Zeleny and Homosexuality

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CHRISTIAN S MORLEY

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Sep 13, 1993, 5:20:45 PM9/13/93
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One question regarding your doctrine, Mr. Zeleny. How do you feel about
Homosexual intercourse between two males who are both sterile
(obviously not through "self-immolation, these men were born this way)?
By your argument this would seem morally fine. On the flip side, how about
two women who are both past menopause engaging in sex with one another?
Thank you for your time.
-----Christian Morley
csmo...@student.umass.edu

Mikhail Zeleny

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Sep 13, 1993, 6:21:54 PM9/13/93
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In article <272o7d$l...@titan.ucs.umass.edu>

csmo...@titan.ucs.umass.edu (CHRISTIAN S MORLEY) writes:

>One question regarding your doctrine, Mr. Zeleny. How do you feel
>about Homosexual intercourse between two males who are both sterile
>(obviously not through "self-immolation, these men were born this
>way)? By your argument this would seem morally fine. On the flip
>side, how about two women who are both past menopause engaging in sex
>with one another? Thank you for your time.

By all means; but let us commence with a few quibbles. Lacking a
body of believers or adherents to my principles, I would prefer not
to have them misleadingly characterized as a doctrine. Moreover, my
feelings on the subject range between amusement, indifference, pity,
boredom, and contempt; however I submit that they have no bearing on
the moral facts of the amtter. As regards your question, my stated
moral criteria imply that the only form of sterility possessed of a
significant force of biological necessity, would be the extremely
rare kind that is caused by the participants' genotypes. Since in
such exceptional cases the issues of biological sex (as determined,
say, by the male genotype XY conflicting with the female phenotype
caused by a hormonal disorder incurred during fetal development) and
gender (as determined by the aspects of cultural self-identification)
tend to become exceedingly complicated, I see no way to give an easy
and clear-cut answer, except by noting that medical sex reassignment
would be surely warranted, if and only if it were performed in order
to make the patient's phenotype conform to his or her genotype.

> -----Christian Morley
> csmo...@student.umass.edu
>

cordially,
mikhail zel...@gevalt.mit.edu -- a man in transition
"Le cul des femmes est monotone comme l'esprit des hommes."

Scott Cudmore

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Sep 13, 1993, 6:13:48 PM9/13/93
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Please correct me if I'm wrong (as I'm sure you will) Mr. Zeleny. Here is
your argument as I see it:

1) The purpose of sexual intercourse between male and female is
reproduction.

2) Reproduction is moral because it allows a species to continue.
Allowing a species to continue is good for the species, survival is the
goal of all life, etc. etc. etc.

3) Any other 'use' of sexual intercourse is morally blameworthy because it
contradicts 1) and 2) above.

Just an innocent bystander,

Mikhail Zeleny

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Sep 13, 1993, 7:21:29 PM9/13/93
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In article <1993Sep13.2...@jupiter.sun.csd.unb.ca>
cssc...@atlas.cs.upei.ca (Scott Cudmore) writes:

>Please correct me if I'm wrong (as I'm sure you will) Mr. Zeleny. Here is
>your argument as I see it:

>1) The purpose of sexual intercourse between male and female is
> reproduction.

That would be the moral purpose. There are many other purposes, as
you ought to realize by now.

>2) Reproduction is moral because it allows a species to continue.
> Allowing a species to continue is good for the species, survival
> is the goal of all life, etc. etc. etc.

Reproduction is a moral duty because it allows the self to continue.
Neither the continuation of the species nor personal survival enter
into the equation. Care for the self ought to precede care for the
neighbor, as both Locke and Freud will readily tell you. And personal
survival is both impossible, and frequently undesirable.

>3) Any other 'use' of sexual intercourse is morally blameworthy
> because it contradicts 1) and 2) above.

Certainly not! Not even such notoriously anhedonic cranks as Immanuel
Kant or John-Paul II would claim anything as silly as that. But since
the reasoning is somewhat subtle, it warrants elucidation. Any free
choice of the fundamental aspects of sexual intercourse, that renders
it necessarily sterile, is _ipso facto_ a bad choice. In other words,
given that the most fundamental choice involved in human sexuality, is
arguably the choice of one's partner, choosing a partner whose sexual
identity is inherently incompatible with the reproductive possibility,
is morally blameworthy.

>Just an innocent bystander,
>


cordially, | Why is it that all those who have become eminent
mikhail "el desdichado" | in philosophy or politics or poetry or art
zel...@gevalt.mit.edu | are clearly of an atrabilious temperament?

jw...@key.amdahl.com

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Sep 13, 1993, 8:17:57 PM9/13/93
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I think I get it. It's a practical joke! Zeleny *IS* gay.

John Williams

gsm...@uoft02.utoledo.edu

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Sep 13, 1993, 10:01:14 PM9/13/93
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In article <272rq2$b...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>, zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

> to have them misleadingly characterized as a doctrine. Moreover, my
> feelings on the subject range between amusement, indifference, pity,
> boredom, and contempt

In that case, might I humbly suggest that you shut the fuck up?

That way you could spare the rest of us the boredom, indifference,
pity, contempt, and nausea your postings generally engender.


Mikhail Zeleny

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Sep 14, 1993, 12:43:02 AM9/14/93
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In article <1993Sep14.0...@jupiter.sun.csd.unb.ca>
cssc...@atlas.cs.upei.ca (Scott Cudmore) writes:

|||Please correct me if I'm wrong (as I'm sure you will) Mr. Zeleny.
|||Here is your argument as I see it:

|||1) The purpose of sexual intercourse between male and female is
||| reproduction.

||That would be the moral purpose. There are many other purposes, as
||you ought to realize by now.

|After three children, I'm beginning to wonder...

They say that doubt is the _sine qua non_ of the philosophical method.

|||2) Reproduction is moral because it allows a species to continue.
||| Allowing a species to continue is good for the species, survival
||| is the goal of all life, etc. etc. etc.

||Reproduction is a moral duty because it allows the self to continue.
||Neither the continuation of the species nor personal survival enter
||into the equation. Care for the self ought to precede care for the
||neighbor, as both Locke and Freud will readily tell you. And personal
||survival is both impossible, and frequently undesirable.

|Thank you for the clarification. But I will be the first to admit I'm
|still confused. I will tax your charity one more time...

No problem.

|I think I'm having trouble with your use of the word 'self'. Physical
|self? (genetics) psychological self? (ego) philosophical self? (spirit)
|mythological self? (rebirth)

Why not all of the above?

|Do we have a definitive argument for the existance of any 'self' or
|must we take it as axiomatic?

For the physical self, empirical observation furnishes sufficient
support of persistence of the organism, interpreted as a certain
material structure. (Indeed, good arguments to the effect that the
identity of living organisms, construed along the Aristotelian lines,
furnishes the grounds for our best accounts of the identity of *all*
material beings, can be found in the recent books by Montgomery Furth
and Peter van Inwagen.) For the personal identity, introspection
yields adequate testimony, as based on the continuity of memory and
the experience of volition. (The main arguments are to be found in
the Aristotelian theory of material substance, and Locke's views on
personal identity, as elaborated by Reid in view of Hume's critique.)

|Yours,

Ted B Samsel

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Sep 14, 1993, 7:15:22 AM9/14/93
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Se#or Z may well change his tune when he spawns and has a passe
(passel) of brats to feed and water. He'll also use words of
fewer syllables.
(Only hypothetical)
--
Ted....

Angus H Rodgers

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Sep 14, 1993, 8:40:09 AM9/14/93
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In <272rq2$b...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>Moreover, my
>feelings on the subject range between amusement, indifference, pity,
>boredom, and contempt

That is impossible, because no-one who only had those feelings on the
matter would spend so much energy on promulgating his views about it --
especially in the face of so much hostility (not to mention amusement,
indifference, pity, boredom, and contempt)!

Seriously, I thought you were more honest than this; I'm disappointed.

But perhaps it was dishonest of me, in the first place, to have hoped
to learn something by enquiring into, not my own strong and confusing
feelings on the vexed topics of homosexuality and absolute morality,
but the strong opinions and unknown feelings of someone else who just
happens to be more willing than I am to expose himself to the world. :)

I'm sorry that I only treated your response to my recent enquiry (in the
"encyclical" thread) as a joke. I shall try to find the time and energy
to take it seriously; but I can't promise that I will be able to so so.

>however I submit that [his feelings] have no bearing on


>the moral facts of the amtter.

That is true. However, your feelings may have some bearing on the feelings
of other "antihomosexuals" [to coin a term]; and you, unlike most of your
kind, apparently believe that you are able (and obliged?) to account for
your disappoval of homosexuality in a manner which will persuade at least
some intelligent and moral people to agree with you [and if that is not
your motive, you are engaging in a tacit deception]; and it seems clear to
me that those beliefs which are taken to be "axiomatic", so to speak, in
such an account could reasonably be expected to give the attentive reader
an idea of the feelings which fuel your opinions [please note carefully
that this is not an _ad hominem_ attempt on my part to use "psychological
interpretation" to deprive your argument of whatever validity and/or moral
authority it may possess]; and that is why I, for one, have some (limited)
interest in understanding your position.

>mikhail zel...@gevalt.mit.edu -- a man in transition

Good luck with the operation. :)
--
Gus Rodgers, Dept. of Computer Science, Queen Mary & Westfield College,
Mile End Road, London, England +44 71 975 5241 arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk

Angus H Rodgers

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Sep 14, 1993, 9:38:56 AM9/14/93
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In <272v9p$c...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>>Please correct me if I'm wrong (as I'm sure you will) Mr. Zeleny. Here is
>>your argument as I see it:

>>1) The purpose of sexual intercourse between male and female is
>> reproduction.

>That would be the moral purpose. There are many other purposes, as
>you ought to realize by now.

What is a "moral purpose"? Please explain, as the phrase is not part
of common speech, nor am I familiar with any philosophical system to
which it might belong. (I can only guess that you mean an obligation.
But this does seem to be confirmed by the text that follows.)

>>2) Reproduction is moral because it allows a species to continue.
>> Allowing a species to continue is good for the species, survival
>> is the goal of all life, etc. etc. etc.

>Reproduction is a moral duty because it allows the self to continue.
>Neither the continuation of the species nor personal survival enter
>into the equation. Care for the self ought to precede care for the
>neighbor, as both Locke and Freud will readily tell you. And personal
>survival is both impossible, and frequently undesirable.

Your argument is beginning to make some sense to me now. (Scott has
obviously found the right key!) "Homosexuality is bad because it is
a form of soul-suicide": would that an accurate (albeit intolerably
brief and informal) summary of your argument?

>>3) Any other 'use' of sexual intercourse is morally blameworthy
>> because it contradicts 1) and 2) above.

>Certainly not! Not even such notoriously anhedonic cranks as Immanuel
>Kant or John-Paul II would claim anything as silly as that. But since
>the reasoning is somewhat subtle, it warrants elucidation. Any free
>choice of the fundamental aspects of sexual intercourse, that renders
>it necessarily sterile, is _ipso facto_ a bad choice. In other words,
>given that the most fundamental choice involved in human sexuality, is
>arguably the choice of one's partner, choosing a partner whose sexual
>identity is inherently incompatible with the reproductive possibility,
>is morally blameworthy.

That's simple enough. (No need here for three axes of possible worlds
and seven accessibility relations, methinks, any more than they would
be needed to explain how to tie your shoelaces or suck an egg.)

The argument is that a person's choice to take only homosexual partners
frustrates that same person's [possibly unconscious] need for [some kind
of] personal survival beyond bodily death; that this need is intrinsic to
human nature (as is presumably proved by our possession of organs fitted
primarily for heterosexual intercourse), which is to say, it must really
be present in all of us, even if some of us are not [willing to be] aware
of it; and that this frustration of a [possibly repressed] part of the
self is in itself a moral wrong [analogous, perhaps, to the killing of a
foetus in the womb], irrespective of all other factors in the situation
(including the question whether it is a conscious or unconscious choice).

Is that correct? (Please don't rush to formalise it, or to criticise it
merely for its informality: I prefer piecemeal clarification of disputed
points, and I see no reason why you shouldn't be content with the same.)

May I call it a "Freudian-Catholic" position? (I've often been struck by
this kind of parallel between those two great authoritarian ideologies.)

You also appear to be taking it as a premise that exclusively homosexual
orientation is a "free choice": is that correct? If so, have you reasons
to support this premise?

Mikhail Zeleny

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Sep 14, 1993, 10:52:35 AM9/14/93
to
In article <CDCGI...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk>
arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:

|In <272rq2$b...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
|zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

||Moreover, my
||feelings on the subject range between amusement, indifference, pity,
||boredom, and contempt

|That is impossible, because no-one who only had those feelings on the
|matter would spend so much energy on promulgating his views about it --
|especially in the face of so much hostility (not to mention amusement,
|indifference, pity, boredom, and contempt)!

|Seriously, I thought you were more honest than this; I'm disappointed.

You are mistaking the order of my motivation. I have no urge to
censure my neighbor for his gall in choosing a lifestyle in
opposition to *my* moral principles. What gets me going, is the
climate where one can stand accused of any number of intellectual
transgressions, merely for his audacity in airing out a considered
moral judgment of such a lifestyle. It's like that: Robert Stone,
in a generally sympathetic article on gays in the military, in the
current issue of the NYRB, cites the testimony of a homosexual GI,
advocating the banishment of the last vestiges of "Judaeo-Christian
morality", which stands in the way of his military career. Now, I
have no brief for religious dogma of any sort; but it really gets
my goat to see this inanely oblivious clamoring for automatic moral
entitlement, which to me is as repugnant as any clarion call to
exterminate kikes, commies, faggots, or niggers. Thus I derive no
small amount of pleasure from crushing the creatures who are prone
to such presumption, regardless of the ideology they espouse, or
the orifice they prefer.



|But perhaps it was dishonest of me, in the first place, to have hoped
|to learn something by enquiring into, not my own strong and confusing
|feelings on the vexed topics of homosexuality and absolute morality,
|but the strong opinions and unknown feelings of someone else who just
|happens to be more willing than I am to expose himself to the world. :)

What's the difference? Socrates addressed his own "strong and
confusing feelings" by enquiring into the feelings of others.



|I'm sorry that I only treated your response to my recent enquiry (in the
|"encyclical" thread) as a joke. I shall try to find the time and energy
|to take it seriously; but I can't promise that I will be able to so so.

