Category Archives: Moral philosophy

A “Kantian” Condemnation of Artificial Marital Birth Control

This post interrupts my critique of theory of the moral neutrality of sexual activity. But it is related to the critique of this theory by arguing that some sexual activity, viz., artificial marital birth control is immoral.

In a National Catholic Register article in the May 1, 2010 issue Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC, published an article “We Must Explain Why Contraception is Wrong.” Fr. Schneider made an important point for preserving our traditional Catholic moral teachings when they are being challenged from inside and outside the Church. A good way to start confronting these challenges is to offer a variety of arguments for critical evaluation and improvement during the next several months. I propose that we declare 2019 the year of Chastity during which amongst other things to strengthen our chastity we redevelop rational defenses of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. Fr. Schneider offered three arguments in his article. In this post, I sketch out another which can be called:

A “Kantian” condemnation of artificial marital birth control. It is one of many which should be considered along with being reformulated in the next few months.

This is not Kantian scholarship. I rely only on the overview type of knowledge of Kant one might acquire in a survey course in ethics.

Artificial marital birth control is use of physical or chemical techniques to prevent conception during or after coitus by a married couple.

The explicit, or implicit, maxim of a married couple who use artificial birth control can be expressed as follows:

We will perform the reproductive act which we are entitled by our community to perform but for a period of our choosing we shall prevent it from being a reproductive act.

Now consider the Kantian “Categorical Imperative” that we ought to act only on maxims which we can consistently will to be universal laws of nature.

Generalizing such a maxim as a universal law for humans could be expessed as follows:

People shall perform the reproductive act which they are entitled to perform by their community but for a period of their choosing shall prevent it from being a reproductive act.

Such a generalization is inconsistent because given basic demographic principles it leaves open the possibility of the reproductive acts becoming insufficient for reproduction in the sense of reproducing a population. Current demographic facts show that this possibility is being realized.

In appraising this argument, the first question should be an examination of the Kantian Categorical Imperative and then of technical points such as my use of the logical principle that a claim C is inconsistent if C implies possibly not-C.

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. In my book, I examine the case against artificial marital birth control in Ch. VIII 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.

Irrationality of Moral Rationalization

In my post immediately before this post,Pope Francis and Satan I proposed interpreting temptations from the devil as the temptation to practice moral rationalization.

I noted that in general, “rationalization” is an honorific term indicating an effort to make a practice or idea agreeable to reason by removing objections of reason to the practice or idea. For instance, my effort in the previous post to represent Satan in abstract terms is rationalization by avoiding the objections that there is no evidence of any beings corresponding to pictorial images of Satan and devils.

However, “moral rationalization” is a pejorative term. It stands for proposing reasons for not following a moral principle which provides for no exceptions. To be more specific: You engage in moral rationalization in a situation under the following conditions.

1. You accept, or ought to accept, a moral principle that says an act is wrong regardless of the circumstances in which it is to be performed, regardless of the intentions of the agent who performs the act and regardless of the consequences of the act. Such principles are classified as categorical or absolute and such acts as intrinsically wrong.

2. You search for and find in the situation circumstances of performing the action, intentions of the agent, or in the likely consequences of the action reasons for setting aside the absolute moral principle.

As I use the term “moral rationalization,” engaging in moral rationalization is logically inconsistent. The moral rationalizers both hold and reject an absolute moral principle. They cannot really avoid the logical inconsistency by saying that they may not give full consent to the moral principle because they are only committed to it by a social role such as being a church official. In these cases, they ought to accept it to avoid the inconsistency of accepting the principle by accepting the social role and then privately rejecting the principle.

People who do not hold absolute moral principles cannot engage in moral rationalization. In fact, they might hold that always considering the circumstances of the act, intentions of the agents and likely consequences of the act is rational deliberation.

People who do not hold absolute moral principles might do something similar to moral rationalization when they deceive themselves about the circumstances etc. in deliberation. For instance, a man might tell himself that she freely consented although he applied quite a bit of social pressure.

I am logically required, by acceptance of absolute moral principles and my model of Satan, to say that people who accept no absolute moral principles are under the influence of the Satanic temptation never to obey without question a moral principle. Of course,people who hold absolute moral principles but engage in moral rationalization are succumbing to the temptation of Satan as well as being logically inconsistent.

