Jun 122014
 

Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers:

In a town in western Ireland, where castle ruins pepper green landscapes, there’s a six-foot stone wall that once surrounded a place called the Home. Between 1925 and 1961, thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the Home, run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam.

Many of the women, after paying a penance of indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy, left the Home for work and lives in other parts of Ireland and beyond. Some of their children were not so fortunate.

More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed — where a housing development and children’s playground now stands — what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: Their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins.

That — and the abuse, neglect, and ostracism suffered by these children detailed in the article — is a painful reminder of the evil of stigmatizing children born out of wedlock. Speaking generally, raising children is difficult and demanding work — mentally, emotionally, and financially. I see the value of bearing and raising children within the stability and support of a family — particularly in less wealthy cultures where women don’t have the resources or capacity to raise and support a child on their own. Yet that’s a far cry from demanding that any pregnant woman marry her sperm donor, regardless of his suitability as a husband. And it’s light years away from subjecting innocent children to the torture of abandonment, neglect, abuse, ostracism, and perhaps death because their life is the result of religious sin.

This is one of the many ways in which western culture is so much better than it was, even just 100 years ago. I don’t want to go back!

Update: The burial location wasn’t a septic tank, as this Forbes article explains, but instead a kind of mass grave:

Today the Irish Times has published a reader’s letter that has further undercut the story. Finbar McCormick, a professor of geography at Queen’s University Belfast, sharply admonished the media for describing the children’s last resting place as a septic tank. He added: “The structure as described is much more likely to be a shaft burial vault, a common method of burial used in the recent past and still used today in many part of Europe.

“In the 19th century, deep brick-lined shafts were constructed and covered with a large slab which often doubled as a flatly laid headstone. These were common in 19th-century urban cemeteries…..Such tombs are still used extensively in Mediterranean countries. I recently saw such structures being constructed in a churchyard in Croatia. The shaft was made of concrete blocks, plastered internally and roofed with large concrete slabs.

That’s all well and good, but not really essential to the point that I’m making about the story. Honestly, I don’t care too much about how the dead bodies were treated: I care about how living people — pregnant girls, mothers, and children — were treated. That’s not under dispute.

 

I found that photo on Facebook a while back, with the following caption:

This photo was posted on STFU, Conservatives Tumblr page last night [here]. The reason why I’m sharing it is not because of the photo itself (which is epic in it’s [sic] own right), but for the comments it generated.

One person wrote, “but then again, its kind like putting a meat suit on and telling a shark not to eat you”.

STFU responded (with bolded text):

We (men) are not fucking sharks!

We are not rabid animals living off of pure instinct

We are capable of rational thinking and understanding.

Just because someone is cooking food doesn’t mean you’re entitled to eat it.

Just because a banker is counting money doesn’t mean you’re being given free money.

Just because a person is naked doesn’t mean you’re entitled to fuck them.

You are not entitled to someone else’s body just because it’s exposed.

What is so fucking difficult about this concept?

Bravo.

Indeed. Also, Laura Jedeed has some really excellent comments on rape and this image too.

Happily, the rights of women in western countries are more widely recognized and better protected today than at any other time in human history. That’s a huge achievement, and part of why I’m grateful to live in modern America.

However, more progress awaits us. One example was in the news last year:

A recent court case just exposed a barbarity in California law, namely that it’s not rape to trick an unmarried woman into sleeping with you by pretending to be her boyfriend.

Julio Morales was convicted and sentenced to three years in state prison for entering an 18-year-old woman’s bedroom and instigating sex with her while she was asleep after a night of drinking at a house party in 2009. According to prosecutors, it wasn’t until “light coming through a crack in the bedroom door illuminated the face of the person having sex with her” that she realized Morales wasn’t her boyfriend. Holy shit.

But a panel of judges overturned the conviction this week because of a law from 1872 that doesn’t give women the same protections as married women because, as we all know, single women are always down for nonconsensual sex, even when they’re asleep and/or purposefully tricked into the act.

The court admitted that “If the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband” it would be rape. But since there was no ring on her finger, it’s not!

Eugene Volokh had some comments here. I agree that rape by fraud shouldn’t be a punishable offense, except in cases of impersonation of a lover or spouse. (I’m not sure of the case of mere friends.) As Eugene says of such impersonation:

It is, thankfully, apparently a rare sort of lie; it is very far outside the normal level of dishonesty that people expect might happen in their relationships; it is one for which there is no plausible justification or mitigation; and criminalizing it is unlikely to sweep in the garden variety lies that, unfortunately, often appear in people’s sexual and romantic lives.

