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What's Wrong with Homosexuality? (Philosophy in Action) by [Corvino, John]
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Review

Corvino captures the aim of the series by providing an accessible yet rigorous book on an issue that remains contentious in popular culture. ... Corvinos book is an exemplar of public philosophy. It is an entertaining and rigorous read. (John Corvino, Social Theory and Practice)

Corvino (Wayne State) brings much-needed clarity to the debate on homosexuality and the tangential issue of same-sex marriage in this engaging, easy-to-follow book. (D. Hurst, CHOICE)

concise, thorough and chatty (John Corvino, The Times Literary Supplement)

an engrossing read ... [Corvino] tackles people's moral and religious objections to gayness, dismantling arguments with sensitivity, clarity and humour. (Out in the City)

What's Wrong With Homosexuality is as much a philosophical and moral discussion as it is a deeply personal account of being a gay man ... Corvino writes in very witty yet sincere and passionate manner. (Metapsychology)

About the Author

John Corvino is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State University. A frequent speaker on LGBT issues, he has presented his popular talk "What's Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?" and related programs at over 200 universities and other venues. As "The Gay Moralist" he has been a regular columnist for 365gay.com, Pridesource.com, and the Independent Gay Forum. John has also been a guest on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" and on numerous other radio programs. An award-winning teacher, he is also the recipient of a 2004 Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council for his work on behalf of LGBT rights.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 653 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (1 Feb. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AWOTA7S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #567,890 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x89a6f3e4) out of 5 stars 44 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89b6566c) out of 5 stars The book I've always been looking for! 26 Feb. 2013
By movie18 - Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a437ccc) out of 5 stars Fun and rigorous 15 Mar. 2013
By Tim K - Published on Amazon.com
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.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c913bb8) out of 5 stars Enjoyable even if you're not a non-fiction reader 28 Feb. 2013
By Jenna - Published on Amazon.com
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. The two frequently travel together for debates on the issue, and despite their fundamentally different beliefs, actually consider each other friends. The story that particularly struck me was Corvino's account of when he told Stanton about his intended commitment ceremony with his partner, Mark, and Stanton wished him a hearty and sincere congratulations. It just boggles my mind that people like Stanton count gay people amongst their friends, and actually wish those friends well in their relationships, but then turn around and say how wrong those relationships are. For Corvino, it's a sign that he's getting through; that things will change, even in the minds of the most strident opposers of same-sex marriage. But I'm not so sure – to me it feels like if such a friendship still hasn't gotten through to these people, then it seems nothing will.

Perhaps it's the fence-sitters who will be persuaded, and maybe that's what counts. If anything was going to persuade them, it would probably be this book. The title works in making it appear that it could be arguing against the very thing it's in support of, and so perhaps it will challenge people who turn to it looking to have their views reaffirmed and instead find quite the opposite. But again I worry that if someone like Stanton - who knows and likes Corvino personally and has heard his arguments many times - can't be persuaded, then few can.

Still, even if it is mainly preaching to the converted, What's Wrong with Homosexuality? provides a useful and enlightening discussion on the arguments relating to same-sex marriage, and empowers the reader with plenty of facts and persuasive points in favour of it. This was what initially attracted me to reading it; especially the chapter on the biblical arguments against homosexuality, as these are what I've primarily encountered in real life and also the ones I have felt least able to intelligently argue against, not having read the Bible myself. Corvino quotes and analyses each of the references to homosexuality found in the Bible, examining ways they may have been misinterpreted (eg: Sodom's sin is inhospitality/aggression against heavenly creatures, not homosexuality) or become outdated (“If you adopt a simplistic 'God said it' approach to the [Bible], then be prepared to swallow some pretty nasty conclusions about slavery, women, and so on. If, instead, you insist on sensitivity to historical and cultural context, then the homosexuality passages must be reexamined in that light”). Because of the encounters I've had with certain people using their religion as an excuse for their homophobia (amongst other things), and my own lack of knowledge on biblical matters, I found this chapter to be incredibly fascinating and enlightening.

Indeed, the whole book is, though much of the rest contains arguments and conclusions I've heard of/come to before. Still, it's important that they're said, and said well; as he does with the biblical chapter, Corvino eviscerates the notions that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are wrong based on the risks, the “unnaturalness” or the “slippery slope” (you know, the ridiculous idea that “if man marries man, what's next?! Man marries dog?!” Because two consenting adults is totally the same thing as bestiality, uh-huh).

Importantly, What's Wrong with Homosexuality? never feels like it's sermonising or lecturing. It remains conversational throughout, and it's clear that Corvino wants to engage the reader and talk to them and with them, rather than down to them. Even for someone who isn't a massive non-fiction reader, I found this book to be extremely interesting, engaging and yes, even enjoyable. I came away feeling more informed, more fired up and frankly, more touched than I thought I would be. Because what this book highlights most of all is that, at its very root, this argument is one of love and compassion – and it cannot be won without those things.

*I received a review copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89d11890) out of 5 stars Good, but too concise 18 Feb. 2013
By Wayne Dynes - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ac63e28) out of 5 stars A mind open to wonder...the case for equality in marriage 13 Feb. 2013
By The SkyWriter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What's wrong with homosexuality? Read John Corvino's latest book by that title, and if you credit yourself an open, unbiased reader it's precisely the question you'll have at its conclusion. But it's much more than an apology for a certain sexual orientation, or gender difference; Corvino's book is a refutation of most of the high-level academic, religious and philosophical diatribes against being gay that have found their way into mainstream thought and research over the past several years. Corvino serves them up, then he teases them apart with such elegance, and even a kind of gentleness toward their purveyors that his style demands attention and respect.
Beyond a simple study of sexual identity dialectics and politics, Corvino may have written the definitive treatise in the ongoing, and ever more visible issue of civil marriage equality in America. Though the book is couched and written as a clear-eyed view of LGBT entitlement to equal rights, it is also a remarkably deft insight into the fears and apprehensions of those who, for whatever reason, seek to deny those rights. This is not a rant; this book is beyond thoughtful, into the (almost too) academic in its breadth of discernment into homosexuality, its history, biology, cultural positioning and even philosophical underpinnings. Filled with focused and precise references to various legal cases and civil entitlement allusions, Corvino refuses to vilify opponents of so called same-sex marriage. Instead, he seeks--almost too eagerly at times, I thought--to understand the people who devote their lives to keeping 'one man; one woman' marriage a reality in this culture. At the end, there is much to be hopeful about, at least for those of us who support the idea of civil marriage equality. Corvino refers to a number of 'off the record' incidents, one from Maggie Gallagher of all people, that reveal a willingness to reassess long held hostile positions. What's wrong with homosexuality? Nothing, it seems, especially if its recognition as another human being's life, not a 'lifestyle,' causes us to look at each other and finally see the person there, another human being asking questions and not fearful of the answer.

Byron Edgington, author of The Sky Behind Me, a Memoir of Flying and Life. [...]
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