This talk of Satan is not as bizarre as it sounds at first. My model for angels is a model for new thoughts entering human thought. Human thought is that repository of thoughts available to all humans. Angels are beings capable of putting thoughts into human thought prior to any human individual thinking the thought. On my model Satan is the angel who put into human thought the thought of rejecting absolute moral rules.

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. I do not introduce anything like the notion of Satan in my book. I argue that the rejection of absolute moral principles for sexual activity ultimately leads to rejection of absolute moral principles for all activities. I go on to make a case that dismissal of all absolute moral principles leads to a stance that since everything in principle is permissible, nothing matters. 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.

Pope Francis on the Role of Satan in Sexual Abuse

Let us endorse Pope Francis recognition of the devil’s role in the sexual misconduct of some priests.

In this post I diagnose the action of the devil as insinuating the theory of the moral neutrality of sexual activity into human thought and profess that ultimately prayer in addition to reason is very helpful, if not needed, to combat the morally corrupting theory of the moral neutrality of sexuality.

As a reminder of Pope Francis’s thoughts on the role of the devil in sexual abuse, consider an excerpt from an April 1, 2019 National Catholic Register translation of of Pope Francis’ March 31, 2019 in flight press conference on his return flight from Rabat Morocco

In a question a Ms. Cristiana Caricato, TV2000. noted: “you often denounce the action of the devil, you did so also at the recent Vatican summit on abuse”.
Pope Francis emphasized his realistic stance about a devil by responding :

“I try to give you all the explanations and also the limits of the explanations. But there is a point that cannot be understood without the mystery of evil. Think of this: virtual child pornography.” . . .”this is not understood without the spirit of evil. It is a concrete problem. We must solve it concretely, but say that it is the spirit of evil.”. . . “to overcome the spirit of evil is not ‘washing one’s hands,’ saying ‘the devil does it,’ no. We too must struggle with the devil, as we must struggle with human things”.

I agree with Pope Francis that we must struggle with the devil. But how?

To resolve the sexual abuse crises we need to be clear about the misdeeds, we need to understand their causes and how to prevent the operation of those causes.. There are two kinds of misdeeds in the abuse crises. On one hand, there are the sexual acts of priests; usually with boys. On the other hand, there are the so called cover-up by clerical officials of the actual sexual misconduct. As a Catholic it is proper to regard the misdeeds as sins and their causes as temptations. Catholic tradition tells us that the world, the flesh and the devil are the sources of temptation to sin.

The sexual misdeeds always involve mortal sins: Always by the seducer and sometimes by the seduced. In this post, the focus is on the sources of the temptation to these mortal sins. In my opinion, many of the cover-ups are at most venial sins. Outright perjury is, of course, a mortal sin. I suspect, however, that many of the cover-ups were simply imprudent acts of mercy and forgiveness. We do not need to invoke the devil to explain imprudent acts of mercy and forgiveness. Any parent with a wayward child understands that temptation all too well as coming from a natural love for their children. Imprudent love for one’s children can be classed as a temptation coming from the flesh – human nature. I concede that it is almost certain that many of the cover-ups were motivated by a concern to protect the reputation of the clerical order. Such a temptation could be interpreted as coming from the world – concern about status in society. And the temptation could be called clericalism. It seems unlikely that concern about clerical rights and privileges are operative in a man lusting for a boy, or girl for that matter. Indeed, if a priest uses his clerical status to seduce a boy, lust explains his succumbing to temptation and “clericalism” only labels a means he has chosen to act out his temptation.

So-called clericalism is relevant for explaining the cover-ups; not the sexual sins. So let us turn to the role of the flesh and the devil in temptations to the actual sexual sins. Strong sexual desire, which I here equate with lust, may be a necessary condition for a sexual misdeed; but it is not sufficient for explaining sexual sins.

I propose that the devil by making available to us moral rationalization* techniques together with lust is almost sufficient for sexual sins. There still needs to be the free choice even after moral rationalization has concocted all sorts of excuses for setting aside moral rules.

In previous posts, I have sketched out how a devil corrupts human thought by providing moral rationalization techniques. One of the main posts is What is Satan?