California law obviously needs to be updated.

Here’s another example. The 2012 election was replete with politicians making ridiculous and offensive comments about rape in order to rationalize their across-the-board opposition to abortion. Most notable was Todd Akin’s justification for denying abortions to women pregnant due to rape:

… from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Conservatives need to recognize that forced pregnancy — not just pregnancy due to rape but any unwanted pregnancy — is a morally abhorrent violation of rights, not a gift from God.

Alas, the third example hits closer to home for me. In a February 2012 podcast, Leonard Peikoff said that a man is entitled to force himself on a woman if she has a few drinks with him and then goes up to his hotel room. Thankfully, he corrected that a few weeks later, but only in part. By a rather strange analysis, Peikoff concluded that a woman cannot withdraw consent after penetration. In reality, that means that the man can do whatever he pleases to the woman after penetration, even as she kicks and screams and yells and cries in protest. That’s seriously, seriously wrong — and dangerous too.

On a more positive note, you’ll find my own views on the nature and limits of consent in sex in this podcast. (It’s a pretty lengthy discussion… about over 40 minutes.)

Ultimately, my point here is that the rights of women matter — and they’re not yet fully protected. The image at the top of this post reminds us of that. The fact that she’s half-naked doesn’t make her any less of a person with the absolute right to forbid another person access to her body.

That’s a lesson that some people still need to learn, unfortunately.

 

The half price sale on my podcast on finding good prospects for romance and friendship is ending soon… so now’s the time to buy it! It’s just $10 now, but that sale price will expire on January 20th.

You can find more information about the podcast below, as well as order it. If it’s a gift, just let me know that (and the email address of the recipient) in the comments field on the order form.

About the Podcast

Many people lament the difficulty of finding good prospects for a lasting, deep, and happy romance. Others have trouble finding worthwhile friends. Yet most people who bemoan the lack of prospects could be doing much more than they are to increase their odds of success. Too many people don’t adopt a purposeful approach but instead wait passively… and complain. This 90-minute podcast discusses how to make yourself a good prospect — and how to find good prospects — for romance and friendship.

The structure of podcast:

  • Opening remarks
  • A bit of theory:
    • Types of social relationships, visualized as a target
    • Major axes of compatibility in relationships
  • Practical advice:
    • Make yourself a good prospect
    • Expand your social network
    • Engage with other people
    • Cultivate your social skills
  • Questions and answers from pledgers:
    • How can a person get better at evaluating other people’s characters when meeting them?
    • When should I reveal a psychological problem like bipolar disorder to someone I’m dating?
  • Closing remarks

Remember, the podcast doesn’t just concern finding good prospects for romance but also for friendship. So even if you’re happily attached, you’ll likely find the techniques of use.

Purchase the Podcast

This podcast was originally funded by pledges, and it’s now available for purchase for half-price — just $10 — until January 20th. You can pay online via Dwolla or PayPal. Or you can send a check or money order via the US Mail, including with your bank’s bill pay service. If you want to pay by some other method, choose “Other” below and explain in the comments. I recommend using Dwolla: it’s a payment system with lower fees, stronger security, and better interface design than PayPal. A Dwolla account is free and easy to create.

Terms of Sale: You may share the podcast with members of your household, but not beyond that. Do not ever post the podcast in any public forum.

Name:
Email:
Item:Podcast: Finding Good Prospects for Romance and Friendship ($15)
Add a tip? Total:
Payment Method:
Comments/Questions:
I’d love to hear what motivated your purchase in these comments.
 

Once you submit this form, you’ll be automatically redirected to a page for payment. Within 24 hours of the receipt of payment, you will receive an email with information on how to access your purchase. If you have any questions or further comments, please email me at diana@philosophyinaction.com.

To order multiple items from Philosophy in Action, use this form. To create a recurring tip, use this form.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me. If you’ve already purchased this podcast, you can access it via its private page with your login and password. If you have forgotten that, just e-mail me.

What Do You Go for in a Girl?

 Posted by on 31 December 2013 at 10:00 am  Literature, Love/Sex, Sexism
Dec 312013
 

This video asks: What do you go for in a girl? The answer might surprise you!

(H/T to Howard)

 

If you’ve been interested in my podcast on finding good prospects for romance and friendship, now’s the time to buy it! It’s on sale for half price — just $10 — until January 20th.

You can find more information about the podcast below, as well as order it. If it’s a gift, just let me know that (and the email address of the recipient) in the comments field on the order form.

