Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Against Post-Conventional Morality

In his theory of morality development, Lawrence Kohlberg proposed that the highest stage of moral reasoning is the post-conventional stage. At this stage, right-or-wrong is decided either through social contract orientation (the will of the majority), or through a universal ethical principles orientation. The latter is an internalised standard where one’s personal conviction, derived from one’s active reasoning; is held supreme regardless of conformity with social mores.

People who I have debated with on the issue of homosexuality would often apply their own personal conviction to argue for its permissibility. In tandem with modern principles of human rights, they would argue that since homosexuals do not cause any harm to their own personal lives or create disorder or anarchy in the society, homosexuals should be allowed to practice their preferred sexual orientation.

The human rational mind is no doubt capable of complex processes and meticulous reasoning but to committed adherents of religions, is still subjected to morality by divinity. We believe in submission to a divine code of law derived from the scriptures and teachings of our religious teachers.

For Muslims, the shari'ah (divine law derived from the Quran and Prophetic traditions) is supreme and its authority is not subjected to personal whims and fancies. As Professor Muhammad Hashim Kamali once wrote:

"In matters which pertain to the dogma of Islam, or those which are regulated by the direct authority of the Quran or Sunnah, criticism, either from Muslims or non-Muslims will not be entertained, as personal or public opinion does not command authority in such matters. Islam is basically a religion of authority, and the values of good and evil, or rights or duties are not determined by reference to public opinion, or popular vote, although these too have a certain role to play in the determination of the ahkam (religious rulings)." (Kamali, M.H., Freedom of Expression in Islam, p.107).

To stand against homosexuality is to follow directly the authority of the Quran. Therefore, to all Muslims, including Muslim clinical psychologists who have been trained to refer to DSM IV (in which homosexuality is not classified as an abnormal behaviour), homosexuality must be prohibited, and for those who have ignorantly acquired such orientation, they must be corrected.

For proponents of liberal ideologies, submission to religious principles is a sign of weakness as the human mind is deemed capable enough to come to its own conclusion on what is right and what is wrong. And the underlying philosophy remains, that unless a behavioural practice is proven to cause harm to other individuals in the society, the practice should be considered legal and permissible no matter how much others may dislike it.

To that, I would invite people to stretch their imagination and apply the same philosophy to another type of sexual behaviour: incestuous relations. If a man decides to have sex with either his mother or his own daughter in the privacy of his own residence, shouldn’t we consider it legal and permissible too since it does not harm other individuals in the society?


JJ said...


What's your view on the opinion that homosexulity is nature, not nurture?

Zaki Samsudin said...

Thanks JJ for dropping by. My apologies for this late reply.

Professor Michael Bailey from Northwestern University, Illinois has done extensive research on this issue. You may read more about his research from the link below but overall, his conclusion on biological 'evidence' for homosexuality is, the correlations are non-significant. He has also repeatedly said that those who have championed bioloigical causes of homosexuality, are guilty of exaggerating their findings.


Peacemaker said...

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Anonymous said...


I find two notes appropriate here: First, I believe you overstate when you say that all proponents of a liberal ideology consider matters of religion/faith to be a sign of weakness. This is simply not true; Second, you completely misapprehend the underlying philosophy of most proponent's argument. i.e., that if it doesn't hurt society at large, then it should be legal and condoned. Again, this is simply not true -- there are countless examples of private behavior that does not directly harm society at large but that we nonetheless proscribe through civil law. (and, for many, also through religious law and belief) Your position on the issue is what it is - your belief. You have the right to hold your belief and apply it to your life. However, no amount of circular argument will move it from belief to fact.

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting article on Postconventional Morality. Might help readers.

What is postconventional morality?

Thank you.