A controversy has erupted in the past week over responses to a keynote delivered by Richard Swinburne at the most recent Midwest meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers. Swinburne’s paper approaches traditional Christian teachings on abortion, contraception, fornication, and homosexuality from a particular philosophical perspective, and does so in an even-keeled and intellectually humble way. The difficulty is that, in the course of exploring these topics, Swinburne characterizes homosexuality as a “disability” and a condition that, while sometimes “to a considerable extent reversible,” in many instances is “incurable,” given the present state of medical research. His reasons for using these appellations are made clear in the paper.
Given the current state of public life and the stringency of academic moral codes in favor of diversity and tolerance, it will be no surprise to our readers that the president of the Society of Christian Philosophers, Michael Rea, subsequently expressed his “regret regarding the hurt caused by” Swinburne’s paper, suggesting that Swinburne’s ideas were inconsistent with the Society’s “values of diversity and inclusion.”
Rea’s message has triggered a reaction on the other side. So far the situation has been commented on by Joseph Shaw, Edward Feser, and Rod Dreher, along with eighty-seven philosophers who signed a letter of protest against the principles implied in Rea’s apology. We at First Things were curious about the paper that prompted all the to-do, and so we asked Professor Swinburne whether he would be willing to let us make his paper available. He has generously agreed.
You can read it here.