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What's Wrong with Homosexuality? (Philosophy in Action) Hardcover – March 1, 2013

43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199856312 ISBN-10: 0199856311 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Philosophy professor Corvino, who’s gay and in a long-term relationship, answers the question of his book’s title with, essentially, Nothing, if you think about it. For this entry in the Philosophy in Action series, he scrutinizes six different arguments about homosexuality, from We Shouldn’t Even Be Having This Discussion (i.e., homosexuality is a private matter) to the dehumanizing Man on Man, Man on Dog, or Whatever the Case May Be, aka the slippery-slope-to-the-moral-sewer line about what gay marriage leads to. Corvino also dissects the Bible-tells-me-so, lifestyle, natural-law, and born-this-way arguments (the last drives a nature-nurture squabble). He writes in plain language leavened with wit, sentiment, and personality—a manner that reflects the book’s origins in Corvino’s half of a debate over gay marriage that he and Focus on the Family speaker Glenn Stanton have presented on college campuses throughout North America. In the last chapter, Corvino discusses his friendly relations with Stanton and other debating opponents and why friendship, much less tolerance, isn’t enough. Rather, civil equality with heterosexuals is what’s needed. --Ray Olson


"Whatever might be wrong with homosexuality, John Corvino rebuts, in this concise, thorough and chatty book."--Mark Vernon, Times Literary Supplement

"[Corvino] writes in plain language leavened with wit, sentiment, and personality-a manner that reflects the book's origins in Corvino's half of a debate over gay marriage that he and Focus on the Family speaker Glenn Stanton have presented on college campuses throughout North America." --Booklist

"[Corvino's] work is unfailingly patient and laced with humor...an essential and accessible read for any interested parties." --Publishers Weekly

"Corvino's book is an exemplar of public philosophy. It is an entertaining and rigorous read."--Justin P. McBrayer, Social Theory and Practice

"[F]or anyone interested in the topic this is an absolute page-turner. Corvino's style is eminently engaging and peppered with jokes and anecdotes. But mostly, this is simply a hugely important book."--Mark Flowers, School Library Journal

"Corvino's writing style is readable and informed by intelligence and wit. He is also respectful of opposing views and deals with them fairly. Well worth reading, this book sensibly organizes ethical objections to homosexual behavior, takes the time to refute them, and clarifies how defenders of homosexual rights should respond to them."
--Library Journal

"John Corvino has written a wonderful, deeply exhilarating book. Its virtues of rigor, fair-mindedness, subtlety, and clarity should be everywhere in our public culture, but in fact they are sadly rare. Read Corvino not only to learn about moral arguments concerning homosexuality -- and you will learn a lot, regardless of your ethical starting point -- but also to be reminded that it is possible for people who deeply disagree to argue respectfully, fairly, and with empathetic imagination and even a sense of humor. This is public philosophy at its very best."--Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago

"John Corvino's new book, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?, is stunning in its clarity and logic. Corvino's is that rare combination of a brilliant and logical mind, and a warm and human heart. He is particularly adept and helpful in critiquing the natural law arguments against homosexuality, and teasing apart the various nature/nurture approaches to the question of whether gay people are "born that way." Most impressive is his combining his rational, philosophical arguments with his own (and others') experience of being gay and partnered. Anyone interested in seriously arguing against the acceptance of gay people and our relationships will have to contend with the brilliantly articulated, rational and coherent case made in this book."--The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire

"John Corvino is a philosophically sophisticated, lucid writer who makes a serious effort here to engage those (like me) with whom he disagrees. He argues aggressively, to be sure, but does not resort to calling his critics names or impugning their motives. Moreover, he is commendably willing to come to grips with challenges to the presuppositions and implications of the position he holds. He is, in short, a worthy intellectual opponent in the debate over the ethics and meaning of sex and marriage."--Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University


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Product Details

  • Series: Philosophy in Action
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199856311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199856312
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.9 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By movie18 on February 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started reading this book last night, and I am already half way finished with it.

John Corvino does a phenomenal job of responding to every criticism of homosexuality imaginable. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is a gay-rights advocate or who is gay and struggling with the morality of homosexuality. While similar books and attempts to rationalize the morality of homosexuality may leave questions unanswered, this book does an excellent job of answering them all.

Corvino establishes credibility with readers, including myself, by acknowledging the opposition and responding to it with an eloquent and logical tone. Although Corvino's opinion and beliefs are not a secret, he never comes across as biased or uninformed. As a philosophy professor, he knows how to effectively communicate a sound argument that leaves no room for uncertainty.

