Monthly Archives: May 2014

What I Want to Know by Knowing that Masturbation is Immoral

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.

In the previous post, I wrote that my intellectual motivation for condemning immoralities such as masturbation was to become convinced that these acts would be immoral for me to perform. I pointed out that for me to know through use of reason what is moral and immoral for me, I had to establish general rules specifying what is moral and immoral for everyone. Let’s focus on immoralities. So, finding out what is immoral for everyone is more fundamental than finding out what is immoral for me. However, a moral thought needs to be accompanied with feelings since moral thoughts are to guide conduct. For a thought of immorality, the feeling should be negative about what violates the rule. Of course, when I think that a rule is well justified and think of an act in violation of it, I think of that violation with the negative feeling that it is a violation.

Now here rises a challenge to deontological moral theories holding, as I do, that morality is based fundamentally on rules categorically condemning certain acts or ways of acting regardless of the consequences over and above those of being or not being in conformity with the rule. The challenge is basically: How can the harm of violating the rule keep the violation in conflict with morality if other consequences produce a large amount of human satisfaction? To appreciate the moral harm of violating a rule we need to look away from the general rule to look at it as applied to oneself. We need to look at it from the inside so-to-speak. Given that I think the rule is correct, what harm would I afflict on myself by violating it.

I prefer to use masturbation as an example rather than homosexuality. There is so much discussion of homosexuality now-a-days. If you’re not one, it is really boring in morality to think about something to which you have no temptation. Internet porn, provides temptations threatening all men.

For this exercise in uncovering the sense of violating a well established moral rule, I assume that I have established the rule that a man ought not seek an orgasm outside of sexual intercourse with his wife. The rule is very simple and gives clear guidelines on how to act morally with respect to an especially difficult area of a male’s life. Indeed the simplicity and clarity of the rule is the major
reason supporting it. If I violate it, I explicitly, or implicitly, adopt a personal policy, or what Kant called a maxim, that allows me to seek orgasms under other conditions. I am now acting on a policy which gives no clear guidance and is a response to inclinations which are lawless in the sense that they lead me against this simple law. the harm is losing direction and the sense of this harm is a sense of falling or being unguided with respect to some very powerful human incliations.

So I morally condemn masturbation to guide me towards discovering the harm I would do to myself by masturbating. It opens the way to sexual wantonnes.

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.