Here is a brief synopsis of my model for the devil. God created an intelligence almost as great as his own. The function of this intelligence is to convey God’s thoughts to humans by placing God’s thoughts in human thought. (Angels are beings for conveying God’s thoughts.) Human thought comprises those thoughts which are somehow common to all human beings. Whoever thinks can think what is in human thought. God gave this supreme messenger free will. It could convey to human thought what God willed or it could choose to will something else. This supreme messenger rebelled by chosing to reserve to itself whether or not it would convey what God willed. Before conveying what God willed, it would consider whether or not it had reasons for passing on what God willed. This supreme messenger was the first moral rationalizer and it passed on to human thought this thought of rationalization-seeking reasons for setting aside the moral law.

Hesitating to obey an command known to come from God is illogical and immoral. By logic about the concept of God what comes from God is right and ought to be. So this moral rationalization of this supreme messenger is irrational and immoral.

In brief, the work of the devil is making available to human thought rationalizing thoughts for following the temptations of the world and flesh. In regard to sexual temptations the basic rationalizing technique is the thought of the moral neutrality of all sexual activity. According to this moral rationalizing thought there are always considerations which can justify any sexual activity. When under the pressure of lust simply thinking that there might be justifying considerations can lead one into succumbing to sexual desire.

So to struggle against the devil when sexual temptations arise is to block oneself from any rationalizing thoughts, which all depend upon the thought of the moral neutrality of sexual activity. Prayer and religious activity may not be necessary conditions for blocking rationalizing thoughts from becoming active in your thought. But I, and presumably those who have recommended prayer, have found that prayer and religious activity are sufficient for filling the mind with thoughts and sentiments which keep out rationalizing thoughts.

* I modify “rationalization” with “moral” because in general “rationalization” is an honorific term suggesting the removal of objections raised by reason. However, I intend “moral rationalization” to be a pejorative term. In moral rationalization, objections – reasons against- are raised which logically and morally ought not be raised. Indeed, my model of Satan is type of rationalization.

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. In my book, I argue that the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual activity ultimately undercuts all objective morality. 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.

Political Correctness Undercuts Apologies for Clerical Sexual Abuse

I am writing this post, shortly after the Vatican conference of bishops on sexual abuse. There, and elsewhere, lay Catholics as well as clergy are asked to learn to appreciate the deep suffering of and immense damage to all the boys and young men with whom priests performed homosexual acts.* Kathleen Beckman in her book Praying for Priests expressed well this call for sympathy and condemnation by writing “The weight of sorrow for the abuse victims is unspeakable, as is the pain of betrayal by clergy.” Leading clerics, including the Pope, offer public apologies with such words.

I am not responding well to the call for universal sympathy with the victims and righteous anger towards the perpetrators. I cannot sincerely endorse the apologies. The apologies sound like official vague pronouncements to make the officials look good and appease the public. But they do not make the officials look good. Nor do they appease the public. The condemnations and expressions of sympathy are overstated for the intended audience which, nonetheless demands overstatement which it will not accept as sincere.

In this post I attempt to diagnose why the official language seems so empty. The gist of my diagnosis is that the apologists are speaking primarily to an audience who believe that sexual activity is morally neutral but they use language which is appropriate only if they believe that there are special moral rules for sexual activity. Or put it this way. The audience wants the apologists to use the language appropriate to condemning the acts as intrinsically immoral and express regret that the boys on whom the acts were performed suffered moral corruption. But the audience does not believe that any sexual acts are intrinsically immoral but do believe that any harm done to the boys was psychological.

Let’s review the distinction between moral outlooks which hold that there are sex specific rules and those which hold that sexual activity is morally neutral by considering fellatio. Catholics should accept that there is a sex specific moral rule against fellatio. By this rule fellatio is intrinsically immoral. Under no circumstances, regardless of the mental states of the actors or consequences of the acting, it is immoral. Those who hold that sexual activity is morally neutral, hold that the morality of an act of fellatio depends upon the circumstance, mental states of the actors and the consequences of the action.

Now, only if you hold that fellatio is intrinsically immoral can you render unqualified moral condemnation on the seducer and hold without qualification that the seduced suffered the moral harm of moral corruption by being led into participation in an immoral act.

