Category Archives: Moral philosophy

Immorality of Suicide and Physician Assisted Suicide

In this post, I lay out a moral objection to physician assisted suicide. Do not be “put-off” by the academic style of presenting a series of numbered claims linked together to draw conclusions. The numbered claims highlight crucial assumptions. This highlighting facilitates focusing on what needs to be discussed in evaluation of this moral condemnation of suicide. A full examination of the assumptions is not undertaken in this post. I make only a few supporting remarks below the argument.

1. I have a moral obligation to be morally correct human beings under any conditions.
By re-expressing (1) negatively, we get:
2. Under no conditions am I permitted to choose not to be a morally correct human being.
Now let us switch to applying the general moral law to my plans and choices.
3. If I plan to take, or have someone else take, my life I plan not to be under some conditions.
4. If I plan not to be under some conditions, then I plan not to be a morally correct human being under some conditions. (Being is a necessary condition for being morally correct.)
So, linking (3) and (4) we get:
5. If I plan to take, or have some take, my life , then I plan not to be a morally correct human being under some conditions.
Suppose
6. I plan to take, or have someone take, my life by making provisions for physician assisted suicide.
We get from 5) and (6)
7. I plan not to be a morally correct human being under some conditions.
Obviously, my plan expressed in (7) is in direct conflict with the moral law expressed in (2). This conflict is the moral condemnation of choosing suicide or physician assisted suicide.

Claim (1) brings out that my case starts from a moral claim. My argument is not based on only natural non-moral facts. I use first person singular, but the moral claim is for all people. If we do accept morality, it is quite plausible to accept an obligation to be moral, viz., a morally correct human being. A “Kantian” moral theory justifying (1) is developed in my book. If there is anything special in this condemnation of suicide it is expressed in (3). Choice of suicide is a choice not to be. It may seem that choice of suicide is a choice not to be in some miserable condition. However, a not to be is chosen as a means for not being in a miserable condition.

I have written a book in which defending traditional sexual morality using as a crucial premise that we have a moral obligation to be morally correct people. To get a sexual morality from that general moral principles, I show that there are specific ways men and women ought to exercise their sexuality. My book gets complicated because I argue that if we do not accept that there are specific ways men and women ought to exercise their sexuality – which I call the moral neutrality of sexuality- then there are no specific ways people ought to be. If there are now specific ways people ought to be, then there is no morality. Everything is permitted including suicide, of course. Nothing matters. That is nihilism.

My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is 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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

The Morality Trap

Suppose that you are worried that human moral ways of thinking do not express some human independent standards of what to do and how to be. You fear, or perhaps hope, that moral thinking is simply a way in which human beings have evolved to think. Moral thinking has some survival value. But that is all. So, you ask whether or not we can simply set it aside; forget about asking moral questions. Here is where we encounter the “moral trap.”

If we have doubts about the legitimacy of our moral thinking, we ask ourselves whether or not we ought to discard thinking morally. This “ought” reveals that we do not avoid thinking morally by thinking about whether or not we should take morality seriously.

We can still set aside moral thinking – be amoralists. If we want to be amoralists we have to ignore the moral ways of thinking which includes ignoring the question whether or not we can ignore morality. The price of amoralism is that we cannot find a meaning in life without moral thinking. Avoiding raising the question of whether or not we ought to be moral requires continually distracting ourselves from facing moral questions. To have a meaning for our life, we need a way we ought to be. If we hold fast to amoralism, we have to suppress all thoughts of how we ought to be with the result of becoming nihilists.

I have written a book in which I develop the theme that this moral trap is a blessing because if we turn away from distracting ourselves from morality, we start thinking seriously of morality. I make a case that taking morality seriously leads to traditional sexual morality.

