Sexual Orientation as Interpretation? Sexual Desires, Concepts, and Choice
Keywords:sexual orientation, sexual desire, choice, self-knowledge, conceptual schemes
Are sexual orientations freely chosen? The idea that someone’s sexual orientation is not a choice is very influential in the mainstream LGBT political movement. But do we have good reasons to believe it is not a choice? Going against the orthodoxy, William Wilkerson has recently argued that sexual orientation is partly constituted by our interpretations of our own sexual desires, and we choose these interpretations, so sexual orientation is partly constituted by choice. In this paper I aim to examine the question of whether our interpretations of our own sexual desires are constitutive of our sexual orientations. I will argue that whereas Wilkerson’s argument for the claim that sexual orientations are in part constituted by our chosen interpretations of our sexual desires is not sound, there are good reasons for endorsing a weaker claim, namely, that there are different but equally apt descriptions of the same sexual desires, depending on which concepts we have.
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