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Motte, Bailey, Desire, and Consent

In the days of knights and castles, there was a defensive architecture known as the "motte and bailey". The technique was straightforward: create a high-cost, high-security keep, the motte, and a lower-cost, lower-security general area known as the bailey. The first line of defense occurred outside the bailey. If unfavourable, the army could retreat into the bailey. If things were even less favourable, the army retreats to the motte.

This structure is also seen in argument. Wikipedia calls it the "motte-and-bailey fallacy". I wouldn't consider it to be a fallacy. The philosopher known for popularizing it as an argumentation pattern referred to it as a "doctrine". It is quite difficult to decompose motte and bailey argumentation into raw logic. Generally, the people using it mean well, they just lack the subtlety and nuance to appreciate the dynamics.

There is a particular instance of the motte-and-bailey construct, here aptly considered a doctrine, that bears consideration: the claim by degenerate "sexualities" that their behaviour is justified because they were "born that way". Their desire justifies their behaviour. This constitutes a motte-and-bailey argument, and is made quite transparent by consideration of another concept of degenerate sexuality: consent.

Under the teaching of consent, sexual behaviour is licit if its participants both actively choose to engage in sex together. In other words, consent is a necessary precondition of sex. That is to say that the doctrine of consent teaches that the activity of sex is preceded by an active choice to engage in sex to the extent that consensus is reached with the partner to engage in the act. That is a lot of framing to say something simple: If you believe in consent, you believe that all sex is a choice.

Now we return to the "born this way" argument. Degenerate sexualities, following the "born this way" argument, argue that their behaviour is licit because their desire is intrinsic. Their desire being allegedly immutable is the motte. The relationship between desire and acting on that desire is that of motte and bailey.

I'd argue that it is a poor motte from personal experience. That said, personal experience doesn't prove much, and I've repeatedly proven how far from the average case I am. I've had ample experience hacking my own sexual attractions. I continue to do so, presently maximizing asexual behaviour, with the expectation that one day far down the road, I may revert to heterosexuality. One of the wonderful parts of living as a human in this era is the amount of documentation available for experimental psychological self-modification. I would argue that the tendency towards hedonistic habits predisposes individuals towards degenerate sexuality. To reframe, fornication creates a psychiatric feedback loop predisposing the fornicator to further acts of fornication, as well as pleasure-seeking behaviour in general. My particular struggle in the realm of pleasure-seeking behaviour was drug use. The drug use behaviours fed into pleasure-seeking behaviour and fornication, which then fed back into further drug use. Neurologically, all these behaviours release dopamine. The etiology of this sin—or more philosophically disorder—is dopamine addiction.

Personal objection aside, the consensus in the degenerate-sexuality community is that their (allegedly) immutable desires justify their sexuality. However, this argument falls apart when you consider that the same consider consent as a prerequisite for sex. Consent is the bailey. Through adherence to a doctrine of consent, they implicitly accept that all sexual behaviour is an active choice, and not just an active choice for an individual, but a small-group-consensus choice!

The argument from desire is intended to justify the actions of sexuality. Consent, however, necessarily interferes with this framing, and condemns the desire argument as being inadequate.

Furthermore, by considering the case of the pedophile, the argument from desire is proven inadequate anyhow. Pedophiles also claim that they were born with such desires, but that does not make pedophilia licit. As one might expect, the arguments from this angle are increasing in frequency and fervour. Already, the political left is attempting to reframe the pedophilia argument into "offenders" and "non-offenders", which are now considered by the term "minor-attracted person". Thus, it follows that the argument from desire, despite being the motte of the motte-and-bailey construct being used by its advocates to push sexual degeneracy, is either inadequately specified to permit the desired outcomes, or implicitly advocates for pedophilia. Indeed, the argument need not stop at pedophilia, but also opens the floor to zoophilia and all kinds of incomprehensibly perverse "social progress".


The invalidity of "I was born this way" as a justification is why Jesus taught that the new believer must be born again. I need to write more about Christian framings of sexuality to back this up with positivism. All of the points I've made in this short essay have concrete backing in Scripture, but that would be outside of the scope of this philosophical article. Consent, for example, is properly alien to a monogamous Christian marriage, which is the only licit avenue for sexual behaviour in the Biblical worldview. Husband and wife are to give to each other as they have need, which implies that there might be times when either party would not properly "consent" in the contemporary sense but permit sex out of love.