All posts by kielkopf1

About kielkopf1

I am Professor philosophy (emeritus) of the Ohio State University. I am blogging to promote a book on sexual moral philosophy and to develop further themes not fully developed in the book. I live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife Marge. My three sons: Charles P., Mark S. and Andrew J. live in Columbus. My daughter Judy lives in Rhode Island while my daughter Susan lives in Fresno, CA. My wife and I are daily Mass goers at our Catholic parish: Immaculate Conception. Marge is an active Lay Cistercian and I am very active in the works of the Society of St. Vincent dePaul.

Our Global War Against Coronavirus Pandemic Is Sacrificial Worship to An Idol

We commit idolatry when we take a finite thing as a supreme being. In the global war against the covid-19 virus we have taken health as the supreme being. Health is our idol. Suppression of liberties, creation of poverty, destruction of civil society and locking places of worship are all supposedly justified by simply saying “this is to protect health.” Leaders all over the globe believe health is requiring them to require uncalculated great sacrifices, especially from the less fortunate, for an indefinite time.

Health offers us nothing of lasting value. With death we all lose health. With health as god, there is nothing after death. That is nihilism.

The global war against the coronavirus pandemic is a battle to make nihilism the religion of the world. Who, or what, is leading the forces in this battle? It is world-wide. We cannot specify any person, agency or government. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that something which wills the destruction of all that is good, which is to will there be nothing at all, is deceiving the hearts and minds of leaders, by means of apparently good intentions, to mislead everyone to worship it. Satan is that which wills there be nothing at all – total death.

More than fearing the flu, we should be living with fear and trembling that Satan will win by establishing nihilism as the dominant world religion with health as its idol through whom we worship him.

Why the Modest Goal of Moral Apologetics?

In my previous post I wrote the following about the purpose of making a case making a case for a moral principle commanding what could accurately be labeled “Traditional Catholic Sexual Morality.

“We seek assent, even if grudgingly granted to our rationality and decency along with assenting to the claim that the principle we are defending is not irrational. Seeking that type of assent for a moral principle can properly be called moral apologetics.

Why do I take such a humble stance? I satisfy myself with moral apologetics because of the community I hope to reach. I a addressing the secular, or de facto secular, community of progressive and dominant opinion on sexual morality in the early twenty first century.

This dominant opinion forming community accepts, explicitly or implicitly, the moral neutrality of sexuality. Those who hold this view hold that in principle no sexual act is morally wrong. Immoral sexual acts, if any, are determined by the circumstances in which the act is performed, the intentions of the actors and the consequences of the act.

Amongst progressives the moral neutrality of sexuality is regarded as almost self-evident. I have set myself the task of confronting the dominant view on sexual morality with arguments to dislodge any assumption of self evidence and prerogative of moral decency for the moral neutrality of sexuality.

In my book I made clear that my goal was moral apologetics to contemporary secular society. Unfortunately, my book has probably never been read; let alone reviewed.

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. See Ch. I in which I explicitly acknowledge that my goal is moral apologetics. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Moral Apologetics

I have browsed in a little bit of John Henry Newman’s reflections on proving principles. Back in January in Why Justify a Moral Principle I noted that I needed to look at some of what Newman wrote about giving arguments for principles. He puts well what I think about the effectiveness of arguments for principles as a way of getting people to assent to the principle. I agree that arguments are not the way to get the assent of most, if any body’s. Probably the more rigorous the argument, the less effective it is for obtaining assent at the time of presentation.

However, I should have realized from logical considerations alone that even the best argument for a moral principle- a proof- cannot establish a moral principle as a command a person internalizes as an obligation. A proof of a moral principle establishes a fact about the moral principle! A proof establishes at best: It IS the case that one OUGHT to X. From what IS the case there is a logical gap between “This IS an obligation” and “I OUGHT to obey.”

But deeper than the logical gap is the psychological gap reflected linguistically by a linguistic mood change from indicative mood to imperative mood. A proof allows one to say in the indicative mood “You ought to do X.” is proved. An additional thought and sentiment is required to accept an obligation to do X by dropping “is proved” and accepting the imperative to me “You ought to do X!

This subtle point can be made in another way by distinguishing the assent to a principle as true and assenting to an imperative as coming from a valid authority. Assent to the command of an authority is not obtained by any proof that the authority gave the command but by receiving the command from the authority.

Nonetheless proving, or making a good case, that a command comes from the moral authority – or whatever the source of morality may be is important for clear thinking about morality.

