Saturday, November 15, 2008

If you've been to a same-sex marriage, does that mean it was really a marriage?

In continuing series of responses to Josh Rosenau of the NCSE over same-sex marriage, we come now the argument he's really proud of (and what may be Josh's most exotic logical effort so far): that since he has been to weddings of people of the same sex, that therefore the definition of marriage includes the unions of same sex people:
I'm disappointed that you totally ignored my compelling counterargument to your claim that "Same-sex couples were never able to marry precisely because marriage was always understood to be--by definition--between a man and a woman." Compelling in the sense that I offered examples of SAME SEX COUPLES GETTING MARRIED. You say it's impossible, I'm saying I attended their weddings. One of us is very, very wrong.
Oookay.

Now first, Rosenau seems to assume that if someone engages in the simple expedient of calling something marriage, it therefore is marriage. One more example of same-sex marriage opponents thinking that the normal rules don't apply to them.

Secondly, the advocates of same-sex marriage have denied that allowing same-sex marriage necessarily implies that other relationships could count as marriage--like polygamy, or humans "marrying" individuals of different species (notice how I crafted that sentence to avoid as much ickyness as possible). Given this, it is ironic that one of its advocates would make an argument that in fact, throws in the towel on that argument.

If Rosenau's logic is correct, then the fact that someone has attended a "wedding" between, say, a man and his dog, then that must have been included in the definition of marriage.

In other words, it's not that Rosenau didn't go to something, but that what he went to was not a marriage.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

a man and a dog? You are putting up a slippy slope argument, a logical fallacy. We know that thru out history marriage has never truly been just between a man and a woman. The idea has evolve over time just like culture, societies has evolve, morality has evolve, and those who still cling to the past will die with the past. The future is with the young and the young supported gay marriage by a overwhelming large margins.

Lee said...

> The idea has evolve over time just like culture, societies has evolve, morality has evolve, and those who still cling to the past will die with the past.

Problem with that sort of thinking is that it fails on its own terms. It's an idea, and therefore it too must evolve over time. And if that idea evolves, it will reach a point where society doesn't have to evolve, and morality is constant.

> The future is with the young and the young supported gay marriage by a overwhelming large margins.

And even if that is true, argumentum ad populum is still a fallacy.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

We shall see what the future holds. Argue as we might, no one will stop its approach.

The dogmas of our own day shall soon be buried beneath the sands of time, and human rights will be seen as but a dream, and Christianity as a mere passing fancy.

For the day is coming when man will grab man by the throat, with no concern for his petty rights. In those times, people will not blabber on like fools about morality, which will be denounced as delusion. A man will seize what he wants, and kill all who oppose him, having no mercy, for he shall laugh at mercy and condemn it as a pathetic ailment of sick men, unworthy to live.

Who is right but the strongest, and who is just but the cleverest?

A new humanity will be carved in the wake of your movement, and once the last bastions that have held the beasts within us at bay are felled, the barbarisms of the past will claw there way up to the earth's surface once more.

And there shall be war as never seen before, and not even children shall be spared. Bold men will prowl openly, satisfying their lusts at the point of a sword.

Then humanity will cry out with one accord in horror, and denounce the abominations unleashed upon them. And they will make a compact to forbid them forever.

But their children will eventually forget, and the cycle will begin again, ever turning, seemingly never ending.

Your vain theories of linear moral progression are about to have their heads dashed against the rocks, like the babes of Babylon.

Josh Rosenau said...

Dude, they got a marriage license from the State of California. They were legally married. I know it, you know it, and the proponents of Prop. 8 know it. The Attorney General says they are still married, while the proponents of Prop. 8 think they aren't.

What is your point?

Mine is pretty simple. Proposition 8 states in the official voter guide that it "eliminates the right of same sex couples to marry." You can't eliminate something that doesn't exist, therefore there was a right for same sex couples to marry. If they could not marry as a matter of definition, that last sentence would have been gibberish, but it isn't. This is not, therefore, an argument over definitions, but over who shall have what rights. You support taking a right away from people, I support allowing them to retain it.

I think that taking rights away from people is bigotry. You don't, though it isn't clear why you don't.

Anonymous said...

Your vain theories of linear moral progression are about to have their heads dashed against the rocks, like the babes of Babylon. a quote from the bible, enough said.
The Bible. that is what fools have written, what imbeciles command, what rogues teach, and young children are made to learn by heart.-Voltaire

Martin Cothran said...

Nietzsche lives. Apparently.

Lee said...

> The dogmas of our own day shall soon be buried beneath the sands of time, and human rights will be seen as but a dream, and Christianity as a mere passing fancy.

That's one view. Another is that none of what is going on today is a surprise to the Lord, and He is sovereign, and it doesn't matter how many epitaphs you deliver.

Eo Nomine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dear Lee,

I never said that the sentiments of our civilization being destroyed was a good thing, or a bad thing for that matter. I merely stated that it was an inevitability.

Concerning Anon's most recent comment, Voltaire was an idiot. He clung to Christian morality after abandoning Christianity, and from an objective perspective, what says that dashing children's heads in is wrong?

If such monstrosities please a man, and there be no God to condemn them, and the man has the strength to accomplish these things, why should he not?

