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.





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