So the purpose of developing an argument for a moral principle is to place in public reasoning, viz., somehow publish, defenses against claims that assent to the principle is irrational. In making a case for traditional sexual morality, the assent we seek is assent that our arguments are logically correct i.e. free from formal and informal fallacies and based on plausible assumptions. We seek assent, even if grudgingly granted to our rationality and decency along with assenting to the claim that the principle we are defending is not irrational. Seeking that type of assent for a moral principle can properly be called moral apologetics.

So, at the risk of seeming conceited, I can write that the approach in my book to defend a fundamental principle for male sexuality was correct. Chapter IV focused on an argument for the principle whose gist I will state one more time.

A man may intentionally seek an orgasm only in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom he has a lifelong commitment to care for her and any children resulting from their intercourse.

I imagined an academic setting – a philosophy seminar- as the context in which the argument is given. Assuming an academic context made clear that there was no intention of getting popular assent. I intended only moral apologetics.

To avoid the criticisms placed against stereotypic natural law arguments, I made an empirical case for selecting our reproductive systems as needing moral control. Sexuality, as opposed to other systems, can be perverted. Then I, more or less, used traditional “perverted faculty” considerations.

I should have used considerations from “New Natural Law” theory to point out the basic human good protected by obedience to the principle. And I probably should not have introduced my idiosyncratic interpretation of Kant to provide a Kantian justification.

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. See Ch. IV for my justification. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Pennance

I am in the midst of a project of showing that people who make moral judgments have, even if felt only dimly, a sentiment that some harm ought to be if a moral principle is violated. There are people who rarely make moral judgments. But if they only make moral judgments about some public policies, they make moral judgments. For instance, declaring that separating families of immigrants is a moral issue, is making a moral judgment about current practices.

I have made a case that moral judgments that a moral principle has been violated logically entail that harm ought to result because of the violation. See Moral Harm is a Moral Judgment. But now I am going further than arguing about the entailments of moral judgments. I am trying to show that people actually think and feel what their words imply.

Of course, what people actually think and feel is a question of fact. I cannot answer factual questions about social-psychology while sitting in front of my PC and imagining what I think a typical person should think and feel.

But the word “typical” I just wrote provides the clue for understanding what I am doing and its presuppositions. I am presupposing that people share a type or form which makes us what we are. In this case I am focusing on the part of the type revealed by moral language. I am, then, presupposing an innate moral psychological structure. I want to tell the truth about this innate moral psychology of the typical person. But I do not seek the truth about the innate moral psychology of the typical person by the methods of empirical science. I just think while being lead by verbal links.

There is no way to characterize most of the thinking. I cannot say that I think about the typical person where “typical” suggests average or normal. I may think of some unusual character in a novel who submits to physical suffering to cleanse himself from guilt. So, of course, be wary of what I write. To corroborate my claims, think to yourself how you and others respond to admission of moral violations. I hope these results may lead us to a better understanding of ourselves and that such understanding is good for us.

In this post I want to bring out the link between moral judgment and the sentiment that there ought to be physical suffering. In my previous post I made a case that the typical person thinks and feels that someone who violates a moral principle ought to suffer the unpleasant moral feelings of shame and guilt. See You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourself. Here I want to add that typical people think and feel that the moral feelings are insufficient harm to remove the need for harm required by moral violations. We have the notion of penance where penance is some physical discomfort to make up for a moral failing. Recall that moral violations of basic principles introduces all sorts of temporary obligations for occurrence of harm. See Moral Harm is a Moral Judgment. The quickest way to exhibit the presence of the notion of penance in the typical person is to think of someone who would like to set aside the moral outlook which holds that moral violations require harm. Think of a case of a man who cheated on his wife, felt guilty and started to pull back from hanging out with his male friends and drinking far less. He thought that it is not enough to feel guilt and shame. He had to do something. Confessing to his wife would do far more harm than good and it would not bring him cleansing pain but inflict pain on his wife. It is easy to imagine one of his companions telling him that he doesn’t have to do penance for cheating on his wife. She does not know and nobody really got hurt. But the man who cheated on his wife may very likely feel that his forgoing some pleasures somehow makes up for his betrayal. These typical men understand the notion of penance.

You Ought To Be Ashamed of Yourself!

The point of this post is to add some support for the intelligibility of a crucial notion I have been using in my interpretation of moral thought as based on commands of a moral authority who commands, amongst other things, that some harm ought to be as a consequence of moral infractions. I have heard it said that the notion of harm as mere retribution does not make sense; it does not serve any purpose. Infliction of harm simply for a past violation does not aim at making the future any better.

