bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 4: The Logic of Applied Ethics

This will be a fairly short post about the logic of the core argument in Tim Hsiao’s article “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex” (hereafter: PFA).   I take it that the core argument of that article can be summarized in this categorical syllogism:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

 
AN ANALOGOUS ARGUMENT IN APPLIED ETHICS
Let’s set that argument aside for now, and consider an analogous categorical syllogism, also in the area of applied ethics:

10. All cases of pregnancy in which maintaining the pregnancy until birth would produce significantly greater UTILITY than terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion are cases of pregnancy where it would be immoral to terminate the pregnancy by having an abortion.

11. All cases of pregnancy where the pregnancy does not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger are cases of pregnancy in which maintaining the pregnancy until birth would produce significantly greater UTILITY than terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion.

THEREFORE:

12. All cases of pregnancy where the pregnancy does not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger are cases of pregnancy in which it would be immoral to terminate the pregnancy by having an abortion.

I do not agree with this argument.  This argument for the immorality of abortion seems like a very dubious argument, even for someone who accepts utilitarianism as being the true or correct theory of morality.  Maximizing utility would seem to be an argument that supports the morality of having an abortion, rather than being an argument against abortion.  Furthermore, even if maintaining SOME pregnancies until birth that do not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger would produce significantly greater utility than having an abortion, this is certainly not going to be so in ALL cases of pregnancy that do not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger.  Nevertheless, this argument illustrates the form of many important arguments in the area of applied ethics:One of the premises asserts a normative claim that rests upon an ethical theory, in this case utilitarianism:

10. All cases of pregnancy in which maintaining the pregnancy until birth would produce significantly greater UTILITY than terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion are cases of pregnancy where it would be immoral to terminate the pregnancy by having an abortion.

The other premise asserts a factual claim about particular actions or kinds of action:

11. All cases of pregnancy where the pregnancy does not put the mother’s life in serious danger are cases of pregnancy in which maintaining the pregnancy until birth would produce significantly greater UTILITY than terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion.

The conclusion of this argument in applied ethics, makes a moral judgment about a specific kind or category of action:

12. All cases of pregnancy where the pregnancy does not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger are cases of pregnancy in which it would be immoral to terminate the pregnancy by having an abortion.

 
In order to understand this argument in applied ethics about abortion, one must understand the key terms or categories that make up the statements in the argument:

  • cases of pregnancy that do not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger
  • maintaining a pregnancy until birth
  • terminating a pregnancy by having an abortion
  • action X will produce significantly greater UTILITY than action Y
  • immoral [actions]

The point of an argument is to provide a good reason to believe the CONCLUSION of the argument.  So, one cannot understand an argument unless one understands the meaning of the CONCLUSION of the argument.   We cannot understand this argument about abortion unless we understand the meaning of the CONCLUSION of this argument about abortion, and we cannot understand the meaning of the CONCLUSION of this argument unless we understand the key terms or categories that make up the CONCLUSION:

  • cases of pregnancy that do not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger
  • immoral [actions]
  • terminating a pregnancy by having an abortion

Because this argument about abortion is based on a utilitarian theory of ethics, it is tempting to define the term “immoral” in terms of utilitarianism.  For example, one might be tempted to understand the meaning of the term “immoral” in the CONCLUSION of this argument as follows:

Action A is immoral IF AND ONLY IF:  some alternative action to action A would produce significantly greater UTILITY than action A.

However, it seems to me that defining the term “immoral” in terms of utilitarianism would be a mistake, because this would make the key normative premise of the argument TRUE BY DEFINITION.  Not only would the normative premise be TRUE BY DEFINITION, but it would be obviously TRUE BY DEFINITION.  We can see that this is so by substituting the above definition  for the term “immoral” in the normative premise and in the conclusion of the above argument:

10A. All cases of pregnancy in which maintaining the pregnancy until birth would produce significantly greater UTILITY than terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion are cases of pregnancy where there would be an alternative action to terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion which would produce significantly greater UTILITY.

11. All cases of pregnancy where the pregnancy does not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger are cases of pregnancy in which maintaining the pregnancy until birth would produce significantly greater UTILITY than terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion.

THEREFORE:

12A. All cases of pregnancy where the pregnancy does not put the pregnant woman’s life in serious danger are cases of pregnancy where there would be an alternative action to terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion which would produce significantly greater UTILITY.