If I hold that the morality of fellatio of one male upon another is morally neutral, then the morality of the act depends upon the circumstances, the intentions of the participants and the consequences of the activity. Under the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual activity, that these cases of homosexual acts between priests and boys need to be investigated more closely on what moral judgments to make and how to allot our sympathy.

I think the failure of the apologies and expressions of sympathy fail because of so-called “political correctness.” Politically correct language is language the public demands but which they will believe is insincere.

*I discuss homosexual acts because I am a male. Homosexual acts are the only kind I can imagine for these cases. I have never experienced any attempt of a priest or religious professional to seduce me.
*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. In my book, I argue that the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual activity ultimately undercuts all objective morality. 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.

An Assumption in Moral Philosophy which is Subverting Catholic Sexual Morality

A luncheon talk delivered to the Downtown Serra Club of Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 11,2019 at St. Charles Preparatory by club member Charles F. Kielkopf, Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus) The Ohio State University

Why have I asked for the opportunity to talk with you about the philosophical foundations of sexual morality? As Serrans we are concerned with the formation of those in ordained ministries. We pray that they “may be found worthy of the ministry they have received.” Unfortunately, there are indications that ordained ministers, the seminarians they form and the laity to whom they minister have and use a moral theory containing as assumption about sexual morality subverting Catholic sexual morality. As a result, they are not faithful to the ministries they have received.

I have a negative and a positive goal for this short presentation. The negative goal is to specify this subversive assumption, note how it subverts traditional sexual morality, consider how it damages society and offer evidence that it is made by a significant plurality, if not a majority, of Catholics including influential priests and bishops. The positive goal is to remind ourselves that we have the resources to combat this destructive influence on Church teaching and practice. I will highlight the roles of moral philosophy amongst these resources.

What is this subversive assumption? The subversive assumption is that no sexual act by itself is morally forbidden. However, sexual acts can be morally forbidden when non-sexual factors are considered. Whether or not a sexual activity is morally permissible depends on factors apart from what is done such as the circumstances in which it is done, the intentions of the actors and the consequences of the act.

For instance, the moral permissibility of sexual intercourse between two OSU students who have just met at a party depends on factors such as whether they are tolerably sober enough to consent, have harmless intentions such as “just to have fun” and are well protected against the undesirable consequence of pregnancy in this circumstance of being unmarried. Given the subversive assumption this hookup is morally permissible. However, change the circumstances to her being too drunk to consent, it would be morally wrong. Note, though, that the activity is not condemned for any misuse of sexuality. The wrong is using an asset of the girl without her consent.

In my book,* I call this subversive assumption “moral nihilism.” There is nothing in our sexuality which shows us how to use it.

In moral theory, the assumption operates by placing only indirect or conditional moral restrictions on sexual activity. Theoretically the assumption leads to judgments that a sexual act is permissible if the parties involved are capable of giving consent, are informed about the circumstances and possible consequences, actually give consent and the desirable consequences outweigh the undesirable consequences. In daily practice, the assumption rationalizes a consensual sex act which after a quick and careless consideration seems harmless.

Use of this assumption obviously entails that masturbation is morally permissible as well as homosexual relations between consenting adults. It does not require much more thinking to figure out that moral theories using this assumption justify artificial birth control. These entailments clearly subvert Catholic sexual morality. Such theories are frequently thought of as progressive.

I want to emphasize that people using progressive moral theories sincerely believe that their moral judgments are correct. They frequently render severe moral condemnations of public policy and practice with respect to social justice and environment protection. These theories yield judgments consistent with most of Catholic social teaching. They will condemn some sex acts as abusive such as fellatio of a forty year old man on a twelve year old boy even if both enjoyed great pleasure.

Nonetheless, despite good intentions use of this assumption for progressive sexual morality has some undesirable consequences. It is the assumption justifying the sexual revolution and dissent from humane vitae. Dissent from humane vitae has seriously damaged our Church. The December 2018 issue of the Atlantic had an article noting a surprising undesirable consequence of the sexual revolution. Not only is there a decline in marriages but there is a decline in young people having sexual intercourse. They stay home and masturbate fired up by internet porn and play with sex toys. Masturbation is sure and safe sex because there are no worries about getting consent or STDs.