Let me be clear that the position I am criticizing, is not that there should be no harm after a violation. It is admitted by all that harm should result but that it should be aimed at improving the violator and/or society.

I grant that retributive harm is pointless in the sense of “pointless” which indicates lack of a future better condition at which the occurrence of harm is supposed bring us. However, “pointless” in this sense should not be confused with “senseless” with “senseless” being interpreted as “cannot be understood” as a phrase such as “Days barked all day long.”

The notion of harm which ought to be inflicted is understood if talk of it is frequently used. For this post, the usage cited as evidence that the notion of obligatory harm as pure retribution makes sense is “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” People with widely divergent views on what is morally wrong, converge on their usage of this phrase. Progressives tell me that I ought to be ashamed of myself for disparaging gay marriage. I tell progressives that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for promoting gay marriage.

Shame is an uncomfortable emotional state. Both progressives and I think that it makes perfectly good sense to allege that the other OUGHT to suffer this uncomfortable state simply from having the morally wrong thoughts and attitudes about same sex marriage.

There Ought to be Moral Suffering

In my previous post I made a great step forward in articulating the structure of what I have called authoritarian morality. Authoritarian morality is based on rules with sanctions. The sanctions specify suffering which ought to occur if the rules are violated. The thought that there ought to be some suffering is morally repugnant. For the suffering in question is not suffering as a means for some good; it is suffering for violating the law. It’s retribution. In Inconsistency in Moral think Resolved By Moral Skepticism I addressed the problem of the moral repugnance of accepting that some suffering ought to be by arguing that we need to repress that thought to have a consistent rule based morality. However, what is the suffering which ought to be?

In my efforts to find the topics which need to be addressed in making a case for a moral principle I realized that I needed to point out some good realized by obedience to the rule. I had to do more than show that obeying the principle meets some standard for acting rationally. Fortunately, there is readily available a characterization of moral thinking which shows that obedience to traditional moral rules aims at attainment of some basic human goods. This is the so-called New Natural Law Theory.

I have not yet re-developed the argument in my book* for the moral principle I call the Paternal Principle.

A man may intentionally seek an orgasm only in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom he has a lifelong commitment to care for her and any children resulting from their intercourse.

I plan to re-develop it by showing its rationality using thoughts from those working in Thomistic moral theory and that it aims at a basic human good by adapting thoughts from the New Natural Law theory on the good of marriage.

However, the main point for this blog post is that I can specify a minimum suffering which ought to be. The basic idea is that a person who violates the law ought to suffer loss of the good at which obedience to the law aims. It is difficult to specify in detail the good of obedience to the law. What, in detail, is the good of being honest? However, the structure of this suffering can be stated. I will state it for the case of a man who violates the Paternal Principle by habitual masturbation stimulated by pornography.

He ought not have any of the satisfactions of proper marital intercourse. He ought to suffer awareness that he does not deserve his satisfaction. He ought to suffer longing for proper sexual satisfaction even in a inchoate way. He ought to suffer shame from the thought that people who think rightly about sexuality think that he ought not be acting as he does.

Similar paragraphs about people who are dishonest, cruel etc., could be written. These thoughts and feelings of guilt or shame could be called moral suffering.

I must emphasize two points about moral suffering. First moral suffering is always suffering which OUGHT TO BE for violating a moral law. Moral suffering is only occasionally suffering which actually occurs upon violation of a moral law. Second, moral suffering is only a minimum suffering which ought to be. Other suffering such as physical pain or disease may always be required for violations.

However, by accepting moral suffering as a SUFFERING WHICH OUGHT TO BE, we accept retributive suffering in our moral framework.

* 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. See Ch. IV for my justification see pp. 72ff. for discussion of moral harm. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

There Ought to Be Suffering

This post interrupts the line of thought in my past several posts. That line of thought was why and how should we try to prove a moral principle. Here I return to the theme of moral harm as harm which ought to be as a result of violating a moral principle. I do not want reflections on proving a moral principle to lead me away from exploring implications of this notion of moral harm for understanding the Christian doctrine of redemption.

I review how I developed this notion of moral harm from an essay of Steven Pinker.* Then I apply it to the sensitive topic of my morally condemning homosexuality.

