes absolutely no sense.

    5. Of course it makes sense. Even assuming that the priesthood is a violation of the categorical imperative, it doesn't follow that SSM is thereby justified. It would only further imply that the priesthood is also not justified. That's what is another matter.

    6. Your argument as it is now entails that Catholic priesthood is a violation of the CI. If you really want to argue this, then be my guest. But, to paraphrase your own claim, to make Catholic priesthood an exception without providing any sufficient reason is to engage in special pleading.

      I think this suffices to show the weakness of your argument. But, I'll let you have the last word on this if you wish. I have said all I wanted to say about this.

    7. Thanks for the spirited discussion, Walter. On a personal note, I think Catholic priests should be allowed to marry. In fact, many of the Eastern rite Catholic priests are married! Celibacy is not a dogma, but is a rule that can change, and I expect it will again. The priests up until the Middle Ages were permitted to marry, so it's just a rule, but not a dogma. The deontologist should simply add that Catholic priests ought to be allowed to marry. Then, its universalization is not a problem.

  3. I wonder if you aren't confusing homosexual sexual activity with same-sex marriage, the former of which occurs whether the later exists or not.

    It seems reasonable to me that if these are untangled the structure of your argument actually favors SSM. The first premise(one should only act in ways that one would wish to see universalized) is not violated by choosing to support the legalization of SSM in the belief that society would benefit if all people approved of it. The effect of the universalization of this act (support for the legalization of SSM) would be the legalization of SSM (rather than the universalization of SSM or homosexual activity), which would have no "disastrous effects". Rather the effect would be to extend the benefits (and responsibilities) of marriage to homosexual couples.

  4. Hi Bill,

    The categorical imperative requires that SSM be universalized, assuming that SSM is a good policy. You may want to reread my post. The universalization concerns SSM itself, and not merely the approval of SSM. The former would most definitely have disastrous effects.