The Mismeasure of Desire

The Mismeasure of Desire : The Science, Theory, and Ethics of Sexual Orientation

3.83 (24 ratings by Goodreads)
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In recent years scientific research and popular opinion have favored the idea that sexual orientations are determined at birth. In this book, philosopher and legal theorist Edward Stein investigates scientific research on sexual orientation and shows that it is deeply flawed. He argues that this research assumes a picture of sexual desire that reflects unquestioned cultural stereotypes rather than cross-cultural scientific facts, and that it suffers from serious methodological problems. He then asks whether sexual orientation is amenable to empirical study and if it is useful for our understanding of human nature to categorize people based on their sexual desires. Perhaps most importantly, Stein examines some of the ethical issues surrounding such research, including gay and lesbian civil rights and the implications of parents trying to select or change the sexual orientation of their children.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 153.4 x 232.4 x 26.7mm | 612.11g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195142446
  • 9780195142440
  • 1,410,714

Table of contents

Preface ; Introduction ; Part I: Metaphysics ; 1. Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation ; 2. What Is a Sexual Orientation? ; 3. Human Kinds ; 4. Essentialism and Constructionism about Sexual Orientation ; Part II: Science ; 5. The Emerging Scientific Program for the Study of Sexual Orientation ; 6. Animal Models and Evolutionary Accounts in the Emerging Research Program ; 7. Critique of the Emerging Research Program ; 8. Experiential Theories of Sexual Orientation ; 9. Sexual Orientation and Choice ; Part III: Ethics ; 10. Lesbian and Gay Rights and the Science of Sexual Orientation ; 11. Selecting and Changing the Sexual Orientation of Children ; 12. Should Scientific Research on Sexual Orientation Be Done? ; Conclusion ; Notes ; Bibliography ; Index
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Review quote

Despite its well-mannered title, the book is hot stuff....Meticulously researched and argued, Stein's book challenges the precepts of ten years of increasingly accepted scientific "fact". It begins with a sympathetic look at current scientific theories of sexual orientation but quickly pinpoints where they go off-kilter. * The Advocate * [This] well-researched and well-written primer should be the first title on any queer studies reading list.... Highly recommended for most larger libraries and all gay studies collections. * Library Journal * The Mismeasure of Desire is the best analysis in print of the many theories of what causes sexual orientation. Stein's analysis bears importantly on constitutional issues such as the level of equal protection scrutiny courts should apply to sexual orientation classifications and the rationality of anti-gay of `no promo homo' state policies. * William Eskridge, Yale Law School * Here Edward Stein explains, analyzes, and criticizes the notion that sexual orientation is biological, and therefore not chosen or changeable, and therefore an unfair basis for moral condemnation and also therefore protected from discrimination by our norms and laws requiring equality. He brings his prodigious skill as an analytic philosopher to bear on a conceptual, scientific, ethical and legal problem of great complexity, not only putting the problem on a new
footing but setting an example for honesty, clarity and care in thinking about controversial social issues. Stein reminds us that slipshod pro-gay thinking is not really pro-gay. I wish he could write us a book every year. * Janet E. Halley, Professor of Law and Robert E. Paradise Faculty Scholar, Stanford University * In a refreshingly daring work, Stein raises metaphysical, methodological and ethical questions that challenge all sides of the debate with an eye toward reevaluating previous studies and developing new criteria for future research. * Publishers Weekly * Stern's book flows with the sage voice of a philosopher who admits all phenomena into the space of radical investigation. He both invites and welcomes a responsible approach to sexual orientation and human development and looks forward to newer theories and investigations less colored by the prejudices wrought by perceptions of abnormality and illness. * A&U, America's AIDS Magazine *
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About Edward Stein

Edward Stein is an Associate Professor of Law at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York City. He is the author of Without Good Reason: The Rationality Debate in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from M.I.T., a J.D. from Yale Law School, and he has previously taught at Yale University, New York University, Mount Holyoke College, and Williams College.
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Rating details

24 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 33% (8)
4 25% (6)
3 38% (9)
2 0% (0)
1 4% (1)
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