Pinker’s passage which led me to develop the notion of moral harm as harm which ought to be is the second “hallmark” in the following:

“The first hallmark of moralization is that the rules it invokes are felt to be universal. Prohibitions of rape and murder, for example, are felt not to be matters of local custom but to be universally and objectively warranted. The other hallmark is that people feel that those who commit immoral acts deserve to be punished. . .

we are born with a universal moral grammar that forces us to analyze human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness.”

I developed that hallmark into a thesis about a fundamental component of moral thinking, viz., if a moral law is violated harm ought to occur. I left the principle at a high level of generality. There was no specification of what the harm might be, on whom it should befall and how much. The very general thought is merely that moral principles carry sanctions. This does not mean that these subsidiary questions cannot be answered. There simply needs to be further moral thought to answer them.

Let me add here that right now I think that moral thinking contains almost no provisions for numerically measurable thinking on the quantity of harm and good.

I return to this notion of moral harm by considering its ramifications for a moral judgment I make. I think homosexual acts are morally wrong. I have argued for that position in my book**. Hence, I judge that the homosexual acts of 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg are immoral. Concomitant with that judgment is a judgment that he ought to suffer some harm for his homosexual behavior.

This thought that I ought to think that he ought to suffer some harm poses a problem for me. First, the proposal that there ought to be some suffering is repugnant. Second, I confess to not caring that Pete Buttigieg suffers. However, as I have argued in several posts, we are not serious about morality if we do not think that there ought to be unpleasant consequences for immoral behavior. Not caring whether the sanctions for violations of morality be applied is irrelevant for thinking that they ought to be applied

So, what kind of suffering do I think Pete Buttigieg ought to undergo? Not getting nominated as the 2020 Democrat candidate is a type of disappointment which is too loosely connected with his homosexual behavior to be a proper punishment.

Here is my proposal for the kind of suffering a man who has a practice of immoral sexual behavior such as: frequent masturbation, homosexual activity, fornication and adultery. From the stance I take on sexuality, proper sexual activity is confined to coitus open to conception in a lifelong monogamous marriage. Basic human goods are realized when sexuality is so confined. The harm which man who does not so confine his sexual activity ought to suffer is twofold First there is failure to attain these basic human goods along with a sense of not realizing these goods. Second, there is a realization, perhaps quite dim, that people who think properly about sexual activity judge that he ought not realize the goods of proper sexuality. Broadly speaking, he ought to suffer a sense of unworthiness, guilt and shame.

If I am right that this kind of inward moral suffering ought to occur in men who misbehave sexually, it seems reasonable that we should proclaim traditional sexual morality to facilitate occurrence of these negative moral feelings in ourselves and others when needed. Trying to post proofs of principles of traditional sexual morality is a way of proclaiming traditional sexual morality.

Mr. Butttigieg knows everything I could say. In so far as I care, my sympathies are that he does not suffer too much from the negative moral thoughts and feelings he ought to have.

* Pinker Article .

** 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. See Ch. IV for my justification see pp. 72ff. for discussion of moral harm. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Moral Argument as Kantian Universalization

This post assumes some familiarity with Kant’s moral theory. However, this is not exegesis of Kant’s thought. What I write is best interpreted as going off on a tangent* from the text to develop my own thoughts from a fragment of Kant’s thought. In this case, my own thoughts are those of my past three posts: “How do we prove a moral principle?” And “What is accomplished by a proof of a moral principle?”

The fragment of Kant’s thought is his first statement of the categorical imperative in his Foundation of the Metaphysics of Morals.**

It reads: Act only on maxims which you can will to be a universal law of nature.

In my previous post I came to the conclusion that relative to certain assumptions – a stance – a proper argument for a moral principle shows that activity in accord with the principle is rational activity and that activity in accord with the principle is directed towards attaining and maintaining conditions good for human beings over and beyond the good of being rational.

In the following I write of proofs as characterized above.

My Kantian speculation is that proof of a moral principle is showing that you can will a maxim to be a universal law of nature.

Let me illustrate this speculation with the principle for male sexuality of the previous post which I call the Paternal Principle.

As a maxim or principle for personal action the Paternal Principle becomes:

I shall not intentionally seek an orgasm except in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom I am committed for life to care for her and any child resulting from the coitus.

A “Kantian” proof that a man is acting in accord with laws of morality by following this maxim would show that any man acting in accord with principle is following a principle which is part of rational activity and is part of the human good of marriage. In other words, the proof shows what a rational seeker of human good would do. Any other course of conduct, for male sexuality, would be inconsistent with being a rational seeker of human good.

As the line of thought develops, an assumption that every human being is potentially a rational seeker of human good is a crucial assumption.

In light of such a proof one can will that nature be so constructed that every man actually acts on the principle on the basis of psychological-physiological laws of nature. But one could not consistently will that some potential seeker of human good be causally determined not to realize their potential.

In a way, the line of thought is that you can not consistently say “This is the way an ideal human being would act but in fact some human is not to act that way.”

This is far from standard ways of discussing Kantian generalization. The usual approach is to inspect a generalization of a maxim itself for consistency. The approach here is to consideration of consistency only after a moral proof of a principle has been presented. The question of consistency is “In light of a proof showing certain activity is what a rational seeker of human good would do, can maxims be consistently be willed as causal laws for what a rational seeker of human good does.”

I cannot resist alluding to the four examples Kant used to illustrate his categorical imperative.
1. Suppose it was shown that humans would flourish in their commercial life if all kept promises. It cannot be consistently that in a human society of rational seekers of human good some would not keep promises.
2. Suppose it was shown that rational seekers of human good made efforts to maintain their health and life. It cannot be consistently willed that it becomes a causal law that for such beings some choose to end their lives.
3. Suppose it was shown that rational seekers of human good made efforts to develop skills. It cannot be consistently willed that it becomes a causal law that some such seekers choose to develop no skills.
4. Suppose it was shown that rational seekers of human good made efforts to cooperate to help others attain human goods. It cannot be consistent will that it becomes a causal law that some such seekers become totally uncooperative.

* I have been off on this tangent for over twenty years

I wrote a book on Kant’s moral theory and religion It is
A Kantian Condemnation of Atheistic Despair: A declaration of dependence. Peter Lang, N.Y. 1997
See pp. 200ff for remarks on Kantian moral universalization.
See pp. 170 ff of my more recent book.
Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional sexual morality as an antidote to nihilism, Tate Enterprises, Oklahoma City, 2014

**handle nur nach derjenigen Maxime, durch die du zugleich wollen kanst, dass sie ein allgemeines Gesetz werde AK IV 421

Translations of Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Morals will have the AK edition vol. and p. # in the margins.

Autonomous obedience vs. autonomous legislation

In the course of several posts I have struggled to articulate what I hope to show by justifying a moral principle for male sexuality and how I should go about showing it. The principle, in agreement with traditional Catholic morality, stated:

Thou shall not intentionally seek an orgasm except in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom you are committed for life to care for her and any child resulting from the coitus.

I hoped to show that independently of religious considerations, a man who follows, or struggles to follow, the principle has a character trait which makes him a better human being – a man closer to being as he ought to be than if he followed any other principle for sexuality.

I came to the conclusion that any arguments for the principle would have to be based on assumptions or, as I say, from a stance. Consequently, the arguments might not be compelling for all intelligent people. From a stance, arguments should be of two types. One line of argument would show that activity in accord with the principle is rational activity. Another line of argument would show that activity in accord with the principle is directed towards attaining and maintaining conditions good for human beings over and beyond the good of being rational. With respect to the principle for male sexuality, the human good would be life-long monagamous marriage.

I need to emphasize a feature of the human goods. They are not goods independent from morality with morality being a means to their attainment. The human goods attained and maintained by activity in accordance with the principle are not conditions apart from activity in accordance with the principle. Activity in accord with the principle is not only a means to the good but also a feature of the good brought about. For instance, activity in accord with a principle for traditional male sexuality not only produces a good marriage but it is also part of a good marriage.

I do not need to invent new arguments. For showing that the rationality of the activity, I can adapt arguments from what some call “The Old Natural Law Theory” or better: Thomistic Moral Theology. For showing that activity in accordance with the principle is directed towards human flourishing, I can adapt arguments from what is frequently called “New Natural Law Theory.”

I write of adapting the arguments because I do not make any assumption that an intelligent human being will take activity in accordance with the principle as morally binding upon clearly understanding the line of argument. There is still need for someone to choose to be obligated or something to impose the moral obligation.

As I interpret both types of natural law theories, they hold that nature -reality- formed human nature so that once a human being clearly recognizes that a principle promotes rational activity directed toward human good the human being because of a law for its nature chooses to be bound by and follow the principle. I believe that to be morally bound by a law there must always be the possibility of rejecting the law.

So I concluded my previous post confessing that I still felt that I had not uncovered all that I hoped for in a justification for a moral principle. Now I think that I can articulate what Ithought was lacking. I wanted to show that the moral principle is true and I do not think that reasoning alone brings us to moral truth.

