Friday, July 19, 2019

Psychoanalyzing the sexual revolutionary


When someone makes a claim or presents an argument and you pretend to refute it by calling attention to some purported personal shortcoming of his (such as a bad character or a suspect motive), then you’ve committed an ad hominem fallacy.  The reason this is a fallacy is that what is at issue in such a case is the truth of the claim or the cogency of the argument, and you’ve changed the subject by talking about something else, namely the person making the claim or argument.  But as I explained in a post from a few years ago, not every criticism of a person making a claim or argument is an ad hominem fallacy, because sometimes the topic just is the person himself.  For instance, when a person is prone to committing ad hominem fallacies and persists in them despite gentle correction, it is perfectly legitimate to note that he is irrational and maybe even morally defective in certain ways – for example, that he is in thrall to the vice of wrath, or has a willful personality, or is guilty of a lack of charity toward his opponents.
 
Or that he is in thrall to sins of lust.  I noted in a recent post the tendency of critics of traditional sexual morality to demonize its defenders and attack their motives rather than address their arguments.  The tendency has become more widespread and relentless as the sexual revolution has gone to ever greater extremes.  (Read Rod Dreher’s blog to keep up to date on the latest permutations.)  When I was a teenager, people with looser morals in the area of sex tended to characterize those with more conservative attitudes as prudes or killjoys.  The attitude was that of the frat boy who pities the nerd or bookworm who doesn’t know how to have a good time.  Nowadays the mentality is instead like that of a Bizarro-world Cotton Mather, or perhaps a mashup of Hugh Hefner and Mao Zedong.  Critics of the sexual revolution are treated as agents of the devil or enemies of the people – bigots, haters, oppressors who must be hounded and silenced.

What accounts for this weird transformation?  Of course, the sexual revolutionaries in question would claim that it reflects deepening moral understanding on their part.  But that presupposes that traditional sexual morality is mistaken, which it is not.  But this post is not about defending traditional sexual morality, because I have done that in many other places.  What I am asking is: What accounts for this weird transformation, given the truth of traditional sexual morality? 

There is a kind of Stockholm Syndrome among conservative religious believers of a certain mindset, which treats these developments as the regrettable but understandable excesses of well-meaning wounded souls who’ve been done wrong by overzealous and insensitive defenders of traditional morality.  In my opinion, this is delusional.  If it were true, you’d expect that the shrillness of the revolutionaries would decrease as the rhetoric of tolerance, compassion, and respectful coexistence with those who reject traditional sexual morality has become more prevalent among conservatives and religious believers.  Instead, the shrillness has also increased, and dramatically.  The more ass-kissing that religious conservatives do, the more what they get in return is ass-kicking. 

An analysis of the situation informed by the traditions of natural law ethics and Christian theology – by Plato and Aristotle, St. Paul and St. Augustine, St. Peter Damian and St. Thomas Aquinas, et al. – will reveal that there is something much more sinister going on.  I would argue that there are at least three psychological factors underlying the increasing extremism and nastiness of those with “progressive” views on matters of sex:

1. The daughters of lust: In Summa Theologiae II-II.153.5, Aquinas identifies eight “daughters of lust” or malign effects on the intellect and will that tend to follow upon sexual vice.  For our purposes, the most important are what he calls blindness of mind and hatred of God.  As Aquinas notes in another context, “lust…is about the greatest of pleasures; and these absorb the mind more than any others.”  Sexual pleasure is like the pleasure of alcohol use in being perfectly innocent in itself, but also very easy to abuse.  Hence, even in someone with otherwise normal sexual desires, a preoccupation with matters of sex has a tendency to cause him to act foolishly in various ways – to exaggerate the importance of sex, to pursue it in ways that are detrimental to his own well-being and that of people who depend on him, to construct rationalizations for such foolish pursuit, and so forth.

In someone with abnormal sexual desires, the effect is even worse.  For what determines the good use of a human faculty is the end or purpose toward which it is directed by nature.  Hence a healthy moral psychology requires a firm intuitive grasp of what is natural and what is contrary to nature’s purposes.  Repeatedly taking sexual pleasure in activity that is directly contrary to nature’s ends dulls the intellect’s perception of nature, to the point that the very idea that some things are contrary to the natural order loses its hold upon the mind.  The intellect thereby loses its grip on moral reality. 

Suppose that some people had a strange psychological deformation that led them to take intense pleasure in entertaining the thought that 2 + 2 = 5.  Repeated indulgence of the desire to contemplate this proposition would make such contemplation addictive, and the very idea that there is such a thing as an objective arithmetical truth to the effect that 2 + 2 = 4 would lose its hold on such a person.  He might judge that it is objectively true instead that 2 + 2 = 5, or he might reject altogether the idea that there is such a thing as objective truth where arithmetic is concerned.  Either way, his intellect will have been blinded.  That is analogous to the blindness of mind that can follow upon ingrained sexual vice.

Such a person is also likely to become hostile to those who try to convince him that 2 + 2 = 4 and that he is simply in the grip of a delusion to think otherwise.  He might take this as a personal attack on him, on what he is.  “I can’t help but believe that 2 + 2 = 5!  That’s just the way nature made me!  Why are you so hateful?”  Other people might pity him and start to think it cruel to teach arithmetic as it has always been understood, since it will seem to be an implicit marginalization of those who have the odd predilection in question.  They might go along with schemes to alter the mathematics curriculum so that it affirms the legitimacy of such alternative arithmetical beliefs, encourage people to affirm and even celebrate the predilection, and so forth.

