Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 6: Sexual Activity

Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 6: Sexual Activity January 28, 2021

HSIAO’S FAUX ARGUMENT

Sometimes, Christian philosophers put forward pieces of crap that they pretend to be philosophical arguments, but that are just word salads that are posing as philosophical arguments.  The core “argument” in Tim Hsiao’s article “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex” (hereafter: PFA) appears to me to be one such faux argument.  Hsiao fails to define or to clarify ANY of the basic terms and phrases in his core “argument”, making it a string of words that cannot be rationally evaluated.

Here is the core “argument” in PFA:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

This is NOT an actual argument, because every key term in the argument is UNCLEAR, making it impossible to rationally evaluate any of the three statements that make up this core “argument”.

 

HSIAO’S RESPONSE

Here is Hsiao’s response to my criticism of his core “argument”:

 

In short, his response is that “There’s no need to define the obvious.”  The unstated assumption in this response is that the meanings of all of the key words and phrases in his core “argument” are OBVIOUS.  This response leads me to the following conclusion:  The reason why the core “argument” in Hsiao’s article is a steaming pile of crap is that Hsiao is intellectually incapable of constructing and evaluating philosophical arguments.

It seems self-evident to me that all of the key terms in his core “argument” are UNCLEAR, VAGUE, and/or AMBIGUOUS.  If Hsiao cannot discern that there is a problem of CLARITY in these key terms even after I point to those key terms and object to their UNCLARITY, then he is not intellectually capable of producing an intelligent, logical, and clear philosophical argument.

 

A DEFENDER OF HSIAO’S “ARGUMENT”

One commenter on the post in which I stated my main objections against Hsiao’s core “argument” agreed with me that Hsiao’s article was crap, and yet did NOT agree with my objections against Hsiao’s core “argument”:

90Lew90 replies to my objections in pretty much the same way that Hsiao replied to my objections.  According to 90Lew90 at least three of the key terms in Hsiao’s “argument” have meanings that are “self-explanatory”.  (The whole IDEA of a term that is “self-explanatory” strikes me as absurd.)  Whatever the hell it means for a word or phrase to be “self-explanatory,” the main point appears to be that the meanings of these words and phrases are OBVIOUS.  This is implied when 90Lew90 states that my failure to agree that the phrase “sexual activity” is self-explanatory shows that I am “the one with the problem here.”

Given that 90Lew90 FAILS to discern that  that there is a problem of CLARITY in these key terms even after I point to those key terms and object to their UNCLARITY, I am forced to conclude that just like Hsiao 90Lew90 is not intellectually capable of producing an intelligent, logical, clear philosophical argument, or of rationally evaluating philosophical arguments.

 

ARE THE KEY TERMS IN THE CORE “ARGUMENT” OF PFA UNCLEAR?

Because it seems self-evident to me that ALL of the key terms in Hsiao’s core “argument” in PFA are UNCLEAR, it seems to me that I should NOT have to argue for my objections.  However, Hsiao cannot see the problem, and 90Lew90 cannot see the problem.  So, perhaps the UNCLARITY of these words and phrases is for many people NOT self-evident.

This, however, suggests that I’m incorrect in thinking that the UNCLARITY of these terms is self-evident, given that many (perhaps most) human beings would FAIL to notice the UNCLARITY of these terms, even after I point this out to them.  If I give up my assumption that the UNCLARITY of these terms is self-evident, then I have an obligation to provide REASONS and EVIDENCE to support my view that these terms are in fact UNCLEAR.

I have previously provided some evidence that the term “homosexual activity” is UNCLEAR.  One commenter provided a definition of this term which came from a well-known Catholic bishop and a respected moral theologian (Saint Alphonsus Ligouri).  I examined that proposed definition and found a number of significant problems with the definition, and I pointed those problems out in Post #5 of this series.  The fact that a definition put forward by a well-known Catholic bishop and respected moral theologian contains several obvious and significant problems is evidence that the term “homosexual activity” is UNCLEAR, and this is evidence that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious, since a well-known Catholic bishop and respected moral theologian defined this term in a way that is mistaken and inaccurate.

 

FUCK UP BY WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION EXPERTS ON SEX

90Lew90 cannot see any problem with the CLARITY of the phrase “sexual activity”.  So, I am going to provide him and Hsiao (and anyone who bothers to read my posts on this topic) with evidence that this phrase is UNCLEAR, and evidence that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.

First, a short story.  In 1975 the World Health Organization (hereafter: WHO) produced a ground-breaking report concerning “sexual health”: One important thing that this report did was to provide a DEFINITION of the term “sexual health” that has significantly influenced thinking and investigations about this subject for the past four decades:

Although this 1975 WHO report had significant impact on the development of thinking and investigations about sexual health, there was a significant problem with this report, as is pointed out in a 2002 WHO publication (Defining sexual health: Report of a technical consultation on sexual health, 28–31 January 2002, Geneva, p.4):

The doctors and sex experts who wrote the 1975 Report fucked up.  They FAILED to clearly define the most basic terms they were using, such as “sex” and “sexuality” and “sexual activity”.

