Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fisking Nunley, Again

Apparently we haven't had enough cluelessness around the Smoker lately, because Troy Nunley, clueless critic of the APA's anti-discrimination policy, has visited us again to raise our quotient of dumb. He writes:
I said Zero changed the subject on my criticism of (c). He claims the subject was actually whether something(!) was wrong with the APA policy. Correct, and there is something wrong with it.
At least we're finally in agreement about what the topic is. I hope that in what follows, Nunley will let us in on what he thinks is wrong with the policy. I also hope that his point is something more consequential than how it uses the word 'integral' to describe the relationship between classes of people it aims to protect and the patterns of behavior characteristic of those classes that have been used to identify them (not by name but by description) in discriminatory hiring practices.
Zero changed the subject to whether everything(!) was wrong with the policy including its attack on bans on interracial marriage, etc.
I am baffled. The way Nunley claims that I changed the subject to whether "everything" is wrong with the policy, and then the way he puts a parenthetical exclamation mark after the word 'everything, strongly suggests that I said something about whether or not "everything" is wrong with the APA's policy, and that Nunley was surprised by this. But that's not what happened. I never said anything like that. I don't know what the hell he's talking about.

Nunley brought up interracial marriage, not me. He claimed that the APA's attack on bans on interracial marriage was problematic somehow, not me. I didn't put those words in his mouth. I just pointed out that if the policy contains an attack on bans on interracial marriage, that would be a point in its favor. I don't know what his problem is.
That’s cheating. And your talk about whether your new topic is “germane” is an attempt to slight over that explicit cheat; you ought to stick to whether what I clearly said was in fact false.
My topic all along has been whether there is something wrong with the APA's anti-discrimination policy. Nunley's original post contained a claim that interracial marriage was not "integral" to racial identity, and that this was a problem for the policy. I pointed out that his claim was false. I don't see how I was cheating.
And if you wish to speak of “germane” points or topics, make sure not to implicate me for taking a contradictory view.
I clearly did not accuse Nunley of being opposed to interracial marriage at any time. There's a certain delicious irony here: Nunley is saying that I have accused him of saying something that he did not say; in so doing, he accuses me of saying something I did not say. I think he should take a couple of deep breaths, and then learn to read.
Second, the attempt to find sex with white people “integral” to black racial identity by psychologizing those who forbid it is ridiculous.
I don't think I "psychologized" anyone; I said what I thought the racist motive behind anti-miscegenation policies was and pointed out that such policies are genuinely discriminatory. I also didn't say anything about interracial sex acts. I said that policies that forbid interracial marriage are discriminatory, because they are based on the false premise that non-white people are morally unfit to enter into such relationships with white people. Such policies fail to respect non-white people. Am I wrong? I am not wrong, and in just a second, Nunley is going to say so.
Even if those persons oppose equity for blacks (and I’ll allow that that is their likely motive)...
Duh.
...and even if permitting sex with whites is essential to that equity it does not follow that such sex is “integral” to being black. It follow only that being allowed (not actually having) such sex is integral to properly respecting (not being) blacks.
So, I am right.
Thirdly, with respect to whether you change the subject Zero, yes you do and do repeatedly. My arguments are simple Modus Tollens arguments. (1) The APA policy is committed to the view that X is integrally connected to Y. (2) It is not the case that X is integrally connected to Y. Therefore, the policy is incorrect in its claims about what is integrally connected to what.
Suppose I said several times that I granted the semantic point about the word 'integral.' Suppose I then devoted way, way too many words to explaining why this point was irrelevant. Suppose I thoroughly demonstrated that each of Nunley's objections to the applicability of the word 'integral' fails to demonstrate an actual defect in the policy: the policy does not prohibit behaviors it should permit; it does not permit behaviors it should prohibit; it does not do so for the wrong reasons. Then suppose Nunley came back a month later and ignored all those words and insisted that the semantic point about the word 'integral' was the only thing that mattered, because of modus tollens. Wouldn't you make fun of him? That's what I would do.

In the first sentence of the comment I am demolishing (which you can find reprinted at the top of this post), Nunley claims that "there is something wrong with [the APA's anti-discrimination policy]." But that is not the conclusion of his nifty modus tollens arguments. The actual conclusion of his actual argument is this bit about the word 'integral.' And I think we can all admit that Nunley has a point there. The problem with this point is that it is literally as insignificant as anything could possibly be.
AT NO POINT have you challenged a premise in any of my three arguments against a-c.
I can't wait to find out what the next sentence is going to say.
Well, OK, I have to grant that the points in which you desperately, desperately tried to make sex with white integral to being black were a challenge to my second premise against APA policy point c.
I see. So, IN CAPITAL LETTERS, at no point do I challenge any premise. Except, okay, where I do challenge the central premise. And where I challenge the idea that the argument is relevant to any important topic whatsoever. But when I did that, I did it desperately, desperately. So it probably doesn't count.

