Santorum's Hypocrisy and Backwardness on Questions of Epistemic Authority

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My thoughts:

In this video, Santorum asks for evidence that same sex marriage and the marginalization of those who oppose gay equality as bigots are good things that should be happening. He is indignant that anyone could dare call a position held by the Roman Catholic Church and held for “2,000 years” could be called bigoted. Because, you know, bigoted ideas don’t live older than 30 years or something—everybody knows that.

When the student cites the famous 1973 judgment of the American Psychiatric Association, the United States’ main professional psychiatrists’ organization, favoring declassifying homosexuality as a disorder, she appeals to people with qualified (even if fallible) expertise on disorders, which obviously has at least more expertise than a religious organization committed to dogmatically enshrining ancient and medieval misunderstandings of the world in belief and law—Santorum dismisses the APA as just “a group of people who agree with each other”. They’re just a group of people who see things the same way, but that is proof of nothing about the rightness of their position. But the “2,000 years” of the Catholic Church consensus based on nothing resembling facts and on contestable interpretations of teleology is cited as though an unimpeachable authority.

It is absurd. In the posts below I actually have given the kinds of arguments in favor of the moral goodness of homosexual love and the rightness of promoting gays fully realizing sexual and loving relationships with each other. Like Catholics, I am even a teleologist of a sort when it comes to values and ethics—in that I think it is true and valuable to think in terms of natural functions but not in the sense of thinking these functions were given to things purposefully from an intelligent designer. And yet, I think a serious, nuanced, naturalistic, morally pluralistic teleological investigation vindicates the necessity of encouraging gay people to love and have sex as they are naturally inclined.

My main arguments to these effects can be found in the following posts:

An Argument For Gay Marriage And Against Traditionalism (my 6,000 word long, fullest single treatment of the subject)

Contortions Of Catholic Philosophy: Eve Tushnet Argues Gay Sex Is Not OK But Sex Changes Are

Why “Loving The Sinner But Hating The Sin” Is Not An Option When …

Happy National Coming Out Day 2009!

Bishop of Church of England Doesn’t “Share Same Faith” As Those Who Accept Homosexuality

And Santorum, wildly exaggerating, argues in the video that the normalization of homosexual relationships would destroy faith. If only it could! But while it is a blow against one faith-based (i.e., willfully prejudicial) belief, it is not going to destroy faith-based religions. Rather, it will allow the millions of faithful gay people to be recognized as the people of faith they are, weaken the public perception of the strength of the case against faith (since the faithful will less and less be abusively discriminatory against gays and so and so expose faith less as the blind, potentially destructive prejudice it really is), and it will free many people who presently are repulsed by faith because of its obviously prejudicial character to come back to it in the more “benign” matters.

But, nonetheless, Santorum wants to know if there is anyone willing to make the argument that faith should be undermined.  I for one am: See Disambiguating Faith: How Faith Poisons Religion, and the rest of my Disambiguating Faith series while you are at it.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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