About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sins and nature

A couple of times at the AAP conference, people thought that I was going to be arguing for some sort of anti-environmentalist position when they became aware that I was attacking the concept of "sinning against nature". Fortunately, it was fairly easy to explain that this was not my point. Reference to the traditional view of homosexuality as a supposed "sin against nature" was a good way of making clear what concepts and emotional responses I am attacking and how I relate them to issues about technology.

Admittedly, my broader position in moral philosophy would, indeed, rule out some radical environmentalist positions, but there is nothing in my position that denies the value of wilderness, ecological systems, or biodiversity. In fact, I do value those things very highly, and am quite happy to have such values incorporated into our moral norms (however, those things are not the same as "nature"). Anyway, it's interesting that, at least for some people, the idea of sinning against nature has begun to mean something rather different from its traditional meaning in, say, the natural law tradition. I'd hate to see these ideas get confused.