Also, my point was not about the integrality of sex with white people to black identity. My point was that having the freedom to do so is integral to it.
But that was a disaster. Not as disastrous as missing the arguments altogether though.
Oh. He must have forgotten about how he admitted that I did not miss the arguments. Slipped his mind. I mean, it was a whole sentence ago. I often forget what I write from one sentence to the next. What did I just say? Where am I.
Again, until you are prepared to challenge a premise in arguments of this sort, you have no legitimate reply to my arguments at all, only a lengthy commentary concerning arguments I never made.
Another delicious irony. In all this, Nunley has completely failed to address my criticisms, or even to demonstrate that he has understood them. In order to connect his modus tollens to the APA's policy, a further, suppressed premise is necessary: "if the policy is incorrect in its claims about what is integrally connected to what, then there is something wrong with the policy." I have demonstrated that this premise is false.

The problem with Nunley's criticism is that it is superficial and shallow. It is not deep or penetrating or revealing of an important flaw in the policy. Nunley continues to claim victory in a verbal dispute without realizing that it doesn't touch any deeper issue.

--Mr. Zero

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rah, rah. Lovely and hilarious.

I wish these people would just come out and say what they really mean:

"We don't like gay people, don't want them around us, and don't want to suffer even minimal repercussions from acting on those feelings. Or to be in the least bit stymied in acting on our small-minded bigotry. Oh, and gay sex is icky. Cootie coated boogers icky. Not even on a double-dog-dare icky."

Either that, or at least learn how to argue.

Anonymous said...

Are these kinds of polemics good for anybody? Even if there are good for somebody or for some people, are they really worth the time? I put this in the category of Holocaust deniers and I side with those who believe the best way of delying with such views and the people who hold them, is not to give them any time - not to shine any light on them, etc. If some person started posting on this blog that top departments should not admit women because they are genetically inferior and not capable of succeeding in a philosophy career, should we waste any time responding to such a claim and person? At some point, we need to acknowledge failures in education and hope that broader, bigger efforts to improve various aspects of the educational system will improve things slowly over time (and especially over generations).

Anonymous said...

@8:52 PM

Who are "these people"?

Bobcat said...

Which post/comment of Nunley's are you responding to, Mr. Zero?

Mr. Zero said...

Hi Bobcat,

It's here. Sorry, I should have linked from the main post. I have edited the post and placed the link where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

I just like that Nunley doesn't even know how modus tollens works. . . . Even if he didn't have such odious views, I think that single failing alone should be sufficient grounds for telling him to run along and let the adults have this conversation by themselves.

As an aside, in case Troy is reading:

MT is a chain of inference on a conditional. That is, If P then Q; Not Q; then Not P. You should at least be able to do the minimal work that my students do and read yourself some wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modus_tollens

Anonymous said...

I watched ABC News tonight and witnessed the newest form of attempted Nazi holocaust:

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/anti-homosexuality-bill-uganda-global-uproar/story?id=10045436

The report is on Nightline later. And these assholes--yes, some are good old American assholes who have contributed to this nightmare--have the gall to compare real-world Nazis to gay-righters. If you're not interested enough to click, let me just say--many Ugandans want to impose the death penalty for having a certain sexual preference.

I'm so angry about the state of the world I can barely contain myself.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:19: Well said.

Mr Zero, you are an excellent poster and I enjoy reading what you have to say even when I disagree with or am annoyed by it. But this (I feel) just wasn't worth the time.

Anonymous said...

Two points: (1) the anti-discrimination policy undermines the ability of a University to uphold their mission. This is a practical fact. (2) The sexual ethics that is expressed in the mission statements of Universities are not crazy. Some of these positions for traditional views on sexuality can be corroborated by objective criteria.

http://nfiproofs.com/~catholic/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3005

At least, it is open for debate and the APA anti-discrimination policy shouldn't be rammed down our throats in the name of anti-discrimination! So, as opposed to claims of bigotry and religious intolerance, there really are some objective reasons why one may uphold at least the ethical components of a religious mission statement! Thus, it is not the right of the APA to dictate its will on views that (A) obviously are not false and (B) many may disagree with.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,

Following up on Anonymous 5:36...

Don't torture yourself. Didn't Chrysippus say something (or was it Epictetus?) about not arguing with those who are not trained in Logic?

Really, I understand, you need to procrastinate. I do too. But there must be more productive ways to do so.

Mr. Zero said...

Dear anon 9:05,

Your point (1) is obviously false. The anti-discrimination policy merely undermines the ability of a university to engage in discriminatory hiring practices without the readers of the JFP being aware of it.

Your point (2) seems pretty false, too, and nothing in your link supports the sanity of discriminating against gays and lesbians. Your link suggests that stable nuclear families are beneficial; one way to encourage the creation of more stable nuclear families is to permit homosexual couples who desperately want to form such families the legal and social support we straight people take for granted. I don't see how anti-gay discriminatory hiring practices support this goal.

