Animal Sexual Behaviour - Role in Discussion of Human Sexuality

Role in Discussion of Human Sexuality

Information about animal sexuality frequently arises as a persuasive device in arguments regarding human sexuality. Originally, the lack of documented animal sexual behaviour other than heterosexual sexual monogamy was used to argue that the dominant heterosexual monogamy of most modern human societies is more natural and acceptable. Likewise, the lack of documented sex between animals for the purpose of pleasure was used to promote the moral standard of reserving sex primarily for procreation. Proponents of alternate sexuality attribute this early lack of documented evidence to an observer bias in researchers, who, they argue, tended to interpret sexual behaviour inconsistent with their values as other behaviour.

With increasing published evidence of different types of sexual behaviour between animals, arguments for heterosexual monogamy in human society have moved towards characterizing these behaviours as resulting from differences between humans and animals, and in particular on ambiguity in motivation and subjective experience in animals, which is difficult to study. Arguments identifying human and animal behaviour are characterized as anthropomorphism, and in some cases an opposite observer bias is attributed to researchers. Supporters of alternate sexuality embrace the new research as confirmation of the naturalness of alternate sexual behaviour and evidence of its long-term feasibility and utility.

In both cases, any argument which conclusion is that something is good or right because it is natural, or that something is bad or wrong because it is unnatural or artificial is known as the appeal to nature fallacy.

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