Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why Natural Law Arguments Fail

Why Natural Law Arguments Fail | The American Conservative:

Culture change does make certain kinds of arguments obsolete.

His remarks about identity formation led to these thoughts:

For how long and how many place was the idea and institution of slavery taken for granted as part of the natural order? In Islam, according to its sacred texts and traditions, it still is. Now the very idea strikes most people, Westerners especially, as unthinkable. You can't make an argument for it now.

The notion of aristocracy, royalty, inherited rank, as another example, have been very powerful through most of human history since the growth of the complex civilization. For thousands of years, the difference between an aristocrat and a commoner felt natural, metaphysical even.

It no longer does. This does not mean --pace Jefferson-- that it is wrong, just that it no longer can find any ground on which to make its point.

Identities which arise and fade in time are not therefore unreal. They were overwhelmingly real for many people for many centuries, even millennia.

Conservatives sometimes poo-poo the notion that sexual orientation can or should be an element in personal identity. Many gay people --myself included-- experience their erotic desire (which includes emotional desire) as constitutive of who they are.

If aristocracy could be a real, though perhaps historically temporary, identity, then so perhaps may homosexuality.

And if the shape of my sexual/emotional desire is constitutive of who I am, then how does that affect even the natural law discussion?

Both very conservative theologian Alvin Kimel and very pro-gay theologian James Alison understand that if a homosexual can be a kind of person, rather than a doer of certain acts, this changes that discussion. Which is why Kimel denied the assertion and Alison embraces it.

Off to the gym.

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