Do Biological Explanations of Homosexuality Have Moral, Legal, or Policy Implications?

Aaron S. Greenberg, Michael Bailey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Findings that implicate biological mechanisms in the etiology of homosexuality provoke a wide range of reactions concerning their ethical, legal, and policy ramifications. However, the mere fact of biological causation can have no implications which are not true of all behavior, because all behavior is biologically (specifically, neurophysiologically) caused at the most proximate level of explanation. Notwithstanding this conclusion, a particular type of biological causation that is not characteristic of all behavior could, in principle, have ethical, legal, or policy implications. We explore alternative senses in which homosexuality might be considered to be biological, including “innate” and “immutable,” and show that “innate” explanations, at least, have some limited (though important) policy implications. More generally, however, we conclude that inferring ethical, legal, or policy consequences from etiological knowledge is much less straightforward than typically assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-251
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Sex Research
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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