What are some indications that this subversive assumption is operative in the moral thinking of our Church? There has been little attention to sexual morality since dissent from humanae vitae. Presumably, it is not thought that the sexual practice of a large number of Catholics, which match those of the followers of the sexual revolution are not seriously wrong, if wrong at all. I saw a poster of the Ten Commandments outside a PSR classroom. The sixth commandment was written as: Never hurt anyone! St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical veritatis splendor was clearly directed against Catholic moral theologians whose underlying moral philosophies make this assumption. The language of high clerics addressing current scandals suggest that they make this assumption. They avoid directly condemning sexual sins as violating sex specific rules or proper use of sexuality. They speak only of general rules of justice as being violated.

Consider the term “clericalism.” “Clericalism” is used to designate use of clerical status to coerce consent. So, instead of condemning McCarrick’s homosexual acts, they accuse him of a misuse of power, Indeed, use of terms such as “abuse” and “cover-up” function to avoid naming and blaming specific sexual act as sexually immoral. If they believed that there were genuine sexual wrongs, preventing cover-ups would be secondary to uncovering the sins covered-up and rooting them out.

As long as this assumption is dominant in our Church we are threatened with corruption. Now for the positive part.

What is a contrary assumption about sexual morality? A contrary assumption is that from contemplation and analysis of the human good to be produced by human sexuality we can uncover what we ought to do to produce that good and of, greatest importance, uncover what we ought not do to frustrate attainment of the good of human sexuality. Articulation of such analyses express the natural law, which St. Paul tells us in Rom. 2, 11-15, is written in everyone’s heart. These articulations are expressed as categorical, unconditional or absolute, prohibitions of certain sexual acts.

For instance, A man must not intentionally seek an orgasm except in sexual intercourse, open to conception, with woman to whom he is committed for life to care for her and any children resulting from their intercourse. (I needed the better part of a book to justify this principle.) All other intentionally sought orgasms are intrinsically wrong. There are no circumstances, regardless of the intentions of the actors or the consequences of doing them which justify them.

Obviously, from this type of moral theory masturbation and homosexuality are intrinsically wrong. I regret to say it: But artificial birth control for a married couple falls on the wrong side of being right.

Why should ordained clergy and influential Catholic laity hold a moral theory which leads to a moral theology supporting traditional Catholic sexual morality? There are two reasons: One theoretical, the other practical. For many judgments, such as condemnation of homosexual acts, we want to hold the strong “You can’t do that because it is wrong.” As opposed to the weak sectarian judgment “You can’t do that because you are a Catholic.” The factual reason is that the Thomistic moral philosophy which supported Catholic moral theology for centuries lost status in the intellectual world. It got too wrapped up in how to make decisions in difficult cases without up-dating the underlying theory. And the theory was poorly defended. It was ridiculed even by many Catholics after humane vitae. Proponents could not quickly answer questions such as: If it is wrong to stop a spermatozoa from reaching an ovum, why isn’t wrong to stop a bead of sweat rolling down your forehead into your eye? After all both are just following nature.

Is there any hope for a moral philosophy which will support traditional Catholic sexual morality? And, of more importance, is there hope for resistance within the Church against the influence of the operative moral philosophy which, if left unchecked, will destroy our Church. The second question comes up because far more than philosophy is needed to defeat the sexual revolution which has snuck into the Church with this subversive assumption.

There is hope for a rigorous moral philosophy which deserves serious consideration in the philosophical world. This is the so-called New Natural Law Theory started by Germain Grisez of Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Some proponents are Robert P. George of Princeton and John Finnis of Oxford. It is still not seriously considered in the major secular universities.

Philosophy departments in the major secular universities determine what is to be taken seriously by other secular philosophy departments and Catholic philosophy departments which try to be like them. There is my effort to found a Kantian sexual moral philosophy in line with Catholic thought. I fear that it is a long shot for recognition; let alone acceptance. As a philosophical resource there is St. John Paul II’s theology of the body which can found a sexual moral philosophy with a sensitive analysis of the good of human sexuality

Non-philosophical weapons are available.
1. Millions of Catholics simply will not accept progressive sexual morality. They may not hold any moral philosophy or moral theology but the traditional sexual morality is written in their hearts.
2. The Church has not changed her teachings on sexual morality. And the weight of traditional will most likely prevent any changes.
3. Traditional Catholics have not remained silent when confronted with progressive sexual morality in society and the Church. For instance, we have EWTN, the National Catholic Register, Programs such as TMIY.
4 We have the promise that God will not abandon us. However, we must pray and work not to become in effect abandon by succumbing to a sense of abandonment.