There are at least two problems here.
First, premise (10A) is obviously TRUE BY DEFINITION, whereas the original premise (10) was not TRUE BY DEFINITION, at least not obviously so.  The original premise (10) was NOT obviously true, and required evidence or reasons to show that it is true.
Second, one could accept the conclusion (12A) and still reject the original conclusion (12), because one could accept the idea that maintaining the pregnancy in such cases would “produce significantly greater UTILITY” than having an abortion, and yet reject the view that having an abortion is immoral in such cases.  One could accept (12A) and yet reject (12) because one might reject the utilitarian theory of ethics (for example).
Therefore, it would be a mistake to define the word “immoral” in the conclusion of the argument against abortion in terms of the utilitarian theory of ethics.
Because this argument in applied ethics is analogous to Hsiao’s core argument against “homosexual activity”, it would also be a mistake to define the term “immoral” in the conclusion of his core argument in terms of the Natural Law theory of ethics.  Doing so would render one of his key premises obviously TRUE BY DEFINITION, and it would make it so that one could accept the “clarified” interpretation of his conclusion while consistently rejecting the view that “homosexual activity” was immoral.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 3: Unclear Argument

WHAT ARE THE KEY TERMS IN THE CORE ARGUMENT IN PFA?
In Part 2 of this series, I argued that the core argument in PFA (“Defending the Perverted Faculties Argument” by Timothy Hsiao) is the following categorical syllogism:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

This categorical syllogism is logically VALID, so in order to rationally evaluate this argument, we need to determine whether premise (4) is true or false, and we need to determine whether premise (A) is true or false.  If both (4) and (A) are true, then this is a SOUND argument.  But if either (4) or (A) are false, then this is an UNSOUND argument.  Also, if either (4) or (A) are dubious, or if we cannot determine whether they are true, then the argument should be rejected.
There are three terms in this argument.  In order to evaluate this argument, we must be clear about the meaning of these three terms:

“sexual activity that is not open to the creation of life”

“immoral”

“homosexual activity”

The first of these terms involves the combination of two categories, so there are actually four key terms that we need to have a clear understanding of in order to rationally evaluate the core argument in PFA:

“sexual activity”

“activity that is not open to the creation of life”

“immoral”

“homosexual activity”

If any one of these four key terms is UNCLEAR, then we cannot rationally evaluate the core argument in PFA.
Although not absolutely required, it is in general best to begin an analysis of an argument (once an argument has been identified) by identifying and clarifying the CONCLUSION of the argument.  If you do not understand the CONCLUSION of an argument, then you will never understand the argument.  Showing that the CONCLUSION is true (or probable) is the whole POINT of an argument.  So, if you don’t understand the meaning of the CONCLUSION, then you don’t understand the POINT of the argument.  If you don’t understand the POINT of an argument, then you don’t understand the argument.
Here is the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

Having identified the core argument in PFA, and having identified the CONCLUSION of that argument, the first and most important step of analysis is to UNDERSTAND the meaning of this statement that has been identified as the CONCLUSION of the core argument.

WHAT DOES “HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY” MEAN?
What does Timothy Hsiao mean by “homosexual activity”?  I did a search in the PDF of this article by Hsiao for the word “homosexual”.  There are only six occurrences of this word in the body of the article (ignoring the title of the article).  In three of those instances the word “homosexual” modifies another word that is not directly related to the idea of an “activity” (see p.755 of PFA):


