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GAYS, MORALITY AND DETERMINISM
#1
In these days it has happened to me to think about two concepts: free will and determinism. You can ask me what these issues have to do with a gay forum, because they seem too abstract questions to have real consequences on the lives of homosexual people, but things aren’t really so.
 
Morality, that is the philosophy of values, of behavior, of good and bad, assumes as a postulate the free will, that is, the possibility of choosing, on which individual responsibility is based. The concepts of moral guilt and merit presuppose free will, which is taken for granted. The criminal law punishes behaviors considered criminally relevant without asking itself questions about the agent’s actual freedom of choice, which for its purposes is irrelevant, only in some cases the law excludes criminal liability, as when the criminal behavior was significant committed in a state of constraint, of incapacity to understand and will or self-defense. In the vast majority of cases the law presupposes freedom of choice, and on this basis founds criminal responsibility. Moral follows more or less similar criteria in evaluating individual behavior and in qualifying them as good or bad. Both law and morality have educational intentions, in the sense that they provide models, which seems to make sense only if the freedom of choice of the individual is presumed.
 
But if we start from deterministic assumptions, for which everything that happens happens in the way it happens and can happen only in that specific way, because the chain of determining causes determines that happening or that behavior in that place and at that moment and therefore excludes any possibility of choice, we realize that the presuppositions of the law and moral vanish, the concepts of guilt and merit vanish, and morality and law lose what seems to be their fundamental presupposition, and they only assume the role of social defense instruments, i.e. they represent the immune system of the society aimed at its conservation.
 
But let’s go to gays. Being gay and behaving as a homosexual has been considered for centuries a crime to be punished with the stake, assuming that a gay man could choose whether to be gay or be straight and could choose whether to behave as a homosexual or as a heterosexual. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, homosexuality was considered a pathology, which meant recognizing the fact that being gay or behaving as a homosexual was not actually a free choice, but a fact determined by a pathological condition that excludes freedom. Today the World Health Organization recognizes homosexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality and so removes in its root every possibility of penal sanction or moral condemnation of homosexuality or of individual behavior that doesn't constitute a violation of the freedom of others. One would say that the "freedom" of the individual is saved this way, but that same freedom to act, assessed in deterministic terms, doesn’t actually exist.
 
Today we accept the idea that we cannot blame the sick persons of the actions determined by their illness (inability to understand and want) but by widening the discourse, always in terms of strict determinism, we cannot even blame or praise anyone for his actions, which are necessitated deterministically and are only materially accomplished by that individual but are not determined by him.
 
For what purpose then it makes sense to postulate law and moral? The answer is in the very concept of determinism. The elementary physical phenomena are easily reproducible and are explained by very simple determinant causes, such as mass and gravity, the chemical-organic reactions are much less reproducible and the chain of the determining causes is extremely more complex (various impurities of the reagents , temperature, global or local pressure, reaction mechanism, and way up to cosmic rays). For the phenomena of molecular biology and of physiology the determining causes are so complex and numerous that trying to identify them all goes far beyond the possible. In the dimension of human action, where the search for causes sinks in history, in heredity, in genetics, in epigenetics and in all the individual experience as well as in other uncontrollable factors related to climate, food and a thousand other things the problem is so complex that the concept of free will is postulated or better created, that is, an ontological, metaphysical freedom is created that seems to put aside the idea of determinism.
 
In reality, the collective consciousness, from which the law and morality descend, is one of the determining concurrences, often one of the fundamental ones, of the action of the individual, and this is precisely the basic pedagogical value of law and morality. Morality doesn’t only intervene in retrospect to judge behaviors but largely determines them through learning mechanisms and, obviously, when moral is conditioned by prejudices, it also transmits those prejudices and interferes in a dysfunctional way with the social mechanism. Determinism and morality can very well get along if the presuppositions of morality are objective and not preconceived, precisely because morality intervenes a priori as a cause, often as a fundamental cause, and not only retrospectively as a yardstick. This is why the reflection on the fundamentals of morality has an enormous value for gays too.
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