Take it seriously, and take it as a joke, -- the possibilities are
not mutually exclusive.

||however I submit that [his feelings] have no bearing on
||the moral facts of the amtter.

|That is true. However, your feelings may have some bearing on the feelings
|of other "antihomosexuals" [to coin a term]; and you, unlike most of your
|kind, apparently believe that you are able (and obliged?) to account for
|your disappoval of homosexuality in a manner which will persuade at least
|some intelligent and moral people to agree with you [and if that is not
|your motive, you are engaging in a tacit deception]; and it seems clear to
|me that those beliefs which are taken to be "axiomatic", so to speak, in
|such an account could reasonably be expected to give the attentive reader
|an idea of the feelings which fuel your opinions [please note carefully
|that this is not an _ad hominem_ attempt on my part to use "psychological
|interpretation" to deprive your argument of whatever validity and/or moral
|authority it may possess]; and that is why I, for one, have some (limited)
|interest in understanding your position.

Agreed; but I suspect that my strongest feelings have to do with
the freedom of thought, rather than the ends of sexuality.

||mikhail zel...@gevalt.mit.edu -- a man in transition

|Good luck with the operation. :)

Thanks; I'll need it.

|--
|Gus Rodgers, Dept. of Computer Science, Queen Mary & Westfield College,
|Mile End Road, London, England +44 71 975 5241 arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk

cordially, | Why is it that all those who have become eminent

Scott Cudmore

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Sep 14, 1993, 10:58:33 AM9/14/93
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|||1) The purpose of sexual intercourse between male and female is
||| reproduction.

||That would be the moral purpose. There are many other purposes, as
||you ought to realize by now.

|After three children, I'm beginning to wonder...

They say that doubt is the _sine qua non_ of the philosophical method.

|||2) Reproduction is moral because it allows a species to continue.


||| Allowing a species to continue is good for the species, survival
||| is the goal of all life, etc. etc. etc.

||Reproduction is a moral duty because it allows the self to continue.
||Neither the continuation of the species nor personal survival enter
||into the equation. Care for the self ought to precede care for the
||neighbor, as both Locke and Freud will readily tell you. And personal
||survival is both impossible, and frequently undesirable.

I am told I have an extremely open mind, and that is why things keep falling
through it and bouncing once or twice on the floor.

Let me play Socrates for a moment, if you will.
Why is reproduction the only moral purpose of sexual intercourse?

Through the process of artificial insemination I can reproduce without
sexual intercourse. Therefore, sexual intercourse is irrelavent to
reproduction. There is no moral issue in the purpose for which an individual
uses sexual intercourse since it is irrelavent.

question: is the only moral purpose of a test-tube reproduction?

Yours,

Scott

Mikhail Zeleny

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Sep 14, 1993, 12:30:05 PM9/14/93
to
In article <CDCJ8...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk>
arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:

|In <272v9p$c...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
|zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

||In article <1993Sep13.2...@jupiter.sun.csd.unb.ca>
||cssc...@atlas.cs.upei.ca (Scott Cudmore) writes:

|||Please correct me if I'm wrong (as I'm sure you will) Mr. Zeleny.
|||Here is your argument as I see it:

|||1) The purpose of sexual intercourse between male and female is
||| reproduction.

||That would be the moral purpose. There are many other purposes, as
||you ought to realize by now.

|What is a "moral purpose"? Please explain, as the phrase is not part
|of common speech, nor am I familiar with any philosophical system to
|which it might belong. (I can only guess that you mean an obligation.
|But this does seem to be confirmed by the text that follows.)

An obligation is something that must be done, in the sense that
failing to do it is morally blameworthy. By contrast, a moral
purpose is an action or event, the performance or bringing about
of which is morally praiseworthy. Thus failure to accomplish
one's moral purpose is not necessarily blameworthy; but willful
obstruction thereof is always blameworthy. I think that the
basic distinction is Kantian, between Rights and ends; but the
interpretation and deployment thereof are all mine.

|||2) Reproduction is moral because it allows a species to continue.
||| Allowing a species to continue is good for the species, survival
||| is the goal of all life, etc. etc. etc.

||Reproduction is a moral duty because it allows the self to continue.
||Neither the continuation of the species nor personal survival enter
||into the equation. Care for the self ought to precede care for the
||neighbor, as both Locke and Freud will readily tell you. And personal
||survival is both impossible, and frequently undesirable.

|Your argument is beginning to make some sense to me now. (Scott has
|obviously found the right key!) "Homosexuality is bad because it is
|a form of soul-suicide": would that an accurate (albeit intolerably
|brief and informal) summary of your argument?

I am uncomfortable with slogans, particularly when they introduce
loaded terminology not appearing in the full-length account. Souls
are very much a matter of speculative conjecture, whereas bodies,
along with the means of their continuation, are a tangible given.
It seems more appropriate to choose the mundane, corporeal reality
as the basis of one's moral calculation.

|||3) Any other 'use' of sexual intercourse is morally blameworthy
||| because it contradicts 1) and 2) above.

||Certainly not! Not even such notoriously anhedonic cranks as Immanuel
||Kant or John-Paul II would claim anything as silly as that. But since
||the reasoning is somewhat subtle, it warrants elucidation. Any free
||choice of the fundamental aspects of sexual intercourse, that renders
||it necessarily sterile, is _ipso facto_ a bad choice. In other words,
||given that the most fundamental choice involved in human sexuality, is
||arguably the choice of one's partner, choosing a partner whose sexual
||identity is inherently incompatible with the reproductive possibility,
||is morally blameworthy.

|That's simple enough. (No need here for three axes of possible worlds
|and seven accessibility relations, methinks, any more than they would
|be needed to explain how to tie your shoelaces or suck an egg.)

Note however, that the multifarious possibilia are still there,
lurking at the tricky points of fundamental choices, necessary
sterility, and inherent incompatibility.

|The argument is that a person's choice to take only homosexual partners
|frustrates that same person's [possibly unconscious] need for [some kind
|of] personal survival beyond bodily death; that this need is intrinsic to
|human nature (as is presumably proved by our possession of organs fitted
|primarily for heterosexual intercourse), which is to say, it must really
|be present in all of us, even if some of us are not [willing to be] aware
|of it; and that this frustration of a [possibly repressed] part of the
|self is in itself a moral wrong [analogous, perhaps, to the killing of a
|foetus in the womb], irrespective of all other factors in the situation
|(including the question whether it is a conscious or unconscious choice).

Given my Platonistic prejudices, I am not fully comfortable with
your psychological terminology. I doubt that morality is a form
of unconscious inclination. On the contrary, I suspect that our
moral need is, in some sense, profoundly at odds with our urges
and inclinations. There is something within me, goading me to
kill one half of mankind and fuck the other half, and it is never
clear how the halves are to be separated; there is yet something
else, urging me to submit my impulses to the scrutiny of reason.
I think that morality consists in arbitration between the claims
of instinct and the restraints of reason, or vice versa. I also
think that its scope pertains to each individual choice, rather
than to a projected or completed sequence of such choices, which
constitutes the entirety of each human life. For we have neither
the means to control the circumstances of our future, nor the
metric to account for the merits and demerits of our past. Thus
each moral choice must be judged without regard for potentially
alleviating eventualities of the agent's future, or allegedly
extenuating circumstances of his past.

|Is that correct? (Please don't rush to formalise it, or to criticise it
|merely for its informality: I prefer piecemeal clarification of disputed
|points, and I see no reason why you shouldn't be content with the same.)

So be it.

|May I call it a "Freudian-Catholic" position? (I've often been struck by
|this kind of parallel between those two great authoritarian ideologies.)

I would think that Freudian reasoning is inimical to the spirit
of the Catholic dogma, though not necessarily to the venerable
Thomistic rationale that supported it at one time. In any event,
I am not too thrilled about labels, even when they are cunningly
fashioned from flattering allusions to my exalted body parts.
But I certainly would not want to dictate your use of convenient
catchwords.

|You also appear to be taking it as a premise that exclusively homosexual
|orientation is a "free choice": is that correct? If so, have you reasons
|to support this premise?

I think that, while orientation or inclination may well be subject
to innate constraints, actual preference, as determined by the
manifest exercising of one's inclination, or deliberate pursuit of
his orientation, must be chosen freely. Were it not so, we could
never judge any action that accords with our inclination.

|--
|Gus Rodgers, Dept. of Computer Science, Queen Mary & Westfield College,
|Mile End Road, London, England +44 71 975 5241 arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk

Angus H Rodgers

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Sep 14, 1993, 12:35:22 PM9/14/93
to
In <274lrj$r...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>[...] Robert Stone,


>in a generally sympathetic article on gays in the military, in the
>current issue of the NYRB, cites the testimony of a homosexual GI,
>advocating the banishment of the last vestiges of "Judaeo-Christian
>morality", which stands in the way of his military career. Now, I
>have no brief for religious dogma of any sort; but it really gets
>my goat to see this inanely oblivious clamoring for automatic moral
>entitlement, which to me is as repugnant as any clarion call to

>exterminate kikes, commies, faggots, or niggers. [...]

But doesn't it occur to you that, even though the GI may only be able
to articulate his moral position in relativistic terms which are as
repugnant to you as they are to me, he may be mutely appealing to --
even if he might never be able to argue for -- an absolute morality,
which differs from the Judaeo-Christian absolutism, and in differing
from it, judges it to be absolutely at fault?

The man is, after all, "morally disenfranchised". [I've just made that
phrase up. Do you think I could get it accepted as official PC-speak?]
To expect him not only to struggle for his own civil rights, but also
to articulate an entire moral philosophy, before you will judge him to
be worthy of support in his struggle, betrays what one might well call
an "inverted" scale of moral values.

Unless, that is, you judge there to be something so *uniquely* awful
about homosexuality, that those who practise it do deserve to be (as
they are) singled out for special persecution, from amongst all those
who -- in one way or another -- you would consider to be putting their
immortal souls in danger, so to speak. In that case (which does seem
to be what you believe), your position would be quite reasonable, as
you simply would not judge this man's struggle to be worthy of support
at all.

But where is your argument for this uniqueness? In its absence, I have
to take you to be saying that anyone who [on the basis of questionable
theory] can be inferred [by some unspecified authority] to be damaging
their own spiritual welfare should be discriminated against by society's
powerful institutions (not to mention gangs of thugs, malicious gossips,
blackmailers, bigoted private employers, etc. etc.). So, can I expect to
see you calling next for all celibates to be banned from the military?

And in any case, to describe the call for equal rights for homosexuals
as a call for "automatic moral entitlement" [by which phrase, I assume
you mean what others call "special rights"] is to make what I'm afraid
I can only describe as a stupid mistake -- and one which gets *my* goat.
(I shall try to avoid flames any worse than this one.)

Judaeo-Christian morality may have a lot to teach (I must have learned
a lot from it, if "learned" is a strong enough word for the experience
of something so formative), but it also has a lot to learn. And where
it has failed to learn, it continues to impose a crippling burden of
unjustified guilt on huge numbers of innocent people: a burden to which
(for reasons I cannot even plausibly guess at) you appear to delight in
adding. (I say this because, from your evident relish in mounting this
campaign -- as well as from the number of careful rebuttals you already
seem to have received from intelligent and decent people -- I cannot see
your behaviour as being the result of simple obliviousness to the fact
that much unnecessary suffering is caused by the continuing prevalence
of absolutist -- but absolutely false -- moral values.)

(I'll also try to avoid preaching any sermons worse than this one.) :)

>Thus I derive no
>small amount of pleasure from crushing the creatures who are prone
>to such presumption, regardless of the ideology they espouse, or
>the orifice they prefer.

I doubt if you really know the source of this pleasure. (No, neither do I.)

>|I'm sorry that I only treated your response to my recent enquiry (in the
>|"encyclical" thread) as a joke. I shall try to find the time and energy
>|to take it seriously; but I can't promise that I will be able to so so.

>Take it seriously, and take it as a joke, -- the possibilities are
>not mutually exclusive.

I know; and that's why I wrote "only".

(And I certainly couldn't *only* treat it seriously: it would have been
immoral not to allow myself to laugh out loud at it, first.) :)

>[...] I suspect that my strongest feelings have to do with


>the freedom of thought, rather than the ends of sexuality.

I doubt if the two can be separated as much as you imagine.

Mysterious, huh? Mystified, more like. The existence of a connection
between people's sexual and intellectual lives becomes more and more
obvious to me, the older (and sadder and wiser) I get; but the exact
nature of this connection still escapes me almost completely. So I'm
still waiting for some maverick psychoanalyst to write a book on the
topic of "Reason and its vicissitudes".

Oh damn, there goes my credibility again. :)

jw...@key.amdahl.com

unread,
Sep 14, 1993, 1:49:53 PM9/14/93
to

> Agreed; but I suspect that my strongest feelings have to do with
> the freedom of thought, rather than the ends of sexuality.

Freedom "of" thought? I do not think you've thought very carefully about this.
If you wanted freedom of thought, you would not be arguing here, you would
simply be thinking about whatever popped into your head. In fact, what I believe
you want is not the freedom itself, but the kernal of freedom that allows
creativity simply through the mutation of thought. You then want to test
how your thoughts hold up. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, and
there is little I can do to change that, however I can not validate your
morality by consenting to it.

John Williams

jw...@key.amdahl.com

unread,
Sep 14, 1993, 4:06:13 PM9/14/93
to

> I think that morality consists in arbitration between the claims
> of instinct and the restraints of reason, or vice versa. I also
> think that its scope pertains to each individual choice, rather
> than to a projected or completed sequence of such choices, which
> constitutes the entirety of each human life. For we have neither
> the means to control the circumstances of our future, nor the
> metric to account for the merits and demerits of our past. Thus
> each moral choice must be judged without regard for potentially
> alleviating eventualities of the agent's future, or allegedly
> extenuating circumstances of his past.

I can't believe what I just read. I would assert exactly the opposite,
that will is the ability to project some goal on the future and then
make it so. Because there are so many other agents operating in the
world, the outcome can not be deterministic, but one can certainly
demonstrate how the future can be constrained. In addition to the
above objection, if the past does not provide the material needed
to develop the will, what does?

In response to your objection that my system provides no grounds for
morality given that I don't get caught, I would assert that my concern
would then turn towards the environment, that is, I would act in a manner
consistent with the environment I willed to live in.