These sentences talk about a “homosexual couple” and “homosexual relationships” and “homosexual couples”.  These sentences clearly do not attempt to DEFINE or to CLARIFY the meaning of the expression “homosexual activity”.  Furthermore, they FAIL to shed any significant light on the meaning of the phrase “homosexual activity”.
In only two instances of the word “homosexual” do we find the relevant phrase “homosexual activity”.  One of those instances is the statement of the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA:Obviously, simply making use of the phrase “homosexual activity” doesn’t provide us with any DEFINITION or CLARIFICATION about what this phrase means.  There is only one other use of the relevant phrase “homosexual activity” in the body of the article, and it occurs in the very first sentence (p. 751):
Once again, Hsiao is simply using the phrase “homosexual activity” here.  He is not attempting to DEFINE or CLARIFY the meaning of this phrase.  Furthermore, what he says here does not shed any significant light on what this phrase means.
There is only one remaining instance of the word “homosexual” in the body of PFA (on p.754):
Here Hsiao talks about “homosexual conduct” not about “homosexual activity”.  Perhaps he intends the phrase “homosexual conduct” to be a synonym for the phrase “homosexual activity”.  He does not, however, tell us that the phrase “homosexual conduct” has the same meaning as the phrase “homosexual activity”.  More importantly, he is NOT attempting to DEFINE or CLARIFY the meaning of the phrase “homosexual conduct” here; he is merely using this phrase.  Finally, even if we assume that “homosexual conduct” is supposed to have the same meaning as “homosexual activity”, this passage FAILS to provide any significant light on the meaning of the phrase “homosexual conduct”, and thus it FAILS to provide any significant light on the meaning of the phrase “homosexual activity”.
In summary,  Hsiao FAILS to DEFINE or to CLARIFY the meaning of the single most important phrase in his argument in PFA, specifically the key term in the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA.  This is an indication to me, that Hsiao literally does not know what he is talking about.  If Hsiao understands what the phrase “homosexual activity” means, then it would be fairly easy for him to DEFINE or to CLARIFY what the phrase “homosexual activity” means.  But he never even ATTEMPTS to CLARIFY or DEFINE what this means, even though this is the single most important phrase in the core argument that he is presenting, and thus the single most important phrase in the PFA article.  If Hsiao knows what this phrase means, then why the hell doesn’t he bother to let the rest of us know what the conclusion of his core argument means?
 
WHAT DOES “IMMORAL” MEAN?
The second key term in the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA is “immoral”.  I have done a search for the word “immoral” in the PDF of the PFA article, in order to see if Hsiao makes any attempt to DEFINE or to CLARIFY this key term.  The word “immoral” appears seven times in the body of the PFA article.  But Hsiao never defines the term “immoral”, and he does not attempt to clarify the meaning of this key term.
The first instance of the word “immoral” is on page 751 of PFA:
This is merely a use of the term, and provides no definition or clarification of what it means.
The second instance of the word “immoral” appears on page 754 of PFA:This is just an instance of using the word, not a definition or clarification of it.
There are two more instances of the word “immoral” on page 754:
Again, Hsiao fails to provide a definition or clarification of this word in this passage.
There are two more instances of the word “immoral” on page 755:


In these instances of “immoral” there is no attempt to define or to clarify the meaning of this term.
The seventh and final instance of the word “immoral” occurs on page 756 of PFA:As with the other six instances, there is no attempt here to define or to clarify the meaning of the word “immoral”.
 
CONCLUSION
What does Timothy Hsiao mean by “homosexual activity”?  What does Hsiao mean by saying that an activity is “immoral”?  Because these are the most important terms in the core argument in PFA, it is essential that Hsiao DEFINE what these central terms mean.  Neither of these terms is clear on its own.  Neither of these terms have a meaning that is obvious or self-evident.
But Hsiao makes no attempt to DEFINE or clarify the meaning of these two key terms.  Thus, the core argument  in PFA immediately FAILS, before we even get started.  This argument is Dead On Arrival.  Because of this fundamental FAILURE to clarify these two key terms, this argument, as presented by Hsiao in PFA, is a STEAMING PILE OF DOG CRAP.  The two most important terms, both of which are vague and unclear on their own, are left UNDEFINED and UNCLARIFIED by Hsiao.
We literally don’t know what Hsiao is arguing for, so we cannot understand this argument.  Because this argument is UNCLEAR, it cannot be rationally evaluated.  It is really, not an argument at all; it is some words that have been thrown together that appear like an argument without actually being an argument.  The problem is not that this is a WEAK or ILLOGICAL argument, nor that the premises are FALSE or DUBIOUS.  There is no argument here at all, just a stinking word salad that has no actual significance.  This “argument” is pure undistilled BULLSHIT.  The core “argument” in PFA is a pseudo argument, a faux argument. It is intellectual garbage.
Furthermore, because the terms “homosexual activity” and “immoral” appear in the two main premises of the core argument in PFA, the whole argument is infected with UNCLARITY.  Because we don’t know what Hsiao means by the phrase “homosexual activity”, we also don’t know the meaning of premise (A):

