James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal, he thinks gay marriage is a threat. No not to other marriages, c’mon, nobody is saying that (all his friends say it). To the institution of marriage. A. Barton Hinkle doubts:
Is there some ontologically separate entity called Marriage that exists independent of all the marriages of all the couples in the world? There would have to be, according to the institution-of-marriage argument. But that makes no sense. After all, you would not say a virus “threatens humanity” if, in fact, no individual human person was ever harmed by the virus.
Oh No. Now Taranto will have to break out his blog hammer. How about it? He invents and infects the world with a ‘Hinkle Virus.’ This is a bug that doesn’t actually harm anybody, but it makes your future children homosexuals.
We have established as a condition of the experiment–and we trust that in the real world Hinkle agrees–that it is not harmful to a woman to give birth to a homosexual child, nor is it harmful to a child to be born homosexual. And since the virus affects the sexual orientation only of the yet-unborn, it should not disrupt any existing heterosexual relationship.
Yet it should be obvious that the Hinkle virus would threaten humanity by dramatically reducing the incentive to reproduce. Presumably it should be obvious that the Hinkle virus would threaten humanity by dramatically reducing the incentive to reproduce. Presumably the next generation would stave off complete extinction by means of artificial insemination, but it’s preposterous to think that fertility in an all-homosexual society would come anywhere near the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman . .
Progeny down, homosexuality a threat to mankind. That’s that. I think a better blogger might have finally defined ‘humanity’ at this point — Taranto has been using it on the one hand for ‘human characteristics’ and on the second for ‘future existence.’ That would have started an even bigger controversy, I imagine, granting his conservative take, but at least he might have ridden out the traffic bump with a ‘harumph.’ Instead, Taranto claims victory.
The foregoing is not an argument against same-sex marriage but rather a defense of a form of argument that Hinkle makes an embarrassing philosophical error in categorically rejecting.
Um, take that(?).
. . Hinkle’s reduction of human institutions and societies–and of humanity itself–to merely the sum of their individual members is a reductio ad absurdum of individualism into a kind of philosophical narcissism.
Ah! And that.
Hinkle’s cognitive error–an inordinate focus on the individual and refusal to consider systemic effects–is quite common on the left and the libertarian right.
And that. But be wary, friends. While Taranto makes with the war whoops, I can assure you that Hinkle is very much alive. Roy Edroso:
Taranto could as well have said “any children they conceive after infection will be born male” — nothing wrong with being male, right? — or “any children they conceive after infection will be born female” — nothing wrong with being female, right? Which in the long run would have an even more dramatic effect on reproduction, if not on the “incentive to reproduce.” We could use this, I suppose, as proof that masculinity presents a threat to mankind without blah blah. Or femininity!
Gender, the ultimate individualism. Taranto’s thought-experiment aimed to affirm his appreciation for ‘humanity,’ but it proved he was interested in much less: ‘fertility.’ You reduce the species to a single characteristic, you run the risk of going philosophically extinct. There may be two archetypes, man and woman, but neither one can stand for humanity as a whole. It’s fair to say the same for homosexuals. You listen to business majors argue biology, and this is what you get.
Believe it or don’t, there’s more. Remember Taranto’s chest thumping over the presumption of Hinkle?
. . Hinkle’s reduction of human institutions and societies–and of humanity itself–to merely the sum of their individual members is a reductio ad absurdum . .
Lo that ‘humanity’ would be the sum of all human beings! How frustrating it is to argue with children. Taranto dismantled this blunder by what method? By changing, biologically and behaviorally, all human beings. So he’s not much for logic either.
I admit, this is a splendid comedy. But what does Taranto’s act tell us, if anything? It says that our biology informs and inflects our humanity, but it does not define it. And that, like most other conservatives, marriage (remember that?) is the last thing he’s interested in.