Monday, April 20, 2009

Ouch, Marge Somerville is at it again

The Vatican's voice at McGill University, Margaret Somerville, in her endless campaign against any kind of sexual activity other than that of the heterosexual married kind, has struck again. Typically in the Globe and Mail, a Toronto based rag considered a quality paper in Canada. Here's what she had to say.

Here's my response (kinda doubt you'd see it in the paper, so I thought posting it here can't hurt :-). Umm... I take it all 'back'. Here's the edited version of the letter that the paper published.


Margaret Somerville's obsession with other people's sexual conduct knows clearly no end.

The obvious flaw in what goes as her argument is this: if incestuous activities among competent adults are truly voluntary, and no offspring is forthcoming, why should the state inflict religious mores of Somerville's kind on such citizens? Volenti non fit injuria - Did our self-appointed ethics scholar really never come across this basic legal and ethical concept?

Somerville's piece suffers from a fairly basic, yet lethal logic error, namely the idea that nature could somehow tell us anything at all about the question of whether incest is a morally good or a bad thing. Even if it were the case that other primates avoid incest, this would tell us nothing about our moral obligations in that regard. They don't drive cars either, so, according to Somerville's fawlty towers logic we should presumably reconsider the use of all means of
modern transport.

The Globe and Mail is to be congratulated for having, once again, commissioned a piece of Somerville agitprop that mistakenly ended up under the heading of 'ethics'. It is unfortunate, that you delayed publication of Somerville's piece to a date after April 01.


  1. I have yet to read a single article by Somerville that doesn't contain a basic error of reason, hyperbole or other philosophical nonsense. If someone has one on hand, please point me to it (ha!, A challenge)

    Though I had planned to dismiss her argument for the right to conscientious objection in healthcare practice at my forthcoming CBS presentation, I must admit, a part of me feels rhetorically obligated to ignore everything she says. This in the hopes she'll eventually just go away, or better yet be ignored by everyone else.

    So little time, so many arguments more deserving of attention.

  2. Somerville is incorrigible. I demolished her views at length in a couple of articles published in Quadrant a few years ago, most easily found here,

    and here,

    but her irrationalist position has to be demolished over and over again. She never learns. Worse, despite the obvious weaknesses of her work, she always manages to find a soapbox and a megaphone.

  3. I'm not sure that those URLs came out right, but you can track them down easily enough via


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