If man does not use his past to control his future, then will can not
exist, and his life is reduced to pure instinct. Discussions about rational
control over instinct become nonsense because his rational control is also
instinct.
John Williams

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Sep 14, 1993, 7:17:25 PM9/14/93
to
In article <27587l$q...@largo.key.amdahl.com> jw...@key.amdahl.com writes:

||I think that morality consists in arbitration between the claims
||of instinct and the restraints of reason, or vice versa. I also
||think that its scope pertains to each individual choice, rather
||than to a projected or completed sequence of such choices, which
||constitutes the entirety of each human life. For we have neither
||the means to control the circumstances of our future, nor the
||metric to account for the merits and demerits of our past. Thus
||each moral choice must be judged without regard for potentially
||alleviating eventualities of the agent's future, or allegedly
||extenuating circumstances of his past.

|I can't believe what I just read. I would assert exactly the
|opposite, that will is the ability to project some goal on the
|future and then make it so. Because there are so many other agents
|operating in the world, the outcome can not be deterministic, but
|one can certainly demonstrate how the future can be constrained.
|In addition to the above objection, if the past does not provide
|the material needed to develop the will, what does?

Believe it, baby. To take your blithe assertions in order, you are
confusing will (striving) with power (ability). For instance,
paralysis combines the loss of the latter with the retention of the
former. And the agent's ability to accomplish his set goals can be
frustrated by any number of random factors. So, if the ends were
taken to justify the means, a submicroscopic virus could change the
bottom line of your life by putting an abrupt end to your laudable
ends. But there is no bottom line to human life. Nor is there any
reason to suppose that your mental calisthenics will develop your
will, any more than they have helped G Gordon Liddy to develop his.

|In response to your objection that my system provides no grounds
|for morality given that I don't get caught, I would assert that my
|concern would then turn towards the environment, that is, I would
|act in a manner consistent with the environment I willed to live in.

I wish (note the proper English verb) to live in an environment
where I can kill, rob, maim, rape, and steal, with utter impunity.
It follows that my moral imperative is to strive towards perfecting
my skills of stealth and evasion, while engaging in my favorite
pursuits. Sounds like fun.

|If man does not use his past to control his future, then will can
|not exist, and his life is reduced to pure instinct. Discussions
|about rational control over instinct become nonsense because his
|rational control is also instinct.

Does the phrase "circumstances beyond your control" mean anything
to Your Autocratic Majesty?

| John Williams

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 2:27:25 AM9/15/93
to
In article <CDCrE...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk>
arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:

|In <274lrj$r...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
|zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

|| [...] Robert Stone,
||in a generally sympathetic article on gays in the military, in the
||current issue of the NYRB, cites the testimony of a homosexual GI,
||advocating the banishment of the last vestiges of "Judaeo-Christian
||morality", which stands in the way of his military career. Now, I
||have no brief for religious dogma of any sort; but it really gets
||my goat to see this inanely oblivious clamoring for automatic moral
||entitlement, which to me is as repugnant as any clarion call to
||exterminate kikes, commies, faggots, or niggers. [...]

|But doesn't it occur to you that, even though the GI may only be able
|to articulate his moral position in relativistic terms which are as
|repugnant to you as they are to me, he may be mutely appealing to --
|even if he might never be able to argue for -- an absolute morality,
|which differs from the Judaeo-Christian absolutism, and in differing
|from it, judges it to be absolutely at fault?

He might well be doing that; but so what? Let us proceed _more
geometrico_. Which absolute moral system, would you say, is
capable of condemning the intolerance of "the Judaeo-Christian
absolutism", in view of its demonstrable numerical superiority,
both among the military personnel, and the American electorate?

|The man is, after all, "morally disenfranchised". [I've just made that
|phrase up. Do you think I could get it accepted as official PC-speak?]
|To expect him not only to struggle for his own civil rights, but also
|to articulate an entire moral philosophy, before you will judge him to
|be worthy of support in his struggle, betrays what one might well call
|an "inverted" scale of moral values.

The correct term is "morally different", the second cousin to
"ethically disoriented". The reason I would not care to support
the plight of the complainant in question, is the same as would
compel me to withhold my support from the early Christians facing
the lions in the Colosseum. You will recall that the Romans had
a genuinely multicultural tradition of adopting the barbarian
deities, as soon as their worshippers were incorporated into the
Roman Empire. All went well, until they ran into some backward,
recalcitrant Judaeo-Christians, who had a most parochial policy
of refusing to extend reciprocal worship to the images of the
Imperial power. So consider me a renegade to my people, but my
policy is this: if you want me to venerate your gods, you had
better extend the same courtesy to my fasces, or, as your people
would say, my faggots.

|Unless, that is, you judge there to be something so *uniquely* awful
|about homosexuality, that those who practise it do deserve to be (as
|they are) singled out for special persecution, from amongst all those
|who -- in one way or another -- you would consider to be putting their
|immortal souls in danger, so to speak. In that case (which does seem
|to be what you believe), your position would be quite reasonable, as
|you simply would not judge this man's struggle to be worthy of support
|at all.

There are several transitions I find quite objectionable in your
above argument. I do indeed find homosexuality to be singularly
reprehensible, being that it irremediably perverts a fundamentally
creative human faculty. But it certainly does not follow that I
would condone visiting thereupon any form of official persecution,
as distinct from public desapprobation or private opprobrium. The
dividing line is suggested by the right to privacy; and inasmuch
as it is an inalienable right, I would oppose making one's private
preferences a criterion of fitness for public service.

On the other hand, I see no reason to force any public or private
employer to disregard this, or any other public or private aspect
of any candidate for employment, at least until such time as the
right to work (remember 1848?) is recognized as a fundamental
human right. To put this a bit more forcefully and appositely,
being a dedicated _franc-tireur_, I regard myself as disqualified
from having any opinion on the composition of the military; and
furtermore, I consider the ongoing efforts of the proverbial
middle-aged bourgeois pantywaists clamoring to force _hoi polloi_
in arms to share their trenches with individuals whose behavior
they find repugnant, to be contemptible beyond all measure.

|But where is your argument for this uniqueness? In its absence, I have
|to take you to be saying that anyone who [on the basis of questionable
|theory] can be inferred [by some unspecified authority] to be damaging
|their own spiritual welfare should be discriminated against by society's
|powerful institutions (not to mention gangs of thugs, malicious gossips,
|blackmailers, bigoted private employers, etc. etc.). So, can I expect to
|see you calling next for all celibates to be banned from the military?

To elaborate, I insist on leaving it to the military to decide on
the composition of the military, until such time as the military
ceases to exist. I also insist on leaving it to the employers to
decide on the composition of their work force, until such time as
the property right is no longer recognized as valid. Personally,
my naive views on employing a homosexual would vary considerably,
depending on the position: while I would never hesitate to hire
one as an engineer, I would be very reluctant to one as a
bartender.

|And in any case, to describe the call for equal rights for homosexuals
|as a call for "automatic moral entitlement" [by which phrase, I assume
|you mean what others call "special rights"] is to make what I'm afraid
|I can only describe as a stupid mistake -- and one which gets *my* goat.
|(I shall try to avoid flames any worse than this one.)

Please think again, -- "equal rights for homosexuals" is a blatant
and noxious oxymoron. Equal rights have no specific beneficiaries;
otherwise they are decidedly unequal. Whenever a right exists, it
applies to everyone, regardless of their race, creed, gender, or
private predilections. Whenever a right does not exist, -- and
note that I am certainly not denying the existence of the right to
work, but merely its legal and social recognition, -- there is no
justification for conferring it upon any particular group, or
introducing it in a selective manner.

|Judaeo-Christian morality may have a lot to teach (I must have learned
|a lot from it, if "learned" is a strong enough word for the experience
|of something so formative), but it also has a lot to learn. And where
|it has failed to learn, it continues to impose a crippling burden of
|unjustified guilt on huge numbers of innocent people: a burden to which
|(for reasons I cannot even plausibly guess at) you appear to delight in
|adding. (I say this because, from your evident relish in mounting this
|campaign -- as well as from the number of careful rebuttals you already
|seem to have received from intelligent and decent people -- I cannot see
|your behaviour as being the result of simple obliviousness to the fact
|that much unnecessary suffering is caused by the continuing prevalence
|of absolutist -- but absolutely false -- moral values.)
|
|(I'll also try to avoid preaching any sermons worse than this one.) :)

If my stated views are absolutely false, then they remain to be
refuted on the basis of deviating from the facts; if they are
merely incoherent, their inconsistency remains to be shown.
Contrary to what you say, I do not recall receiving any "careful
rebuttals", as opposed to bombastic denunciations and groundless
obloquy; and if any of that verbiage came from "intelligent and
decent people", their alleged intelligence and decency sooner or
later gave way to a torrent of inarticulate, spiteful mumblings.

Even the otherwise unexceptionable liberal Mr Mike cannot find the
guts to withdraw his erstwhile characterization of my theses as
illogical and immoral. But the fact of the matter is, there exist
any number of unimpeachably valid denunciations of "alternative
sexualities", whether based in revelation (Leviticus, the Pauline
epistles), fideistic reasoning (Augustine, Aquinas), or purely
secular considerations (Kant, Sartre); and no _bona fide_ advocate
of pluralism has any right to impugn these demonstrably consistent
moral conceptions. On the other hand, to reject liberal pluralism
would be tantamount to denying the "alternative lifestyles" any
chance for thriving, beyond bare survival.

||Thus I derive no
||small amount of pleasure from crushing the creatures who are prone
||to such presumption, regardless of the ideology they espouse, or
||the orifice they prefer.

|I doubt if you really know the source of this pleasure. (No, neither do I.)

On the contrary, I know it well enough. It is by far the least
objectionable way to cater to my overweening sociopathic urges.
Ever since I stopped hanging in the circles that offered regular
opportunities for smashing people's faces against brick walls, I
started feeling the need to compensate by indulging in the quaint
form of ritual humiliation that passes for public debate around
these parts. Besides, most American walls are far too flimsy for
a proper face-smashin'.

|||I'm sorry that I only treated your response to my recent enquiry (in the
|||"encyclical" thread) as a joke. I shall try to find the time and energy
|||to take it seriously; but I can't promise that I will be able to so so.

||Take it seriously, and take it as a joke, -- the possibilities are
||not mutually exclusive.

|I know; and that's why I wrote "only".
|
|(And I certainly couldn't *only* treat it seriously: it would have been
|immoral not to allow myself to laugh out loud at it, first.) :)

I aim to please.

||[...] I suspect that my strongest feelings have to do with
||the freedom of thought, rather than the ends of sexuality.

|I doubt if the two can be separated as much as you imagine.
|
|Mysterious, huh? Mystified, more like. The existence of a connection
|between people's sexual and intellectual lives becomes more and more
|obvious to me, the older (and sadder and wiser) I get; but the exact
|nature of this connection still escapes me almost completely. So I'm
|still waiting for some maverick psychoanalyst to write a book on the
|topic of "Reason and its vicissitudes".

Sounds good. Too bad Jeffrey Masson is all tied up in that libel
lawsuit. Would you accept Andrea Dworkin, as the world-renowned
expert on the insidious connections between men's two heads? Do
you think it is a mere coincidence that she and Jacques Derrida
are never seen together?

|Oh damn, there goes my credibility again. :)

Join the club.

|--
|Gus Rodgers, Dept. of Computer Science, Queen Mary & Westfield College,
|Mile End Road, London, England +44 71 975 5241 arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk

cordially, | Why is it that all those who have become eminent

gsm...@uoft02.utoledo.edu

unread,
Sep 14, 1993, 9:29:22 PM9/14/93
to
In article <CDCJ8...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk>, arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:

>>Reproduction is a moral duty because it allows the self to continue.
>>Neither the continuation of the species nor personal survival enter
>>into the equation. Care for the self ought to precede care for the
>>neighbor, as both Locke and Freud will readily tell you. And personal
>>survival is both impossible, and frequently undesirable.

> Your argument is beginning to make some sense to me now. (Scott has
> obviously found the right key!) "Homosexuality is bad because it is
> a form of soul-suicide": would that an accurate (albeit intolerably
> brief and informal) summary of your argument?

This won't work, because Zeleny does not think that a sexual act
engaged in with reproduction in mind is either a necessary or
sufficient condition for classifying it as moral.

What I want to know is when Zeleny is going to start his large
family.



> The argument is that a person's choice to take only homosexual partners
> frustrates that same person's [possibly unconscious] need for [some kind
> of] personal survival beyond bodily death;

This "argument" is gibberish. Reproduction is not personal survival.

Arguing that one ought not to do something because one "really" wants to
do something different supposes that there is a real nature that
everyone has, and that Zeleny knows what it is. Do you buy this?

Moreover, homosexual intercourse can lead in causal sequence to
reproduction. Zeleny rejects it anyway. He accepts acts which cannot
lead to reproduction, so long as they are not homosexual. So this
is all rubbish.


gsm...@uoft02.utoledo.edu

unread,
Sep 14, 1993, 9:36:10 PM9/14/93
to
In article <274lrj$r...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>, zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

> opposition to *my* moral principles. What gets me going, is the
> climate where one can stand accused of any number of intellectual
> transgressions, merely for his audacity in airing out a considered
> moral judgment of such a lifestyle.

You have never aired a considered moral judgment. I am not sure
you are capable of making one. Moreover, you are not talking
about a 'lifestyle'.

> Agreed; but I suspect that my strongest feelings have to do with
> the freedom of thought, rather than the ends of sexuality.

To have freedom of thought you must first have thought. Learn to
think, and you will have the starting point for freedom of thought.

This means *really* think, not just ventilate your infantile
prejudices in a garb of phony reason.


Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 6:40:30 AM9/15/93
to
In article <276hlq$k...@mizar.usc.edu>
adol...@mizar.usc.edu (adolphson) writes:

|In article <276ckd$e...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
|zel...@gevalt.mit.edu writes:

||Please think again, -- "equal rights for homosexuals" is a blatant
||and noxious oxymoron. Equal rights have no specific beneficiaries;
||otherwise they are decidedly unequal.

|You're just begging the question, moron. Heterosexuals
|are allowed -- have the right -- to do many things that
|are not allowed to homosexuals. The right to marry is
|the most obvious.