Rights? Human rights? Given by whom, decreed by whom? Surely you do not mean to insinuate the laughable opinion that a merciless universe created beings inherently deserving of mercy? Certainly you do not mean to say that mindless forces created creatures bound to be mindful? Because if you do, it is a pity.

All you have is a sense of disgust, and you offer that as an argument! The prospect of killing children disgusts you like pork disgusts Jews. But what if it should please a man kill children or eat pork? He cannot be blamed, anymore than a water wheel can be blamed for spinning when water runs through it.

You have no value in your own philosophy, and you do not realize it. True, you value yourself, but the only reason others value you is because the strong man, namely those ruling society, value you. Your "rights" are arbitrary, immaterial, and on loan to you from those in power.

However, those in power can take away what they have granted. This would only be wrong in your view, because it would hurt your pleasure. But it would increase theirs. And once again, who is there to enforce "justice," or in other words, your selfish desire to indulge in pleasure without others taking it away?

The man with power rules, and the cycle of morality continues according to his will, steadily turning through the eons from start to end, good to evil (relative to you), right to wrong (relative to you).

That is your world, no? But you are either too dim or too frightened to admit it.

Martin Cothran said...

Zarathustra (seems like a fitting title anyway),

This is a very impressive kind of existentialism you're spouting, but I wonder what happens to all this moral indifference when the bad things you recount happen to you.

I'm thinking of the philosophy in Samuel Johnson's Rasselas who purports to view everything dispassionately--until his daughter dies.

I admire existentialists because they are at least consistent, which is more than can be said of materialists. But they have one problem, Chesterton pointed out: their philosophy isn't livable.

Eo Nomine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dear Martin,

Please read my posts carefully, and you will see that I am merely assuming this existentialism as a mantle to fight against the other Anon, whose philosophy does match the one which I am being a devil's advocate for.

It was my hope that seeing the implications of his moral relativism and such would jar him to a more sane philosophy.

In truth, I'm actually a neo-Thomist. Sorry to disappoint. Nietzche is still dead, but he makes one heck of a sock puppet when it comes to debating modernists of various stripes.

Thomas said...

Anonymous,

Sounds like you read through the Genealogy of Morals rather quickly. Nietzsche argues for different sort of ethics than that of worldly power, and you seem to have missed this point--Nietzsche is far more subtle than his style would indicate.

However as a "neo-Thomist", I would suppose you to be aware that certain statements like this:

"Rights? Human rights? Given by whom, decreed by whom? Surely you do not mean to insinuate the laughable opinion that a merciless universe created beings inherently deserving of mercy?"

ring rather hollow when the classical approach to ethical behavior is considered. Aristotle, who did the first serious systematic investigation into the ethical (Plato notwithstanding) makes no appeal to God to justify ethics -- precisely because the idea of an objective, universal ethics would be not only foreign, but inappropriate to the topic of practical human behavior (he makes a big deal about this in the opening of the Nichomachean Ethics). No-one decrees rights in traditional ethical thinking.

In fact, the very concept of "right" is a very modern one. I don't really know St. Thomas well enough to say that human "rights" never became thematic in his work, but if one goes further back it becomes apparent the notion is quite peculiar except in a modern context, and I say that as a libertarian who believes in such rights. The whole idea of God giving rights is a modern "metaphysical" notion, tied inextricably with modern rationalism, which can be very dangerous if taken to be the Christian position.

And if you wish to pose as a Nietzchean, you might avoid making arguments like this:

"All you have is a sense of disgust, and you offer that as an argument!"

Nietzche's arguments, at bottom, are aesthetic arguments; the notion that one can philosophize from one's personal tastes is quite at home in Nietzsche... in fact, central to his method.

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

You were so good at it that I did not even recognize you!

Lee said...

> I never said that the sentiments of our civilization being destroyed was a good thing, or a bad thing for that matter. I merely stated that it was an inevitability.

Fine by me. And I stated that this is the Lord's world and things will live or be destroyed based not on anyone else's will but His own. And it is irrelevant whether you or anyone else thinks it good, bad, or otherwise.

> Concerning Anon's most recent comment, Voltaire was an idiot. He clung to Christian morality after abandoning Christianity, and from an objective perspective, what says that dashing children's heads in is wrong?

I wouldn't know. I've made that same point myself several times on various threads on this site.

> If such monstrosities please a man, and there be no God to condemn them, and the man has the strength to accomplish these things, why should he not?

That, too.

> Rights? Human rights? Given by whom, decreed by whom? Surely you do not mean to insinuate the laughable opinion that a merciless universe created beings inherently deserving of mercy?

I would never insinuate such a thing.

> Certainly you do not mean to say that mindless forces created creatures bound to be mindful? Because if you do, it is a pity.

Certainly, I do not mean to say it.

> All you have is a sense of disgust, and you offer that as an argument!

Mois? You will have to specify what I said that evoked this characterization. You will notice that I tend to quote a statement before I respond to it, just so we're clear on what we're talking about.

> You have no value in your own philosophy, and you do not realize it.

Just so I know what you're talking about, how about telling me what my philosophy is, or what you think it is at least, and show a passage that makes you come to such a conclusion?

> That is your world, no? But you are either too dim or too frightened to admit it.

Why argue, when you can characterize?