My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is 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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

On Ohio State’s “Consent is Sexy” Posters

As an emeritus faculty member, I regularly swim and work out in The Ohio State University’s Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC). At Ohio State, and throughout the country, there is serious concern about the problem of frequent, to put it mildly, less than fully consensual sexual activity amongst university students. Posters in RPAC proclaiming “Consent is Sexy” address the concern. One poster showing the heads and bare shoulders of an attractive couple looking into each other’s eyes tells us “When you look into each other’s eyes and see that you really want each other, now, that’s sexy!” On another we read “When you both tell each other what you want to do, now, that’s hot!”

I came to Ohio State in the early sixties as an assistant professor of philosophy In those days, the university explicitly accepted the role in loco parentis in governing student life in accordance with middle class morality. Indeed, I once served as a chaperone at a student dance! In the sixties the sexual revolution was beginning. In the second decade of the twenty first century, the revolutionaries are in control. They are finding that it is far easier to control public opinion than the strong sexual inclinations they have unleashed. The sexual morality of the revolution is no longer revolutionary. It is middle class morality. With words “sexy” and “hot” in the “Consent is sexy” posters, the university in its in loco parentis capacity is preaching the new permissive sexual morality. The new morality is preached not only to students. During Parent/Student orientation, RPAC is proudly shown to both parents and students. With the word “consent” the revolutionaries are conceding that the new sexual morality has not produced a garden of earthly delights.

These posters and the new sexual morality make me sad. Middle class morality is telling its children that this is what your life is all about and it is not much: getting pleasure. Your sexual inclinations are too strong for you to avoid promiscuity but at least we can avoid coercion and give you moresexual pleasure thereby.

There is a sexual morality at work here! By implication coercive sexual acts are morally condemned and hot sexy consensual acts are extolled as a great human good not to be inhibited and actively sought. Call hot sexy consensual acts voluptuous.

I argue in my Confronting Sexual Nihilism for a fundamental principle of traditional sexual morality which, is obviously, contrary to the new progressive morality. I am assuming that the typical sexual activity celebrated in the posters is between university students who are not married to each other nor committed to a long term relation. What might be a fundamental principle for sexual morality which would morally justify, and indeed celebrate, these acts because consensual? A statement of this principle which could be the principle underlying these progressive moral judgments might lead to questioning of these judgments by those accepting the “Consent is Sexy” sexual morality. The principle will seem so obviously wrong about the significance of human sexuality.

I write of a principle which could underly these progressive moral judgments. I use ‘could’ because particular moral judgments may not be based on any principle and a variety of principles could lead to the same judgment. But I want to propose a line of thought that leads to the progressive judgments and which is a very plausible principle if you think about morality being to promote what could be called the natural end of a system. (If you are uninterested in philosophical reasoning, skip down to Formulation of the Progressive Principle.

To uncover this fundamental principle, I shall stipulate a distinction between ‘function’ and ‘purpose’ to mark ‘function’ as a descriptive term and ‘purpose’ as a moral term. Human sexuality is that wide variety of behaviors constituting human courting, mating and bonding which a behavioral zoologist “from another planet” would pick out as the human reproductive behavior.

Human sexuality has several functions, or conditions it regularly brings about. Let us focus on three. Of course, one function is to lead men and women through courtship to mate for procreation and bond monogamously for care of the children and mutual support. In my book, I take the moral stance that this parental function is the purpose of human sexuality. I pay little attention to it here.

Another function of sexuality typically leads men and women, but not necessarily men and women, to form those intense relatively long-lived bonding relations we call ‘being in love.’ I cannot add anything to that complicated and incomplete answer to “what is this thing called love?” except to say that a fundamental moral stance about sexuality is to hold that the purpose of sexuality is to produce, promote and protect romantic love. Let us here note romantic love as a possible purpose of sexuality as a reminder that there are alternatives to procreation and parenting vs. genital sexual pleasure as the purpose of sexuality.

A third function of sexuality is to produce those unforced hot, sexy,viz., voluptuous matings, but not necessarily heterosexual, extolled in Ohio State’s “Consent is Sexy” posters.

To regard a function F of a system S as the purpose P of S is to hold that S and other systems are to be used to promote P and that no systems, especially not S, are to be used to inhibit P.