You are simply confused, buttercup. Being allowed does not
amount to having a natural right. To the extent that marriage,
when regarded by the state, is no more and no less than a civil
contract, everyone should be able to enter into one. (I believe
that the proper term here is "domestic partnership".) Note that
this is an issue of *civil* rights, and not one of "equal rights
for homosexuals".

||Whenever a right exists, it
||applies to everyone, regardless of their race, creed, gender, or
||private predilections.

|Look at the statutes concerning marriage, inheritance,
|adoption, and sexual acts conducted in private with
|consenting adult partners.

Nothing I have said should be taking as a tacit approval of any
current statute. Some of your concerns would be adequately
addressed by fully recognizing a right to privacy. Others, --
like marriage and adoption, insofar as they transcend the nature
of civil contracts, -- may not be rights at all, natural or
otherwise.

||Whenever a right does not exist, -- and
||note that I am certainly not denying the existence of the right to
||work, but merely its legal and social recognition, -- there is no
||justification for conferring it upon any particular group, or
||introducing it in a selective manner.

|Then I take it that you aren't against enshrining such
|a principle in the law books?

You had best start by working out the minutiae. "Enshrining in
the law books" the right to work, would radically change the
society as we know it. (Think 1848 and the National Workshops.)
Not that it would be a bad thing to change it.

|--
|Arne Adolphson "I think we're finished with that 'Hey! Look at me!'
|adol...@mizar.usc.edu makeup. We want to be feminine and very touchable,
| or and have people say, 'You've come a long way, baby!'"
|ar...@ursa-major.spdcc.com -- Joan Crawford

cordially,


mikhail zel...@gevalt.mit.edu -- a man in transition

Angus H Rodgers

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 9:24:25 AM9/15/93
to
In <1993Sep14....@uoft02.utoledo.edu>
gsm...@uoft02.utoledo.edu writes:

>In article <CDCJ8...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk>,
arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:

>What I want to know is when Zeleny is going to start his large
>family.

I was wondering the same thing, but was too polite to ask.

>> The argument is that a person's choice to take only homosexual partners
>> frustrates that same person's [possibly unconscious] need for [some kind
>> of] personal survival beyond bodily death;

>This "argument" is gibberish.

Did I say it wasn't?

I was doing something which we rational people call "suspending judgement".
(You should try it some time.)

>Arguing that one ought not to do something because one "really" wants to
>do something different supposes that there is a real nature that
>everyone has, and that Zeleny knows what it is. Do you buy this?

I buy the first part, but not the second. That is, I believe that the
argument which you mention has the first, but not the second, of the
two presuppositions which you mention. I cannot tell whether you think
I have "bought": the argument; the fact that the argument presupposes
one thing; the non-fact that it presupposes something else; or either
or both of the presuppositions in question.

(If you could just be a bit more like Zeleny, without tipping over the
edge into formalisation of everything, it would help me to understand
what you are getting at.)

I don't buy the argument. I do buy the first presupposition. I don't
buy the second. And I guess that one of these statements must be the
answer you want. :)

>[...] So this is all rubbish.

I fear that you have lost the baby along with the bathwater.

Angus H Rodgers

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 12:39:43 PM9/15/93
to
In <276ckd$e...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>Which absolute moral system, would you say, is
>capable of condemning the intolerance of "the Judaeo-Christian
>absolutism", in view of its demonstrable numerical superiority,
>both among the military personnel, and the American electorate?

If by "which system", you mean some already articulated philosophy,
which can stand against the (partially articulate) Judaeo-Christian
one, in support of greater tolerance in sexual matters, then I know
of none. (Freud let us down, by pretending to be a scientist instead
of a prophet.)

The relevance of numerical superiority in this context escapes me.
(You may have a more military mind than mine.) :)

>The reason I would not care to support
>the plight of the complainant in question, is the same as would
>compel me to withhold my support from the early Christians facing
>the lions in the Colosseum.

That sounds interesting; but I haven't understood what your reason is.

>So consider me a renegade to my people, but my
>policy is this: if you want me to venerate your gods, you had
>better extend the same courtesy to my fasces, or, as your people

>would say, my faggots. ^^^^^^

(You didn't mean "faeces", by any chance?) :)

You've completely lost me here. Feel free to adopt a Nietzschean tone,
if you like (I don't mind at all); but do recognise the constraint of
having to write for mere net.wits like me, not supermen (or sheep).

>I do indeed find homosexuality to be singularly
>reprehensible, being that it irremediably perverts a fundamentally
>creative human faculty.

"Perverts"? "Creative"? Have you explained the role of these concepts
in your argument?

>But it certainly does not follow that I
>would condone visiting thereupon any form of official persecution,
>as distinct from public desapprobation or private opprobrium. The
>dividing line is suggested by the right to privacy; and inasmuch
>as it is an inalienable right, I would oppose making one's private
>preferences a criterion of fitness for public service.

I am glad to note this (with reservations, of course).

>On the other hand,

Of course I knew there would be another hand.

>I see no reason to force any public or private
>employer to disregard this, or any other public or private aspect
>of any candidate for employment, at least until such time as the
>right to work (remember 1848?) is recognized as a fundamental
>human right.

You've put your finger on it here. -- I'm also getting out of my depth,
but that's no bad news: we had to get to the serious point eventually.

>To put this a bit more forcefully and appositely,
>being a dedicated _franc-tireur_, I regard myself as disqualified
>from having any opinion on the composition of the military; and
>furtermore, I consider the ongoing efforts of the proverbial
>middle-aged bourgeois pantywaists clamoring to force _hoi polloi_
>in arms to share their trenches with individuals whose behavior
>they find repugnant, to be contemptible beyond all measure.

Would you extend this argument to a white military refusing to take on
black soldiers?

Do you ever take a stand against powerful prejudice, or do you always
lie down for it?

Do you simply imitate the mannerisms of prejudice over the Net, in the
hope (so often gratified, that you just can't leave it alone) of inducing
suggestible readers to remind you (by their own outraged reactions) of the
moral duty of enlightened dissent which you wish to evade?

(I cannot lecture you on this; I am as much a coward as I take you to
be; and I would even decline your offer to fight a duel at this point.) :)

>To elaborate, I insist on leaving it to the military to decide on
>the composition of the military, until such time as the military
>ceases to exist. I also insist on leaving it to the employers to
>decide on the composition of their work force, until such time as
>the property right is no longer recognized as valid.

This is where I am out of my depth. I did not get on very well when
trying to argue against a bunch of Libertarians about the Colorado
amendment; and I doubt if I will do any better against you. I call
for reinforcements at this point. :)

>Personally,
>my naive views on employing a homosexual would vary considerably,
>depending on the position: while I would never hesitate to hire
>one as an engineer, I would be very reluctant to one as a
>bartender.

Fair enough: there's no reason why Chez Mikhail should have to be a
gay bar, when so many straight men might want to exchange banter, or
wallow in self-pity, with a fellow-sufferer, and convivial host, who
can keep a friendly eye on those safe personal limits to intoxication
which they are so busy ignoring. :)

>Please think again, -- "equal rights for homosexuals" is a blatant
>and noxious oxymoron. Equal rights have no specific beneficiaries;
>otherwise they are decidedly unequal. Whenever a right exists, it
>applies to everyone, regardless of their race, creed, gender, or
>private predilections. Whenever a right does not exist, -- and
>note that I am certainly not denying the existence of the right to
>work, but merely its legal and social recognition, -- there is no
>justification for conferring it upon any particular group, or
>introducing it in a selective manner.

I really think it is possible to educate you on this, since the point
is so simple. [In essence, in essence! There is still plenty of room
for us both to be as prolix, or indeed prolific, as we like.] :)

First off, I agree with you that rights, where they exist at all, belong
in like manner to everybody [in some vaguely Kantian sense -- which, no
doubt, you can make more precise than I can].

Second, the right(s) in question [I would be, as I have already admitted,
on an insecure footing if I tried to go into too much detail as to what
exactly the rights would be, in respect of employment, and particularly
military employment; but I hope that not much detail is germane to the
argument] need not, in their formulation, single out any particular group
of "beneficiaries" (as you put it).

No more than you am I a fan of rigid quota-based selection procedures.
[My wife, who is black, and who is also a public sector worker, and who
therefore has experienced these sort of mechanical interview procedures
several times, and may also have benefitted materially from them, sees
them as absurd and inhuman; and her vivid descriptions have convinced
me that that is just what they are.]

If you can convince me that the only way to eliminate unjust prejudice
from public employment [and I hope you are not going to go on and on
about a "free market", because I would have trouble arguing with you,
and would need help to demonstrate where you are wrong] is to adopt
blindly mechanical, "Politically Correct" procedures which themselves
offend against natural justice and reason, you will have convinced me
that the concept of "equal rights" for [category X] is just what you
say it is.

I hope we can agree, anyway, that the denial of the necessities of life
to homosexuals is (or would be) injust; and that the possibly mistaken
tactics of the Left (and the clever tactics of the richly-funded Right)
[is that a fair description?] in Colorado do not constitute proof that
homosexuals cannot justly receive legal protection from such deprivation
(should it be threatened).

Our argument, then, need only concentrate on: (1) the question of the
existence of something like a "right to work" [here is where I shall
possibly need help, as I have little idea of how to argue this point,
should any argument occur -- although, fortunately for me, it appears,
from Zeleny's words quoted above, that it won't]; and (2) whether the
entrenched unjust discrimination against homosexuals (whose existence
you do seem to admit) can be formulated in sufficiently general terms
for the Categorical Imperative [or whatever -- I bow to your greater
erudition] to apply to it, so that legislation which offends neither
you nor me *might* be formulated in such a way as to lessen its force.

On (2), then, I would try to argue that the focus should be on the
arbitrary and irrelevant personal prejudices of the individual who,
on behalf of an effectively monopolistic employer, is in a position
to grant or refuse employment to a candidate [a gay man, a lesbian,
a black man or woman, or some other member of some "Category X" --
favoured by the Politically Correct, just because it is in disfavour
with the Right]; and not with the free [if not "freely chosen"], and
equally irrelevant, personal life of the candidate.

Rather than try to complete the argument, at this point, I shall try to
establish this change of focus; and be content, meanwhile, with a slogan:
"Refusal of employment, on grounds which are irrelevant to the job to be
done, in cases where no reasonable alternative employment is available,
should be illegal." -- Something like that. (Obviously the law needs to
be drafted a little more carefully than this; but the more general moral
laws tend to be like that.) :)

Your move.

Incidentally, I notice that I do seem (in spite of myself) to be tackling
point (1) at the same time as point (2): because my view (even as little
as it has been articulated so far) is already clearly incompatible with
any thoroughgoing "free market" ideology.

>Contrary to what you say, I do not recall receiving any "careful
>rebuttals", as opposed to bombastic denunciations and groundless
>obloquy; and if any of that verbiage came from "intelligent and
>decent people", their alleged intelligence and decency sooner or
>later gave way to a torrent of inarticulate, spiteful mumblings.

You memory appears to be at fault: which leads me to wonder (with
curiosity and even some dread) how you will recall my contribution. :)

>Even the otherwise unexceptionable liberal Mr Mike cannot find the
>guts to withdraw his erstwhile characterization of my theses as
>illogical and immoral.

Scarcely a "bombastic denunciation", or a "groundless obloquy", or
an "inarticulate, spiteful mumbling".

But let's get back to the facts of the matter. (Perhaps the diversion
was mine in the first place; I can't remember.)

>But the fact of the matter is,

Thank you. :)

>there exist
>any number of unimpeachably valid

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Gosh! This is news. :)

>denunciations of "alternative
>sexualities", whether based in revelation

^^^^^^^^^^
Ah, that's right, you did only say "valid".

>(Leviticus, the Pauline
>epistles), fideistic reasoning (Augustine, Aquinas),

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Lost me again, I'm afraid. But I once had some instruction from a priest
(belonging to Opus Dei); and I was impressed by his intelligence, and by
the philosophical resources upon which he seemed to be able to draw; so I
can imagine the sort of thing you probably mean.

>or purely
>secular considerations (Kant, Sartre);

In my opinion, Sartre was an extremely clever and interesting twerp,
and no authority on sexual or moral matters. But I shall look at his
reasoning, if you want me to. I can't promise to do the same with
Kant, even though I have much more respect for him. [I didn't sense
him spinning in his grave at my limerick -- whereas one of the other
ones I wrote, about Sartre, did seem to cause some annoyance to the
latter, in his private intellectual Hell.]

Secular, you say: that's extremely interesting, to me, because I
always did feel that I had something very important to learn from
Kant, about morality -- some lesson which my wife, in spite of her
degree in theology and philosophy, never seems to have been at all
interested in trying to get across to me. [I think it's because I'm
cleverer than she is; whereas she probably thinks it's because I am
a hopeless atheistic pervert.] So do go ahead. This might get even
more interesting. I just hope it doesn't get too difficult for me.

>and no _bona fide_ advocate
>of pluralism has any right to impugn these demonstrably consistent
>moral conceptions.

No problem for me, as I am not any kind of relativist.

>On the other hand, to reject liberal pluralism
>would be tantamount to denying the "alternative lifestyles" any
>chance for thriving, beyond bare survival.

BOING! Dammit, you went and (mis)used the word "liberal"! Don't you
know that that's one of my flame buttons? I'll let you off this time,
but be more careful in future. (No penalty for a first offence; and
ignorance of my laws does count as an excuse.) :)

I admit it is, theoretically, just possible that I am the only person
in history who is both a political liberal and a moral realist; perhaps
I am just too ill-educated and politically and socially inexperienced
to have discovered this alarming fact. But it is far more likely that
there are many other people out there who also feel like going beserk,
every time they hear this simple misunderstanding being repeated -- on
both their Left and their Right. (You appear to be on the Right, from
my absolutely central perspective.) :)

>||Thus I derive no
>||small amount of pleasure from crushing the creatures who are prone
>||to such presumption, regardless of the ideology they espouse, or
>||the orifice they prefer.

>|I doubt if you really know the source of this pleasure. (No, neither do I.)

>On the contrary, I know it well enough. It is by far the least
>objectionable way to cater to my overweening sociopathic urges.

I honestly, sincerely, think that -- for once, just once -- you
underestimate yourself here. (But then, I'm just a naive, tired,
old liberal who never even got to be a Hippy; so what do I know?) :)

>Ever since I stopped hanging in the circles that offered regular
>opportunities for smashing people's faces against brick walls, I

(You can imagine that I'm looking nervous, at this point.)