About the Podcast

Many people lament the difficulty of finding good prospects for a lasting, deep, and happy romance. Others have trouble finding worthwhile friends. Yet most people who bemoan the lack of prospects could be doing much more than they are to increase their odds of success. Too many people don’t adopt a purposeful approach but instead wait passively… and complain. This 90-minute podcast discusses how to make yourself a good prospect — and how to find good prospects — for romance and friendship.

The structure of podcast:

  • Opening remarks
  • A bit of theory:
    • Types of social relationships, visualized as a target
    • Major axes of compatibility in relationships
  • Practical advice:
    • Make yourself a good prospect
    • Expand your social network
    • Engage with other people
    • Cultivate your social skills
  • Questions and answers from pledgers:
    • How can a person get better at evaluating other people’s characters when meeting them?
    • When should I reveal a psychological problem like bipolar disorder to someone I’m dating?
  • Closing remarks

Remember, the podcast doesn’t just concern finding good prospects for romance but also for friendship. So even if you’re happily attached, you’ll likely find the techniques of use.

Purchase the Podcast

This podcast was originally funded by pledges, and it’s now available for purchase for half-price — just $10 — until January 20th. You can pay online via Dwolla or PayPal. Or you can send a check or money order via the US Mail, including with your bank’s bill pay service. If you want to pay by some other method, choose “Other” below and explain in the comments. I recommend using Dwolla: it’s a payment system with lower fees, stronger security, and better interface design than PayPal. A Dwolla account is free and easy to create.

Terms of Sale: You may share the podcast with members of your household, but not beyond that. Do not ever post the podcast in any public forum.

Name:
Email:
Item:Podcast: Finding Good Prospects for Romance and Friendship ($15)
Add a tip? Total:
Payment Method:
Comments/Questions:
I’d love to hear what motivated your purchase in these comments.
 

Once you submit this form, you’ll be automatically redirected to a page for payment. Within 24 hours of the receipt of payment, you will receive an email with information on how to access your purchase. If you have any questions or further comments, please email me at diana@philosophyinaction.com.

To order multiple items from Philosophy in Action, use this form. To create a recurring tip, use this form.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me. If you’ve already purchased this podcast, you can access it via its private page with your login and password. If you have forgotten that, just e-mail me.

The Affordable Relationship Protection Act

 Posted by on 20 November 2013 at 10:00 am  Funny, Love/Sex, Medicine, Politics
Nov 202013
 

Chris Land posted this to Facebook yesterday, and it’s too awesome not to share:

Announcing the AFFORDABLE RELATIONSHIP PROTECTION ACT

Looking for a romantic partner takes time, energy and money. Sadly, many American adults are currently unrelationshipped. Who can they turn to in need? To whichever institution is in the best position to help, that’s who!

A few years after the passage of the Affordable Relationship Protection Act, the website YourLoveMatch.gov will go live. Unrelationshipped adults can then create an online profile with the help of specially funded Coaches. Based on your individual selection criteria, an exciting new partner will be assigned in 4-6 weeks. Love at last!

To provide the necessary funding, all adults will be required to set up an account or face a small penalty (this is not a tax unless it needs to be for legal reasons). Those already in a relationship will be required to register that relationship. Government is what we do together.

IF YOU LIKE YOUR PARTNER, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PARTNER. Any significant changes (like change of job or residence or a new tattoo) will require re-registration. Approval will be routine unless you’ve selected a substandard partner. In those rare cases, your new partner will be a big improvement!

Sure there will be a few bugs to work out. A few kinks, some bumps in the road. But let’s all keep the end goal – happy relationships for everyone! – firmly in mind. Anyone against this WANTS people to be unhappy. Stride forward, comrades! Forward to the future!

I’m looking forward to upgrading my substandard partner soon! Sure, I’ll have to pay a bit more, but I’ll get something much better, right? Right?!?

Oct 102013
 

This excellent blog post on Kant’s various crazy views by UC Riverside philosophy professor Eric Schwitzgebel details some of the crazy views that I covered in my recent broadcast on Kant’s views on sex. It’s worth reading though for its tidbits on including on organ donation, women in politics, and more.

At the end of the post, Schwitzgebel draws two lessons, both worthy of consideration:

First, from our cultural distance, it is evident that Kant’s arguments against masturbation, for the return of wives to abusive husbands, etc., are gobbledy-gook. This should make us suspicious that there might be other parts of Kant, too, that are gobbledy-gook, for example, the stuff that transparently reads like gobbledy-gook, such as the transcendental deduction, and such as his claims that his various obviously non-equivalent formulations of the fundamental principle of morality are in fact “so many formulations of precisely the same law” (Groundwork, 4:436, Zweig trans.). I read Kant as a master at promising philosophers what they want and then effusing a haze of words with glimmers enough of hope that readers can convince themselves that there is something profound underneath.