What would it mean to regard procreation and parenting as the purpose of sexuality? It would mean that we should control our sexuality to promote them and should not use our sexuality, especially in its functions of producing pleasure and love, to work against procreation and parenting. Of course, when pursuit of pleasure and romance promote procreation and parenting, they are to be encouraged. The progressive stance regards voluptuous matings as the purpose of sexuality. What principle follows from the progressive stance?

Fomulation of the progressive principle: we ought to promote voluptuous matings and not let any other function of sexuality such as love or marriage stand in their way. Of course, when love or marriage happen to go along with voluptuous sex, that is good fortune.

Why did the awareness that these peak sexual experiences were being promoted as the purpose of sexuality make me sad? There are costs associated with promotion of these hot sexy matings. There is need for contraceptives and education in their use along with backup abortion services. Constant vigilance needs to be exercised so that opportunities for these matings do not slide into occasions for less than consensual sex. Most of all, though, it was because a person’s sexuality is inseparable from who and what that person is. These posters, with their underlying sexual morality, are telling students that the best in their lives are short lived periods of intense sexual pleasure and that is not much. Girls are boy toys and boys are studs.

In my book, I argue that this trivialization of sexuality for young people when generalized to hold for all people leads to nihilism. See below how to purchase my book.

My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is 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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

A Subtle Maxim of Infidelity

In my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism, I suggest that there could be six fundamental principles for sexual morality. Sexuality has three components: courting, mating and bonding. I propose that men and women might have different fundamental principles for each component of sexuality. I focus on the fundamental principle of male mating. The basic male mating principle held that a man should not intentionally seek to have an orgasm, viz., disperse sperm, except in the vagina of a woman to he whom is bound in a lifetime commitment to care for her and any children resulting from that discharge. I really think that women need to formulate a fundamental principle concerning what a woman may intend to accomplish and what she ought never intend to accomplish through an act of sexual intercourse.However, I am not so convinced that men and women need separate principles for their sexual bonding.
In this post, I assume that men and women share a common bonding principle which is well expressed in traditional Catholic marriage vows. After stating the bonding principle by transforming the wedding promises into moral commands, I will apply the principle to a moral issue in a marriage.

In the principle the female terms can replace the male terms as appropriate.

She is your lawful wife, you will be true to her in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, you will love her and honor her until death parts you.

Obviously the principle condemns acts of marital infidelity and the personal policies or maxims in accordance with which the person chooses to commit the infidelity. Frequently, these maxims are rationalizations such as when my wife is sick I am entitled to some sexual relief. In sexual infidelity, both the act and the maxim are clearly wrong.

But let us consider a more subtle case. Suppose that a couple have been married twenty seven years and have been sexually faithful all those years. They have three children: Two daughters in their twenties and one son still in high school. The high school student received a speeding ticket, told his father and his father paid the $160.00 fine. The father and son agreed not to tell his mother. The mother would display much anger and demand that the boy have his driving privileges taken away for at three months. The husband desiring “peace and quiet” in the house which would result from his wife scolding and his son sulking. Also he does not want to arrange for alternative transportation to his son’s high school to which the boy drives.

Now the act of not telling his wife is no violation of his wedding vows. I do not think the act of not telling even violates fundamental principles about truth telling as long as he would be prepared to say what happened if directly asked by his wife. He would not say what is not true although he hopes not to say everything which is true.

But we look at his maxim and character we find dangerous moral flaws. His maxim is something such as: I may let my wife be deceived about something she would want to know about because her knowledge would be inconvenient for me. This maxim is inconsistent with his wedding promise. He is open to being untrue to her and letting her be deceived by being in ignorance is not honoring her. His marital fidelity is morally flawed without ever having “cheated on his wife”.

