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Abstract

I will argue that the natural-law understanding of sexuality, and its application to the law, is deeply flawed, in regards to homosexuality and sodomy. I begin by laying out some of the foundations of the natural law position. Central to the position is an account of human goods that are seen as good in themselves, and hence as rational bases for choice and human action. In regards to sexuality, the two most important goods, at least from the natural law perspective, are those of marriage and personal integration. I argue that a real appreciation of the role of these two goods in human life would lead to a practical political stance very different than the one put forward by contemporary natural law theorists. Much of the argument here is concerned with showing how the natural law position, taken on its own terms, should actually support a position that is, for example, at least as skeptical of modem corporate practices as it is of consensual sodomy. Second, I argue that the account of the human goods offered by natural law theorists is very culturally specific and even partially contingent, even though it claims to be premised upon timeless reason and an unchanging account of human goods. This argument involves a historical foray into ancient Greek understandings of sexuality in order to get a sense of the range of understandings across time. If this critical point is correct, natural law theory does not have good grounds for much of its condemnation of a whole range of sexual practices.