ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 4th February 2019, 03:24 PM   #1
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,518
Roger Scruton on why society should revile gays

Roger Scruton’s “Gay Reservations” is an essay published in the 1997 book “The Liberation Debate” published by Routledge and is in reply to an essay by Martha Nussbaum.

HIs argument is that a feeling of repulsion towards homosexual conduct is a societal good:

Quote:
The real question, therefore, is whether the feeling of revulsion towards the homosexual act is justifiable. This question can be answered only by a patient examination of the nature of sexual feeling, and its place both in the life of society, and in the life of the individual. I shall conclude with an outline of the case for thinking that the revulsion to which I have referred is a legitimate Schutzgefühl, the perpetuation of which is a human good. To the extent that this is so, then the public representation of homosexuality as a fully legitimate option threatens human fulfilment: it ‘liberates’ us from something which it is in our common interest to retain.
I don’t want to go into the rights and wrongs of whether such an argument should be put and Scruton has somewhat walked away from the position himself, saying that he would no longer defend this thesis. The essay does continue to be used in philosophy classes in Universities.

I won’t go into his full argument here as a point by point rebuttal would require an essay which would be too long for a post in this forum, however I don’t think that is necessary because Scruton begins with a premise which is demonstrably absurd:
Quote:
If the issue of gay liberation is to be rightly understood, it must be seen as one ‘moment’ in the confrontation, not merely between an old and a new morality, but between an old and a new way of describing sex. The new language robs desire of its intentionality, and therefore of its essence. Instead it offers ‘neutral’ descriptions in which sexual organs occupy the foreground, and eros slinks in shame away. These descriptions provide a constant pornographic background, a reminder that, since sex is ‘nothing but’ the pumping and throbbing of those once embarrassing glands (embarrassing only because we decked them out with needless scruples), it would be absurd to prohibit its expression.
“Must be” understood in terms of this language? Why?

It should be clear to anyone that it would not even be possible to understand the issue of gay liberation in terms of this language. Scruton himself points to the reason:

Quote:
In reality sexual behaviour has to do with courtship, desire, love, jealousy, marriage, grief, joy and intrigue. Such excitement as occurs is excitement of the whole person.
Exactly. And this goes for LGBT folks as well, although Scruton either does not know this or else wishes to deny it.

Either way, his argument is a non-starter. If he is honest in thinking gay and lesbian relationships involve nothing but “pumping and throbbing organs” then he has not even a rudimentary understanding of such relationships and so how can he offer an opinion on them?

Scruton’s rationale for adopting this peculiar language is that it was used by Richard Posner and that Martha Nussbaum has cited Posner and seems to have seen nothing wrong with this langauge.

So a conservative-leaning, heterosexual lawyer with little involvement in the gay liberation movement and writing nearly a quarter of a century after the beginning of that movement uses a certain kind of language and therefore we “must” use this language to understand gay liberation? No, that does not even remotely follow.

By insisting on adopting a language stripped of emotional content to speak of gay and lesbian relationships, Scruton inoculates himself against even a rudimentary understanding of such relationships and therefore deals himself out of the discussion.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th February 2019, 04:09 PM   #2
bruto
Penultimate Amazing
 
bruto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Way way north of Diddy Wah Diddy
Posts: 23,875
If it were true that homosexual behavior is devoid of human sentiment, love, loyalty and whatnot, and is really just pornography in action, perhaps he'd at least have the beginning of an argument, though it would still require him to come up with a good argument for why an aversion to pornography is beneficial to society, and it would be helpful to ask how it differs from the behavior of heterosexuals who engage in casual unemotional sex, and it wouldn't hurt to wonder why homosexuals themselves so obviously do not share his supposedly inherent aversion. But of course he's wrong anyway. Perhaps if this was written when open homosexuality was forbidden in society, it was harder to find instances where homosexual behavior was accompanied by real depth, but I suspect he did not look very hard or think very hard either.

One hopes that Scruton's subsequent disavowal of the position is based in some degree on his having learned something about people and love that the excerpts above suggest he was quite ignorant of.

In any case, the argument that repulsion toward homosexuality is a societal good would imply that society is worse when that repulsion is abandoned, and better when it is enforced. Now that examples of both exist, one of an empirical bent might be excused for saying "show me."
__________________
I love this world, but not for its answers. (Mary Oliver)

Quand il dit "cuic" le moineau croit tout dire. (When he's tweeted the sparrow thinks he's said it all. (Jules Renard)
bruto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th February 2019, 04:44 PM   #3
Skeptic Ginger
Nasty Woman
 
Skeptic Ginger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 73,308
Is there a reason I should give a **** about this 2 decades old opinion?

