Category Archives: Character Morality

Prince Albert and The Paternal Principle

In the September 25, 2014 issue of the New York Review of Books, the British writer, Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews a biography of Edward VII: The Heir Apparent, A Life of Edward VII, The Playboy Prince, Jane Ridley, Random House, 2014. The review is titled “The Hedonist King Who Knew His Place.” Wheatcroft writes with sophisticated amusement of Bertie’s (Albert Edward’s) sexual promiscuity during his many years as Prince of Wales. This sophisticated acceptance of male promiscuity as perhaps naughty, but not really immoral, is the main critical target of my book. In this post, though, I want to examine a reprimand Bertie’s father, Prince Albert, sent when learning of Bertie’s losing his “virginity” while serving a brief period with the army. I want to point out how a holder of the paternal principle would find the reprimand and find the straightforward language appropriate. What is the reprimand? I quote from Wheatcroft’s review and place the reprimand in bold italic type. For comparison purposes, I repeat the Paternal Principle from my book.

“Some of the younger officers had sportingly smuggled” Nellie Clifton “a superior tart” “into a hut in the camp, where she introduced Bertie to the joys of sex. Lord Tarrington, a lord-in waiting to Queen Victoria, maliciously repeated the rumors to Albert with devastating effect. Victoria never forgot”… “in a letter of terrible reproach Albert told Bertie how shameful it was

to thrust yourself into the hands of one of the most abject of the human species, to be by her initiated in the sacred mysteries of creation, which ought to remain shrouded in holy awe until touched by pure & undefiled hands.

It’s hard to imagine such a letter written by a father to a son in 1961, or 1761 for that matter and even at that time”…

Prince Albert died at age 42 shortly after reprimanding Bertie. Queen Victoria felt that Bertie’s sexual misconduct was a factor in Albert’s death.

Statement of The Paternal Principle,

A male may intentionally attain a sexual climax only in sexual intercourse with a consenting woman to whom he is bound by a life-long monogamous socially recognized union for procreation, In addition he should:(1) intend to cooperate with his spouse to protect and promote the lifelong natural development of any conception resulting from this intercourse and (2) strive to appreciate with his spouse the natural value of their sexual satisfactions and cooperate with her to enhance those satisfactions.

A holder of the Paternal Principle cannot quarrel with the thought expressed in Prince Albert’s reprimand. I can imagine fathers who belong to an organization such as the Knights of Columbus writing such a reprimand and imagine many more at least thinking that they should reprimand their sons in this way if they heard of them having sex with a prostitute or even having one-night stands. I can imagine many men reflecting with shame, expressible in similar words on some of their early sexual experiences. Of course, as their sons grow older and are not being “initiated” into these “sacred mysteries” fathers may conclude that it is not worthwhile reprimanding their sons. They ignore these immoralities with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy familiar to many of us who hold the Paternal Principle and realize when reprimands are ineffective in controlling the behavior of others. However, when reflecting on our own behaviors where we control how we act such sharp reprimands are always in place when we violate the Paternal Principle. Realization that we should be subject to such a reprimand is a helpful thought for fighting off temptations to violate the Paternal Principle. Prince Albert’s reprimand could be slightly rephrased to reprimand masturbation or homosexual activity.

I cannot say that a man should be so sensitive that he “falls apart” if he learns that his son has violated the Principle or realizes that he has violated the Paternal Principle. I can say that a man should not be so sensitive to “sophisticated opinions” that scorn the Paternal Principle that he is afraid to express publicly and privately in judging himself the strong judgment of Prince Albert’s reprimand. In this case, Prince Albert got it right.

However, what about the case of a married couple practicing birth control?

In Wheatcroft’s review we also read about birth control.”Not the least important of the many social changes during the queen’s very long reign was that, as natality statistics plainly show, by the 1890s the higher classes im England were practicing birth control by one means or another. That had not been so in the 1840s, but if any woman would ever have been grateful for the Pill it was Victoria, who hated pregnancy and childbirth as much as she relished passionate nights with Albert. Sad to say she took it out on her chihldren.” She had nine children

So, this post leads into a series of posts on the morality of artificial birth control.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





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Motiviation for My Condemning Immoralities

In two recent posts, I deliveredmoral condemnation of homosexual acts and life styles. Why? Here ‘why’ is not asking for the reason for which I conclude homosexuality morally wrong. The argument, or reasons, for concluding that it is wrong are in my book :Confronting Sexual Nihihlism. Here ‘why’ asks for my motives for arguing against homosexuality and expressing the conclusions of these arguments.