A final suggestion is that perhaps as Serrans we should consider finding a way to exercise concern about the moral philosophy taught in seminaries.

*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. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. I have not changing the basic line of argument in my book. But in these blog posts I am developing better ways of expressing my argument by staying with the language of common sense and removing topics and language which could at best be of interest to professional academic philosophers. 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.

The Intercourse Theory of Conception

Don’t these people know about the intercourse theory of conception? That’s what I cynically ask myself when I read novels in which the author sends his characters merrily off, for all sorts of reasons, to start baby-making.

That sexual intercourse between a man and woman is the cause of conception is one of our best established theories. Coupled with awareness of this theory comes those positive and negative thoughts and feelings about sexuality. We realize its importance for human survival, pleasures and love. Yet we dread its disruptive power.

The intercourse theory of conception, and accompanying thoughts and feelings are common sense. Suddenly, it struck me that the way to make my defense of traditional sexual morality clearer is to stay with common sense. I am not saying that acceptance of traditional sexual morality is part of common sense. However, the beliefs and concepts used in a strong case for traditional sexual morality are expressible in the every day language with which we talk about sex. The argument does not need some special philosophical vocabulary and system. The ideas we use to talk about relationships, to give advice, to teach children about sex, to gossip, etc., are sufficient to follow, accept or reject the argument. The importance of emphasizing that the argument goes on at the common sense level is that it has to be given serious attention. It cannot be ignored as coming from some special religion or philosophy. It is not necessary to develop a special philosophical vocabulary and then show that use of this conceptual scheme is the correct way to represent reality as it is.

In my book, I tended to develop too much special vocabulary and explicitly draw upon the philosopher Kant. I am not changing the basic themes of the book. But I am setting aside ways of speaking, issues and scholarship which would be of interest to academic philosophers, reference to other philosophers and intriguing philosophical puzzles. I will write for the intelligent lay person using terms of everyday life. Of course, this does not eliminate the critical thinking need for making distinctions and defining how some crucial terms will be used in discussion. But critical thinking is common sense.

There are other common sense concepts whose use we need not justify. The language of morality: right, wrong, good, evil etc. does not need defense. We do not need to show that we have a right to talk about right and wrong. We do make the distinction between the results of natural processes we can alter and the results of natural processes, such as the getting of agreements by promises, which it is wrong to frustrate by lying. We do not need to justify using the notions of good character, a way a person ought to be, and a meaning for life. If we try to show that we are entitle to talk at the common sense level, we start an endless regress of justifying our ways of thinking. This undercuts giving an effective argument.

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. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. I have not changing the basic line of argument in my book. But in these blog posts I am developing better ways of expressing my argument by staying with the language of common sense and removing topics and language which could at best be of interest to professional academic philosophers. 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.

Masturbation & Sexual Nihilism

“Sexual nihilism” is a philosophic term labeling a theory that sexuality has no deep significance. For ordinary conversation the term describes a grim human condition. In the November 14, 2018 New York Times op-ed section Ross Douthat writes of empty lives reflexing empty sexual morality. See: The Huxley Trap: How technology and masturbation tamed the sexual revolution.

Sexual nihilists teach that sexuality itself sets no moral limits on how we seek sexual satisfaction. For sexual nihilists the only restriction on attaining sexual satisfaction is that no one is forced to participate. If there is consent anything goes! Masturbation could easily be a preferred sexual practice. There is no problem of getting consent. Lack of imagination might reduce the satisfactions available. In these times, technology fills this lack with internet pornography.

The so-called sexual revolution of the sixties was the teaching of sexual nihilism by culture forming elites and popular acceptance of the teaching. Douthat reminds us that conservatives predicted widespread sexual licentiousness. There has been some of that. But there is nothing like the wild on-going orgies that worried some conservatives. The reality is duller and more depressing. Ross Douthat reports on studies showing many – under forties- are not dating let alone marrying and having children. Without being gay, they associate mostly with members of their own sex. Their sexual inclinations are exacerbated by pornography and satisfied by masturbation.