I'm sorry, I read the OP but the relevance fails me.


Never mind, seems I accidentally stumbled into a philosophical naval gazing thread. My bad.
__________________
Restore checks and balances no matter your party affiliation.
Skeptic Ginger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th February 2019, 05:11 PM   #4
bruto
Penultimate Amazing
 
bruto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Way way north of Diddy Wah Diddy
Posts: 23,875
Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Is there a reason I should give a **** about this 2 decades old opinion?

I'm sorry, I read the OP but the relevance fails me.


Never mind, seems I accidentally stumbled into a philosophical naval gazing thread. My bad.
It's true, I think, up to a point. Less so, though, if as suggested above this **** is still being taught to students as if it were worth considering and having a real argument about, and perhaps used by those who seek backing for their bad opinions. Not, I suppose, that any of us can practically change anything that is done by anyone but ourselves, so I imagine, on reflection, that you're right, and we're just preaching to the choir anyway. On the other hand, there's not much difference between that and other things that keep being discussed.

But I guess the more rational response to it all would be just to remark, "oh, another pile. Next. "
__________________
I love this world, but not for its answers. (Mary Oliver)

Quand il dit "cuic" le moineau croit tout dire. (When he's tweeted the sparrow thinks he's said it all. (Jules Renard)
bruto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th February 2019, 07:59 PM   #5
DevilsAdvocate
Philosopher
 
DevilsAdvocate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,075
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
By insisting on adopting a language stripped of emotional content to speak of gay and lesbian relationships, Scruton inoculates himself against even a rudimentary understanding of such relationships and therefore deals himself out of the discussion.
It is the other way around. At least according to Scruton's argument. He is saying that we "must" accept this new language if we accept gay liberations because that is the way philosophers who support gay liberation talk. He is saying that we should have a deeper understanding of relationships (especially sexual desire and revulsion). He is saying that the gay liberation philosophers are wrong to use this new language, implying that their philosophy is also wrong. I guess.

Scruton seems to be hanging a rather larger hat on a rather small peg. It all begins with a single sentence, the opening of Posner's "Sex and Reason". But even that is larger taken out of context. Posner is an economist. His book takes a look at what happens if we apply economical principals to sexual behavior and then translate laws regarding the economy to laws regarding sexual behavior. Posner makes no attempt to discuss all aspect of sexuality. His opening paragraph specifically says that isn't what he is doing.

In the opening chapter, Posner explains what the book is about. He says one way of looking at sexuality is just the excitement of organs. Another way is the social aspects of sex. He says he is not going to talk about those, but in this book will be looking at sexual behavior through the analytical lens of an economist. Scruton then criticizes him for...looking at sexual behavior through the analytical lens of an economist.

Scruton says Posner ignored the other issues of sexuality, such as desire (even though Posner opens by saying that is what he is doing). So he says Posner requires this new language. And Nussbaum cited Posner, so she adopted this language as well. And also "the entire culture which speaks through her." And therefore gay liberation itself requires this new language devoid of significate aspects of sexuality. I guess. That's a long way to go to get nowhere. Scruton just makes this criticism, and then drops it. He doesn't do anything with it.

I think Scruton was just taking some pot shots at Nussbaum and Posner to double-dog-dare them to base their philosophy on homosexual desire so that he could counter punch with his pet issue of homosexual repulsion. What a repulsive person. Nussbaum wrote a response. She didn't take the bait.
__________________
"Hot dogs, ladies?" - Ignatius J. Reilly
DevilsAdvocate is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th February 2019, 03:15 AM   #6
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,518
Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post

Scruton says Posner ignored the other issues of sexuality, such as He doesn't do anything with it.
But he does, it is part of his opening statement and his closing statement. He asks those who support gay liberation to justify adopting this new language.

In any case he said it, that to understand gay liberation we "must" adopt this language, stripped of emotion

If he is just saying this to take pot shots at Nussbaum and Posner, that just trivialities his argument further, reducing it to a bit of cattiness among academics.

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th February 2019, 04:00 AM   #7
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
His name is too close to Scrotum for me to take him seriously.
baron is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th February 2019, 11:04 PM   #8
bruto
Penultimate Amazing
 
bruto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Way way north of Diddy Wah Diddy
Posts: 23,875
Speaking of Scrouton, I just ran across another bit of his wizzdom: We need more Greek columns and dress codes!
__________________
I love this world, but not for its answers. (Mary Oliver)

Quand il dit "cuic" le moineau croit tout dire. (When he's tweeted the sparrow thinks he's said it all. (Jules Renard)
bruto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:28 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.