I did not have any reviews on which to base my purchase of this book, and I do not regret it for a second. I have already recommended it to several friends, and I will probably reread this book multiple times.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tim K on March 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a book I've been waiting for. Even though I have no problems whatsoever with same-sex relationships, I'm always interested to see where the discussion has evolved and how we should approach the issues.

Corvino has spent two decades speaking, writing, and debating same-sex relationships. He is also a gay man, as am I, so many of the arguments, especially those calling same-sex peoples evil or in cahoots with Satan, hit home and are especially damaging.

In "What's Wrong with Homosexuality?", Corvino analyzes and refutes all the major arguments against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Corvino covers everything from Biblical sanctions against same-sex unions, `risky lifestyle' arguments, to the unnaturalness and slippery-slope arguments. Along the way, he builds a convincing case that there is nothing morally wrong with same-sex relationships. Every argument fails for one reason or another, and even though people have strong convictions on this topic, we must use reason and evidence to form public policy, especially with same-sex marriage being such a hot-button issue.

Corvino not only shows why the arguments against homosexuality don't work, but he also provides us with tools we can use to further the discussion about homosexuality. For many, this topic is a non-starter: "There's nothing wrong with homosexuality," they'll say. And Corvino agrees. But not everyone does. And if we're going to make any headway when it comes to same-sex marriage and societies acceptance of same-sex unions, we must be willing to reasonably discuss the issues with people we disagree with.

"What's Wrong with Homosexuality?" should be read by everyone, even those that disagree with Corvino. It's filled with personal anecdotes, philosophical arguments, and some witty humor. Corvino is the perfect guide for anyone willing to learn.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Belle on February 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Being primarily a fiction kinda girl, this isn't the type of book I usually read, but I was browsing Netgalley one day and let's just say the title grabbed my attention. I clicked through to read the description, prepared to be outraged, and was somewhat relieved to see that the book is actually written by a gay rights advocate and philosopher who also happens to be a homosexual man himself.

Of course, in answering the question of the title, “What's wrong with homosexuality?”, Corvino could just simply state: “nothing”, but that's the short answer and this book seeks to look at the bigger picture, and examine why there's nothing wrong with it. Chapter by chapter, Corvino systematically addresses all of the arguments commonly used against homosexuality in general and same-sex marriage in particular and essentially decimates them. He does so in such a logical, even-handed and engaging manner that it's not only easy to read and digest, it makes his argument all the more powerful. While being very open about his own very personal stake in the issue, he approaches each topic in a remarkably objective way, backing up his statements with evidence and combining it with his own experience only when appropriate. The subjectivity inherent in the latter aspect could have weakened his argument but, as used sparingly here, it actually strengthens it, powerfully reinforcing the importance of homosexual rights and the effects the lack of them can have on people's lives.

What I found most fascinating, in terms of the anecdotes Corvino describes, was his relationship with Glenn Stanton, an evangelical Christian who vocally opposes same-sex marriage.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Dynes on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paradoxically, this is a charming book about a disagreeable subject. The author, who enlivens the narrative with a number of personal anecdotes, is transparently a very fine person, rightly beloved by his students at Wayne State University in Detroit. In this way he serves as a living refutation of the many stereotypes that have accumulated about gay people.

This is also a timely book, Today antihomosexual attitudes are resurgent in such countries as Russia, Malaysia, and Uganda. Even in the United States, where much progress has been made in recent years, the gay-marriage movement (where Professor Corvino has been a valiant contributor) has evoked some serious backlash.

Still, this is a relatively short book--only 156 pages of text--so that the allotment of space to personal narrative compresses the zone left for analysis. Sometimes the discussion of the antihomosexual themes seems rushed. For the most part, I miss a treatment of the historical and cultural factors that gave rise to the homonegative motifs and nourished them over the centuries.

There is also little analysis as to why people adopt these repressive views. It is true that the two motives usually adduced--an authoritarian upbringing, and the defensiveness engendered by the fear haunting some individuals that, horribly enough, they might themselves be homosexual--have garnered little empirical support, at least not at present. Still, the underlying psychology merits discussion.

In short, this book is warmly recommended as an introduction to the subject. For in-depth analysis the reader will need to turn to specialized treatments by such writers as Bernadette Brooten, Warren Johansson (in the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality), and Louis-Georges Tin.
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