In passing, remember that pornography loses its erotic power as users become familiar with it. There is a temptation to seek out sexual images with ever more power to excite. This leads to downloading child-porn and sadistic porn with terrible legal consequences. So, the flight from seeking consenting partners is not safe from disastrous social consequences.

However, the disastrous consequences with respect to the significance of one’s life – a sense of life having a purpose – are even worse. Call these existential consequences. By nature homo sapiens, the human animal has thoughts about right, wrong, good, evil, life having a point or purpose. It is not just theory that says we have the purpose of having children. We feel that command of nature. That’s why I linked to Douthat’s column. A good writer makes us aware of the bleakness of a way of life in which sexuality is morally and existentially pointless. We cannot make sense of our lives if we trivialize our constant sexual inclinations as having no significance other than opportunities for brief episodes of intense pleasure.

Reflect on how dreadful our sexuality seems when we look at it as a means simply for trivial pleasures. We set our sexuality apart from ourselves. It is too trivial to have any important goal keeping us alive. We need to eat. We do not need sexual climaxes. Still we cannot ignore it. It constantly makes demands on us. It is almost like a “demon” driving us to seek trivial satisfactions which are not lasting satisfactions.

In my book, I call this grim condition “sexual alienation.” On one hand, sexuality is too trivial to be an important feature of who we are. On the other hand, sexuality is an external force driving us to act in ways which have bad consequences unless we exercise constant vigilance.

My book on sexual morality cites the existential need for setting aside sexual alienation as the solution for the selection problem. The selection problem was justifying a moral claim that the natural functions of sexuality are not to be intentionally inhibited when, in general, there are no moral restrictions on inhibiting the natural functions of natural processes.

Consider a bit more evidence that upholders of traditional sexual morality were not over emphasizing the crucial moral and existential place of sex. The #metoo movement is in part a rebellion against the insinuation that sexuality, and thereby women, is mostly insignificant fun. Recall also the harrowing recurrent recollections of people who were inflicted with “sexual play” by adults .

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. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. 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.

Values Are As Fundamental As Facts

Our goal is to show that basic moral rules of traditional sexual morality are correct rules because they adequately express the structure of nature or reality. There is a widespread assumption, some times called scientism, that nature apart from human thinking and feeling consists only of facts and scientific laws of nature Scientism is an assumption that moral laws and values cannot adequately express the structure of nature.

A question of these blog posts is whether or not moral laws, especially the laws of traditional sexual morality, adequately express the structure of nature. So it is a fallacy of begging-the-question to assume scientism.

There is no reason to assume scientism. Factual thinking and moral thinking are equally fundamental in that part of nature where there is obviously thinking. That part of nature is human thinking. Without special effort to control how we think, our thinking is a complex mixture of thinking what is, what is not along with what ought to be and what ought not to be. Thinking about what is can be called descriptive thinking while thinking about what ought to be is normative thinking. There is no escape from this mixture of descriptive and normative thinking.. If we raise the question of whether or not we ought to control our thinking to get the facts before making any judgments about what ought or ought not be done, we have obviously already thought about what ought or ought not be done.

So, if thinking represents reality or nature, nature contains both what is the case and what ought to be the case. If we use seeing as a model for getting the facts and hearing as a model for responding to the normativity in nature, both looking and listening are crucial for thinking correctly about nature.

This line of thought takes the approach of so-called modern philosophy initiated by Descartes, (1596-1650). This modern approach of philosophy specifies that we start philosophizing by paying attention to our thinking. Of course, assuming that we start critical thinking about reality by paying attention to our thinking about reality is not to assume that reality is nothing but thinking. In a thought there can be that which makes it be something real apart from thinking.

The modern approach leaves room for a skeptical doubt that there is nothing but thinking. In all our philosophical thinking we are thinking about thinking. We do not directly encounter the being which makes our thoughts a reality we encounter. So, it is not logically inconsistent to suggest that our thoughts are not real. But is it not clear that when we encounter thinking we are encounter something real – something which has being? So, we can set aside the suggestion that there is no being except thinking.

