A Philosopher's Blog

The Procreation Argument

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on April 3, 2013
Gay Couple with child

Gay Couple with child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One interesting thing about the arguments against allowing same-sex marriage is that they are so often fallacious or based on false premises. As a philosopher, I would certainly accept a good argument against same sex-marriage. However, I am still waiting for such an argument. Well, other than the good arguments against marriage in general.

One argument that gets trotted out is the procreation argument. The gist of this argument is that the purpose of marriage is procreation, same-sex couples cannot procreate naturally, therefore same-sex marriage should not be allowed. This is, obviously enough, a bad argument against same-sex marriage.

First, the purpose of marriage does not seem to be procreation. Obviously, marriage is neither a sufficient nor necessary condition for procreation. It might be replied that marriage exists to provide children with a healthy environment. However, since the people who are actually experts on the health of children support same-sex marriage, this approach would fail.  Also, obviously enough people are not tested for their suitability as parents before they are allowed to get married, nor are they compelled to divorce if they prove to be unsuitable parents. Naturally, I would support the principle that people who would be awful parents should not have children-but this would not deny same-sex couples the right to marry or have kids simple on the grounds they are same-sex couples.

Second, there is the matter of consistency. If it is claimed that same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry because they cannot procreate naturally, then it would follow that different-sex couples who either cannot or chose not to procreate naturally should not be allowed to marry. If we accepted the procreation principle, couples would need to be tested for fertility before being allowed to marry and would need to produce offspring in a specified amount of time or have the marriage nullified. This is, of course, absurd and something that we surely would not impose on different-sex couples. As such, the procreation principle should be rejected.

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22 Responses

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  1. […] collapse of the West, as evidenced by the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, Philosopher Michael LaBossiere minces the procreation objection. The contrast is striking, and y’all should read both […]

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

    You’re creating a straw man to attack, which is a fallacy.

    In general, which is what the law applies to (there are always particular exceptions) heterosex is natural as is the heterosex family.

    Nature and natural law has long been the juridical guide for western civilization.

    We no longer follow natural law but it’s certainly a valid position. In fact it was so obvious for thousands of years it was presupposed and unexamined until post modern times, which has flipped everything to do with law, reason, and natural law upon it’s head, as should be obvious to all.

    We have only to choices in law: natural law or no law (meaning: the will to power and legal positivism).

    “[N]one of the [Roman] lawyers doubted that there is a higher law than the enactments of any particular state. Like Cicero, they conceived of the law as ultimately rational, universal, unchangeable, and divine, at least in respect to the main principles of right and justice. The Roman Law, like the English common law, was only in small part a product of legislation. Hence the presumption was never made that law expresses nothing but the will of a competent legislative body, which is an idea of quite recent origin. It was assumed that ‘nature’ sets certain norms which the positive law must live up to as best it can and that, as Cicero had believed, an ‘unlawful’ statute simply is not law. Throughout the whole of the Middle Ages and well down into modern times the existence and the validity of such a higher law were taken for granted.” (George H. Sabine: A History of Political Theory, pp. 169-170)

  3. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 3, 2013 at 11:45 am

    American Political/Social Theory:

    Choose one (1):

    1. Democracy: the majority rules and the minority is unprotected from the majority. (Something America has never had).

    2. Republic: the majority rules and the minority is protected from the majority. (Something America has always had).

    Reverse Democracy: the minority rules and the majority is unprotected from the minority: Example: one atheist doesn’t like a public nativity scene so no one is allowed to display one. (What America has become, today).

    If one gay couple wants to get married, then all citizens must redefine the word “marriage” so as to accommodate the minority gay citizens. If one woman wants to hire a man to kill her unborn baby, then all women must have abortion clinics located within their cities, towns, and villages.

    Our future? FOOLISHNESS: America must self-consciously become an irreligious, godless, and immoral nation because one (1) irreligious, godless, and immoral person might exist who is offended by God and by decent, moral people.

    Our future? WISDOM: America will be a religious, godly, moral nation, and will protect (and tolerate) the godless and immoral peoples (= fools) in our midst.

    Which side are YOU on? Wisdom? or Foolishness?

  4. T. J. Babson said, on April 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Mike thinks that the concept of traditional marriage can just be extended to cover gay couples.

    Yet, I suspect that part of having a gay identity involves being highly non-traditional.

    I suspect that once gays are allowed to marry, few will want to.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 5, 2013 at 10:11 am

      What do you mean by traditional marriage? Marriage has been redefined continuously as social norms change. Compare, for example, the way marriage was viewed in the 1950s to now. The expected roles, laws, and so on have changed extensively over the past 50 years.

