Monday, August 23, 2010

Same-sex "marriage" and the myth of liberal neutrality

Ed Feser takes a look at Judge Vaughn Walker's bit of legal legerdemain in striking down California's Proposition 8:
Judge Walker’s decision, he tells us, is based on the principle that the state ought not to “enforce ‘profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles’” or to “mandate [its] own moral code.” But that is, of course, precisely what Walker himself has done. His position rests on the question-begging assumption that “same-sex marriages” are no less true marriages than heterosexual ones are, and that the only remaining question is whether to allow them legally. But of course, whether “same-sex marriages” really can even in principle be “marriages” in the first place is part of what is at issue in the dispute. The traditional, natural law view is that marriage is heterosexual of metaphysical necessity. Rather than staying neutral between competing moral views, then, Walker has simply declared that the state should stop imposing one moral view – the one he doesn’t like – and should instead impose another, rival moral view – the one he does like.

What we’re seeing here is just one more application of the fraudulent principle of “liberal neutrality,” by which the conceit that liberal policy is neutral between the moral and metaphysical views competing within a pluralistic society provides a smokescreen for the imposition of a substantive liberal moral worldview, on all citizens, by force. (Of course, liberals typically qualify their position by saying that their conception of justice only claims to be neutral between “reasonable” competing moral and metaphysical views, but “reasonable” always ends up meaning something like “willing to submit to a liberal conception of justice.”)

That “liberal neutrality” is a fraud is blindingly obvious to everyone except (some) liberals themselves. (I say “some” because it is very hard to believe that many liberals are not perfectly well aware that the “neutrality” of their position is phony, but maintain the pretense of neutrality for cynical political reasons.) ...

... All of this would be bad enough if the policy in question were a result of a popular vote, but Walker has essentially imposed his will on the people of California by sheer judicial fiat. Pope Benedict XVI has famously spoken of a “dictatorship of relativism.” But I think that that is not quite right. Most liberals are not the least bit relativistic about their own convictions. A more accurate epithet would have been “dictatorship of liberalism,” and in Judge Walker that dictatorship has taken on concrete form.
Read the rest here.


Singring said...

Good luck arguing 'it's a metaphysical necessity' in court.

KyCobb said...

Feser refers to the "imposition of a substantive liberal moral worldview, on all citizens, by force."

Well no, noone is going to be forced to marry another person of the same sex. Heterosexual couples aren't losing any rights. The state simply isn't going to treat couples differently because one couple is heterosexual and the other is homosexual.

One Brow said...

Suyrely you two have nor forgotten: if you remove a Christian's right to tell other people how to live, you are oppressing them.