Second, Kant’s philosophical moral reasoning appears mainly to have confirmed his prejudices and the ideas inherited from his culture. We should be nervous about expecting more from the philosophical moral reasoning of people less philosophically capable than Kant.

I added the bold, because I think that’s so damn true. Kant does not merely handwave on occasion. So many of Kant’s arguments are rationalistic, pie-in-the-sky handwaving, where mere associations between words are supposed to give the force of argument.

My only point of disagreement is that I strongly suspect that the various horrifying ethical claims surveyed in the blog post were significant worse than the prejudices of his culture. For example, children born out of wedlock might have been stigmatized, but I doubt that more than a few crazies thought they could be killed with impunity. Then again, maybe I’m overestimating the moral culture of Königsberg.

Sep 132013
 

On Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Radio, I’ll answer a question about Immanuel Kant’s views on sex. I was hoping that someone would submit such a question when I mentioned the topic on the 30 June 2013 show. I was not disappointed!

For my listeners who want to read what Kant has to say on the topic for himself, I offer the following selections from his writings. These are drawn from the course packet for the Introduction to Ethics class that I taught as a graduate student at CU Boulder. Yes, I did force my poor little undergrads to discuss Kant’s views on masturbation in class! Fun times, those were!

As you’ll see, these writings are far more clear than Kant’s metaphysical writings. So … um … enjoy!

Kant – The Moral Use of Sexuality

Immanuel Kant. Lectures on Ethics. Translated by Louis Infield (with some revisions by me).

Amongst our inclinations there is one which is directed towards other human beings. They themselves, and not their work and services, are its objects of enjoyment. It is true that man has no inclination to enjoy the flesh of another–except, perhaps, in the vengeance of war, and then it is hardly a desire–but nonetheless there does exist an inclination which we may call an appetite for enjoying another human being. We refer to sexual impulse. Man can, of course, use another human being as an instrument for his service; he can use his hands, his feet, and even all his powers; he can use him for his own purposes with the other’s consent. But there is no way in which a human being can be made an object of indulgence for another except through sexual impulse. This is in the nature of a sense, which we can call the sixth sense; it is an appetite for another human being.

We say that a man loves someone when he has an inclination towards another person. If by this love we mean true human love, then it admits of no distinction between types of persons, or between young and old. But a love that springs merely from sexual impulse cannot be love at all, but only appetite. Human love is good will, affection, promoting the happiness of others and finding joy in their happiness. But it is clear that, when a person loves another purely from sexual desire, none of these factors enter into the love. Far from there being any concern for the happiness of the loved one, the lover, in order to satisfy his desire and still his appetite, may even plunge the loved one into the depths of misery. Sexual love makes of the loved person an object of appetite; as soon as that appetite has been stifled, the person is cast aside as one casts away a lemon which has been sucked dry.

Sexual love can, of course, be combined with human love and so carry with it the characteristics of the latter, but taken by itself and for itself, it is nothing more than appetite. Taken by itself it is a degradation of human nature; for as soon as a person becomes an object of appetite for another, all motives of moral relationship cease to function, because as an object of appetite for another a person becomes a thing and can be treated and used as such by every one. This is the only case in which a human being is designed by nature as the object of another’s enjoyment. Sexual desire is at the root of it; and that is why we are ashamed of it, and why all strict moralists and those who had pretensions to be regarded as saints, sought to suppress and extirpate it. It is true that without it a man would be incomplete; he would rightly believe that he lacked the necessary organs, and this would make him imperfect as a human being; nonetheless men made pretence on this question and sought to suppress these inclinations because they degraded mankind.

Because sexuality is not an inclination which one human being has for another as such, but is an inclination for the sex of another, it is a principle of the degradation of human nature, in that it gives rise to the preference of one sex to the other, and to the dishonoring of that sex through the satisfaction of desire. The desire which a man has for a woman is not directed towards her because she is a human being, but because she is a woman; that she is a human being is of no concern to the man; only her sex is the object of his desires. Human nature is thus subordinated. Hence it comes that all men and women do their best to make not their human nature but their sex more alluring and direct their activities and lusts entirely towards sex. Human nature is thereby sacrificed to sex. If then a man wishes to satisfy his desire, and a woman hers, they stimulate each other’s desire; their inclinations meet, but their object is not human nature but sex, and each of them dishonors the human nature of the other. They make of humanity an instrument for the satisfaction of their lusts and inclinations, and dishonor it by placing it on a level with animal nature. Sexuality, therefore, exposes mankind to the danger of equality with the beasts.