>started feeling the need to compensate by indulging in the quaint
>form of ritual humiliation that passes for public debate around
>these parts.

I'm always game for a bit of consensual (pseudo)intellectual sadomasochism
(even a one-night stand).

Anyway, it's neither immoral or illegal. (It's just a bit expensive in
terms of time, when you've got academic work to do.) :)

>I aim to please.

You do, you really do.

>|[...] The existence of a connection

>|between people's sexual and intellectual lives becomes more and more
>|obvious to me, the older (and sadder and wiser) I get; but the exact
>|nature of this connection still escapes me almost completely. So I'm
>|still waiting for some maverick psychoanalyst to write a book on the
>|topic of "Reason and its vicissitudes".

>Sounds good. Too bad Jeffrey Masson is all tied up in that libel
>lawsuit.

Does he still believe in the existence of psychological [as
contrasted with political) repression? If he does, why does
he see no good use for any kind of psychotherapy? (I haven't
read _The Last Analysis_ yet, so the answer may be there.)

It occurs to me to ask if the intellectual decline of Western society in
this century is (a) more than just a figment of my diseased imagination,
and (b) due to homosexual guilt, which may be blamed on Freud's idiotic
reductionism, and his unforgiveable use of psychological interpretation
as mere character assassination. (Kraus, Szasz.)

We've all gone scuttling to take cover in separate relativistic shells,
so that we can't be accused of touching each other's minds.

You are a remarkable exception! Let me shake your ... no, your hand. :)

My inescapably [Excuse me, but may I borrow this big signifier of yours?
There's a signified I'd like to attach it to. Don't worry, you can have
it back when I've finished.] "phallogocentric" [That's it.] perspective
prevents me from seeing the whole picture; so I think that this part of
the thread could profitably be continued in soc.feminism -- although I
doubt if they would let me in there, if I'm seen in your company! :)

>Would you accept Andrea Dworkin, as the world-renowned
>expert on the insidious connections between men's two heads?

Only if there's a good solid brick wall nearby.

Or any boneheaded, dickbrained conservative would do. :)

>Do
>you think it is a mere coincidence that she and Jacques Derrida
>are never seen together?

Or him. :)

>|Oh damn, there goes my credibility again. :)

>Join the club.

I'm honoured.

[Who needs a life, when there's the Net?] :)

Angus H Rodgers

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 12:45:55 PM9/15/93
to
In <276reu$i...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>In article <276hlq$k...@mizar.usc.edu>
>adol...@mizar.usc.edu (adolphson) writes:

>|You're just begging the question, moron.

>You are simply confused, buttercup.

Toots. He likes "toots"! It sweetens him up no end.
Try it, and he'll eat out of your hand, you'll see. :)

Mike Godwin

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 2:30:08 PM9/15/93
to
In article <1993Sep13....@uoft02.utoledo.edu>,

<gsm...@uoft02.utoledo.edu> wrote:
>In that case, might I humbly suggest that you shut the fuck up?
>
>That way you could spare the rest of us the boredom, indifference,
>pity, contempt, and nausea your postings generally engender.

He probably finds comfort in the fact that at least he is engendering
*something*.


--Mikr

--
Mike Godwin, (202) 347-5400 |"If the doors of perception were cleansed
mnem...@well.sf.ca.us | every thing would appear to man as it is,
Electronic Frontier | infinite."
Foundation | --Blake

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 11:57:12 PM9/15/93
to
In article <277mvg$5...@eff.org> mnem...@eff.org (Mike Godwin) writes:

||In that case, might I humbly suggest that you shut the fuck up?

Avec plaisir, mon vieux. Get your fuck within my range, and I
will shut it up once and for all.

||That way you could spare the rest of us the boredom, indifference,
||pity, contempt, and nausea your postings generally engender.

|He probably finds comfort in the fact that at least he is
|engendering *something*.

Very good, Mr Mikr! but while we are so amusingly conjecturing
about our generative potential, did you require a mirror to
locate your organ underneath the perspiring heaps of adipose
tissue, before impregnating your lovely spouse?

|--Mikr
|
|--
|Mike Godwin, (202) 347-5400 |"If the doors of perception were cleansed
|mnem...@well.sf.ca.us | every thing would appear to man as it is,
|Electronic Frontier | infinite."
|Foundation | --Blake

cordially,

INFIDEL

unread,
Sep 15, 1993, 11:51:31 PM9/15/93
to
arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:


>Mysterious, huh? Mystified, more like. The existence of a connection
>between people's sexual and intellectual lives becomes more and more
>obvious to me, the older (and sadder and wiser) I get; but the exact
>nature of this connection still escapes me almost completely. So I'm
>still waiting for some maverick psychoanalyst to write a book on the
>topic of "Reason and its vicissitudes".

The causal nature of the connection is unimportant; what is important is
that one has the ability to _will_ it. Why ought one will it?

You experience thousands of contradictory impulses every day; why will
yourself to refuse some of them?

The kind of investigation that Misha is doing here is interesting
because it probes the limitations of free will. When Collier, last
week, threw his arms up in disgust and left the discussion, he still had
not refuted the view inherent in his position that free will does not
exist.

>Oh damn, there goes my credibility again. :)

Not really. It's a natural question to ask, especially these days.


>--
>Gus Rodgers, Dept. of Computer Science, Queen Mary & Westfield College,
>Mile End Road, London, England +44 71 975 5241 arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk


jw


Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Sep 16, 1993, 1:39:58 AM9/16/93
to
In article <CDEMA...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk>
arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:

|In <276ckd$e...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
|zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

||Which absolute moral system, would you say, is
||capable of condemning the intolerance of "the Judaeo-Christian
||absolutism", in view of its demonstrable numerical superiority,
||both among the military personnel, and the American electorate?

|If by "which system", you mean some already articulated philosophy,
|which can stand against the (partially articulate) Judaeo-Christian
|one, in support of greater tolerance in sexual matters, then I know
|of none. (Freud let us down, by pretending to be a scientist instead
|of a prophet.)

Then I would suggest that it is unconscionable to wage war for
any cause without being aware of its predictable consequences.
In other words, before you fire the first shot, you should learn
the trajectory of your missile, as well as the nature of all
things that lie in its way.

|The relevance of numerical superiority in this context escapes me.
|(You may have a more military mind than mine.) :)

Does the phrase "the tyranny of the majority" ring a bell?

||The reason I would not care to support
||the plight of the complainant in question, is the same as would
||compel me to withhold my support from the early Christians facing
||the lions in the Colosseum.

|That sounds interesting; but I haven't understood what your reason is.

I am not so keen on tolerance in the first place; so why should I
show any tolerance for the intolerant?

||So consider me a renegade to my people, but my
||policy is this: if you want me to venerate your gods, you had
||better extend the same courtesy to my fasces, or, as your people
||would say, my faggots. ^^^^^^

|(You didn't mean "faeces", by any chance?) :)

Are you perchance trying to offend my faggots?

|You've completely lost me here. Feel free to adopt a Nietzschean tone,
|if you like (I don't mind at all); but do recognise the constraint of
|having to write for mere net.wits like me, not supermen (or sheep).

I thought the meaning of my parable was fairly transparent.
There is no multiculturalism for the differently tolerant.

||I do indeed find homosexuality to be singularly
||reprehensible, being that it irremediably perverts a fundamentally
||creative human faculty.

|"Perverts"? "Creative"? Have you explained the role of these concepts
|in your argument?

Yes, many times over.

||But it certainly does not follow that I
||would condone visiting thereupon any form of official persecution,
||as distinct from public desapprobation or private opprobrium. The
||dividing line is suggested by the right to privacy; and inasmuch
||as it is an inalienable right, I would oppose making one's private
||preferences a criterion of fitness for public service.

|I am glad to note this (with reservations, of course).

Not so fast.

||On the other hand,

|Of course I knew there would be another hand.

How could there not be another hand, from a liberal, -- or, for
that matter, philosophical, -- standpoint?

||I see no reason to force any public or private
||employer to disregard this, or any other public or private aspect
||of any candidate for employment, at least until such time as the
||right to work (remember 1848?) is recognized as a fundamental
||human right.

|You've put your finger on it here. -- I'm also getting out of my depth,
|but that's no bad news: we had to get to the serious point eventually.

Stop complaining and keep on digging.

||To put this a bit more forcefully and appositely,
||being a dedicated _franc-tireur_, I regard myself as disqualified
||from having any opinion on the composition of the military; and
||furtermore, I consider the ongoing efforts of the proverbial
||middle-aged bourgeois pantywaists clamoring to force _hoi polloi_
||in arms to share their trenches with individuals whose behavior
||they find repugnant, to be contemptible beyond all measure.

|Would you extend this argument to a white military refusing to take on
|black soldiers?

Why not? Coercion is coercion. Why should the employer's rights
be valued any less than those of the employee? If you would force
the former to enter into a contractual relation they may wish to
avoid, why not do likewise for the latter?

|Do you ever take a stand against powerful prejudice, or do you always
|lie down for it?

I have scars on my face and on my knuckles, as a vivid reminder of
having taken a stand against powerful prejudice. But I am equally
appalled by those who clamor to force the public to participate in
their personal fights.

|Do you simply imitate the mannerisms of prejudice over the Net, in the
|hope (so often gratified, that you just can't leave it alone) of inducing
|suggestible readers to remind you (by their own outraged reactions) of the
|moral duty of enlightened dissent which you wish to evade?

And here I thought that I was exercising my moral duty of
enlightened dissent. As says Fido, orthodoxy is your doxy,
heterodoxy is my doxy.

|(I cannot lecture you on this; I am as much a coward as I take you to
|be; and I would even decline your offer to fight a duel at this point.) :)

You want it both ways: judge me at fault by my rules, while
playing the game by your rules. Not too sporting, old chap.

||To elaborate, I insist on leaving it to the military to decide on
||the composition of the military, until such time as the military
||ceases to exist. I also insist on leaving it to the employers to
||decide on the composition of their work force, until such time as
||the property right is no longer recognized as valid.

|This is where I am out of my depth. I did not get on very well when
|trying to argue against a bunch of Libertarians about the Colorado
|amendment; and I doubt if I will do any better against you. I call
|for reinforcements at this point. :)

Do not mistake me for any sort of libertarian.

||Personally,
||my naive views on employing a homosexual would vary considerably,
||depending on the position: while I would never hesitate to hire
||one as an engineer, I would be very reluctant to one as a
||bartender.

|Fair enough: there's no reason why Chez Mikhail should have to be a
|gay bar, when so many straight men might want to exchange banter, or
|wallow in self-pity, with a fellow-sufferer, and convivial host, who
|can keep a friendly eye on those safe personal limits to intoxication
|which they are so busy ignoring. :)

Never did much pub-crawling, did you? Speaking from abundant
experience, as a friend and freeloader of several barkeeps, and
an afficionado of numerous bar wenches, the sure-fire way to
achieve success as a publician, is by hiring a charismatic and
gregarious heterosexual male bartender. For in doing so, one
ensures a steady flow of horny heterosexual women, who in turn
attract a crowd of profligate heterosexual men. By contrast, a
homosexual bartender will at best attract a bevy of fag hags,
whereas an attractive female at the helm will, for some reasons
known only to Bacchus and Boadicea, draw in nought but a host of
lugubrious, pasty-faced Englishmen. I kid you not.

||Please think again, -- "equal rights for homosexuals" is a blatant
||and noxious oxymoron. Equal rights have no specific beneficiaries;
||otherwise they are decidedly unequal. Whenever a right exists, it
||applies to everyone, regardless of their race, creed, gender, or
||private predilections. Whenever a right does not exist, -- and
||note that I am certainly not denying the existence of the right to
||work, but merely its legal and social recognition, -- there is no
||justification for conferring it upon any particular group, or
||introducing it in a selective manner.

|I really think it is possible to educate you on this, since the point
|is so simple. [In essence, in essence! There is still plenty of room
|for us both to be as prolix, or indeed prolific, as we like.] :)

Prolongable prolocution would be more like it. My own preference
is to speak for myself, and observe the right of way: each thrust
must be followed by a parry.

|First off, I agree with you that rights, where they exist at all, belong
|in like manner to everybody [in some vaguely Kantian sense -- which, no
|doubt, you can make more precise than I can].

If I can, so can you, with a few leading questions.

|Second, the right(s) in question [I would be, as I have already admitted,
|on an insecure footing if I tried to go into too much detail as to what
|exactly the rights would be, in respect of employment, and particularly
|military employment; but I hope that not much detail is germane to the
|argument] need not, in their formulation, single out any particular group
|of "beneficiaries" (as you put it).

Quite so. Just make sure that you do not favor the employees
over the employers. The employment contract is in principle a
matter of symmetrical trade of goods for services. What public
rationale can you offer for constraining one party more than you
constrain the other?

|No more than you am I a fan of rigid quota-based selection procedures.
|[My wife, who is black, and who is also a public sector worker, and who
|therefore has experienced these sort of mechanical interview procedures
|several times, and may also have benefitted materially from them, sees
|them as absurd and inhuman; and her vivid descriptions have convinced
|me that that is just what they are.]

So be it.

|If you can convince me that the only way to eliminate unjust prejudice
|from public employment [and I hope you are not going to go on and on
|about a "free market", because I would have trouble arguing with you,
|and would need help to demonstrate where you are wrong] is to adopt
|blindly mechanical, "Politically Correct" procedures which themselves
|offend against natural justice and reason, you will have convinced me
|that the concept of "equal rights" for [category X] is just what you
|say it is.

Whose injustice?

|I hope we can agree, anyway, that the denial of the necessities of life
|to homosexuals is (or would be) injust; and that the possibly mistaken
|tactics of the Left (and the clever tactics of the richly-funded Right)
|[is that a fair description?] in Colorado do not constitute proof that
|homosexuals cannot justly receive legal protection from such deprivation
|(should it be threatened).