My intellectual motives for arguing against homosexuality and other sexual immoralities are easier to specify than my social motives for expressing these conclusions. My motives for expressing the conclusions are those for making recommendations to other people or giving other people information. These motives for expressing vary with circumstances; especially the audience to whom I intend to communicate. With respect to the intended readership of my book, I have two primary motives for expressing the moral condemnation of homosexuality. I want to explain my objection to gay-marriage and recommendation of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.

If homosexual activity is immoral, pair-bondings in which it is practiced should not be dignified by being called ‘marriage.’ The term ‘marriage’ is to be reserved for male/female bondings in which the morally proper sexual acts are performed. Publicly labeling people as immoral demeans them even if they boast of their immorality. For instance, a man who brags of cheating at cards, demeans himself whether or not he realizes it. Most emphatically: A man who boasts of cheating on his wife degrades himself. Unless some public good is accomplished by accusing a man of the immorality of homosexuality, the man should not be demeaned by being so labeled. In general, little public good is accomplished by labeling people as homosexual. Public good is accomplished by calling a man whose adultery is well known “an adulter.”

So, I recommend not demeaning homosexuals but propose demeaning adulterous men. If homosexuals want to be so labeled, they are fools who fail to realize that they making themselves look foolish. I will not cooperate with them when they make themselves look foolish. I suppose that I should add to “don’t ask, don’t tell,’ a guideline for what to do if “they tell.” My guideline, and practice, is “don’t listen.” I do not express moral judgment against homosexuality in vain hopes that mere expressions of judgments can help cure the condition. I defintely do not express a judgment that homosexuality is immoral to urge legislation against homosexual activies. In general, I oppose dealing with this moral issue with legal sanctions.

Actually, in my book, I tried to find good justification for my judgments that masturbation, fornication and adultery are immoral. Fortunately, I am not afflicted with have same sex-attractions. Condemnation of homosexuality is simply a corollary of a general principle- The Paternal Principle- for which I argue.

My intellectual motive for arguing for the immorality of homosexuality, and the other male sexual immoralities, is to convince myself that my judgment that homosexuality et al. are immoral is a well founded judgment. I want to know what is wrong for me. But this requires knowing first what is wrong for others.

As these next few Blog posts develop, it emerges that I am trying to understand the moral harm I would do to myself by performing one of these immoral acts. From a definition, in §II.7 of my book, ‘moral harm’ is specified to be the bad status a person has by violating a moral rule. In so far as the purpose of moral thinking is to guide us on how to be the right kind of people, there needs to be a sense of what this moral harm is over and above what the definition says.

The most important moral thinking is the moral thinking which guides individuals on how to be the right kind of people – how to form their moral character. Understandings of morality which hold that the most important moral thinking is for forming character are called character moralities. This important moral thinking is an inseparable combination of thinking that a rule forbids something and sensing that simply violating the rule is harmful to the violator. Developing this sense of the harm of moral harm requires thinking from the “inside” so to speak. You need to think of what you would be doing to yourself by simply violating a moral rule which you believe to be correct. Much of what follows will be my doing this “inside” thinking. Readers have to do it for themselves.

My parents, schools, traditions of my communities, etc., caused me to have certain moral opinions. Here I will stay with sexual morality. I, as most of us, confront many challenges to our moral opinions. My intellectual motive behind arguing for moral judgments is to bring me to a conviction that my moral opinions are well founded or need modification to be well founded. In general, I try to justify the opinions which I received; but not always. I have imagined living in accordance with “progressive” moral practices contrary to moral teachings I received from my Catholic tradition. The imagined way of life -a life style in accordance with the so-called sexual revolution – seemed an empty pursuit of pleasure leading to nothing.

Now recognition that a sexual morality contrary to traditional sexual morality leads to nihilism does not justify traditional sexual morality. However, it indicates an aspect of what the moral harm of the violations. The threat of nihilism by abandoning traditional sexual morality provides motivation for trying to justify traditional Catholic sexual morality. Justifying it means trying to show that reason supports it.

To show that reason supports a moral opinion requires showing that acts or ways of acting in accordance with the opinion are general requirements for human beings. These general requirements are expressed as moral rules forbidding or permitting certain acts or ways of acting. Most often, the rules are negative. The usual form is: Thou shalt not. Because reason deals with general principles, using reason to discover what I am forbidden to do, requires first using reason to establish what everyone is forbidden to do. So, the intellectual effort to justify my judgment that I am forbidden to intentionally attain a sexual climax outside the context of my marriage to a woman requires justifying a judgment that such seeking of sexual climaxes is forbidden to everyone. With respect to intellectual motivation, my condemnation of homosexuality is a by-product of what I really wanted to discover about my moral entitlements to attain orgasms.

In my next posts, I I plan to display my “inside” thinking of violating traditional sexual morality in order to arouse a sense of the moral harm of such violations.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Buy printed copy here with credit card for $10 off the listed price: $16.99.