Reconsideration of Justifying a Moral Principle

The previous post reflections on combining duty and love in moral thinking have significantly altered my beliefs on how to conduct the aspect of moral thinking which is justifying to my self and persuading others that a moral rule is correct.

A goal for writing blog posts has been to discover a better way of justifying a moral principle than I used in my book** to justify what I called a fundamental principle for male sexuality. I sensed that I had ignored something important.

Essentially the principle stated: A male should not intentionally seek an orgasm except in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom he had a life-long commitment to care for her and any child resulting from their intercourse.

Also in my book I had introduced a notion of moral harm which I have been exploring and developing in many of my recent posts. This exploration of moral harm, which is harm which ought to be, led me to fundamental contradiction in moral thinking. The contradiction, which must be resolved in some way to avoid irrationality, led me to the judgment that reflective moral thinking, which is moral thinking after resolution of the fundamental contradiction, will be a humanly constructed conceptual scheme or stance on how moral thinking ought to be conducted.

To justify a moral rule requires thinking about -reflecting upon- moral thinking for the rule is in moral thinking. Because justifying a moral principal is always in reflective moral thinking and hence within a conceptual scheme we need to concede that our justification are based on the assumptions of our stance. Consequently, we need to concede that some intelligent people who think consistently about morality may reject our justifications without being irrational.

In my book, I had already conceded that justifications of moral principles would be relative to a stance. So, I conceded that justifications of moral rules could have only persuasive or rhetorical force.

For me, justification of a moral rule would be bipartite. First, there would be acceptance of the rule as correct within in a stance. This is showing that the rule is a principle of reasoning, even if reasoning from a stance. Second, there would be discovering in daily life that the moral authority commanded the rule. The moral authority’s command would confirm the stance.

However, what I had overlooked in my book was trying to show that the rule in question promoted and protected some basic human good*. In short, I totally overlooked the need for love in moral thinking!

I argued that the proposed rule for male sexuality was the simplest rule for male sexuality. Its simplicity made it the only genuine rule for male sexuality because once qualifications are made the proposed sexual moral rules become at best some kind of guideline. I then argued that some rule for male sexuality is better than none. I pointed out that lawless sexuality readily leads to nihilism.

I now realize that a complete justification for a moral rule needs to show that the rule is proper rule – a rule of reason- within the stance. But also show how it promotes and protects basic human goods.

*The New Natural Law view holds that practical reason, that is, reason oriented towards action, grasps as self-evidently desirable a number of basic goods. These goods, which are described as constitutive aspects of genuine human flourishing, include life and health; knowledge and aesthetic experience; skilled work and play; friendship; marriage; harmony with God, and harmony among a person’s judgments, choices, feelings, and behavior. From an essay by Christopher Tollefsen on The New Natural Law Theory. See New Natural Law Basic Goods .

I am not a new natural law theorist because I do not claim that reason grasps certain goods as self evident. I simply believe that it is highly probable people will find the proposed goods as highly desirable and thereby many will be persuaded to accept as morally binding rules which promote and protect them.

** 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.