But as man has this desire from nature, the question arises how far he can properly make use of it without to his manhood. How far may persons allow one of the opposite sex to satisfy his or her desire upon them? Can they sell themselves, or let themselves out on hire, or by some other contract allow use to be made of their sexual faculties?

Philosophers generally point out the harm done by this inclination and the ruin it brings the body or to the commonwealth, and they believe that, except for the harm it does, there would be nothing contemptible in such conduct in itself. But if this were so, and if giving vent to this desire was not in itself abominable and did not involve immorality, then any one who could avoid being harmed by them could make whatever use he wanted of his sexual propensities. For the prohibitions of prudence are never unconditional; and the conduct would in itself be unobjectionable, and would only be harmful under certain conditions. But in point of fact, there is in the conduct itself something which is contemptible and contrary to the dictates of morality. It follows, therefore, that there must be certain conditions under which alone the use of the sexual faculties would be in keeping with morality. There must be a basis for restraining our freedom in the use we make of our inclinations so that they conform to the principles of morality. We shall endeavor to discover these conditions and this basis.

Man cannot dispose over himself because he is not a thing; he is not his own property; to say that he is would be self-contradictory; for in so far as he is a person he is a Subject in whom the ownership of things can be vested, and if he were his own property, he would be a thing over which he could have ownership. But a person cannot be a property and so cannot be a thing which can be owned, for it is impossible to be a person and a thing, the proprietor and the property.

Accordingly, a man is not at his own disposal. He is not entitled to sell a limb, not even one of his teeth. But to allow one’s person for profit to be used by another for the satisfaction of sexual desire, to make of oneself an object of demand, is to dispose over oneself as over a thing and to make of oneself a thing on which another satisfies his appetite, just as he satisfies his hunger upon a steak. But since the inclination is directed towards one’s sex and not towards one’s humanity, it is clear that one thus partially sacrifices one’s humanity and thereby runs a moral risk.

Human beings are, therefore, not entitled to offer themselves, for profit, as things for the use of others in the satisfaction of their sexual propensities. In so doing they would run the risk of having their person used by all and sundry as an instrument for the satisfaction of inclination. This way of satisfying sexuality is prostitution, in which one satisfies the inclinations of others for gain. It is possible for either sex. To let one’s person out on hire and to surrender it to another for the satisfaction of his sexual desire in return for money is the depth of infamy. The underlying moral principle is that man is not his own property and cannot do with his body what he will. The body is part of the self; in its togetherness with the self it constitutes the person; a man cannot make of his person a thing, and this is exactly what happens in prostitution. This manner of satisfying sexual desire is, therefore, not permitted by the rules of morality.

But what of the second method, namely concubinage? Is this also inadmissible? In this case both persons satisfy their desire mutually and there is no idea of gain, but they serve each other only for the satisfaction of sexuality. There appears to be nothing unsuitable in this arrangement, but there is nevertheless one consideration which rules it out. Concubinage consists in one person surrendering to another only for the satisfaction of their sexual desire whilst retaining freedom and rights in other personal respects affecting welfare and happiness. But the person who so surrenders is used as a thing; the desire is still directed only towards sex and not towards the person as a human being. But it is obvious that to surrender part of oneself is to surrender the whole, because a human being is a unity. It is not possible to have the disposal of a part only of a person without having at the same time a right of disposal over the whole person, for each part of a person is integrally bound up with the whole. But concubinage does not give me a right of disposal over the whole person but only over a part, namely the sexual organs. It presupposes a contract. This contract deals only with the enjoyment of a part of the person and not with the entire circumstances of the person. Concubinage is certainly a contract, but it is one-sided; the rights of the two parties are not equal. But if in concubinage I enjoy a part of a person, I thereby enjoy the whole person yet by the terms of the arrangement I have not the rights over the whole person, but only over a part; I, therefore, make the person into a thing. For that reason this method of satisfying sexual desire is also not permitted by the rules of morality.