Hsiao and 90Lew90 would not see any problem with the 1975 WHO report, since their view is that the meanings of terms like “sex” and “sexuality” and “sexual activity” are CLEAR and OBVIOUS. But as the authors of the 2002 WHO report note:

…there has been no subsequent international agreement on definitions for these terms.  

In other words, these terms are UNCLEAR, and the meanings of these terms are NOT obvious, so these basic terms are in NEED of a clear definition, which the 1975 WHO report FAILED to provide.

 

A COMMON MEDICAL QUESTION

Here is another bit of evidence that supports my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR, and that the meaning of the phrase is NOT obvious.  A common medical question that doctors ask their patients involves a phrase that is very close to the phrase at issue here:

Are you sexually active?

Many people find this question to be problematic.  This in itself is evidence for my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.

But because many people find this question to be problematic, they ask experts about the MEANING of this question.  They ask health experts at Planned Parenthood, for example, and they ask other medical experts.  The response of experts generally begins with the admission that this question is somewhat UNCLEAR.  Furthermore, when these experts provide “clarification” of this question, they end up contradicting each other, by giving different and conflicting interpretations of the question.  This provides even more evidence supporting my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and in need of definition.

Here is a response to a request to a medical expert to clarify this common question:

Note that this medical expert admits that

…this question is somehow vague. 

According to this expert, if you engage in sexual activities that involve penetration of the penis into the vagina or penetration of the penis into the anus, then you are “sexually active” but if you do NOT engage in one or the other of these two types of sexual activities, then you are, according to this medical expert, NOT “sexually active”.  This seems fairly clear, but other experts understand this phrase as having a different meaning.

Here is the answer that health experts from Planned Parenthood give to people who ask for clarification of the common question “Are you sexually active?”:

According to health experts at Planned Parenthood:

…there’s sometimes confusion over what ‘sexually active’ actually means.

In other words, this phrase is somewhat UNCLEAR, and the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.  They point out that some people think this phrase “just refers to vaginal intercourse”.  But in the view of Planned Parenthood health experts, this expression, in this context, should be understood as referring to vaginal intercourse plus various “other forms of sex”, including : anal sex and oral sex.

So far, we have seen that there are at least three different interpretations of the phrase “sexually active”:

  • the person has engaged in vaginal sex
  • the person has engaged in activity involving either (a) penetration of the penis into the vagina or (b) penetration of the penis into the anus
  • the person has engaged in either: (a) vaginal sex, or (b) anal sex, or (c) oral sex

But other medical experts provide yet another possible interpretation of the phrase “sexually active”.  Here is the clarification offered by health experts at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center:

Note that, once again, the health experts admit that:

The phrase sexually active is a bit vague…

They provide a fourth possible meaning for this phrase:

  • the person has engaged in either: (a) penis-in-vagina sex, or (b) oral sex, or (c) anal sex, or (d) manual sex.

NONE of the previous clarifications/definitions mentioned “manual sex”.

So, not only do MANY people find the meaning of the phrase “sexually active” to be problematic, but health experts often AGREE that this phrase is vague or UNCLEAR.  Furthermore, different health experts provide different and conflicting interpretations of what this phrase means.  NO WONDER patients are confused about the meaning of the question “Are you sexually active?”, because medical and health experts DON’T AGREE WITH EACH OTHER about what this question means!

But the phrase “sexually active” is very closely related to the phrase “sexual activity”.  The latter phrase could easily be used in place of the former:

Do you engage in sexual activity?

Given the UNCLARITY of the phrase “sexually active” it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also UNCLEAR.  Given that the meaning of the phrase “sexually active” is NOT obvious, it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also NOT obvious.

 

CONCLUSION

In view of the fact that a careful definition of “homosexual activity” put forward by a well-known Catholic bishop and well-respected moral theologian has several significant problems, and thus fails to be a clear and accurate definition of that phrase, this is evidence that the phrase “homosexual activity” is an UNCLEAR phrase, and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.

In view of the fact that the 1975 WHO report on sexual health FAILED to clarify or define some of the most basic terms used by health and sex experts, such as “sex”, “sexuality”, and “sexual activity”, and given that this is now understood by health and sex experts to be a significant problem with that historical and influential report, and given that there was no consensus on the meanings of those important basic terms among health and sex experts for decades after the 1975 WHO report, there is good reason to believe that these basic terms are somewhat UNCLEAR, in need of DEFINITION, and that the meanings of these terms are NOT obvious.

In view of the fact that the common medical question “Are you sexually active?” is confusing and problematic for many patients, and given that medical and health experts provide different and conflicting accounts about what that question means, it is clear that the phrase “sexually active” is UNCLEAR and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.  Since the phrase “sexual activity” is closely related to the phrase “sexually active”, it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also an UNCLEAR phrase, and likely that the meaning of the phrase “sexual activity” is also NOT obvious.

In the next post, I will present evidence concerning the UNCLARITY of the phrase “sexual activity” in the LEGAL arena, where the focus is on sex crimes.


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