Although I have no problem with upholding the ethical components of a religious mission if the mission is genuinely ethical, I don't see why I should think it is obvious that these discriminatory practices are not wrong. It seems to me that the practices essentially involve denying employment for a reason that has no bearing on the prospective employee's ability to perform the job. The fact that there is a religious rationale is irrelevant; the anti-miscegenation policies at Bob Jones U. were racist and wrong even though its mission is religious in nature.

I guess I also don't see the importance of the fact that some people disagree. There are a lot of people; everything is something somebody disagrees with. I think it's far more important whether there is any good reason to disagree. In the case of anti-gay discrimination, many have tried to reveal what this good reason might be; none have succeeded. I remain skeptical of its existence.

Anonymous said...

I think I just died a little bit reading through this post.

Anonymous said...

Zero,

Anon. 9:05 here.

Your comments clearly represent how you don't get religious mission statements.

Your view is representative of the larger lack understanding and insensitivity that drove the anti-discrimination policy. It is merely an act bullying masquerading in rhetoric of justice.

So, instead of responding to your mistaken conception, I want merely to invite you to reflect on your own view to see where we may be coming from (Remember to take to heart the adage of the philosopher mentioned on this very blog: oftentimes we advance in philosophy by pinpointing on the parts of great texts in the history of philosophy that begin, "Obviously...").

Anonymous said...

"I want merely to invite you to reflect on your own view to see where we may be coming from"

Go fuck yourself. If you think that what's happened is bullying, you haven't been punched in the face enough. When young Christians start killing themselves in the numbers that young homosexuals do, we can talk. Until then, just remember that if Jesus still loves someone like you, it's only because he has to try really hard.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing like the moral force of a "Go fuck yourself" from an anonymous commenter.

publius said...

Your comments clearly represent how you don't get religious mission statements.

This is probably the most depressing response I have ever read at Philosophy Smoker. It's so profoundly antiphilosophical. It would be shameful in an undergraduate essay. I am going to maintain a wisp of hope that you are not a philosopher at all.

If you can answer Zero's points, then do so. If you can't, then just shut up and don't embarrass yourself further.

Mr. Zero said...

Dear anon 9:05,

That's it? I should be more sensitive to the sad, beleaguered institutions devoted to homophobia? You know you're talking about the Catholic Church, right?

And I'm wrong because I said 'obvious'? Are you fucking kidding me? If you want me to think your views are "obviously not false" (uh, there's that word again), you should consider making an argument, instead of pointing out how I've failed to comprehend the mysterious, incomprehensible mystery of the religious university mission statement. And if you think it's bad to have a star next to your job ad, you should consider reflecting for a moment on what sorts of problems gay people are forced to face.

Dear Anon 7:00,

Anon 5:16 also made a pretty interesting point about suicide.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 7:00

You're saying I didn't give Anon 4:39's argument the careful consideration it deserved. There wasn't an argument. There was an invitation to get feely and empathetic.

Maybe I should be more sympathetic. Fuck, maybe Christians do have it hard. Sure, Christians get to be the majority and Christians in philosophy benefit from discrimination that lands nutters like Nunley a job, but they have to suffer the occasional asterisk in the JFP. Jesus had it easy. What a pussy. Young gays have it easy. It's the Christians who have it hard.

Anonymous said...

Mr Zero:

There was a horrible, horrible truth about the rate of suicide among gays mentioned. This does not rise to the level of an argument, just to the level of a smear, barely more than the 'go fuck yourself.'

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05 here again,

My comment,

"Your comments clearly represent how you don't get religious mission statements"

elicited a firestorm of emotional responses ('most dissapointing,' sundry profanity, 'homophobic', 'nutters', 'shameful', 'embarrass', unkind adhominem comments about Nunley, etc.). This emotional tone is what underlies and motivates this topic and infuses it with all the subtlety of a knee-jerk. It obfuscates the issue and leads us to locutions beginning with 'Obviously...'.

It reminded me of those moments of high drama on Jerry Springer when a comment from the panel elicits outrage and emotional outbursts. The only thing lacking is the chanting: "JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!".

So, I would challenge the suggestion by Zero that I was asking folks to get 'feely'. I was requesting that folks be more intellectually empathetic to situation of those Universities with a religious mission that includes certain moral restrictions (where a prima facia case can be made for them as prudent; which separates them from truly discriminatory and bad hiring policies that exclude based on race, gender, disability, etc.).

Mr. Zero said...

Dear anon 6:58,

You're right about one thing: the truth about suicide mentioned in anon 5:16's post is deeply horrible. And incommensurate with the "bullying" experienced by religious institutions. So I guess I took 5:16's argument to be about how there are a lot of problems gay people in the US and elsewhere must put up with, how much more difficult their problems are than the problems faced by mainstream Christians in the US, and how a lot of those problems are caused by the bigotry of a subset of those Christians.