The sole condition on which we are free to make use of our sexual desire depends upon the right to dispose over the person as a whole–over the welfare and happiness and generally over all the circumstances of that person. If I have the right over the whole person, I have also the right over the part and so I have the right to use that person’s sexual organs for the satisfaction of sexual desire. But how am I to obtain these rights over the whole person? Only by giving that person the same rights over the whole of myself. This happens only in marriage. Matrimony is an agreement between two persons by which they grant each other equal reciprocal rights, each of them undertaking to surrender the whole of their person to the other with a complete right of disposal over it. We can now apprehend by reason how a sexual union is possible without degrading humanity and breaking the moral laws. Matrimony is the only condition in which use can be made of one’s sexuality. If one devotes one’s person to another, one devotes not only sex but the whole person; the two cannot be separated. If, then, one yields one’s person, body and soul, for good and ill and in every respect, so that the other has complete rights over it, and if the other does not similarly yield himself in return and does not extend in return the same rights and privileges, the arrangement is one-sided. But if I yield myself completely to another and obtain the person of the other in return, I win myself back; I have given myself up as the property of another, but in turn I take that other as my property, and so win myself back again in winning the person whose property I have become. In this way the two persons become a unity of will. Whatever good or ill, joy or sorrow befall either of them, the other will share in it. Thus sexuality leads to a union of human beings, and in that union alone its exercise is possible. This condition of the use of sexuality, which is only fulfilled in marriage, is a moral condition.

But let us pursue this aspect further and examine the case of a man who takes two wives. In such a case each wife would have but half a man, although she would be giving herself wholly and ought in consequence to be entitled to the whole man. To sum up: prostitution is ruled out on moral grounds; the same applies to concubinage; there only remains matrimony, and in matrimony polygamy is ruled out also for moral reasons; we, therefore, reach the conclusion that the only feasible arrangement is that of monogamous marriage. Only under that condition can I indulge my sexual faculties. We cannot here pursue the subject further. …

Kant – Marriage Right

Immanuel Kant. The Metaphysics of Morals in the anthology of Kant’s ethical writings, Practical Philosophy. Translated by Mary J. Gregor. 6:277-8.

Sexual union is the reciprocal use that one human being makes of the sexual organs and capacities of another. This is either a natural use (by which procreation of a being of the same kind is possible) or an unnatural use, and unnatural use takes place either with a person of the same sex or with an animal of a nonhuman species. Since such transgressions of laws, called unnatural or also unmentionable vices, do wrong to humanity in our own person, there are no limitations or exceptions whatsoever that can save them from being repudiated completely.

Natural sexual union takes place either in accordance with mere animal nature (prostitution, casual love, fornication) or in accordance with law. – Sexual union in accordance with law is marriage, that is, the union of two persons of different sexes for lifelong possession of each other’s sexual attributes. – The end of begetting and bringing up children may be an end of nature, for which it implanted the inclinations of the sexes for each other; but it is not requisite for human beings who marry to make this their end in order for their union to be compatible with rights, for otherwise marriage would be dissolved when procreation ceases.

Even if it is supposed that their end is the pleasure of using each other’s sexual attributes, the marriage contract is not up to their discretion but is a contract that is necessary by the law of humanity, that is, if a man and a woman want to enjoy each other’s sexual attributes they must necessarily marry, and this is necessary in accordance with pure reason’s laws of right.

For the natural use that one sex makes of the other’s sexual organs is enjoyment, for which one gives itself up to the other. In this act a human being makes himself into a thing, which conflicts with the right of humanity in his own person. There is only one condition under which this is possible: that while one person is acquired by the other as if it were a thing, the one who is acquired acquires the other in turn; for in this way each reclaims itself and restores its personality. But acquiring a member of a human being is at the same time acquiring the whole person, since a person is an absolute unity. Hence it is not only admissible for the sexes to surrender to and accept each other for enjoyment under the condition of marriage, but it is possible for them to do so only under this condition. That this right against a person is also akin to a right to a thing rests on the fact that if one of the partners in a marriage has left or given itself into someone else’s possession, the other partner is justified, always and without question, in bringing its partner back under its control, just as it is justified in retrieving a thing.

Kant – On Defiling Oneself by Lust

Immanuel Kant. The Metaphysics of Morals in the anthology of Kant’s ethical writings, Practical Philosophy. Translated by Mary J. Gregor. 6:424-6.

Just as love of life is destined by nature to preserve the person, so sexual love is destined by it to preserve the species; in other words, each of these is a natural end, by which is understood that connection of a cause with an effect in which, although no understanding is ascribed to the cause, it is still thought by analogy with an intelligent cause, and so as if it produced human beings on purpose. What is now in question is whether a person’s use of his sexual capacity is subject to a limiting law of duty with regard to the person himself or whether he is authorized to direct the use of his sexual attributes to mere animal pleasure [i.e. masturbation], without having in view the preservation of the species, and would not thereby be acting contrary to a duty to himself. In the doctrine of right it was shown that the human being cannot make use of another person to get this pleasure apart from a special limitation by a contract establishing the right, by which two persons put each other under obligation. But the question here is whether the human being is subject to a duty to himself with regard to this enjoyment, violation of which is a defiling (not merely a debasing) of the humanity in his own person. The impetus to this pleasure is called carnal lust (or also simply lust). The vice engendered through it is called lewdness; the virtue with regard to this sensuous impulse is called chastity, which is to be represented here as a duty of the human being to himself. Lust is called unnatural if one is aroused to it not by a real object but by his imagining it, so that he himself creates one, contrapurposively; for in this way imagination brings forth a desire contrary to nature’s end, and indeed to an end even more important than that of love of life itself, since it aims at the preservation of the whole species and not only of the individual.