      What do you mean by non-traditional? What is it to have a gay identity? While my own experiences cover a limited sample, the gay folks I know generally live life like everyone else: they go to school or work, worry about paying the bills, like cake, often have pets, and so on.

      I’m not sure if may gay folks will want to get married. I’m straight and my divorce sort of broke me of the idea that marriage is worth doing. Now, it makes sense to marry up (but not down) since divorce would be a “win” of sorts. Marrying down financially would be a big loss.

      • WTP said, on April 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Marriage has been redefined continuously as social norms changei> Marriage has been redefined continuously as social norms change.

        Notice how Mike plays games with the language. This is the $*!% I’m talking about. Marriage was never “defined” by the roles. I give you Webster’s 1913 definition of “Marriage”:

        Mar”riage (?), n. [OE. mariage, F. mariage. See Marry, v. t.]

        1. The act of marrying, or the state of being married; legal union of a man and a woman for life, as husband and wife; wedlock; matrimony.

        Marriage is honorable in all. Heb. xiii. 4.
        2. The marriage vow or contract. [Obs.] Chaucer.

        3. A feast made on the occasion of a marriage.

        The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son. Matt. xxii. 2.
        4. Any intimate or close union. Marriage brokage. (a) The business of bringing about marriages. (b) The payment made or demanded for the procurement of a marriage. — Marriage favors, knots of white ribbons, or bunches of white flowers, worn at weddings. — Marriage settlement (Law), a settlement of property in view, and in consideration, of marriage. Syn. — Matrimony; wedlock; wedding; nuptials. — Marriage, Matrimony, Wedlock. Marriage is properly the act which unites the two parties, and matrimony the state into which they enter. Marriage is, however, often used for the state as well as the act. Wedlock is the old Anglo-Saxon term for matrimony.

        Nothing in there about who does the dishes. Mike and his fellow travellers obfuscate and abuse language to suit their own purposes. Sophists, not philosophers. And the worst kind of sophists are ones who abuse language. One need not loosen the definition of “lying” anywhere near to the degree that he is loosening the definition of “marriage” to say that lying is what Mike is doing here.

  5. T. J. Babson said, on April 3, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I’m frankly not sure there is much point to marriage if kids aren’t part of it.

    • T. J. Babson said, on April 4, 2013 at 6:00 am

      Not that there is no point to having a mate, just that there is no need for the government to be involved in the relationship.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 5, 2013 at 10:13 am

        My view is that the state should not be involved at all in marriage. I would separate the legal and financial aspects of what is now marriage and make those into contracts, perhaps with standard packages (such as one that replicates marriage now). So, if two people want to profess their love or have a religious thing or whatever, they can get married. If they want to enter into legal and financial contracts, then they can do that.

        • WTP said, on April 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm

          If they want to enter into legal and financial contracts, then they can do that.
          They already can. Nothing is preventing them from doing so. The question is does that piggyback onto the existing understanding and definition of marriage as the courts have seen it for well over 200 years. As Scalia said “We decide what the law is. I’m curious, when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868?”

  6. biomass2 said, on April 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    TJ: In states in which homosexual marriages are legal, many homosexual couples have “wanted to” get married. And they have.

    And like it or not, the government is involved in heterosexual marriages ( with children ,without children).With its involvement, government creates rights and responsibilities for married couples that do not exist for unmarried couples. We’re all aware of the obvious tax and general financial advantages and responsibilities of marriage. But the following aren’t always carefully examined by couples, hetrosexual or homosexual, before marriage.
    Part of a good article:
    “He further mentioned that this ‘religious overtone’ is recognized by the State by,requiring that the marriage must be solemnized either by a state official or by a minister of religion that has been “deputized” by the State to perform the marriage ceremony and
    make a return of the signed and executed marriage license to the State. Again, he
    emphasized that marriage is a strictly secular relationship so far as the State is concerned and because it is looked upon as a “privileged business enterprise” various tax advantages and other political privileges have become attached to the marriage license contract that have nothing at all to do with marriage as a religious covenant or bond between God and a man and a woman. ” . . . ………………
    ……………………………
    “He also added a few more technical details. The marriage license is an ongoing contractual relationship with
    the State. Technically, the marriage license is a business license allowing the husband and wife, in the name of the marriage, to enter into contracts with third parties and contract mortgages and debts. They can get car loans,home mortgages, and installment debts in the name of the marriage because it is not only a secular enterprise, but it is looked upon by the State as a privileged business enterprise as well as a for-profit business enterprise.
    The marriage contract acquires property throughout its existence and over time, it is hoped, increases in
    value. Also, the marriage contract “bears fruit” by adding children. If sometime later, the marriage fails, and a
    “divorce” results the contract continues in existence. The “divorce” is merely a contractual dissolution or –
    amendment of the terms and conditions of the contract. Jurisdiction of the State over the marriage,
    over the husband and wife, now separated, continues and continues over all aspects of the marriage,
    over marital property and over children brought into the marriage. That is why family law and the Domestic
    Relations court calls “divorce” a dissolution of the marriage because the contract continues in operation but in amended or modified form. He also pointed out that the marriage license contract is one of the strongest, most binding contractual relationships the States has on people ”