I will avoid discussing these fundamental issues about reality in subsequent blog posts. But it must be admitted that my arguments for laws of traditional sexual morality, presuppose that there is a reality which our descriptive and normative thinking can accurately represent.

My book on sexual morality makes this assumption of realism. 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. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. 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.

Sexual Satisfaction is Not a Good To Be Distributed Fairly

The purpose of this post is to sketch out why some might erroneously think that, for the sake of justice, we should revise traditional sexual morality. In his 1986 Letter to Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in Section 9 “One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination.” It is thought that supporting traditional sexual morality treats homosexuals unfairly. Hence, to avoid supporting the allegedly unfair social practice of accepting the moral rules of traditional sexual morality we should work to revise the practice. However, the reasoning for revision is question-begging.

Many practicing homosexuals are, aside from performance of their homosexual acts, rather decent people; no better, no worse than many heterosexuals. For simplicity’s think only of consensual acts where the consent is informed. However, according to the traditional sexual morality still upheld by the Catholic Church, and this blogger, the sexual satisfaction of homosexuals are attained immorally.

The moral condemnation of the means for attaining the satisfaction (pleasure) degrades the satisfaction of the homosexual acts. The satisfactions are thought of ,and felt, as dirty in the sense of “dirt” as something out of place. This dirtiness is felt amongst other negative feelings as being shameful. The homosexual satisfactions are designated as out of place by being judged as attained immorally. Pleasures are not separable from thoughts involved with having them. Thoughts involve what a community thinks. So if a community thinks negatively of a pleasure because of its moral rules, the sensation as something good is diminished for the one having it as well as in the eyes of the community. Human sexual satisfaction is social; not purely personal.

I hope that I have made somewhat clear how it seems that endorsement of traditional sexual morality is endorsement of a system which distributes something good to heterosexuals which is denied to homosexuals.

There is, then, a temptation to think the traditional rules call for an unfair distribution of the good of sexual satisfaction. Two men who are very similar except one desires heterosexual satisfactions while the other desires homosexual satisfactions are treated differently. The heterosexual is allowed having his sexual satisfactions classed as legitimate or natural. The homosexual is denied having his satisfactions classed as legitimate or natural and thereby denied enjoying his sexual satisfactions as genuinely good.

Admittedly there is a discrimination here in distribution of a good. However, the distribution is unfair only if there is no valid moral rule authorizing the discrimination. The traditional moral rules authorize the discrimination. Concluding that the traditional moral rules are invalid because they authorize the discrimination is to conclude that they are invalid because they authorize a discrimination which is unfair. But adding which is unfair it is assumed that the traditional moral rules are not valid. But in this discussion the question at issue is whether or not the traditional moral rules are valid. So in discussion of their fairness it is logically inappropriate to assume that the traditional moral rules are not valid.

My book on sexual morality makes a philosophical case for traditional sexual morality. 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. 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.

Theology of the Body Presupposes Rules for Sexual Morality

As I read Theology of the Body*, it proposes that sexual love is a nearly perfect model of God’s love for humans. Of course, not any expression of sexual love provides such a model. It needs to be proper sexual love. To identify proper sexual love we need moral rules specifying what is morally proper sexual expressions of love. So theology of the body does not provide a sexual morality; rather it presupposes a sexual morality. This presupposed sexual morality is traditional Catholic sexual morality. What do we learn from Theology of the Body?

It shows the beauty of proper sexual expression of love. Thereby, theology of the body provides what is actually most important for sexual morality: Motivation to follow it. It is not hard to understand: Do not commit adultery. It is difficult to obey in deed and thought.

*Theology of the Body is the topic of a series of 129 lectures given by Pope John Paul II during his Wednesday audiences in St. Peter’s Square and the Paul VI Audience Hall between September 5, 1979 and November 28, 1984. It constitutes an analysis on human sexuality, and is considered as the first major teaching of his pontificate. The complete addresses were later compiled and expanded upon in many of John Paul’s encyclicals,

My book on sexual morality does not refer to theology of the body. I only try to make a case for the rules of proper sexual morality. Both justiciation of rules and motivation are essential for a full sexual morality.

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 $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.