That such an unnatural use (and so misuse) of one’s sexual attribute is a violation of duty to oneself, and indeed one contrary to morality in its highest degree, occurs to everyone immediately, with the thought of it, and stirs up an aversion to this thought to such an extent that it is considered indecent even to call this vice by its proper name. This does not occur with regard to murdering oneself, which one does not hesitate in the least to lay before the world’s eyes in all its horror. In the case of unnatural vice it is as if the human being in general felt ashamed of being capable of treating his own person in such a way, which debases him beneath the beasts, so that when even the permitted bodily union of the sexes in marriage (a union which is in itself merely an animal union) is to be mentioned in polite society, this occasions and requires much delicacy to throw a veil over it.

But it is not so easy to produce a rational proof that unnatural, and even merely unpurposive, use of one’s sexual attribute is inadmissible as being a violation of duty to oneself (and indeed, as far as its unnatural use is concerned, a violation in the highest degree). The ground of proof is, indeed, that by it the human being surrenders his personality (throwing it away), since he uses himself merely as a means to satisfy an animal impulse. But this does not explain the high degree of violation of the humanity in one’s own person by such a vice in its unnaturalness, which seems in terms of its form (the disposition it involves) to exceed even murdering oneself. It consists, then, in this: that someone who defiantly casts off life as a burden is at least not making a feeble surrender to animal impulse in throwing himself away; murdering oneself requires courage, and in this disposition there is still always room for respect for the humanity in one’s own person. But unnatural lust, which is complete abandonment of oneself to animal inclination, makes the human being not only an object of enjoyment but, still further, a thing that is contrary to nature, that is, a loathsome object, and so deprives him of all respect for himself.

Casuistical questions

Nature’s end in the cohabitation of the sexes is procreation, that is, the preservation of the species. Hence one may not, at least, act contrary to that end. But is it permitted to engage in this practice (even within marriage) without taking this end into consideration?

If, for example, the wife is pregnant or sterile (because of age or sickness), or if she feels no desire for intercourse, is it not contrary to nature’s end, and so also contrary to one’s duty to oneself, for one or the other of them, to make use of their sexual attributes–just as in unnatural lust? Or is there, in this case, a permissive law of morally practical reason, which in the collision of its determining grounds makes permitted something that is in itself not permitted (indulgently, as it were), in order to prevent a still greater violation? At what point can the limitation of a wide obligation be ascribed to purism (a pedantry regarding the fulfillment of duty, as far as the wideness of the obligation is concerned), and the animal inclinations be allowed a latitude, at the risk of forsaking the law of reason?

Sexual inclination is also called “love” (in the narrowest sense of the word) and is, in fact, the strongest possible sensible pleasure in an object. It is not merely sensitive pleasure, as in objects that are pleasing in mere reflection on them (receptivity to which is called taste). It is rather pleasure from the enjoyment of another person, which therefore belongs to the faculty of desire and, indeed, to its highest stage, passion. But it cannot be classed with either the love that is delight or the love of benevolence (for both of these, instead, deter one from carnal enjoyment). It is a unique kind of pleasure, and this ardor has nothing in common with moral love properly speaking, though it can enter into close union with it under the limiting conditions of practical reason.

 

A few days ago, I read this hysterical article — Should You Send a Lady a Dick Pic? A Guide for Men — which includes gems like the following:

Scenario 1: You’re on OKCupid and you have been exchanging messages with an attractive woman who you strongly believe is interested in seeing your penis. She hasn’t exactly come right out and asked you about your penis, but you’re pretty sure she wants to see it. Like, 60% sure. Also, you’re drunk.

Should you send the lady a dick pic? No.

And:

Scenario 5: You’re so mad at your ex girlfriend and you want to remind her that there’s no possible way her new boyfriend’s penis could measure up to your penis, which is great. Also, you’re drunk. You’re so, so drunk.

Should you send this lady a dick pic? God, seriously? No.

