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Pro-Marriage Theory and Debate Tactics Seminar

Pro-Marriage Theory and Debate Tactics Seminar

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Pro-Marriage Theory and Debate Tactics Seminar

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  1. Pro-Marriage Theory and Debate Tactics Seminar Stanford Anscombe Society May 2012

  2. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Sexual Ethics • Conclusion

  3. Define Competing Theses Good definitions use terms whose meanings are accepted by all parties. Libertarian Government should not sponsor marriage under any definition Liberal Government should sponsor marriage as an institution that unites couples in committed sexual partnerships Conservative Government should sponsor marriage as an institution that unites children with their biological parents

  4. Burdens of Proof These two rules are uncontroversial but important. Libertarian Government should not sponsor marriage under any definition Burden of proof on whoever proposes State intervention Must prove enough but not too much Liberal Government should sponsor marriage as an institution that unites couples in committed sexual partnerships Conservative Government should sponsor marriage as an institution that unites children with their biological parents

  5. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Dialogue with Libertarian • Dialogue with Liberal • Sexual Ethics • Conclusion

  6. Children and Family Structure The conservative case for marriage starts with children. Raised by biological parents Parent’s relationship characterized by certain norms Perform best on a wide range of outcomes • Unfortunately not possible for all children • Stable living arrangement • Long-term commitment • Sexual exclusivity • Shared responsibility for managing a household • Educational achievement • Self-esteem • Emotional and sexual health • Respect for morality and civil law We will call these “conjugal norms”

  7. Benefits of Conjugal Norms The positive impact on children is well-documented. • Enhances children’s sense of well-being • Boosts self-esteem • Reinforces sense of identity in teens • Reduces anxiety levels • Reduces likelihood of depression • Endows children with human capital • Boosts educational attainment • Boosts life-time earning potential • Provides children with a secure moral compass • Reduces propensity to criminal activity • Reduces likelihood of joining a gang • Reduces likelihood of substance abuse Conjugal Norms • Enhances children’s mental health • Reduces risk of ADD, other mental illnesses • Reduces likelihood of suicide attempts • Endows children with social capital • Provides access to familial network with high trust and low transaction costs

  8. Spillover Effects Additional benefits accrue beyond the children themselves. Improves classroom learning environment Reduces illegal drug traffic Boosts productivity in adulthood Reduces contract costs Eases law enforcement burden Eases burden on healthcare system Privatizes welfare for the disabled

  9. Child’s Rights and Social Benefits Both are advanced by placement in a conjugal household. The Next Generation Less adherence to conjugal norms Greater adherence to conjugal norms Since children cannot choose household, the State must be ready to protect their rights if necessary.

  10. Case 1: Controlled Assignment The State can regulate adoption and ART agencies. • Conjugal Norms • Stable living arrangement • Long-term commitment • Sexual exclusivity • Shared responsibility for managing a household • Fidelity to male-female biological model (?) Child 2-3% children in U.S. Adoption or ART agency Government gatekeeper Less adherence to conjugal norms Greater adherence to conjugal norms

  11. Case 2: Planned Pregnancy The State cannot assign pregnancies. Child Planned pregnancy Less adherence to conjugal norms Greater adherence to conjugal norms “Assignment” determined solely by interests of biological parents, not interests of child.

  12. Case 3: Unplanned Pregnancy No one can assign unplanned pregnancies. Child ? ? ? Unplanned pregnancy Less adherence to conjugal norms Greater adherence to conjugal norms Assignment is determined by “nature,” not by interests of child.

  13. Solution to Cases 2 & 3 The State can influence the behavior of prospective biological parents. Child Less adherence to conjugal norms Greater adherence to conjugal norms Children have an interest in limiting activity that could result in natural pregnancy to partnerships characterized by high fidelity to conjugal norms.

  14. Available Policy Instruments Policymakers have at least two means of influencing behavior. Normalization by education or institution Monetary incentives • Works well if… • Compliance easily enforceable • Readily quantifiable benefit • Demand for behavior is elastic • Examples include… • Industrial pollution • Higher education • Adherence to traffic laws • Works well if… • Compliance costly or impractical to enforce • Benefit difficult to quantify • Demand for behavior is inelastic • Examples include… • Public participation • Littering

  15. Protecting Children’s Rights Cases 2 and 3 justify the traditional institution of marriage. 2-3% 97-98% State regulation of adoption agencies and ART industry Institution that integrates male-female sex with commitment, exclusivity, and comprehensive sharing of life

  16. Burden of Proof We have defended the existence of a public institution uniting children and their biological parents. Q • Outstanding Questions • What about OS couples known to be infertile? • Should adoption agencies place children in SS households? • Is IVF compatible with children’s rights? Did I prove enough? Q Did I prove too much?