Denial presupposes access. Until and unless the right to access
and acquire "the necessities of life" is fully guaranteed by the
public sector, your talk of denial will make no sense whatsoever.
As an employer, I am under no obligation to provide for anyone not
enjoying a contractual relation with me for that purpose. What
you call deprivation, cannot be qualified as such in the absence
of a fully guaranteed supply of the commodity in question, namely
employment opportunity. But no such guaranteed supply exists in
our society; and hence your proposal to regulate it in a negative
fashion, amounts to no more and no less than a unilateral social
infringement of one party's freedom of association.

|Our argument, then, need only concentrate on: (1) the question of the
|existence of something like a "right to work" [here is where I shall
|possibly need help, as I have little idea of how to argue this point,
|should any argument occur -- although, fortunately for me, it appears,
|from Zeleny's words quoted above, that it won't]; and (2) whether the
|entrenched unjust discrimination against homosexuals (whose existence
|you do seem to admit) can be formulated in sufficiently general terms
|for the Categorical Imperative [or whatever -- I bow to your greater
|erudition] to apply to it, so that legislation which offends neither
|you nor me *might* be formulated in such a way as to lessen its force.

Ah yes, the fabled Categorical Imperative: "So act that the maxim
of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle
establishing universal law." Translation: the validation of any
homosexual act by the Categorical Imperative is tantamount to
establishing the desirability of the universal extinction of all
mankind. In my circles, they call it a _reductio ad absurdum_.

As regards the right to work, my recommendation is to read William
Sewell's, _Work & Revolution in France_, CUP, 1980. Concerning
discrimination, I submit that it may be called unjust only if the
fundamental discriminating principle is wholly bereft of moral
relevance. Thus discrimination against an innate characteristic
is inherently unjust; but the legitimacy of discrimination against
a behavior pattern, regardless of whether or not it is motivated
by an innate characteristic, depends on the moral merits thereof.
Thus in order to deem discrimination against homosexuality unjust,
you would have to begin by delegitimizing all comprehensive moral
conceptions that judge it as morally deficient. Note that it
would not do to take the matters in the reverse order, proclaiming
such discrimination unjust on _a priori_ grounds; for that would
beg the question of morality altogether. So the ball is in your
court.

|On (2), then, I would try to argue that the focus should be on the
|arbitrary and irrelevant personal prejudices of the individual who,
|on behalf of an effectively monopolistic employer, is in a position
|to grant or refuse employment to a candidate [a gay man, a lesbian,
|a black man or woman, or some other member of some "Category X" --
|favoured by the Politically Correct, just because it is in disfavour
|with the Right]; and not with the free [if not "freely chosen"], and
|equally irrelevant, personal life of the candidate.

Huh? why can't the (kindly cut the "effectively monopolistic"
demagoguery) employer's personal desire to avoid association with
anyone whatsoever, for any reason of his choosing, be relevant to
the issue of setting the social constraints on such association?
If the liberal society should presume to stipulate the criteria of
relevance governing the individual's freedom to enter into a
contractual agreement, why can't it do the same for his freedom to
choose his marriage partner, his religion, his forms of expression
and sources of information, his dwelling, his educators, or even
his form of sexuality? Where do you propose to draw the line in
this allegedly benign paternalistic intervention? It seems that
you have already pronounced the relevant moral tenets of the
majority of Abrahamite religions to be contrary to your _raison
d'Etat_; and as I have shown above, you would have to do the same
for the Categorical Imperative. So how do you propose to
reconcile this extremist position with the familiar liberal
disclaimer of taking a stand on any comprehensive moral or
political doctrine?

|Rather than try to complete the argument, at this point, I shall try to
|establish this change of focus; and be content, meanwhile, with a slogan:
|"Refusal of employment, on grounds which are irrelevant to the job to be
|done, in cases where no reasonable alternative employment is available,
|should be illegal." -- Something like that. (Obviously the law needs to
|be drafted a little more carefully than this; but the more general moral
|laws tend to be like that.) :)
|
|Your move.

So how does a variant strike you: "Refusal of sexual intercourse,


on grounds which are irrelevant to the job to be done, in cases

where no reasonable alternative partner is available, should be
illegal." (I cannot presume to speak for all mankind, but I would
rather get by without a regular job, than without a regular trim!)
What? how dare that wench refuse my amorous advances! What does
she mean, saying that I smell like a billy-goat and look like a
sack of lard? None of that shit in any way affects my ability to
perform the job! (You may substitute any other kind of, umm...
optional association, into your proposed statute.)

|Incidentally, I notice that I do seem (in spite of myself) to be tackling
|point (1) at the same time as point (2): because my view (even as little
|as it has been articulated so far) is already clearly incompatible with
|any thoroughgoing "free market" ideology.

Nor is mine; but I make up for that shortcoming by not identifying
myself as any kind of liberal.

||Contrary to what you say, I do not recall receiving any "careful
||rebuttals", as opposed to bombastic denunciations and groundless
||obloquy; and if any of that verbiage came from "intelligent and
||decent people", their alleged intelligence and decency sooner or
||later gave way to a torrent of inarticulate, spiteful mumblings.

|You memory appears to be at fault: which leads me to wonder (with
|curiosity and even some dread) how you will recall my contribution. :)

Please remind me of one specific occasion that fits your description.

||Even the otherwise unexceptionable liberal Mr Mike cannot find the
||guts to withdraw his erstwhile characterization of my theses as
||illogical and immoral.

|Scarcely a "bombastic denunciation", or a "groundless obloquy", or
|an "inarticulate, spiteful mumbling".

Like I said, Mr Mike is an exception among my critics. But even
in his case, the attempt to promulgate a careful rebuttal of my
views, ended in abject failure.

|But let's get back to the facts of the matter. (Perhaps the diversion
|was mine in the first place; I can't remember.)

Whatever.

||But the fact of the matter is,

|Thank you. :)

You are welcome.

||there exist
||any number of unimpeachably valid
| ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

|Gosh! This is news. :)

Hardly.

||denunciations of "alternative
||sexualities", whether based in revelation
| ^^^^^^^^^^

|Ah, that's right, you did only say "valid".

What else do you want? Validity both confers and certifies
legitimacy in a liberal society.

||(Leviticus, the Pauline
||epistles), fideistic reasoning (Augustine, Aquinas),
| ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

|Lost me again, I'm afraid. But I once had some instruction from a priest
|(belonging to Opus Dei); and I was impressed by his intelligence, and by
|the philosophical resources upon which he seemed to be able to draw; so I
|can imagine the sort of thing you probably mean.

You might as well take it on faith.

||or purely
||secular considerations (Kant, Sartre);

|In my opinion, Sartre was an extremely clever and interesting twerp,
|and no authority on sexual or moral matters. But I shall look at his
|reasoning, if you want me to. I can't promise to do the same with
|Kant, even though I have much more respect for him. [I didn't sense
|him spinning in his grave at my limerick -- whereas one of the other
|ones I wrote, about Sartre, did seem to cause some annoyance to the
|latter, in his private intellectual Hell.]

Let me make this crystal clear: as a moral realist, you may well
feel yourself justified in dismissing incorrect moral conceptions;
but as a liberal, you are required to allot equal opportunity to
each coherent system of moral beliefs. So validity is all I have
to establish; the truth of the premisses need not concern me in
the least, as long as they are not self-contradictory. As regards
Sartre, his perspective on homosexuality as a willful perversion
of desire, is to be found in _Being and Nothingness_. For the
rest, see above.

|Secular, you say: that's extremely interesting, to me, because I
|always did feel that I had something very important to learn from
|Kant, about morality -- some lesson which my wife, in spite of her
|degree in theology and philosophy, never seems to have been at all
|interested in trying to get across to me. [I think it's because I'm
|cleverer than she is; whereas she probably thinks it's because I am
|a hopeless atheistic pervert.] So do go ahead. This might get even
|more interesting. I just hope it doesn't get too difficult for me.

The Kantian position is simple: from an act-deontological
standpoint, which recognizes the Categorical Imperative, the
morality of any choice is (a) wholly independent from one's
desires in the matter, and (b) must be universalizable to all
human beings in a similar situation. Another formulation of the
same principle, which is said to be equivalent to the above ("Act
so as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of
another, always as an end and never as means only."), appears to
rule out any possibility of sex outside of an enduring contractual
arrangement including total mutual alienation of the participants'
to each other. And so it goes.

||and no _bona fide_ advocate
||of pluralism has any right to impugn these demonstrably consistent
||moral conceptions.

|No problem for me, as I am not any kind of relativist.

Then you are bound to lack the tolerance required for maintaining
the liberal outlook.

||On the other hand, to reject liberal pluralism
||would be tantamount to denying the "alternative lifestyles" any
||chance for thriving, beyond bare survival.

|BOING! Dammit, you went and (mis)used the word "liberal"! Don't you
|know that that's one of my flame buttons? I'll let you off this time,
|but be more careful in future. (No penalty for a first offence; and
|ignorance of my laws does count as an excuse.) :)
|
|I admit it is, theoretically, just possible that I am the only person
|in history who is both a political liberal and a moral realist; perhaps
|I am just too ill-educated and politically and socially inexperienced
|to have discovered this alarming fact. But it is far more likely that
|there are many other people out there who also feel like going beserk,
|every time they hear this simple misunderstanding being repeated -- on
|both their Left and their Right. (You appear to be on the Right, from
|my absolutely central perspective.) :)

I think that your position is logically incoherent. But to show
it will require some doing. As for your perspective, I am at a
loss trying to surmise the criteria that warrant your attribution
of that particular position to my humble person.

||||Thus I derive no
||||small amount of pleasure from crushing the creatures who are prone
||||to such presumption, regardless of the ideology they espouse, or
||||the orifice they prefer.

|||I doubt if you really know the source of this pleasure. (No, neither do I.)

||On the contrary, I know it well enough. It is by far the least
||objectionable way to cater to my overweening sociopathic urges.

|I honestly, sincerely, think that -- for once, just once -- you
|underestimate yourself here. (But then, I'm just a naive, tired,
|old liberal who never even got to be a Hippy; so what do I know?) :)

Pray tell.

||Ever since I stopped hanging in the circles that offered regular
||opportunities for smashing people's faces against brick walls, I

|(You can imagine that I'm looking nervous, at this point.)

No need. As I said, I gave it up.

||started feeling the need to compensate by indulging in the quaint
||form of ritual humiliation that passes for public debate around
||these parts.

|I'm always game for a bit of consensual (pseudo)intellectual
|sadomasochism (even a one-night stand).

Happy to hear that.

|Anyway, it's neither immoral or illegal. (It's just a bit expensive
|in terms of time, when you've got academic work to do.) :)

You are sadly mistaken. It is impossible to give consent for assault.

||I aim to please.

|You do, you really do.

It is good to have found some measure of credibility.

|||[...] The existence of a connection
|||between people's sexual and intellectual lives becomes more and more
|||obvious to me, the older (and sadder and wiser) I get; but the exact
|||nature of this connection still escapes me almost completely. So I'm
|||still waiting for some maverick psychoanalyst to write a book on the
|||topic of "Reason and its vicissitudes".

||Sounds good. Too bad Jeffrey Masson is all tied up in that libel
||lawsuit.

|Does he still believe in the existence of psychological [as
|contrasted with political) repression? If he does, why does
|he see no good use for any kind of psychotherapy? (I haven't
|read _The Last Analysis_ yet, so the answer may be there.)

No idea. I am still awaiting the outcome of his collaboration
with Catherine McKinnon.

|It occurs to me to ask if the intellectual decline of Western society in
|this century is (a) more than just a figment of my diseased imagination,
|and (b) due to homosexual guilt, which may be blamed on Freud's idiotic
|reductionism, and his unforgiveable use of psychological interpretation
|as mere character assassination. (Kraus, Szasz.)

To talk of an intellectual decline, one must assume an antecedent
plateau. I see no evidence of radiant past.

|We've all gone scuttling to take cover in separate relativistic shells,
|so that we can't be accused of touching each other's minds.

Nothing new about that.

|You are a remarkable exception! Let me shake your ... no, your hand. :)

Come over to sci.logic, big boy. The Platonic realm is wide open
for your delectation.

|My inescapably [Excuse me, but may I borrow this big signifier of yours?
|There's a signified I'd like to attach it to. Don't worry, you can have
|it back when I've finished.] "phallogocentric" [That's it.] perspective
|prevents me from seeing the whole picture; so I think that this part of
|the thread could profitably be continued in soc.feminism -- although I
|doubt if they would let me in there, if I'm seen in your company! :)

How dare they! I am a big fan of the redoubtable Ms Dworkin!

||Would you accept Andrea Dworkin, as the world-renowned
||expert on the insidious connections between men's two heads?

|Only if there's a good solid brick wall nearby.

How cruel of you. Am I to assume that you are yet to master the
art of non-invasive sexual congress?

|Or any boneheaded, dickbrained conservative would do. :)

Not to impugn your relative standing, but the conservatives enjoy
the better grade of booze and Cuban cigars galore. Ever since the
lefties had lost their superiority in illicit substances, their
position remained without any intrinsic appeal. How ironic,
considering that in any meaningful sense, there is no extant
alternative to liberalism in the political culture of this
benighted country.

||Do
||you think it is a mere coincidence that she and Jacques Derrida
||are never seen together?

|Or him. :)

Bitter, aren't we? What about your political confederate, Dick Rorty?

|||Oh damn, there goes my credibility again. :)

||Join the club.

|I'm honoured.

The honor is all mine.

|[Who needs a life, when there's the Net?] :)

Erin keeps urging me otherwise.

|--
|Gus Rodgers, Dept. of Computer Science, Queen Mary & Westfield College,
|Mile End Road, London, England +44 71 975 5241 arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk

cordially, | Why is it that all those who have become eminent

jw...@key.amdahl.com

unread,
Sep 16, 1993, 2:08:15 AM9/16/93
to

> Believe it, baby. To take your blithe assertions in order, you are
> confusing will (striving) with power (ability).

Perhaps we do not share the same definitions. Being the measurement
oriented type, I prefer to think of it as a kind of vector. Will determines
the direction of constraint, and power determines the amount of constraint.
I also want to emphasize that an individual can consciously recognize the
will exerted over the self, even if performed internally. In this case,
a second person would have no way of knowing, but that is irrelevent for
the primary observer. I can project a theory that other minds operate
similar to my own, as long as I don't demand verification ( although
falsifiability would seem a recommendable feature of any such theory ).

The fact of the matter is that it seems we have two different ways
of interpretting the perceived world around us. You start from some
definition of morality as a vague preservation of self and build to
a conclusion that homosexuality is morally wrong ( although I suspect
you actually mean ethically wrong ). I start with the definition of
the difference between ethics and morality being that of concensus. I
then build a case against the moral claims of your argument. Of course,
you've thrown every demon imaginable at me when I have openly admitted
that concensus is an ideal that can only be approximated through some
kind of political process ( the one that springs to mind is democracy ).