I hope this example shows the value of the moral theory I develop in my book in which moral judgment involves judging the acts we choose as well as the personal policies on the basis of which we choose them.
My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is 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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Same Sex Marriage and National Decline

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the states of the United States must issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. This court decision expresses a view of sexual morality which has long been held by many moral philosophers and is now held by a large number, if not a majority, in Western societies. This view is that by themselves no sexual acts are morally forbidden. The morality of a sexual act is determined by asexual features such as whether or not there was proper consent. But apart from these external features there is no morally wrong way to attain a sexual satisfaction and there is no morally wrong way to develop our sexuality. If homosexuality can be celebrated, nothing sexual is, in principle, off limits. I call this “the moral neutrality of sexuality” as well as “sexual nihilism.” Use of “moral neutrality” is self-explanatory. Use of “sexual nihilism” is explained below.

Because of the prominence of the United States and because the court declared same sex marriage to be a constitutional right, we can say that the moral neutrality of sexuality is the standard sexual in Western societies. Acceptance of the moral neutrality of sexuality is not a rejection of all restraints on sexual behavior. Prohibitions against rape, sexual activity with very young children, etc. stay in place because they do non-sexual damage. Nonetheless acceptance of the moral neutrality of sexuality is dangerous because it leads to full nihilism.

I use “nihilism” to mean “everything is permitted” as Ivan Karamazov expressed it. If everything is permitted, nothing matters. Sexual nihilism is a specific form of nihilism: “everything sexual is permitted.” It is not obvious that sexual nihilism leads to the complete despair of nihilism. So, I have written a book to show that sexual nihilism, indeed, leads to full nihilism. So, I am distressed by my highest court’ s ruling that turns my country on the path to the despair and ultimate failure as a civiliation.

My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is 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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Penance : Fulfillment of Our Obligation to Express Moral Wrath

This post is a criticism and development of my previous two posts on penance.
February 16, 2015: Penance: Pain as a Scapegoat Which Carries Away Moral Evil
February 24, 2015:Penance: Guilt, Shame, Self-Loathing as Penitential Pain

In those posts, I interpreted penance as self inflicted pain to make up for and restore oneself after commission of a moral wrong. An act of masturbation was the example of an immoral act so that there would be no issues of compensating other people. Four dimensions of making up for and restoring were noted. Restitution was inflicting a pain to pay for an immorally attained satisfaction. This could be a simple fast of skipping a meal. Rehabilitation was inflicting pain so that by becoming accustomed to enduring dissatisfaction aesonould be less likely to subcumb to temptations to seek immoral satisfactions.Again a simple fast could be an example of penance. Deterrence was inflicting pain with a threat to inflict it again if we pursued the immoral satisfaction. Taking a cold shower with threats of subsequent cold showers is an example of a deterring penance. My focus was on the retributive dimension of penance. Retribution is the most difficult dimension for which to articulate a motivation even if in some people the need for it is strongly felt.

In retribution we inflict a pain to represent to ourselves our moral evil, i.e., breaking a moral law, as physical or mental damage. This physical or mental damage intentionally connected with the moral damage can be called punishment. Punishment is always a physical or mental pain. Punishment is imposed for moral reasons but the punishment itself is factual (empirical) not moral. Penance is self-inflicted punishment.With recovery from the connected factual damage the moral damage is cleansed or healed. The factual damage becomes a “scapegoat” which carries away the moral damage.

Perhaps my account of retributive penance accounts for why some, or even many, people do punish themselves for immoral behavior with a hard to articulate sense that it makes them clean or healthy again. But an account of why some people punish themselves does not justify their doing so and certainly does not give support to a claim that this type of retributive punishment is what we ought to do.. Now my goal is to make a case that we ought to perform retributive penance.

Why ought connect factual damage with moral damage by inflicting factual damage on an offender because of his moral damage? If we do not accept a prescription for conduct as a command coming from ourselves in which we both think and feel that factual damage be imposed on violators we do not accept it as a moral law. Thinking and feeling that factual damage be imposed on violators simply because they violated a moral law is moral wrath. Genuine acceptance of what we think ought to be requires internalizing the prescription. Internalizing a prescription requires feeling that it ought to be followed because what it commands is right. This feeling that it ought to be followed because it is right has as a complementary feeling a sense that a violator ought to be damaged in some factual way simply because he did not act as he ought. Acting on this moral wrath is retribution. In retribution we do not seek to accomplish anything by imposition of the damage beyond striking back after violation of the law. To be sure, as noted above, in inflicting damage after a violation, we may hope to accomplish restitution, rehabilitation and deterrence. But retribution is simply to express the obligation to react negatively to violations of a moral law we have internalized, viz., genuinely accepted.