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

Because we don’t know what Hsiao means by the term ‘immoral”, we also don’t know the meaning of premise (4):

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

So, because Hsiao FAILS to define or clarify the key phrase “homosexual activity” and the key word “immoral”, we don’t understand the conclusion of his argument, and we don’t understand the meaning of either of the two premises of his core argument.  In other words, the core argument in PFA consists of three sentences, and we don’t understand any of those three sentences because Hsiao has FAILED to define or clarify the meanings of the two most important terms that are used in this argument.
I’m not going to go into more details about this UNBELIEVABLY CRAPPY article by Hsiao, but it should be noted that he also FAILS to define or clarify the meanings of the two other key terms in his core argument:

“sexual activity”

“activity that is not open to the creation of life”

So, Hsiao FAILS to define or clarify ANY of the four key terms that constitute his core argument in PFA.
This suggests to me that Hsiao is just as much a SHITHEAD as the Thomist philosophers Peter Kreeft and Norman Geisler.  This suggests to me that Hsiao could not reason his way out of a wet paper bag.
I have examined many arguments by Peter Kreeft, who is a Christian philosopher and a Thomist.  I have examined many arguments by Norman Geisler, who is also a Christian philosopher who admires Aquinas and was strongly influenced by the philosophy of Aquinas.  I can say with confidence that nearly all of the arguments I have examined by Kreeft and by Geisler are STEAMING PILES OF DOG CRAP.  Kreeft and Geisler are sloppy, lazy, illogical, and unclear thinkers who are practically incapable of presenting a clear and logical argument.  And the most basic problem with the arguments of Kreeft and Geisler is that they are almost always UNCLEAR.  They fail to provide definitions or clarifications of key terms, and use words in sloppy and unclear ways.  As a result, their arguments are uniformly WORTHLESS CRAP.
I’m NOT saying that ALL Thomists have SHIT for brains (e.g. I think Ed Feser is clearly a logical thinker, compared with Kreeft and Geisler).  However, given my experience with the horrible CRAPPY arguments of Kreeft and Geisler, I’m not inclined to give Hsiao the “benefit of the doubt”.  My experience with well-known Thomist philosophers indicates that they are NOT the sharpest tools in the shed.  The fact that Hsiao FAILS to define or clarify the two most important terms in the core argument of his article, is exactly the sort of SHIT-HEAD thinking that Kreeft and Geisler constantly spew out in argument after argument.  Is there some kind of “Thomist Coolaid” these guys are all drinking that turns their brains into mush?
I would love to CRUSH any argument that Hsiao puts forward defending traditional Christian sexual morality concerning homosexuality.  But first Hsiao needs to learn how to think clearly and logically, and he needs to learn how to construct AN ACTUAL ARGUMENT as opposed to this piece of SHIT in PFA that he pretends to be an argument.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 2: Argument Structure

Detail from “Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas over Averroes” by Benozzo Gozzoli (1420–97)

 
A THOMIST ARGUMENT AGAINST HOMOSEXUAL SEX
The argument that I will now analyze (and evaluate later) comes from an article by Timothy Hsiao published in The Heythrop Journal in 2015: “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex” (hereafter: PFA).  The main argument is summarized in section III of the article. Here are the main premises/claims of the argument as stated in the summary:

1. It is always immoral to misuse a bodily faculty.

2. Misusing a bodily faculty always involves rejecting the human good.

3. Sexual activity exists for the sake of procreation and unity.

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

5. Those who engage in homosexual conduct bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex.

6. Those who bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex direct the function of sex to an end that is intrinsically unfit for the direction of sex towards the generation of new life. 

7. Homosexual activity is immoral.

The fourth statement is clearly a key premise, and that last statement is clearly the conclusion.  Thus, we can initially summarize this argument using just those two key statements:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

THEREFORE:

7. Homosexual activity is immoral.

There is a key premise that is missing, however, in this initial summary of the argument in PFA.  “Homosexual activity” needs to be linked to “sexual activity that is not open to the creation of life” in order to make this summary argument logically complete or valid:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

This core argument is logically VALID:

All Bs are Cs.

All As are Bs.

THEREFORE:

All As are Cs.