I was thereby inspired to create a handy flowchart for any man considering sending a picture of his man-parts to a lady:

On a more serious note, I recommend this blog post by the always-fabulous Katie Granju: Carlos Danger: I’ve Touched That Hot Stove, And I Can’t Recommend It. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Like most Americans, I love a good comeback story. And those who know me personally will tell you that my Pollyanna-ish willingness to believe people when they swear up and down to me that they’ve changed, that they want to change, is pretty much unlimited. I am a sucker for a sincere sounding apology along with promises to forge ahead with fresh insights and honorable intent.

Yep, I’ve always been the girl who will touch that hot stove more than a few times just because someone – and let’s be honest here and admit that in my life, I’ve most often been taken in by those someones of the he persuasion – seems sincere when he tells me that he’s changed, and when he swears on all that’s holy to me that it’s gonna be different this time.

The scars on my hands from all those burns in years past are good reminders to me of how poorly that strategy always seems to work out. But they also require me to own up to the fact that I definitely have a personal history of allowing the Carlos Dangers of the world to yank my chain again and again and again, with generally disastrous consequences.

In recent years, however, I’ve toughened up a bit, and I believe that I have become better able to spot trouble as it heads toward my table to ask whether it/he can buy me a drink.

Go read the rest!

I’ve been thinking along these same lines lately — particularly about the “red flags” seen in friends that should motivate me to add some distance — if not cut ties completely. In the past, I’ve not been tuned in to those red flags — or I’ve dismissed them as personality differences or aberrations — or I’ve bought into the person’s commitment to change. As a result, I’ve been burned, often quite badly. I will maintain my benevolence, but I won’t be such a sucker in future. As a matter of justice, I will notice those red flags, then keep my distance from people unwilling to meet the basic standards for “sane” and “decent.”

As it happens, I’ll be discussing this very issue on Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Radio… so be sure to tune in!

Best Crime Story of the Decade

 Posted by on 25 July 2013 at 2:00 pm  Crime, Funny, Love/Sex, Self-Defense
Jul 252013
 

This story just keeps getting better as you read: Man acquitted in romantic bear-spray squabble:

A San Francisco man was acquitted Thursday of breaking into his ex-fiancee’s house and assaulting her new lover before getting sprayed with bear mace by a shirtless neighbor. Jurors deliberated for just three hours before finding Christoper Hall, 31, innocent of the two felonies.

The “chaotic and confusing” night began on March 25 when Hall broke off his plans to marry his 34-year-old fiancee, said Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets. The two had met in a hacky-sack circle in early February and announced plans to marry just two weeks later, Streets said. But the relationship quickly turned tumultuous, Streets said, and the pair broke up on March 25.

Hall took his few possessions and moved out of his fiancee’s home and into a tree at Mclaren Park. But as Hall climbed the tree and attempted to sleep that first night, he became cold and returned home, Streets said. Hall’s former lover was not there, so Hall “curled up under a tarp under the woman’s backyard bushes,” Streets said.

Around 10 p.m., the woman, who had been at the movies with a “new male friend,” returned home. The man “happened to be a former U.S. Marine with extensive combat training,” Streets said. As the woman and her new friend talked in the kitchen, they heard noises outside and decided to investigate. The woman armed herself with a knife while the friend grabbed a frying pan, Streets said.

As the pair approached Hall, he looked up and began yelling and running after them, Streets said. “As the woman closed and locked the door in Hall’s face, his hand went through the window pane,” Streets said. Hall opened the door and grabbed the Marine, demanding to know who he was. The pair fell backward and scuffled for 90-seconds, Streets said. The Marine eventually put Hall in a headlock and encouraged him “to take deep breaths and relax,” Streets said.

During the fight, the woman fled and told a neighbor that Hall was going to kill the Marine, Streets said. The neighbor “ran out of his house shirtless and armed with an aerosol can of bear repellant,” Streets said. The group hauled Hall outside, and he kicked the door, prompting the neighbor to open the door and spray Hall in the face with bear mace, Streets said. Hall then picked up a rock and hurled it at the door before fleeing the scene, Streets said. He was arrested several hours later.

Streets said that jurors did not convict Hall because they did not find Hall’s ex-fiancee to be a credible witness. The Marine also suffered no apparent injuries, Streets said. “There was no doubt Mr. Hall had a terrible night, but this case was grossly overcharged,” Streets said. “You cannot commit a burglary if you have the right to be in a building. Mr. Hall had paid rent, made improvements to the house and still had some of his belongings inside.”

Hall was facing seven years in state prison for the felonies. He was found guilty of misdemeanor vandalism.

My favorite bit — and admittedly, it’s a hard choice — is when the guy moves out of his house and into a tree. Oh hippies, I love you so much.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha