Nature, Common Good, and the Language of Heterosexuality

Nature, Common Good, and the Language of Heterosexuality

JPI 942
3 Credits

Emerging conceptions of sexuality and gender are often criticized as failing to acknowledge or give an account of the vital links between what is typically called “heterosexual” marriage and family and broader civil society. From ancient times and in all cultures, marriage’s integral relationship with childbearing has made its relevance to the common good obvious. Because emerging conceptions have clearly challenged this anthropological/metaphysical starting point, it is natural to blame the new sexuality for being radically anti- or non-communitarian. Yet it may be more accurate to say that the new sexuality expresses perfectly modern, liberal conceptions of common good, reason, and human community.

This seminar will ask how our changing assumptions concerning what constitutes common good (bonum commune) might give rise to forms of reason and sexuality whose clearest expression is summed up in the concept and language of “sexual orientation” and its correlates, such as “homosexuality” or “heterosexuality.” The seminar will be both historical and speculative in nature. Readings will include: Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Maritain, de Koninck, Strauss, Tierney, Rawls, Foucault, and St. John Paul II.

Selected Texts


David S. Crawford portrait

David S. Crawford

Associate Professor of Moral Theology and Family Law

Dr. Crawford’s teaching spans the areas of moral theology and philosophical ethics, the theological and philosophical anthropology of marriage and family, and legal and political philosophy. His publications address human action, natural law, homosexuality, “gender identity,” and the anthropological implications of modern civil law.

Learn More