    http://www.alimonyreform.org/content/articles/How%20Did%20Government%20Get%20Involved%20in%20Marriage.pdf

    Perhaps after reading and considering the above fewer homosexual and heterosexual couples would want to marry. Or perhaps more would. It’s really too soon to predict.

  7. T. J. Babson said, on April 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Jeremy Irons makes the same point I made earlier:

    • WTP said, on April 5, 2013 at 6:43 am

      Exactly. Irons has the “right” to raise questions about the potential legal, philosophical, and moral consequences of the state redefining the meaning of words. He has that right as a member of the entertainment industry. But Alito, a constitional expert, sitting on the Supreme Court explores the possible consequences in court, in the interest of making a very important decision and someone like Mike mocks his thinking as narrow minded.

      While I personally don’t see a reason gay men can’t have a union that parallels marriage, it is very dangerous for the courts to redefine the meaning of words. Control of language, redefing the meaning of words, is a very dangerous thing. Truly Orwellian. Much of Mike’s “reasoning” relies upon it.

      Interesting how the interviewer so casually tosses aside Iron’s pondering what it would mean for a man to marry his son because it’s “obviously” “immoral” without thinking deeply about what those words mean in the context of the very discussion he is having.

      • T. J. Babson said, on April 5, 2013 at 7:16 am

        They miss the essential point that marriage is really nothing but a tradition. They think they can just graft gay marriage onto the traditional marriage without any consequences. As Irons points out, once gay marriage is legalized the lawyers are going to have a field day. There will be unintended consequences, but we don’t know what they are yet.

        • WTP said, on April 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

          The essential point is that if you want to change what for centuries has been understood to have a certain meaning, there are perfectly acceptable paths to resolve the problem without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Introduce an amendment along the lines of amendenments 13 through 15, stating explicitly that marriage shall be viewed by the state as a union of two mature, unrelated, adult individuals. Get it ratified by the necessary 2/3 of states. There’s no need to throw the issue wide open.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

          Marriage is a legal and financial contract. See what happens in divorces if you think otherwise. Gay marriage can be added easily to that contract system.

          I think we can sort out likely consequences. For example, fathers will not be allowed to marry their sons even if gay marriage gets the green light. We have also seen the effects of same-sex marriages where it is legal. That provided empirical data as to what has happened and what would probably happen elsewhere.

          • WTP said, on April 5, 2013 at 11:25 am

            fathers will not be allowed to marry their sons even if gay marriage gets the green light.

            You say this based on what? Fallacy. Now if a constitutional amendment is passed, as I suggest above, in which specific unions are defined, you can specify such. But throwing open the meaning of the word marriage via the courts, leaving things open to the lawyers, is a very dangerous proposal. If you were any kind of a serious philosopher you would give this some thought.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 5, 2013 at 10:14 am

      I don’t think he even knows what his point is. Just because someone can act does not entail that their opinions on such matters should be given extra weight (or even air time).

      • WTP said, on April 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

        pot – kettle. Though that’s not really fair. Irons has put far more thought into this than Mike has.

        • biomass2 said, on April 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm

          Evidence for that?

  8. biomass2 said, on April 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Jeremy Irons and dogs. Hello Rick S.
    Seriously, don’t you just want to wrap your brain around IJeremy’ s voice and believe his every word, no matter what he says??
    Did he say “What it’s called doesn’t matter at all” ? That’s essentially the point of the article I quoted. There’s the spiritual marriage in the church, and there’s the ‘contractual’ marriage with the state. Call it marriage, and call it settled. Same sex couples marry and get all the benefits and responsibilities of the contractual marriage. If they wish to pass on the religious version they should be allowed to do so and still be considered marriage. The state would be the state, and the church would be the church. Separated.

  9. […] The Procreation Argument (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) […]


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