Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew Altman - Chair

Second Advisor

Timothy Renick

Third Advisor

Peter Lindsay


This essay is an exploration of the debate between John Finnis and Stephen Macedo on the value of homosexuality. In “Is Natural Law Theory Compatible with Limited Government?” Finnis, a natural law theorist, rejects value-neutralist arguments, stating that the political community can and should make value judgments about its members’ life-choices and that such normative evaluations are compatible with liberalism. Particularly, Finnis argues that homosexuality is in its essence always harmful and degrading, thus unable to participate in the basic human goods it imitates. Furthermore, he argues that the political community in liberal democratic societies is justified in discouraging homosexual conduct as a viable way of life. Macedo, while also rejecting pure value-neutralist liberalism, carefully considers but rejects Finnis’s argument, which rests on an unrealistic description of value and ends of human sexual activity.


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Philosophy Commons