Penance, then, is retribution inflicted on ourselves for our own violations of morality. As the wounds from our self-inflicted moral wrath heal, we often have a sense of being healed or cleansed.

My thoughts about penance, forgiveness etc., come from my emphasis on sexual immorality as producing moral harm in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism .
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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Penance: Guilt, Shame, Self-Loathing as Penitential Pain

This post elaborates on my February 16 Post: Penance: Pain as a Scapegoat Which Carries Away Moral Evil in two ways. First, I advocate mental pain as the proper penitential pain. Second, I bring out more of the theory rationalizing inflicting pain on yourself to cleanse yourself from a moral stain or heal yourself of a moral wound.

In my previous post, I suggested interpreting penance as a way of cleansing or healing ourselves for moral damage we inflicted upon ourselves by a wrong such as masturbation which in no clear way does any tangible damage to our bodies or anyone else’s body. My suggestion was that we inflict some tangible damage on ourselves. Penance as cleansing or healing works by linking the moral wrong with a tangible wrong which will heal. The healing tangible wound is taking away the moral harm with which it has been linked. We are morally cleansed because the moral wrong in us has gone away insofar as it was a type of wound in us. However, the moral wrong is still formerly – “on paper” – in our history until it is forgiven.

Forgiveness is another topic. Penance may be necessary for forgiveness but I do not think penance is sufficient for forgiveness

What kind of pain is a suitable penance for victimless sexual immoralities; especially masturbation? As suggested by the Lenten texts from Joel: “Rend your heart; not your garments” the pain should be interior – in the mind. Mental pain is tangible – guilt, shame and self-loathing are felt. Let yourself feel these pains by not giving yourself any excuses. Of course, as in any important endeavor, good judgment is needed to know when to “go one with your life” and let the mental pain and moral wound heal.

Why, though, inflict pain on ourselves so that it can become a wound which is supposed to take away a moral wound? Here I need to sketch out thoughts on the reasons for punishment.

One reason for punishment is restitution. I am not writing of penance as restitution. I am not thinking of penance being the infliction of some tangible damage to ourself as a way of paying back for a satisfaction immorally attained. For instance, the pay back for the pleasure of masturbation might be a cold shower. On this model the pain is paired with the illegitimate pleasure and then the pleasure-pain pair is neutralized. Such a model may be useful for understanding some dimensions of penance. But that is not the dimension which I am trying to understand. Here I am struggling with a belief that penance is appropriate to make myself cleaner or healthier after committing a moral wrong. I try bring myself back to my moral status I had before the immoral act. The restitution model does not seem to me to bring out making myself healthy after committing a moral wrong. It is too impersonal. Restitution brings our making the situation better. What can fairly be labeled a retribution model of penance brings out that penance is supposed to make me better by somehow removing the moral damage I brought upon myself. This is different from a rehabilitation model of penance where penance is to build my character. The retribution model is also different from a deterrence model. On a deterrence model, the masturbator would inflict some pain on himself after masturbating and threaten to inflict that pain on himself every time he masturbated. Cold showers might be his choice of deterrent.

Restitution, rehabilitation and deterrence are all important dimensions of penance. They are forward looking dimensions of penance. They aim at making the person or situation better in the future. Retribution is backward looking. In retribution we go back in our history to clean or heal a wound we suffered. We are trying to bring ourselves status quo ante.

My thoughts about penance, forgiveness etc., come from my emphasis on sexual immorality as producing moral harm in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism .
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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Penance: Pain as a Scapegoat Which Carries Away Moral Evil

At the beginning of Lent 2015, it is appropriate to reflect on penance. I hope to clarify my thought that penance is choosing an inclination frustration – pain- to remove or cleanse from oneself a negative feature or stain on oneself which resulted choosing an immoral act.