Here is how the issue of truth comes up. After being persuaded by the arguments that activity in accord with the principle is rational and directed towards human good, there still needs to be imposition of a moral obligation to act in accord with this principle. This imposition could be self imposed or imposed by something outside our self.

Self imposed obligation could be called “autonomous moral legislation.” Unfortunately, autonomous moral legislation might be only a human decision to make such a moral rule. The rule could be invented; not discovered. It might be invented in response to our reasoning.

But how could a rule-an imperative- be discovered in thought independent reality? What corresponded to a rule in reality would not be a fact or a descriptive law of nature. It would have to be something like a command. At this time, the best I can say that the aspect of mind-independent reality corresponding to a moral law would be something we “hear” rather than “see,” and have the possibility of being accepted and obeyed or being rejected and disobeyed. If, and this is a huge “if,” there is something like hearing an imperative from mind independent reality, then there is a true or actual imperative. Still, though, there is a need for a choice to accept or reject the imperative. This could be called the “autonomy of obedience.”

If there is a place for autonomy of moral obedience, then we can talk of moral laws being true.

Consider a definition of “truth” which extends it to include truth for norms.

Truth for facts and norms

For facts to think what is true is to think of what is that it is and to think of what is not that it is not.
For norms to think what is true is to accept as obligatory what ought to be and to accept as forbidden what ought not be.

But if we can receive moral laws from an moral authority in mind independent reality, what is the role of arguments for moral principles? The arguments are valuable checks on illusions with respect to hearing the moral law, they help us to articulate what we hope to discover as true, they show others the plausibility of our rules and may lead others to investigate our moral rules. *

In my book, I struggled in Chapter XI with laying out what beyond reasoning needs to be done to discover what we ought to do.

* 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. See Ch. IV for my justification see pp. 72ff. for discussion of moral harm. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Why Justify a Moral Principle?

I wrote a book* trying to justify a well know, even if not widely accepted, moral principle for male sexuality. In the course of several previous posts, I have been exploring moral theory, from the perspective of the consequences of mere violation of a moral principle. I reached the stage where I realized that a principle needs to be justified from a stance – some basic assumptions about sexuality. Then the argument from the stance must show that the principle follows from the stance and obedience to the principle is for human good. The purpose of this post is to ask myself again why I want to justify the principle along with noting that before presenting a justification I need to consider work of John Henry Newman. I have read that my approach to justification might well be similar to Newman’s way of justify assent to principles.

The principle commands men:

Thou shall not intentionally seek an orgasm except in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom you are committed for life to care for her and any child resulting from the coitus.

Perhaps my Catholic religion led me to take the principle seriously. However, once I learned basic biology the principle seemed sensible to me. Orgasms are for sperm dispersal. The purpose of the inward drive and pleasure are to get men to disperse sperm. Coitus is primarily for “baby making.”
Mothers and babies need care and protection.

Of course, I realize that the principle is hard to follow and is contradicted by many other suggestions. I hesitate to call them principles; let alone moral principles.

I am ashamed to confess that I have not always lived up to the principle. But I have never really doubted it. After violations in my teens as a young soldier and in early courting, I have obeyed the principle for over sixty years of married life. For a time, that involved living in accord with the so-called “rhythm method.” It has required discipline of mind and body. For instance, I love long distance running. I also appreciated how marathon training made obedience easier. There was a thirty five year period in my life during which I kept myself in condition so that I could run a full twenty six point 2 mile marathon on any weekend. Even in my eighties I discipline my eyes and thoughts.

I am not trying to justify the principle because I want to show myself that I have been living correctly most all of my life with respect to sexuality. I am confident that with respect to sexuality, I have.

So, when I consider only myself: Why I am still trying to justify the principle? There is something intellectual with which I am not satisfied. I am searching for a line of thought leading to a conclusion of which I can say “It has to be this way.” I am still searching for an intellectual compulsion.

When I consider others, I hope that my thoughts in these posts and my book are read by others. But what do I want to show others? I want to show that independently of religious considerations, a man who follows, or struggles to follow, the principle has a character trait which makes him a better human being – a man closer to being as he ought to be than if he followed any other principle for sexuality.

In a recent New York Review of books, Gary Wills had remarked that the Catholic Church in promoting the principle was promoting some type of “goofiness” about sex. Wills’ outlook is widely held. I hope to show that that widespread outlook on sex is foolishness.

* 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. See Ch. IV for my justification see pp. 72ff. for discussion of moral harm. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.