University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Sham matings and other shenanigans: on animal homosexuality

Sham matings and other shenanigans: on animal homosexuality

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Is there such a thing as animal homosexuality? For the past two hundred years, scientists have been in two minds about this question. One camp is sceptical, explaining away animal homosexual behaviours, for instance, as mere reflex phenomena that result from various circumstances, such as sex segregation or a failure in sex recognition. Surely, these behaviours should not be associated with homosexual desires, preferences, or identities, as they usually are in humans. Others have been less reticent, arguing that there is indeed such a thing as animal homosexuality. In this talk, I side with the latter. I object to sceptical views on both conceptual and empirical grounds. First, I argue that there are various definitions of concepts like desire and preference, some of which allow us to ascribe homosexual desires and preferences to some nonhuman animals. Second, I provide some empirical evidence that suggests the existence of many dimensions of homosexuality, in addition to behaviours, including evidence that some male animals do prefer homosexual to heterosexual activities.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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