Re: Shapes of a Wedge

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Jun 10 2004 - 14:48:40 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "John W Burgeson" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2004 10:51 AM
Subject: Re: Shapes of a Wedge

> >>What next bestiality? Moorad>>
> That's the "slippery slope" argument.
> The book on logic from my college course identifies it as a powerful
> emotional argument, one that is usually without useful content.

    Your book oversimplifies matters considerably, for there is a sense in
which "slippery slope" arguments can have considerable plausibility. If the
arguments that are used in favor of policy A can also be used, /mutatis
mutandis/, in favor of policy B, & if there are people who want to see
policy B adopted, then success of those arguments in getting A adopted makes
it a pretty good bet that the same arguments will be used to try to get B
adopted. & if these arguments have succeeded for A - & especially if they
have established some legal precedent - then it will be difficult for
opponents of B to put up an effective argument to the contrary.

    Logical as that may be, I think it unlikely that approval of homosexual
marriages will lead to approval of bestiality, primarily because most people
look on it with considerable disgust. Besides, the fact that one "partner"
in such a relationship is not a moral agent and that such a relationship
could not be consensual in the usual sense would make it hard to establish a
case for bestiality - which doesn't mean that some people on the fringes
might not try.

    I think it more likely that acceptance of homosexual marriage will lead
to challenges to laws against polygamy and incestuous marriages between
adults. There the argument is somewhat different. If the definition of
marriage is to be changed in such a non-traditional way as to encompass
same-sex relationships, what cogent arguments can be presented against
polygamous and incestuous marriages, especially since they (unlike same-sex
marriages) do have traditional support in some cultures? (More for polygamy
than incest of course but the latter class is not vacuous.)

    I don't think that this means that there should be no recognition of
same-sex unions, but it does argue for distinguishing them clearly from
marriage. Even that, however, may be only an ineffective paper barrier.

Received on Thu Jun 10 15:26:21 2004

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