Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research

By Timothy F. Murphy | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

Barring almost unimaginable shifts in religion, politics, and science, people will continue to be interested in the determinants of homoeroticism, if not sexual orientation more generally. The nature and origins of erotic desire will remain of interest to moralists and theologians wondering about the relation between biological explanations, moral accountability, and the standing of gay people in society. Researchers looking at a general theory of human development will have an abiding interest in sexual orientation research, as they try to account for the broad array of human erotic interests. Those who think there is something psychologically wrong with homoeroticism will look to its causes in order to fix it. The market for sexual orientation research is bullish.

There are many ways in which sexual orientation research can go wrong, but there is nothing inherently unscientific in asking how people come to have the entrenched patterns of erotic interest they have. Sexual orientation science has ranged before it a host of legitimate questions. What determinants--accidents of circumstance and conscious choice among them--produce the habituated erotic interests that a person has at any given time? How do these take shape developmentally in any given culture? How do prevailing gender roles inform individual psychosexual development? How do erotic interests come to be distributed as they are across a given population? Why does homoeroticism predominate in some people but appear only transiently in others, while being altogether absent in others yet? How do children survive environments hostile to homoeroticism with same-sex interests fully intact? How and to what extent are social prohibitions against homoeroticism implicated in producing the very behavior they ostensibly proscribe? How amenable to change are habituated

-223-

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Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Scientific Accounts of Sexual Orientation 13
  • 2 - The Value of Sexual Orientation Research 49
  • 3 - The Practice of Sexual Orientation Therapy 75
  • 4 - Controlling the Sexual Orientation of Children 103
  • 5 - The Use of Sexual Orientation Tests 137
  • 6 - Sexual Orientation Research, Nature, and the Law 165
  • 7 - Science and the Future 193
  • Epilogue 223
  • Notes 231
  • Index 259
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