Now, I defy you to show any other purpose for the existence of logic
than to establish concensus. I also defy you to show any other purpose
for concensus than to enable the exercise of free will.

John Williams

Angus H Rodgers

unread,
Sep 16, 1993, 7:50:52 AM9/16/93
to
In <278ns3$f...@uniwa.uwa.edu.au> woj...@maths.uwa.oz.au (INFIDEL) writes:

>arod...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Angus H Rodgers) writes:

>>[...] The existence of a connection

>>between people's sexual and intellectual lives becomes more and more
>>obvious to me, the older (and sadder and wiser) I get; but the exact

>>nature of this connection still escapes me almost completely. [...]

>The causal nature of the connection is unimportant; what is important is
>that one has the ability to _will_ it. Why ought one will it?

Because it is there?

Because otherwise one must kill one of two Siamese twins?

>You experience thousands of contradictory impulses every day; why will
>yourself to refuse some of them?

(I don't see the connection between this question and the other one, but:)

Because of lack of time?

Because one must compose oneself from the materials available, which
means leaving most of them out of the picture (even a moving picture)?

Because you want question the orders before obeying them, because it's
not always clear where your impulses are coming from?

Or simply because choosing one of them logically implies rejecting others?
(You did say "contradictory".)

Because even if there is time, and even if harmonious composure is not
important, and even if the impulses are all one's own, and even if the
acceptance of one of them today does not preclude the acceptance of an
incompatible one tomorrow, some choices one must make in relationship
to other agents have the logical property of implying some consistency
between further choices contingent on these: for example, one may wish
to keep one's promises, because if one does not, then certain rewards
of relationship are unavailable. (I'll leave Zeleny to iron out all the
kinks in this "argument", and present it in formal deontic logic.) :)

(You've confused me, but it's interesting, all the same.)

Jim Kalb

unread,
Sep 16, 1993, 8:30:13 AM9/16/93
to
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>Concerning discrimination, I submit that it may be called unjust only if
>the fundamental discriminating principle is wholly bereft of moral
>relevance. Thus discrimination against an innate characteristic is
>inherently unjust [ . . . ]

What does this mean? It sounds right if "discrimination" means
"imposition of punishment", but not if it includes employment
discrimination and so on. For example, stupidity and blindness are
often innate but are plainly relevant to some employment choices.

If the claim is that making employment and similar decisions on grounds
like sex and race is wrong because such characteristics are irrelevant
to the purposes at hand, that seems wrong as well. After all, people
who make decisions on such grounds thereby show that those grounds *are*
relevant to their purposes. One might claim that purposes that would be
legitimate in choosing the people with whom one socializes are
illegitimate in employment contexts, but the grounds for such a claim
are not clear. (Why isn't it a good thing to work with people you like
to be with? Why isn't it legitimate to confer benefits that you are not
obligated to confer on anyone preferentially on people who are to your
taste?)
--
Jim Kalb (j...@panix.com)
"If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be
happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we
think them happier than they are." (Montesquieu)

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Sep 16, 1993, 10:14:20 AM9/16/93
to
In article <279m8l$6...@panix.com>
j...@panix.com (Jim Kalb) writes:

|zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

||Concerning discrimination, I submit that it may be called unjust only if
||the fundamental discriminating principle is wholly bereft of moral
||relevance. Thus discrimination against an innate characteristic is

^^
The copula, of course, ought to be replaced by "may be".

||inherently unjust [ . . . ]

|What does this mean? It sounds right if "discrimination" means
|"imposition of punishment", but not if it includes employment
|discrimination and so on. For example, stupidity and blindness are
|often innate but are plainly relevant to some employment choices.

My conditional ("only if") may be strengthened to an equivalence
("if and only if") whenever discrimination involves an abridgment
of rights, and whenever the morally relevant difference warrants
doing so by falling within the legitimate purview of just social
censure. Thus self-abuse may be morally objectionable, but if
Mill is right, it should not be construed as a basis for imposing
punishment. The same argument will apply to consensual mutual
abuse, provided that the possibility of giving consent for abuse
has been recognized as legitimate. But of course, as many critics
of liberalism have noted, there exist perfectly acceptable reasons
to deny that Mill is right. (Robert Paul Wolff and Isaiah Berlin
furnish good reasons to deny or abridge the merits of his claims.)

|If the claim is that making employment and similar decisions on grounds
|like sex and race is wrong because such characteristics are irrelevant
|to the purposes at hand, that seems wrong as well. After all, people
|who make decisions on such grounds thereby show that those grounds *are*
|relevant to their purposes.

You are instantiating the naturalist fallacy here: the factual
need not coincide with the reasonable. Your decision-makers can
easily demonstrate the relevance of the said grounds to their
wishes in the matter; but the relevance to their purposes will
follow only if their wishes are rational, which is rarely the
case.

| One might claim that purposes that would be
|legitimate in choosing the people with whom one socializes are
|illegitimate in employment contexts, but the grounds for such a claim
|are not clear. (Why isn't it a good thing to work with people you like
|to be with? Why isn't it legitimate to confer benefits that you are not
|obligated to confer on anyone preferentially on people who are to your
|taste?)

These are all legitimate questions pertaining to the issue of
negative freedom; but it must be noted that freedom from social
interference in one's right of free association may be justly
abridged on the grounds of right. If the right to work exists,
it furnishes adequate grounds for justifying a negative answer
to your questions.

|--
|Jim Kalb (j...@panix.com)
|"If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be
|happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we
|think them happier than they are." (Montesquieu)

cordially,

Angus H Rodgers

unread,
Sep 16, 1993, 10:18:47 AM9/16/93
to
In <278u7e$7...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>There is no multiculturalism for the differently tolerant.

I think you misunderstand liberalism. (And because I also misunderstand
it, your misunderstanding interests me. More of this anon, no doubt.)

>|Of course I knew there would be another hand.

>How could there not be another hand, from a liberal, -- or, for
>that matter, philosophical, -- standpoint?

To be a liberal is not to be incapable of taking a stand.

>Stop complaining and keep on digging.

When you stop complaining, I will.

>I have scars on my face and on my knuckles, as a vivid reminder of
>having taken a stand against powerful prejudice.

Tell more (please).

>But I am equally
>appalled by those who clamor to force the public to participate in
>their personal fights.

This begs the question of whether they have some right on their side.

>Do not mistake me for any sort of libertarian.

I didn't, although I do see a family resemblance.

>Never did much pub-crawling, did you?

No.

>The employment contract is in principle a
>matter of symmetrical trade of goods for services.

Surely this is wrong, in point of fact, and in point of law.

[Can someone who actually knows something about the Law, as
I don't, help me out here?]

The two parties to the contract are not two individuals. There is only
the barest of formal symmetries here.

Where there is a real symmetry between two flesh-and-blood persons,
(and not only between two "persons" in law), I have no dispute with
you. Nor could you expect me, as a liberal, to object to the legal
right of any individual to be a bigot in pursuit of his or her own
legitimate private interests.

>What public
>rationale can you offer for constraining one party more than you
>constrain the other?

A difference in their essential natures. [Supply a more correct
philosophical term, if you know one, and know what I mean.]

>|If you can convince me that the only way to eliminate unjust prejudice
>|from public employment [and I hope you are not going to go on and on
>|about a "free market", because I would have trouble arguing with you,
>|and would need help to demonstrate where you are wrong] is to adopt
>|blindly mechanical, "Politically Correct" procedures which themselves
>|offend against natural justice and reason, you will have convinced me
>|that the concept of "equal rights" for [category X] is just what you
>|say it is.

>Whose injustice?

Objective injustice. (Or God's, if you like; but I imagine you don't.)

>Denial presupposes access. Until and unless the right to access
>and acquire "the necessities of life" is fully guaranteed by the
>public sector, your talk of denial will make no sense whatsoever.

I'm not so sure about the "fully". But more relevantly: the question
of whether talk makes sense or not cannot depend on the existence of
particular social arrangements (apart from those of language itself),
because otherwise how could one talk of changing those arrangements?

Natural rights can be denied in practice: what's so senseless about
that statement?

>As an employer, I am under no obligation to provide for anyone not
>enjoying a contractual relation with me for that purpose. What
>you call deprivation, cannot be qualified as such in the absence
>of a fully guaranteed supply of the commodity in question, namely
>employment opportunity. But no such guaranteed supply exists in
>our society; and hence your proposal to regulate it in a negative
>fashion, amounts to no more and no less than a unilateral social
>infringement of one party's freedom of association.

I've already dealt with this point (however inadequately).

>Ah yes, the fabled Categorical Imperative: "So act that the maxim
>of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle
>establishing universal law." Translation: the validation of any
>homosexual act by the Categorical Imperative is tantamount to
>establishing the desirability of the universal extinction of all
>mankind. In my circles, they call it a _reductio ad absurdum_.

You seem to be getting confused (which is not like you, or so I thought).
You might as well have said that the validation of the right to smoke
cigarettes is tantamount to establishing the desirability of lung cancer.

(I'm now getting bored, by the way. Will this prove to have been only
a one-night stand, after all? That would be sad, as I had hoped that
your passion for reason would outweigh your loathing of homosexual
desire: a loathing which appears to spill over into a contempt for all
who defend its right to exist and to be expressed.) :)

>Concerning
>discrimination, I submit that it may be called unjust only if the
>fundamental discriminating principle is wholly bereft of moral
>relevance.

Agreed.

>Thus discrimination against an innate characteristic
>is inherently unjust; but the legitimacy of discrimination against
>a behavior pattern, regardless of whether or not it is motivated
>by an innate characteristic, depends on the moral merits thereof.

And its relevance, as you just said.

>Thus in order to deem discrimination against homosexuality unjust,
>you would have to begin by delegitimizing all comprehensive moral
>conceptions that judge it as morally deficient.

This does not follow. (What's happened to you? Have you lost track
of an accessibility relation or two?)

>Note that it
>would not do to take the matters in the reverse order, proclaiming
>such discrimination unjust on _a priori_ grounds; for that would
>beg the question of morality altogether.

I'm not sure what you mean here. If you could clear up the preceding
point, this one might clarify itself too. As it looks now, you appear
to be repeating the point already (not) made. But I may just be lost
in the labyrinth of your prose.

>So the ball is in your court.

Your lob went out of court, actually. (Serves you right for thinking
that you could go over my head -- which in fact you did, but not in
a legal way.) Love-fifteen.

>|On (2), then, I would try to argue that the focus should be on the
>|arbitrary and irrelevant personal prejudices of the individual who,
>|on behalf of an effectively monopolistic employer, is in a position
>|to grant or refuse employment to a candidate [a gay man, a lesbian,
>|a black man or woman, or some other member of some "Category X" --
>|favoured by the Politically Correct, just because it is in disfavour
>|with the Right]; and not with the free [if not "freely chosen"], and
>|equally irrelevant, personal life of the candidate.

>Huh? why can't the (kindly cut the "effectively monopolistic"
>demagoguery) employer's personal desire to avoid association with
>anyone whatsoever, for any reason of his choosing, be relevant to
>the issue of setting the social constraints on such association?

You seem unable to grasp my point. And I was indulging in no "demagoguery":
something which I thought was your strong suit, rather than mine. (Oh dear,
this really is degenerating into flames. I have done my best to avoid it,
but must now admit defeat. Let's stop while the flames are only Force One
on the Zeleny scale, shall we?)

>If the liberal society should presume to stipulate the criteria of
>relevance governing the individual's freedom to enter into a
>contractual agreement, why can't it do the same for his freedom to
>choose his marriage partner, his religion, his forms of expression
>and sources of information, his dwelling, his educators, or even
>his form of sexuality?

Point already dealt with, over and over. I was expecting you to point
up the inadequacies in my argument (because I'm only in this in order
to learn something from you), and not just to attempt to bypass it.

>Where do you propose to draw the line in
>this allegedly benign paternalistic intervention?

Already dealt with.

>It seems that
>you have already pronounced the relevant moral tenets of the
>majority of Abrahamite religions to be contrary to your _raison
>d'Etat_;

Already dealt with.

>and as I have shown above, you would have to do the same
>for the Categorical Imperative.

Your argument was invalid; or at best, merely allusive. Repair
it if you want -- but please don't try my patience any further,
if you have any interest in prolonging this (once tumescent, but
now sadly flagging) conversation. Believe it or not, if I have
simply misunderstood you, I am willing to admit it, for the sake
of the real pleasure of rational argument.

>So how do you propose to
>reconcile this extremist position with the familiar liberal
>disclaimer of taking a stand on any comprehensive moral or
>political doctrine?

I don't. I am an "extremist", and I am not a "liberal" -- in the senses
which you have just attached to these words. But I am no apologist for
anybody's _raison d'Etat_, either.

>|Rather than try to complete the argument, at this point, I shall try to
>|establish this change of focus; and be content, meanwhile, with a slogan:
>|"Refusal of employment, on grounds which are irrelevant to the job to be
>|done, in cases where no reasonable alternative employment is available,
>|should be illegal." -- Something like that. (Obviously the law needs to
>|be drafted a little more carefully than this; but the more general moral
>|laws tend to be like that.) :)
>|
>|Your move.

There is a real weakness in this argument of mine -- which, in your
eagerness to see other pet weaknesses of your own, you have missed.

How should the interviewer be called to account for their selection
of one from many qualified applicants, since this must be arbitrary?

See below for an attempt at repair.

>So how does a variant strike you: "Refusal of sexual intercourse,
>on grounds which are irrelevant to the job to be done, in cases
>where no reasonable alternative partner is available, should be
>illegal." (I cannot presume to speak for all mankind, but I would
>rather get by without a regular job, than without a regular trim!)
>What? how dare that wench refuse my amorous advances! What does
>she mean, saying that I smell like a billy-goat and look like a
>sack of lard? None of that shit in any way affects my ability to
>perform the job! (You may substitute any other kind of, umm...
>optional association, into your proposed statute.)

This analogy isn't as far off the mark as I thought at first, because
it does have the merit of exposing the location of its own failure to
prove your point: that failure lying in the fact that a "job" is an
objective social role to be performed, whereas the role of a "sexual
partner" is not a formal one (except possibly in just those sort of
promiscuous or mercenary encounters which you are apparently not
contemplating here).

