“Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain.” Aristotle, Politics
“Can you deny that a woman is by nature very different from a man?”
It is not surprising that the most controversial, and personally challenging, moral issues of our day touch directly upon what is ‘by nature.’ An important distinction can help us think more clearly about this.
It is one thing to discern what is ‘by nature’ or not. It is another thing to see whether and to what extent what is ‘by nature’ should be a guide for our action. Failure to grasp this distinction leads to much misunderstanding and miscommunication. For instance, one person argues that such and such is by nature, assuming that to secure this point in itself makes clear the path of action, while another person is not interested in the question of what is by nature since his view of human moral agency gives no importance to the category of ‘natural.’
This appears especially in the cluster of issues…