Since these blog posts are on sexual morality, let us consider the point of doing penance for sexual immorality. The focus is on an act of male masturbation. The act itself has no significant consequences in the world outside the man who masturbated. I do not want to be distracted by consideration of needs to restore some damage done by the act. Also I do not want to consider penance as a either a way of building strength of character or a way of somehow deterring oneself from masturbating again. Penance may strengthen character and be a deterrent. However, I hope to clarify a thought and feeling that somehow penance cleanses a person from a morally evil condition he has produced in himself

An immoral sexual act is bipartite. Both parts are immoralities One part is the act performed. In masturbation this part is the self-stimulation to orgasm. The other part is self inflicted moral damage in the person who chose the wrong act. The moral damage or moral evil is whatever it is in the person which now justifies passing the judgment upon him: He is now a man who chooses to do what is wrong to gain a sexual inclination satisfaction.

This moral damage seems nebulous, intangible and invisible. How can it be removed?

Nothing can be done to remove the past choice to masturbate for an inclination satisfaction. Nothing can remove the fact that he had enjoyed the inclination satisfaction which is now gone. However, the point of penance is to cancel out that wrongly gained inclination satisfaction by inflicting on oneself a greater inclination frustration. Choosing to connect an overriding inclination frustration with the wrongly chosen inclination satisfaction transforms the moral damage into complex condition of moral evil connected with a balancing natural or non-moral evil. This complex of moral and natural evil is not so nebulous. It is certainly tangible if not visible. Because of its natural component this complex can fade away with time as the natural pain of frustration diminishes.

Penance is a “scapegoat.” The penitential pain attaches to the moral evil and as the pain fades way so does the moral evil it carries with it.

I introduce my thoughts on moral evil in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism

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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Duty is Compatible with Love

This Post interrupts my series of posts on gradualism of the law. However, it clarifies the moral theory I use in my book. This moral theory, which I call character morality, underlies what I say about gradualism.

The “Kantian” character morality which I use in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism distinguishes between being the right kind of person and doing what is right. Being the right kind of person is being a person with good moral character. Doing what is right requires choosing the act in a situation required by the moral law specifying what ought to be done in that situation. Right action, then, requires at least implicit recognition of moral rules. The right kind of person develops maxims, or personal policies for acting, of the form of choosing the act in situations required by the rules of morality. Becoming the right kind of person requires choosing to develop maxims in accordance with the moral laws because having such maxims is the right way to be. Character, and maxims constituting good character, need to be chosen because they are right, viz., the morally right character and maxims to have. Good moral character has to be chosen for its own sake. If you choose having a good moral character for some other goal such as reputation, happiness or even heaven, you do not really have good moral character but a system of habits you would set aside if you discovered that they did not lead to that other goal.

Rather than trying further to clearly define my terms, here I hope to clarify this distinction between doing what is right and being the right kind of person by confronting a challenge that is often brought against this type of character morality. This challenge focuses on the phrase “choosing what is right because it is right.” Often the right act to perform needs to be done with some motive different from a sense of duty, i.e., choosing it because it is right.

For instance, the right act may be for me to show and share, to some extent, my wife’s interest in shopping. This moral law of sharing an interest in my wife’s interest could be traced back to some more fundamental moral principle about a spouse’s duty. But going back to first principles is not my concern here. So, I am obliged to do two kinds of acts. One kind is choosing to accompany her on particular trips with a show of interest. A second kind is to choose to do various things to develop a genuine inclination to make such trips. My duty to share her interest in shopping cannot be accomplished while having even in the back of my mind that I am doing my duty by becoming interested in the shopping trip. My duty is to become interested in the shopping directly; not to perform my duty.

These choices to go on shopping trips and develop an interest in that kind of activity rest on a policy I have adopted of trying to be a husband who does not neglect his wife. My maxim is to share innocent interests with my wife. If I am building moral character by choosing to have this maxim I can do so because it is morally right. It is a morally right maxim because it is consistent with a general moral requirement that I am to love my wife. Love requires wishing for her welfare and this includes enjoyment of innocent activities.