  17. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Dialogue with Libertarian • Dialogue with Liberal • Sexual Ethics • Conclusion

  18. Burdens of Proof, Revisited We will test pro-SSM arguments against the same two metrics. Q1 Does it prove enough? Must show public interest in SS partnerships Must show that this is the same interest that justifies OS marriage Q2 Conjugal marriage law unjustly discriminates against gays and lesbians only if this is true. Does it prove too much?

  19. Argument 1: Why Not? This argument misplaces the burden of proof. “ Why not extend marriage to same-sex partners? How will it harm you? Opposite-sex marriages won’t even be affected. Does this argument demonstrate a public interest in SS partnerships? Is this the same public interest that attends OS partnerships? Would this argument extend beyond SS couples? • It doesn’t even try • Certainly not • Yes, it could apply to any kind of partnership (e.g., tennis doubles partners) Fails to prove enough Tries to prove too much

  20. Argument 2: Emotional Health Emotional well-being is a private good. “ Commitment, sexual intimacy, etc. are emotionally healthy. The State should encourage these behaviors among gays and lesbians by publicly recognizing their partnerships. Does this argument demonstrate a public interest in SS partnerships? Is this the same public interest that attends OS partnerships? Would this argument extend beyond SS couples? • Emotional well-being is a private good • No, because natural pregnancies never occur in SS partnerships • Some find other less traditional arrangements to be sexually fulfilling • Asexual friendships are often very emotionally fulfilling Fails to prove enough Tries to prove too much

  21. Argument 3: Legal Benefits This argument reduces to a complaint about process. “ Married couples enjoy legal privileges such as hospital visitation automatically. It is unfair to withhold these privileges from gays and lesbians by forbidding them to marry. Does this argument demonstrate a public interest in SS partnerships? Is this the same public interest that attends OS partnerships? Would this argument extend beyond SS couples? • Unmarried couples can grant each other visitation rights, other legal privileges • At most this argument proves a public interest in expediting those processes • It proves no public interest in SS partnerships themselves • Certainly not; it has nothing to do with children • Yes, anyone who wanted the legal privileges associated with marriage could make exactly the same argument Fails to prove enough Tries to prove too much

  22. Argument 4: Cultural Education Redefining marriage is not required to achieve this goal. “ Gays and lesbians continue to suffer bullying and disrespect. Expanding the scope of marriage would enshrine their equality with opposite-sex couples in the law. Does this argument demonstrate a public interest in SS partnerships? Is this the same public interest that attends OS partnerships? Would this argument extend beyond SS couples? • At most it shows a public interest in teaching children to respect the dignity of gays and lesbians • It proves no public interest in SS partnerships themselves • Adherence to conjugal norms among potential “unplanned parents” offers a unique public benefit • Possible to educate without hijacking policy mechanism that secures this benefit • It would apply a fortiori to those with even more marginalized sexual orientations • Tolerance for gays and lesbians has improved much more than for others Fails to prove enough Tries to prove too much

  23. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Sexual Ethics • Human Moral Nature • Human Sexual Nature • Linking Ethics and Sexuality • Policy Implications • Conclusion

  24. Capacities of Human Nature We conceptualize ourselves in functional terms. Complex Simple Complexity of integrated functionality • Like vacuum cleaners and tigers, persons have various capacities, or functions. • Our capacities, and what it means to excel in them, emerge from our nature. • Features unique to human nature give persons unique capacities.

  25. Building Blocks of Morality Ethics emerges from high-level cognitive functions unique to human nature. Abstract thought Cluster of high-level cognitive functions Long-term value horizons Critical self-reflection Extension of value beyond felt pleasures/pains Empathy Ability to participate in another’s subjectivity Capacity for altruistic self-transcendence Self-gift

  26. General Norm of Morality Acts are moral as far as they accord with the natural teleology of moral excellence. Just as... Physical capacities functioning as they presently do. Moral choice aligned with the mix of ends that we presently seek. All physical capacities functioning well and harmoniously. Moral choice aligned with the ideal of unreserved self-gift. Unhealthy acts are misaligned with the natural teleology of physical health. Healthy choices are those that help form a healthy body. Likewise, Immoral acts are misaligned with the natural teleology of moral excellence. Moral choices are those that help form an upright character.

  27. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Sexual Ethics • Human Moral Nature • Human Sexual Nature • Linking Ethics and Sexuality • Policy Implications • Conclusion

  28. Defining Our Terms These terms will reappear throughout this section. • Sexual drive: The biological processes by which the body prepares for and executes orgasm. • Sexual act: An act performed intentionally by one or more participants in which at least one of them achieves orgasm. • Conjugal act: The particular sort of sexual act towards which the sexual drive is naturally directed. Our task in this section will be to specify which sort of sexual act this is.