I thought that the conclusion had something to do with how Christians should think twice before insisting that a vulnerable minority against whom they intend to discriminate be more sensitive to the feelings of those who would discriminate against them. I guess I think that takes a lot of gall, and a stunningly ironic lack of sensitivity.

Dear 9:05,

Your comment elicited a firestorm because of this extraordinarily ironic level of cluelessness. It's interesting that in your list of "genuine" kinds of discrimination, you substitute 'et cetera' for 'sexual orientation,' which is almost always included on such lists. (The APA's own list also includes age, religion, et al.)

If there's some prima facie case that sexual orientation does not belong on that list, I wish you'd just fucking make it already, instead of merely insisting that it exists but is a secret or is incomprehensible to people with secular values. Stop being coy. Stop accusing people of "intellectual insensitivity" because we call you out on your actual insensitivity. If you've got an argument, cough it up already.

Anonymous said...

Not that it really matters, but what Zero describes as "obviously false" is the claim that the Asterisk of Non-Compliance inhibits the ability of institutions with religious missions to discriminate against gay applicants or those who disagree with its mission.

That does seem to be obviously false, given that this is at most a symbolic action (the APA cannot force anyone to hire anyone, and it isn't barring the placement of an ad in the JfP.)

And that one philosopher joked that claims starting with "obviously" were good places to look if one was trying to find a position to argue does not mean that pointing to an "obviously" constitutes an argument (not even a short one for Analysis!), let alone that such an argument can be made. See also, "I'm rubber, and you're glue."

Anonymous said...

Zero,

I suppose you are right that I am clueless, but only in one respect: I am clueless about how clueless you are about religious mission statements and why they are in place.

To address your bedazzlement regarding how sexual practices differ from genuine forms of bad hiring behavior: Whereas gender, age, race, etc., do not constrain carrying out the moral mission of a University, one's sexual orientation does, because sexual practice is something that is morally relevant. Yet, it needs to be said that with religious mission statements, the moral injunction against certain sexual behaviors (not just regarding sexual orientation) pertain only to (1) actual behavior and (2) assenting to the idea that certain types of sexual behavior are not immoral, and not merely to sexual proclivities.

Essentially, the religious mission statements are not supposed to be used as witch-hunt, but rather as a way of applying the "reason to be" of the University.

Of course, I expect no one to agree with this view (hence the lack of so-called philosophicalivocalization of my view), but only to leave those Universities alone that have labored for centuries for Lady Philosophy and to whom we all owe a great debt.

~Anon. 9:05

Mr. Zero said...

Dear anon 9:05,

Following up on what 8:09 says, I didn't just say your claim was obviously false, I explained why I thought so. Then I addressed your claim that something was obviously true (you said 'obviously not false'), and gave several reasons to suspect that the relevant claim is not true at all, let alone obviously true. In three subsequent comments, you haven't addressed a single one of these points. Instead, you presented a sophistical and inaccurate suggestion that I had asserted without evidence that something was obvious. I would like to extend to you a formal invitation to actually respond.

In particular, I would like for you to explain how prohibitions on racial discrimination did not interfere with Bob Jones's (former) "moral" mission, which it took to include maintaining the purity of the white race. Or, if the prohibitions did interfere, why such interference was morally wrong. Or, if it was not wrong, why similar interference with schools whose missions include or entail discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong, in spite of the fact that the corresponding interference with schools who discriminate on the basis of race is permissible.

If the university's "reason to be" is immoral, I don't see why it should get a free pass just because it claims its immorality has a religious basis. And I find deeply offensive the suggestion that we owe it to such universities to allow them to persist in their immorality unscolded because they have labored for centuries to Lady Philosophy. Give me a fucking break. We owe it to them to help the behave morally. Which is what we owe to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work Zero!

Anonymous said...

9:05 (at 7:39) writes:

So, I would challenge the suggestion by Zero that I was asking folks to get 'feely'. I was requesting that folks be more intellectually empathetic to situation of those Universities with a religious mission that includes certain moral restrictions.

So you weren't asking folks to get feely, but were asking them to get empathetic. That's a straightforward contradiction.

(and no, putting the word 'intellectually' before 'empathetic' to make a nonsensical phrase doesn't mitigate the contradiction)

Anonymous said...

You are spending entirely too much time combating the ravings of an idiot. It's not worth it.

Sincerely,
An Evangelical Christian

Anonymous said...

Your point about the tragically high statistical incidence of suicide and homosexuality is interesting.

However, this can be interpreted to support either side of the morality debate.

If you take the following two notions that are related to the issue:

1) Suicide often results from mental illness
2) Homosexual people have a high incidence of suicide.

The question of what causes the mental illness seems to be the issue, and can be interpreted differently. Certainly, some explain this as caused by anti-homosexual sentiment in society, but this is not the only way to account for it; there are a whole realm of possibilities, even if we agree with American Psychological Association's assessment that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

Anonymous said...

Definition of Discrimination: to preclude a class of people from some benefit.

1) It is not unethical for a University to discriminate based on some immoral practice of an individual.
2) There are good reasons to believe that homosexual activity is immoral.
3) Therefore, it is not unethical for a University to discriminate based on the fact that a person engages in homosexual activity.

1) is true since it is a common practice to hire people that fit within a certain moral type, largely from concerns about being an appropriate role model for students and representing the University with integrity. This is the reason why drunken pictures on the internet are a bad idea when applying for a job!

2) You may not believe that this true, but it is not up to any individual to decide whether this is true, but rather it involves the APA as a whole. For the APA as a whole deny '(2)' is problematic since the APA is a body that respects moral pluralism; its members articulate a variety of different views.

Mr. Zero said...

Anon 1:35,

Your argument is invalid, since there being good reasons to think that some activity is wrong is compatible with the activity's not being wrong. Your conclusion follows only if you attach a 'there is good reason' qualifier to it; you didn't though.

Your line (1) seems wrong to me. The facts, if they are facts, that I steal cable TV (in violation of the property rights of the Cable Company), or that I eat the flesh of animals (in failure to maximize utility), or that I have non-procreative sex with my wife (in violation of natural law) are not good reasons for a university to discriminate against me.

Your defense of line (2) is pretty funny. You don't say, "here is the good reason." You say, the APA is devoted to pluralism, and so it can't have any moral opinions at all (baring, perhaps, unanimity). But--and I hate to have to keep bringing this up--what separates your claim from the claim that BJU should be permitted to discriminate against Troy Nunley because of his interracial marriage? Why doesn't the APA's condemnation of racial discrimination violate your principle of moral pluralism?

I guess I could get behind such a principle if the topic were genuinely controversial. But nobody can seem to explain why it's controversial. According to you, I should believe that there is good reason to think that homosexual sex acts are wrong because the APA shouldn't take a stand on controversial moral issues. Your argument uses the alleged fact that it's controversial as evidence that the APA shouldn't take a stand, but without producing any independent evidence of reasonable disagreement.

So, we're dealing with an invalid argument whose premises are all false.

Anonymous said...

So, we're dealing with an invalid argument whose premises are all false.

Huh. Doesn't that mean the conclusion is true? Or, wait, maybe I'm looking at my truth table upside down.

Anonymous said...

Your line (1) seems wrong to me. The facts, if they are facts, that I steal cable TV (in violation of the property rights of the Cable Company), or that I eat the flesh of animals (in failure to maximize utility), or that I have non-procreative sex with my wife (in violation of natural law) are not good reasons for a university to discriminate against me.

I don't think that the claim was that this is universally true of all jobs, but that it would be true in the case of the sort of jobs at issue. If you were applying for a job at a Property Rights Are Sacred think tank, the former would be pretty relevant. If you were applying for a job at PETA U., they would be.

Some universities aspire to be not just a convenience store where one shows up to buy some learning, but little communities, in which those further along in the moral life can be a benefit and an example to those less further along. This requires some moral vision. No doubt some moral visions are fucked up. But to just say that these are irrelevant to university hiring seems to have a very cramped view of what universities can aspire to.

Anonymous said...

Also, you can believe all of that stuff about universities being built on a vision of community while still thinking Troy Nunley is a pretty weak philosopher.

Mr. Zero said...

If you were applying for a job at a Property Rights Are Sacred think tank, the former would be pretty relevant.

I'm not so sure. If the cable thief were the best qualified applicant, then it might be wrong or foolish for the think tank to deny her employment. I'm sensitive to several problems here, though. For one, if the think tank were important enough, or the position high-profile enough, the thievery might become a political liability, which would cut into the person's ability to do the job. (Of course, being gay would not interfere in a comparable way with the person's ability to teach philosophy.) For two, the cable thieves are not a vulnerable minority against whom there is a long-standing and powerful trend of discrimination and marginalization. So it is unclear that the analogue of the APA ought to advocate on behalf of cable thieves.

On the other hand, a university with a single-minded devotion to the moral principle that property rights are sacred would not be a university. It would be a political-indoctrination day-camp masquerading as a university.

If you were applying for a job at PETA U., they would be.

Again, I'm just not so sure. The claim would have to be that the meat-eating philosopher would be incapable of teaching a philosophy class in the way PETA U. requires, and that it is legitimate for PETA U. to require that its professors teach philosophy classes in this manner. I don't see any way that it is legitimate for PETA U. to require its philosophy classes to be taught that would also be impossible for a meat-eating philosopher to teach them. (Especially e.g. early modern.)

Some universities aspire to be not just a convenience store where one shows up to buy some learning...

I don't know of any university that aspires to be that. I definitely did not say anything that remotely suggested that I thought that universities should aspire to be that. I suspect that this is one of those false dilemmas that I've been hearing so much about.

...but little communities, in which those further along in the moral life can be a benefit and an example to those less further along. This requires some moral vision.

Again, why couldn't this principle be used equally well to justify building a little community based on the "moral" vision according to which the white race ought to remain pure?

No doubt some moral visions are fucked up.

Yes. For example, those that contain provisions according to which the white race ought to remain pure, and also those according to which gays and lesbians are not moral enough to serve as college professors.

But to just say that these are irrelevant to university hiring seems to have a very cramped view of what universities can aspire to.

I'm trying to understand how this "uncramped" conception is supposed to work. It seems to me that it has consequences even its defenders admit are completely immoral, and I want to know how it can be defended. Nobody will explain it to me, though.

Seriously. Somebody just explain what the difference is between BJU's anti-miscegenation policies and Calvin's anti-gay policies. Just say what the difference is. One's based on prejudice and the other isn't right? Somebody just explain how it works. Somebody just try. Please.

Anonymous said...

"Somebody just explain what the difference is between BJU's anti-miscegenation policies and Calvin's anti-gay policies. Just say what the difference is. One's based on prejudice and the other isn't right? Somebody just explain how it works. Somebody just try. Please."

One major difference that I see pertains to its relationship to the APA as a whole. Hiring practices based on race is much more controversial to people in the APA then hiring practices related to the morality of sexual practices. The fact that a very high majority of philosophers in the APA reject racism, and that there is a strong precedent going back many years in the APA to reject such practices, shows that it is an item worth pressuring Universities over. And this indicates that there is something right about pressuring Universities that do not have color-blind racial hiring policies. However, this precedent and consensus is lacking regarding hiring practices, religious mission statements, and the morality of homosexuality (there is quite a few folks who signed the anti-anti-discrimination petition; some who are very well respected philosophers, universally and broadly considered). This, to me, indicates that the issue is more complicated than the race issue; it can be simply chalked up to religious bigotry.

Another difference from a religious perspective is that there are principles in the major religions that stand contrary to racism, ageism, and sexism; even if those principles are often not applied due to corrupting influences. Sexual morality pertaining regarding homosexuality does not seem to have the same status.

Anonymous said...

Oops, instead of saying, "it can be simply chalked up to religious bigotry," I meant to say "it CANNOT be simply chalked up to religious bigotry."

Mr. Zero said...

However, this precedent and consensus is lacking regarding hiring practices, religious mission statements, and the morality of homosexuality (there is quite a few folks who signed the anti-anti-discrimination petition; some who are very well respected philosophers, universally and broadly considered).

Come on. The counter-petition was a joke. It allowed non-APA members to sign. It allowed people to "sign" anonymously. It had in the neighborhood of 40 actual signatures from actual APA members. The Hermes petition did not allow people to sign anonymously, was weeded of non members, and had over 1,400 signatures. The motion at last year's Pacific Division meeting passed unanimously (though there were a few dissenters who lacked standing to vote).

Although there are a few people who disagree with the new policy, they seem to be an extremely small minority.

And anyway, if this point were right, all it would entail was that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was (a little) more popular than discrimination on the basis of race. I don't see how this is a good reason to allow it to continue. I think we have to be real careful that we're not dealing with one of those "tyrannies of the majority" that people who wish to be free to discriminate against gays are always cautioning us against.

there are principles in the major religions that stand contrary to racism, ageism, and sexism; even if those principles are often not applied due to corrupting influences. Sexual morality pertaining regarding homosexuality does not seem to have the same status.

This is really too bad. I don't see why I should regard it as evidence that there is some salient difference between anti-gay discrimination and other sorts of discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,

1) There was a second open letter signed by over 100 philosophers, all APA members, some of them very well respected.

2) The Pacific APA meeting is always held during the days leading up to Easter. You always get not much of a Christian philosopher turnout at those things. I wouldn't chalk too much up to the unanimous vote.

3) If you really want to find out about traditional Christian views on sex outside marriage, you can go to a thing called a library, and read about it, the same way that you would deal with any interesting philosophical/moral problem that you really wanted to educate yourself about.

Mr. Zero said...

1) There was a second open letter signed by over 100 philosophers, all APA members, some of them very well respected.

Just looking at the numbers, wow. 100 >> 1,400. Wait, I got that backwards.

Pointing out that some of the signatories are "well respected" is the worst kind of appeal to authority. If the fact that they are well-respected is supposed to lend support to the position that anti-gay discrimination is permissible or that the APA ought not take a stand against it, then there must be some good reason why these well-respected philosophers would be willing to put their names on that letter. Tell me what it is, already, for crying out loud.

2) The Pacific APA meeting is always held during the days leading up to Easter. You always get not much of a Christian philosopher turnout at those things. I wouldn't chalk too much up to the unanimous vote.

Fair enough. I wonder why there weren't more signatures on the counter-petition or the letter you mention. Or why nobody can articulate the reason why anti-gay discrimination is not based on anti-gay prejudice.

3) If you really want to find out about traditional Christian views on sex outside marriage, you can go to a thing called a library, and read about it...

Yeah. I know about libraries. I think I know what I'll find. Sex is for procreation and it's seriously wrong to use sex for anything other than what it's for; gay sex is inherently non-procreative; therefore, it is deeply, seriously morally wrong to have gay sex and gays are not moral enough to be philosophy professors.

But why should I think this whole thing isn't based on prejudice? I mean, the Catholic Church makes exceptions for post-menopausal sex within a marriage, and for married sex when one of the people is infertile; and for sex when the woman is pregnant; and for sex strategically timed so as to dodge the ovum. What about gay people who are married?

The thing about these exceptions is that they are precisely the sorts of exceptions that a decent human being would make. Why can't gay couples get any of the many exceptions granted to straight couples?

And why would a gay philosopher's unrepentant gayness interfere with his or her ability to teach philosophy, even if gay sex were a misuse of sex? I'm (obviously) a pretty gay-friendly guy, but there's nothing in my teaching of philosophy classes that is directly affected by this--not even philosophy of religion or ethics. Even if gay sex is wrong, why should I think it's wrong in a way such that a willingness to have it affects the person's ability to do the work?

...and read about it, the same way that you would deal with any interesting philosophical/moral problem that you really wanted to educate yourself about.

This remark seems to me to suggest that it's stupid or lazy of me to demand that defenders of anti-gay discrimination defend their views. After all, I could just go to the library. I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask people to explain themselves. I think it's kind of a bullshitty dodge to tell me to go to the library to research what your views might be; I think it would be much more honest and constructive if you would just fucking tell me why I'm supposed to think your views are reasonable.

Anonymous said...

This letter?

http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/murphym/APAStatement-Murphy.htm

They aren't all members of the APA. As for respected? Some are. And then there's William Lane Craig.

Anonymous said...

I just pulled up the Murphy letter & counted. It's not even "over 100". It currently stands at 100 people exactly, A YEAR later. And obviously, it continued circulating after the Pacific APA, because that's how it went from 89 to 100 names. (I still have several hard copies of the counter petition as it stood last year at this time, so I'm confident of that).

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party, so, sorry, but I have 4 points. I'll make them in two separate posts (even though I'm under the character limit, it's somehow not picking up on that).

1) I went to grad school w/ Troy, and it saddens me to hear that his politics/religion are getting in the way of his philosophy. I say this b/c, appearances notwithstanding, he actually can be a good philosopher. I point this out for 2 reasons: 1) even though we were never "friends" in any strong sense, I feel a modicum of loyalty. So, perhaps take me at my word (?): Troy's not all that bad, even if he's so very, very wrong. Reason (2) is closely related to my general 2nd comment, so I'll just go to it.

2) RE this string in general: Though I am 100% in agreement w/ Zero as to his position and his demand for reasons for the view that this is not a discriminatory practice, I am also saddened by the way Troy (and people of like-mind) has (have) been insulted/treated. Don't get me wrong: sometimes there IS a time to "go off" on somebody. For 2 reasons, however, I don't think this was the time: A) by going off on Troy, he and people like him will continue to feel persecuted, and so the real substance of this debate (which matters) is becoming obfuscated by people being snarky w/ each other and giving the other reason to feel persecuted; B) is related: part of what I value in philosophy is not arguing with other people like Fox News and MSNBC "argues" with whomever they disagree. Not just in the sense that we're different b/c we use reasons (again, Zero is definitely better in this regard; he does (and others in this thread) use reasons). But I've always thought/hoped that we were different in that we don't, or at least we strongly resist, getting nasty. This is what I try to teach. Disagree strongly, and back it up strongly; but do the insults and attacks really add anything except a small triumph? How are the insults furthering the debate? Or, more importantly, the cause of ending discrimination? One might say they won't change their minds, so it's fair game to just take cheap shots. Even if that's true (which for many I doubt, even though for many it's no doubt true), it seems that we still give them more fuel by insulting them. It's just that, though again I appreciate your reasoning Zero, you don't exactly invite open and reasoned debate (nor come off as if you'll really listen, even if I believe you will) when you say things like: "I think it would be much more honest and constructive if you would just fucking tell me why I'm supposed to think your views are reasonable." You may be right, but being correct on this (i.e., winning the argument) seems to matter less than achieving something. Don't let your philosophical indignation cloud what matters more here (at least, it's my view that the issue matters more than ridiculing people for their reasoning).

Anonymous said...

part 2 (this one's shorter and on the content!):

3) the fact that the APA respects pluralism does not entail that it cannot take a stand on a subject that not all its members agree to. Indeed, this is why it has its members vote on measures: it is a democratic process what the APA decides to stand for. And it's pretty clear what it's decided to stand for, so let's hear the arguments against it being this way. Persuade us, for we really want to know.