Contrast this shopping situation with one where a man has a wife who loves malicious gossip. (My wife does NOT have this vice.) A maxim of sharing this interest with his wife would not be consistent with more general moral rules. A man could not choose this maxim because it is right.

In review: In character morality acts are to be chosen with the motivation morally proper for those acts. However, maxims for choosing acts are to be chosen because they are the morally right maxims. I should choose the maxim of trying to be a proper husband simply because it is the right maxim to have. Once I have chosen that maxim, the acts I choose to implement that maxim, or personal policy, are to be motivated by inclinations needed for them to be sincere actions, if the actions are of the kind which require both external behavior and inner feelings.

A last note about a good man being a better lover:
Some might think that I should choose to be a good husband because I love my wife. I do not slight my wife by choosing to be a good husband because that is morally right. Indeed, being a good husband because of love for my wife makes me less than a reliable husband. Love is so hard so separate from feelings. With the lessening of feelings of love my sense of duty towards my wife may well diminish. Once I accept the duty to be a good husband because that is the kind of man I ought to be, I have all the particular duties of maintaining, cultivating feelings of love and showing love.
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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Gradualism of the Law in Sexual Morality

For sexual morality a well-known example of practicing gradualism of the law comes from Augustine when he prays in his Confessions. “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.”

“Gradualism of the law” is a practice of gradually bringing oneself to a decision to obey a law which one is now violating. Some non-moral examples show the reality of this practice. Suppose a law of personal health requires a person to exercise regularly. A man who needs to exercise more but rarely exercises hopes to start a plan of regular exercise sometime. He has it on his “agenda” to start such a program sometime. He goes along for several months thinking that he should start. He lets himself feel guilty about not having an exercise program. He is practicing gradualism of the law.

Finally, he decides to start exercising regularly. Because he has had a long history of not exercising, he occasionally fails to follow his program. He feels guilty about his failures to follow his program. However, his friends tell him that it will take time for him to become a regular exerciser. His friends are assuming a law of gradualism when they advise him not to lose heart because it takes time to overcome bad habits.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to specify how someone who should go on diet first practices gradualism of the law and then keeps his morale up by reflecting on the law of gradualism.

In my book, I described a homosexual who hoped to somehow, sometime, stop engaging in homosexual acts. However, he had not yet made a firm decision to stop. I characterized him as a good man but not yet good enough. In respect to sexual acts, he was good by recognizing the correct moral principles. But was not good enough because he had not decided to try to conform to the correct moral law and, of course, was violating the sexual moral law for men. He would become a better man by resolving to conform to the law. Unfortunately, a resolve to conform to the law, which here means being celibate, does not guarantee conformity. Even if he fails from time-to-time he can hope that he will gradually build character to move completely beyond homosexual acts.

There are situations involving sexual behavior for which we should tolerate gradualism of the law as a first step towards developing a morally proper sexual character. We are not likely to set aside immoral behavior until we admit that it is wrong. Gradualism of the law starts by admiting, or at least conceding that perhaps, a moral law is being violated. Some guilt is felt. Unfortunately, admitting that a type of act violates a moral law and a bit of guilt is not sufficient for forming a firm purpose of amendment to stop violations. Indeed, a law of gradualism may be operating here. It takes time for guilt about violating a moral law to lead us to resolving to stop violations. It may take time for guilt to have its effect and to build up courage to stop. In ourselves, and for others, we may need tolerance to foster this build up. I use “tolerance” because wrong is being done with each violation of the law and the violator is not as he ought to be. With gradualism of the law we are tolerating evil! And it must be clear that evil is being done so that guilt can lead to resolve to stop.

In my next post I will discuss application of gradualism of the law for situations in Catholic sexual morality. These are situations of practicing artificial birth control and living in a marriage not sanction by the Catholic Church.

I discussed the birth control situation in my book.

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.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.