  29. Identifying the Conjugal Act Inquiry into the cause or purpose of the sexual drive will shed light on its natural design. 1. Purpose Human Sexuality ? Sexual Drive The Conjugal Act 2. Cause

  30. Purpose of the Sexual Drive The evolutionary goal of sexuality is reproduction, a multi-step process. 1. Purpose Reproduction Sexual Drive Successful reproduction requires multiple steps

  31. Mechanics of the Sexual Drive • Organic Union • Devotional and Affective Union Hormones released during the sexual drive bond male and female together beyond coitus. 2. Cause Holistic Union Sexual Drive The biology of the sexual drive fosters a union between male and female that engages their whole bodies

  32. The Conjugal Act Our two approaches converge to a single specification. The conjugal act is an act that is reproductive in type. The conjugal act is anact of coitusthatfosters lasting devotional bondsbetween the partners. The conjugal act is an act that is holistically unitivein type.

  33. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Sexual Ethics • Human Moral Nature • Human Sexual Nature • Linking Ethics and Sexuality • Policy Implications • Conclusion

  34. The Quality of Conjugal Dialogue Our moral and sexual capacities both function to draw us into love. “LOVE” It is no coincidence that the same word describes both charity and sexual intimacy. Moral capacity Sexual drive • Moral and sexual capacities each function to draw us into “intercourse” with another subjectivity • They are linked by the common intentional quality of that intercourse

  35. The Depth of Conjugal Dialogue Sexual expression impinges on the core of our identity. • Evidence that sexual intercourse is something intensely personal • Phenomenological • Propriety and sexual shame • More-than-physical violation in rape • Sociological/Humanistic • Ritualistic / religious significance • Romantic themes in art • Evolutionary • Centrality of reproduction Complex of desires, potencies, and physical substrata that comprise a human person. Sexuality “ There is no such thing as a casual, non-significant sexual act; everyone knows this. - Elizabeth Anscombe

  36. Sexuality and Ethics Sexual discourse aims to instantiate the ideal of ethics. Sexual drive Abstract thought Long-term value horizons Critical self-reflection Empathy Self-gift

  37. General Norm of Sexual Morality We should respect the natural teleology of the sexual drive. In the context of sexual activity, moral choice and the sexual drive share a common teleological endpoint. By definition, “Non-conjugal sexual activity” “ Sexual activity misaligned with the natural teleology of the sexual drive is misaligned with the natural teleology of moral choice. By definition, “immoral” “ Non-conjugal sexual activity is immoral.

  38. Moral Evaluation of Sexual Acts • Organically Unitive? • Ordered Towards Conception? • Ordered Towards Gestation/Rearing? • Devotionally Unitive? Sexual acts must satisfy both conditions to be conjugal. • Conjugal? Solitary Masturbation Rape, Prostitution Anal/Oral Sex, Mutual Masturbation (Consensual) Genital Intercourse within Marriage • Conjugal?

  39. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Sexual Ethics • Human Moral Nature • Human Sexual Nature • Linking Ethics and Sexuality • Policy Implications • Conclusion

  40. Policy Implication 1: Adoption We can now complete our list of conjugal norms. • Conjugal Norms • Stable living arrangement • Long-term commitment • Sexual exclusivity • Shared responsibility for managing a household • Fidelity to male-female biological model Child 2-3% children in U.S. Adoption or ART agency Government gatekeeper Less adherence to conjugal norms Greater adherence to conjugal norms

  41. Policy Implication 2: ART/IVF A laissez-faire stance towards IVF creates many problems. 1. Harms public morality Creates market for sperm, incentivizing non-conjugal sexual acts of masturbation. 2. Obstructs the public function of marriage Reinforces the notion that an adult has a “right” to a child. Marriage works to highlight the rights of the vulnerable party, the child. 3. Harms children IVF children suffer disproportionately from confusion about their identity. 4. Generates legal difficulties What are the legal rights of the various “parents” (biological and practical/surrogate)?

  42. Policy Implication 3: SSM Redefining marriage would cause serious cultural harms. 1. Harm public morality Normalize preference as the determinant of value in sexual partnerships in place of human sexuality’s natural moral structure. 2. Obstruct the public function of marriage Install satisfaction of adult preference as the purpose of marriage in place of protection of children’s rights. 3. Harm children Disallow adoption agencies from taking parents’ gender into account when placing children. 4. Threaten religious freedom Force churches to rent spaces for same-sex weddings; criminalize teaching Bible; shut down Catholic charities / adoption agencies.

  43. Agenda • Introduction • Social Science • Sexual Ethics • Conclusion

  44. Flowcharts Both arguments can be summarized in four steps. Social Science Definition of theses and clarification of burden of proof Evidence for public benefits of conjugal norms Analysis of three ways children are assigned to homes Justification of marriage policy based on last two Ethics Construction of general ethical framework Functional analysis of human sexuality Linkage between sexuality and ethics Implications on morality of sexual activity

  45. Q/A