In light of the recent amendments to the penal code, Yawning Bread and Mr Wang have both blogged about what this could mean to the homosexual community here in Singapore. This reminded me of an argument that might (or might not) be useful when discussing about the ethics of homosexuality. The argument below did not originate from me; it was taught to me by my philosophy professor, who also happened to be a die-hard New York Giants fan.
One potential argument against homosexuality is that it is “unnatural”, and hence it is immoral. One possible construction of the argument is:
Homosexuality is unnatural. (Premise )
Whatever is unnatural must be immoral. (Premise )
Hence by deduction, Homosexuality is immoral (Conclusion )
Note that I’m being very loose with my wording and I have not defined “unnatural”. However, I believe for my current purposes, this construction which I have presented will suffice.
To understand how I will attempt to refute this argument, we need to understand a bit more about a particular popular American sport: baseball. Most of us would know that baseball mainly revolves around a pitcher, who throws (“pitches”) the baseball, and the batter, who attempts to hit the baseball being thrown towards him by the pitcher. There are many ways for a pitcher to throw a baseball towards a batter. One of those ways is known as a screwball.
A screwball is a type of pitch where the baseball spins in a motion opposite to what is the natural spin of the baseball when normally thrown. In basketball, when we normally shoot a basket, due to the natural motion of the fingers on the basketball, the ball spins backwards. If you can shoot the basketball while making the ball spin forward (instead of backwards), you would have accomplished the equivalent of baseball’s screwball.
One of the greatest screwball pitchers is Carl Hubbell, who played for the New York Giants his whole career. In 1934, during the all-star game, he struck out (meaning the batter failed to hit his screw ball 3 times) 5 hall-of-fame batters (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin) in succession, setting a baseball record.
Now, anybody who knows much about baseball also knows that the human body is not designed to throw screwballs. [In fact, Jim Mecir, another baseball pitcher, was good at throwing the screwball precisely because of a birth defect (clubbed feet)] So, it would be very logical to say that to throw a screwball is “unnatural”. Yet, nobody ever accused Carl Hubbell to have done anything immoral as a result of his pitching screwballs (except perhaps Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin =)).
Based on this account, we can see that premise , “Whatever is unnatural must be immoral”, fails to be true, or at least requires further substantiation, and hence conclusion , “homosexuality is immoral”, cannot be considered a sound conclusion, at least based on this simple construction of the argument.