4) Last, in response to what I think was meant as an argument: Anon 9:05 says "Whereas gender, age, race, etc., do not constrain carrying out the moral mission of a University, one's sexual orientation does, because sexual practice is something that is morally relevant."

I've heard something of this argument before, and it's bizarre. It seems to trade on some vagueness between orientation and practice, or maybe on the term "sexual practice". Sexual practice, when practiced wrongly (e.g., rape), is morally relevant (by definition!). But this in itself doesn't make sexual orientation morally relevant. It's only relevant in the trivial sense that, b/c of one's sexual orientation, one might do sexual wrongs (e.g., a hetero male may molest an underaged female). But what matters here is that a wrong has been done; the sexual orientation is really irrelevant in any deep sense (the only sense in which it matters is that THIS wrong wouldn't have been committed even he wasn't hetero). That is, sex-o is irrelevant UNLESS you think the a certain one is already wrong (which, of course, they do). I'm only pointing out that the above is not a new argument; it's success depends upon the truth of a premise which was already in dispute, which we have (repeatedly) asked for reason to believe: the premise that a certain sexual orientation is wrong. If you can't prove that premise, then sexual orientation will not entail wrong sexual practice, and thus cannot be said (yet) to constrain the moral mission of a University. Everything in this argument relies on your ability to argue that a certain sexual orientation is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Homosexual orientation is morally wrong for the following reasons:

1) It entirely disconnects the act of sex from its proper rational orientation, which is procreation.

2) It is a kind of mutual masturbatory act. Like masturbation, it lacks a single sexual unit (as is the case with the vagina and penis). Masturbation is morally wrong.

3) There is a compatibility among the opposite sexes that cannot be realized by homosexual couples. Relations among individuals of the same sex lacks compatibility regarding romantic bonds (which ought to be life-long) due to their gender specific natures. This view is supported perhaps in the fact that same sex couples seem not to be able to have long-term relationships that are monogamous.

4) Traditionally, homosexual activity has been more associated with other instances of moral turpitude than heterosexual behavior (higher instances of these in such communities): orgies, infidelity, etc. This seems to indicate a questionable status for the act itself.

Anonymous said...

Troll much, 6:07?

Anonymous said...

I take it that 8:54 said 6:07 was a troll b/c only someone trying to get a rise out of other people would make such poor arguments. On the off chance he's wrong, and b/c so many people do believe such things, I'll respond to 6:07.

To "Argument" 1: I'd ask for an explanation/account of what counts as a "proper rational orientation" and why (which I'm guessing they couldn't give w/o assuming much that would be disputable). I'd also suggest, even if such an account could be given, that the copious amount of instances in human history of the use of sex for something other than procreation is evidence of there being a multitude of purposes present in the behavior, and the singling out of procreation as the "rational orientation" at least requires argument and is perhaps specious. In any case, the regularity of sex for pleasure/companionship casts doubt on the thesis that procreation is the point of sex (if that's what 6:07 meant).

To "Arg" 2: of course one would have to argue that masturbation is wrong; it's not obvious to anyone who doesn't buy into a worldview which is itself in dispute. Also, any kind of sex in any couple for anything other than procreation is like mutual masturbation. Also, the definition of a "single sexual unit" seems radically arbitrary. But, supposing this could be fully explained, the relevance of having such a "single sexual unit" is totally unclear. What non-question begging reason could there be for thinking there had to be a "single sexual unit", whatever that might mean?

To "Arg" 3: this is simply false. I myself know many life-long romantically involved homosexual couples who have fantastic relationships based on love and respect. And I also know I'm not the only one who knows many such couples. The compatibility that 6:07 claims lacking is actual; I've seen it. (So, contra 6:07, same sex couples have monogamous relationships. I ought also point out that many hetero couples are not monogamous, or fail in their attempt at being so.)

To "Arg" 4: evidence is called for to make such a claim. Supposing orgies are wrong--which isn't obvious--what reason do we have to believe this happens more amongst gays than straights? Even if the often cited cliche it is true that gay men have more sex (not, not gay people, but gay men), this does not mean they have more orgies. As far as infidelity, I am inclined to believe it happens more amongst hetero people. Perhaps "open relationships" exist more amongst homosexual couples (which I'm not convinced of), but that's not infidelity.

In general, 6:07's claims are either: 1) in need of clarification b/c they don't sufficiently explain the claim they're making; 2) rely on a worldview which would itself need to be proved, and is in dispute; 3) obviously false; or, at best 4) in need of evidence to prove them true.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article that may bear on the interracial marriage analogy to gay marriage:

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/05/1324

Anonymous said...

You're joking, right?
What does "the ability by nature to marry each other" mean? (It is supposed to explain why anti-miscegenation laws are relevantly different from anti-same-sex-marriage laws.)