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.

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