I take it that this categorical syllogism is the core argument in PFA.  Any other claims made in PFA are relevant ONLY IF they provide support for premise (4) or support for premise (A).  Any additional statements that don’t function as REASONS or EVIDENCE in support of (4) or in support of (A) are IRRELEVANT to the evaluation of this core argument.  In order to evaluate the core argument in PFA, we need to determine whether premise (4) is TRUE or FALSE, and to determine whether premise (A) is TRUE or FALSE.  The logic of the summary argument is VALID, so the evaluation of this argument depends on the truth or falsehood of these two key premises.
Premise (A) appears to be TRUE.  If so, then the evaluation of this core argument in PFA would come down to the one issue of whether premise (4) is TRUE or FALSE.
However, premise (A) is not entirely clear.  So, I’m not willing to accept this premise as being TRUE unless and until the meaning of this premise is clarified.
In the next post of this series, I will examine premise (A) more closely, to see if I can clarify the meaning of this premise sufficiently to determine whether it is TRUE or FALSE.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 1: A Thomist Argument

BACKGROUND
Back in August, I posted a meme on my personal Facebook page that challenged the Christian argument that sex between two men is morally wrong because this is allegedly prohibited in the Old Testament book called Leviticus.
The basic objection in the meme is that there are several things that Leviticus prohibits that Christians seem to have no moral objections against.
Eating ham or bacon or pork ribs or pork chops or pork roast or pork sausage:

7 The pig, for even though it has divided hoofs and is cleft-footed, it does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean for you. (Leviticus 11:7-8)

Eating shrimp, crayfish, crab, lobster, clams, scallops, oysters, or mussels:

10 But anything in the seas or the streams that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and among all the other living creatures that are in the waters—they are detestable to you 11 and detestable they shall remain. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall regard as detestable. 12 Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you. (Leviticus 11:10-12)

Planting a mixture of two different kinds of seeds or wearing clothes made from two different kinds of material or fabric:

19 You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.  (Leviticus 19:19)

Trimming your sideburns or beard:

27 You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. (Leviticus 19:27)

Getting a tattoo:

28 You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:28)

Having sex with a woman when she is on her period:

19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period. (Leviticus 18:19)

  • Christians have no interest in passing laws against any of these other things prohibited by Leviticus.
  • Christians don’t condemn or criticize people who do these other things prohibited by Leviticus.
  • Christians themselves often openly practice these other things prohibited by Leviticus, and feel no shame in doing so.

One of my Facebook friends is a Catholic, a philosophy student, and an admirer of Aquinas.  He made this comment in response to my posting of the meme:

I asked Christopher how reason alone could show that sex between men was evil, and he responded by pointing me to an article that presented a Thomist argument against homosexual sex.
So far I have written ten posts arguing that we should ignore the teachings and laws of the book of Leviticus:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/12/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-1-outline-of-my-reasons-for-doubt/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/18/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-2-no-messages-from-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/19/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-3-no-messages-from-god-continued/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/23/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-4-skepticism-about-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/26/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-5-more-reasons-for-skepticism-about-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/06/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-6-not-a-message-from-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/11/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-7-not-written-by-moses/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/13/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-8-false-historical-claims/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/19/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-9-more-historical-errors/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/11/26/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-10-internal-contradictions/
Although I plan to continue publishing posts that provide more good reasons to reject the argument that we should condemn homosexual sex because the book of Leviticus allegedly condemns homosexual sex,  the reasons I have already provided are enough to demolish this WEAK and IDIOTIC argument.  So, I’m going to begin to examine the Thomist argument against homosexual sex, at least the Thomist argument presented in the article that Christopher pointed out to me.
 
A THOMIST ARGUMENT AGAINST HOMOSEXUAL SEX
The argument that I will analyze and evaluate comes from an article by Timothy Hsiao published in The Heythrop Journal in 2015: “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex“.  The main argument is summarized in section III of the article:

Here are the main premises/claims of the argument as stated in the above summary:

  1. It is always immoral to misuse a bodily faculty.
  2. Misusing a bodily faculty always involves rejecting the human good.
  3. Sexual activity exists for the sake of procreation and unity.
  4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.
  5. Those who engage in homosexual conduct bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex.
  6. Those who bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex direct the function of sex to an end that is intrinsically unfit for the direction of sex towards the generation of new life. 
  7. Homosexual activity is immoral.

In the next post on this subject, I will attempt to clarify these claims and the logic of this Thomist argument against homosexual sex.