That your mistake lies in mistaking the formal for the informal does
not, on reflection, surprise me.

Our disagreement, anyway, now seems to centre on this question of
whether employment is a private arrangement between two people.
(This also was a point at issue, never resolved, in my argument
with those Libertarians I mentioned.)

I say, no, it isn't, it is a "formal" and "objective" arrangement.
Its distinguishing characteristic seems to be the extent to which
actual or prospective employees are, to a significant extent,
*interchangeable* in respect of their capcity to perform the role.
And I would say that unjust discrimination consists in the choice
of an objectively less qualified candidate over a better qualified
one (for systematic reasons). That is, the injustice I refer to is
a form of corruption. Note *very* carefully, please, that this point
of mine tells equally against PC quota-based procedures as it does
against your free-market libertarian approach. [That's with a small
`l'. Let me know if the appellation still offends.]

In a case where, for example, a gay man is rejected in favour of an
equally qualified straight man, then I see no hope of redress -- much
though I would wish to see it, if the rejection was based on projection
of the interviewer's private sexual fantasies into the public situation
of the interview.

And I hope I have made it obvious that I do not advocate the mandatory
hiring (by any employer) of an exclusively lesbian, black, disabled,
working-class [...] workforce, in preference to a host of better-qualified
heterosexual, male, white, middle-aged, middle-class, able-bodied [...]
former South African secret policemen -- although, as a private employer,
I would reserve my right to do so, and to go broke in the process. :)

>|Incidentally, I notice that I do seem (in spite of myself) to be tackling
>|point (1) at the same time as point (2): because my view (even as little
>|as it has been articulated so far) is already clearly incompatible with
>|any thoroughgoing "free market" ideology.

>Nor is mine; but I make up for that shortcoming by not identifying
>myself as any kind of liberal.

I must have misunderstood you somewhere along the line.

>||Contrary to what you say, I do not recall receiving any "careful
>||rebuttals", as opposed to bombastic denunciations and groundless
>||obloquy; and if any of that verbiage came from "intelligent and
>||decent people", their alleged intelligence and decency sooner or
>||later gave way to a torrent of inarticulate, spiteful mumblings.

>|You memory appears to be at fault: which leads me to wonder (with
>|curiosity and even some dread) how you will recall my contribution. :)

>Please remind me of one specific occasion that fits your description.

I haven't kept archives of these threads, and I was relying on my own hazy
memory. If I was mistaken, and you have been subjected to endless torrents
of mindless abuse, and nothing else, then you have my deepest sympathy --
all the more, because you will have so much difficulty in proving to me that
this was the case, and your suffering will go unremarked. :)

>Like I said, Mr Mike is an exception among my critics.

Perhaps I just happened to run across the exceptional one.

>But even
>in his case, the attempt to promulgate a careful rebuttal of my
>views, ended in abject failure.

I think I can imagine why. :)

>||denunciations of "alternative
>||sexualities", whether based in revelation
>| ^^^^^^^^^^

>|Ah, that's right, you did only say "valid".

>What else do you want? Validity both confers and certifies
>legitimacy in a liberal society.

^^^^^^^
I did warn you. This is your second warning. After this, I either
withdraw or get nasty. In a battle of nastiness, you would probably
win, so I am likely to withdraw.

>Let me make this crystal clear: as a moral realist, you may well
>feel yourself justified in dismissing incorrect moral conceptions;
>but as a liberal, you are required to allot equal opportunity to
>each coherent system of moral beliefs.

It is perfectly possible that I have misunderstood the word "liberal"
all my life. It is more likely that you have misunderstood it. I don't
care which. I would be most interested to debate the meaning of the
term; and I am perfectly happy to apologise for any misunderstanding I
may have caused by my (mis)use of it. I just don't want its apparent
opacity to be a cause of a tiresome slanging match between us.

If your use of the term is correct, I am not a liberal. Does this
admission (if that is what it is) help to clear some of the smoke
out of the air?

>The Kantian position is simple: from an act-deontological
>standpoint, which recognizes the Categorical Imperative,

I'll ignore that bit.

>the morality of any choice is (a) wholly independent from one's
>desires in the matter, and (b) must be universalizable to all
>human beings in a similar situation. Another formulation of the
>same principle, which is said to be equivalent to the above ("Act
>so as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of
>another, always as an end and never as means only."), appears to
>rule out any possibility of sex outside of an enduring contractual
>arrangement including total mutual alienation of the participants'
>to each other. And so it goes.

Although I don't understand this, I don't think it's your fault.
I have some reading to do.

>|No problem for me, as I am not any kind of relativist.

>Then you are bound to lack the tolerance required for maintaining
>the liberal outlook.

There is little point in repeating this. (You are not bound to quote
and reply to everything I write.)

>|I admit it is, theoretically, just possible that I am the only person
>|in history who is both a political liberal and a moral realist; perhaps
>|I am just too ill-educated and politically and socially inexperienced
>|to have discovered this alarming fact. But it is far more likely that
>|there are many other people out there who also feel like going beserk,
>|every time they hear this simple misunderstanding being repeated -- on
>|both their Left and their Right. (You appear to be on the Right, from
>|my absolutely central perspective.) :)

>I think that your position is logically incoherent. But to show
>it will require some doing. As for your perspective, I am at a
>loss trying to surmise the criteria that warrant your attribution
>of that particular position to my humble person.

So am I, but I shall try to regularise my judgement. [Is that Kantian?
Say "universalise", if that's better.]

I am very confused about the meanings of the terms "Left" and "Right";
and for this very reason, they interest me profoundly.

In this case, I was referring to an objectively mistaken moral absolutism
as being a characteristic of the Right. (It's not an invariable one, or
the matter would be much easier than it is.) Those on the Left also tend
to be overbearing moralists; but they tend to conceal their moralism in
assertions of alleged facts, mixed (to a variable extent) with naked
assertions of power.

(This is probably completely wrong. I don't mind if you pull it all to
pieces, so long as the longer aim is constructive. It's not intended to
be the last word on the subject, or even my last word.)

>||||Thus I derive no
>||||small amount of pleasure from crushing the creatures who are prone
>||||to such presumption, regardless of the ideology they espouse, or
>||||the orifice they prefer.

>|||I doubt if you really know the source of this pleasure. (No, neither do I.)

>||On the contrary, I know it well enough. It is by far the least
>||objectionable way to cater to my overweening sociopathic urges.

>|I honestly, sincerely, think that -- for once, just once -- you
>|underestimate yourself here. (But then, I'm just a naive, tired,
>|old liberal who never even got to be a Hippy; so what do I know?) :)

>Pray tell.

Perhaps mistakenly, I imagined that what you call your "sociopathic
urges" may be the understandable responses of a mind driven to fury
by other people's stupidity. But I'm having second thoughts.

>|I'm always game for a bit of consensual (pseudo)intellectual
>|sadomasochism (even a one-night stand).

>Happy to hear that.

>|Anyway, it's neither immoral or illegal. (It's just a bit expensive
>|in terms of time, when you've got academic work to do.) :)

>You are sadly mistaken. It is impossible to give consent for assault.

Lost me there. Assault on whom, by whom?

>||I aim to please.

>|You do, you really do.

>It is good to have found some measure of credibility.

Try not lose it, then, if you value it. (Not that it's all in my gift!)

>||Would you accept Andrea Dworkin, as the world-renowned
>||expert on the insidious connections between men's two heads?

>|Only if there's a good solid brick wall nearby.

>How cruel of you. Am I to assume that you are yet to master the
>art of non-invasive sexual congress?

Yes. (I still get invaded.)

>|Or any boneheaded, dickbrained conservative would do. :)

>Not to impugn your relative standing, but the conservatives enjoy
>the better grade of booze and Cuban cigars galore.

'Tis always the way.

>Ever since the
>lefties had lost their superiority in illicit substances, their
>position remained without any intrinsic appeal. How ironic,
>considering that in any meaningful sense, there is no extant
>alternative to liberalism in the political culture of this
>benighted country.

You surprise me; but I never have understood US politics (even to
the miniscule extent to which I understand the politics of either
of my home islands).

>|[Who needs a life, when there's the Net?] :)

>Erin keeps urging me otherwise.

I didn't want to intrude by asking if she were still keeping you
company, but I'll intrude enough to say that I'm glad she is --
for your sake, I mean. :)

John McCarthy

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Sep 16, 1993, 11:06:05 AM9/16/93
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In article <279m8l$6...@panix.com> j...@panix.com (Jim Kalb) writes:
References: <276ckd$e...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU> <CDEMA...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk> <278u7e$7...@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
NNTP-Posting-Host: panix.com

zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>Concerning discrimination, I submit that it may be called unjust only if
>the fundamental discriminating principle is wholly bereft of moral
>relevance. Thus discrimination against an innate characteristic is
>inherently unjust [ . . . ]

What does this mean? It sounds right if "discrimination" means
"imposition of punishment", but not if it includes employment
discrimination and so on. For example, stupidity and blindness are
often innate but are plainly relevant to some employment choices.

If the claim is that making employment and similar decisions on grounds
like sex and race is wrong because such characteristics are irrelevant
to the purposes at hand, that seems wrong as well. After all, people
who make decisions on such grounds thereby show that those grounds *are*
relevant to their purposes. One might claim that purposes that would be
legitimate in choosing the people with whom one socializes are
illegitimate in employment contexts, but the grounds for such a claim
are not clear. (Why isn't it a good thing to work with people you like
to be with? Why isn't it legitimate to confer benefits that you are not
obligated to confer on anyone preferentially on people who are to your
taste?)
--
Jim Kalb (j...@panix.com)

When I was a lad, it was not difficult for my brother to get into an
apprenticeship program for carpenters, he being the son of a carpenter.
Others had more trouble. There were not very many black carpenters -
although I knew one.
--
John McCarthy, Computer Science Department, Stanford, CA 94305
*
He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.

Angus H Rodgers

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Sep 16, 1993, 11:47:14 AM9/16/93
to
In <279m8l$6...@panix.com> j...@panix.com (Jim Kalb) writes:

>If the claim is that making employment and similar decisions on grounds
>like sex and race is wrong because such characteristics are irrelevant
>to the purposes at hand, that seems wrong as well. After all, people
>who make decisions on such grounds thereby show that those grounds *are*
>relevant to their purposes.

Brilliant! "Auto-satire": a mystifying but delightful new form of rhetoric.
I cannot think of any comment witty enough not to pale in comparison with
such a concise and effortless demolition of your own case, even as you are
making it. (Am I imitating the Zeleny tone of voice aptly enough yet?) :)

>One might claim that purposes that would be
>legitimate in choosing the people with whom one socializes are
>illegitimate in employment contexts, but the grounds for such a claim
>are not clear.

Although this is what I claim, the grounds for claiming it are no clearer
to me than to anyone else [yes, I'm pretty good at demolishing my own case
as well]: it is a gut reaction, which I have yet to justify.

But one plausible ground is suggested by your non-argument in the first of
the two quoted paragraphs: for it is obvious that the purposes of a private
company or public institution -- either of which is a socio-economic entity,
with some but not all of the attributes of a person -- belong to a different
logical category from the purposes of individual human beings [so much so,
in fact, that the word "purposes" here is almost a pun]; and it is equally
obvious that the purposes of a firm or a public institution cannot (in a
liberal democracy, at any rate) legitimately include that of discriminating
against any class of law-abiding citizens; and therefore, the exercise of
any such prejudice in the course of making of an employment decision cannot
be a legitimate action by the individual on behalf of the firm; and therefore,
in any case where such discrimination can be proved, this proof opens the way,
in principle, to legal action, either against the individual employeee (for
exceeding the authority conferred by the employer) or against the employer
(a firm or institution which is promoting unjust discrimination).

Does this argument stand up?

Even if it does, it raises the problem of how to avoid the stupid "laundry
list" approach of the PC types: according to which, every time that some
new oppressed group is identified, a new law has to be passed to protect
them from their oppressors! This is appallingly inefficient, and surely a
Net full of gifted programmers can devise something more intelligent. :)

As far as I can see, my argument reduces the problem to that of saying -- in
terms clear and general enough to be capable in principle of being drafted as
legislation -- what "unjust discrimination against a class of law-abiding
citizens" means. What seems to have been achieved so far is the abstraction
of this problem from the context of the relationship between the employer
[who is only an abstract "person", don't forget], the interviewer(s), and
the candidate for employment.

If you want it in one sentence: "Individuals may discriminate as much as
they like, against whom they (dis)like, without having to show cause to
anybody; but organisations may only discriminate in ways which they can,
if so required, prove to be relevant to their constituted purposes."

Any comments? (Scathing or otherwise.)

Jim Kalb

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Sep 16, 1993, 12:02:03 PM9/16/93
to
zel...@athena.mit.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>|If the claim is that making employment and similar decisions on grounds
>|like sex and race is wrong because such characteristics are irrelevant
>|to the purposes at hand, that seems wrong as well. After all, people
>|who make decisions on such grounds thereby show that those grounds *are*
>|relevant to their purposes.
>
>You are instantiating the naturalist fallacy here: the factual
>need not coincide with the reasonable. Your decision-makers can
>easily demonstrate the relevance of the said grounds to their
>wishes in the matter; but the relevance to their purposes will
>follow only if their wishes are rational, which is rarely the
>case.

I was treating the purpose of an actor in making a decision as something
that can be rationally constructed from the grounds on which he makes
the decision. Is there something wrong with that? (It seems to me that
people who talk of "real purposes", as opposed to ostensible or
conscious purposes, tend to do the same.)

If the requirements someone applies in hiring electrical engineers are
whiteness, maleness and technical proficiency I would say his purpose is
to hire the best white male electrical engineer he can find. No doubt
that purpose would be based on further purposes. The requirement of
technical proficiency might be intended to further profitability. The
requirements of whiteness and maleness might be intended to confer
benefits on a favored group, but might also be intended to further
profitability. (For example, the decisionmaker might believe that
smooth cooperation is easier to achieve in a non-diverse workforce.)

Part of your point seems to be that discrimination on grounds of race or
sex is rarely relevant to the ostensible or conscious purposes people
have in making employment decisions. On that issue, Richard Epstein's
_Forbidden Grounds_ contains an interesting discussion of the ways in
which those grounds can be relevant to the narrowly economic purposes of
such decisions.

Jim Kalb

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Sep 16, 1993, 2:50:59 PM9/16/93