The conception of God as having created the natural order according to eternal and immutable mathematical truths would also come to seem odious, as would any religion that incorporated this conception.  Indeed, the entire cultural tradition that had incorporated traditional mathematics would appear oppressive and something to be torn down.  All of this is analogous to the hatred of God, as author of the moral order, that Aquinas says follows upon ingrained sexual vice.  Religion comes to be either rejected altogether, or replaced by an idolatrous ersatz more hospitable to the vice.

It gets worse.  In Summa Theologiae II-II.53.6, Aquinas teaches that disordered sexual desire is the chief source of sins against the cardinal virtue of prudence, which governs practical reason in general.  Similarly, in Summa Theologiae II-II.46.3 he says that foolishness as a general moral vice arises chiefly from sexual sin.  He isn’t saying that sexual sins are of themselves the worst sins – obviously there are worse sins, such as murder – but rather that they have a special tendency to dull general moral understanding, like the first domino that knocks down the others.  A person or society which has become highly corrupted in matters of sex is especially likely to become morally corrupt full stop. 

Hence, return once again to my arithmetic analogy.  In a person or society which started to think in terms of a revisionist arithmetic that made space for the legitimacy of holding that 2 + 2 = 5, the corruption of the intellect would not be confined to arithmetic alone.  General capacity for sound reasoning could not survive such a deformation of the intellect, because it would implicitly undermine the most basic logical principles (such as the law of non-contradiction).

Similarly, in a person or society dominated by sexual vice, it isn’t just moral understanding in matters of sex that would be undermined, but moral understanding in general.  For the general idea of human faculties having natural purposes is unlikely to survive when the natural purposes of our sexual faculties, specifically (which are about as obvious as natural purposes can be), are obscured.  And the capacity for a coolly dispassionate critical evaluation of our contingent desires in light of nature’s purposes cannot survive in minds that are in thrall to sexual passions, which are the most intense of passions.  But an awareness of natural purposes, and the capacity for dispassionate and critical evaluation of desire, are prerequisites to morality in general. 

The infection is bound to leap from the individual, to the culture at large, to the political sphere.  In the Republic, Plato suggests that egalitarian societies tend to become dominated by lust, and have a tendency to degenerate into tyrannies.  For souls dominated by lust are least able to restrain their appetites or to tolerate disapproval of them, which leads to general moral breakdown and an increase in the number of individuals with especially disordered and ruthless temperaments.  Tyranny results when such individuals take advantage of the social chaos and impose their wills on the rest.  In Plato’s view, nothing locks you into the allegorical Cave and its world of illusions, fanatically held on to, like sexual immorality. 

I have discussed the daughters of lust at greater length in several earlier posts (here, here, and here), and have discussed the way that sexual sins can destroy prudence at greater length in a lecture on cooperation with sins against prudence.  The point to emphasize for present purposes is that the analysis of the effects of disordered sexual desire offered by thinkers like Plato and Aquinas suggests that we should expect such desire to become ever more extreme in its manifestations, and that those in thrall to it will become ever more shrill and hateful toward those who resist them.  And that is exactly what we are seeing today.

2. It takes a morality to beat a morality: People are naturally reluctant to talk about even the most normal and healthy of their sexual desires and activities, given the deeply personal nature of sex.  The subject is simply embarrassing, even for the average person with liberal attitudes about it.  He wouldn’t dream of casually discussing his predilections with a stranger, or with his mother, or at a dinner party.  This goes double for sexual desires and activities that one takes in some way to be aberrant.  A special sense of shame attaches to them, both because of their perverse nature and because of the way the pull of sexual desire can subvert what is most distinctively human, namely our reason and will.  Sexual vice is experienced as dragging one down to the animal level, and when it involves what is contra naturam it is experienced as something even worse.

Or at any rate, it is experienced that way to the extent that at least a general and inchoate sense of the natural order of things endures in one’s consciousness.  Even a person who comes to embrace sexual desires traditionally regarded as disordered, and publicly to define his identity in terms of them, will often feel a residual sense of shame and guilt – and this despite the fact that attitudes about sex have liberalized, and the fact that many sympathize with him and are keen to reassure him of his virtue and status as a victim of prejudice.  An Augustine or Aquinas would attribute this to the voice of conscience.  Knowledge of the natural law, they would say, is never entirely destroyed even in the person most in thrall to vice.  It is only ever papered over with layer upon layer of rationalizations.  And sometimes the truth still shines through, albeit dimly.

The sexually “liberated” person refuses to accept that, and not only because he is in love with his vices.  He has dug himself into a hole.  If he initially felt shame about those vices, the shame will only be worse if he decides to embrace them, openly proclaims his attachment to them and even defines himself in terms of them – and then, after all that, later has a re-think and comes to acknowledge that they really were vicious and shameful after all.  The prospect is utterly humiliating, so that it is psychologically that much more difficult to turn back from the path of embracing sexual vice once one has taken it.

Now, nothing counteracts lingering feelings of shame and moral failure the way that feelings of pride and self-righteousness can.  The former can be masked if one can work oneself into the latter.  One can tell oneself: “It is those who call what I do shameful who should be ashamed.  They are the bad people – they are bigots, haters, oppressors.  And I am doing something noble in rejecting their opinions and fighting against them!  Yes, that’s it!”  By a kind of psychological alchemy, vice is transformed into virtue and virtue into vice, and one’s self-esteem is thereby salvaged and even enhanced.

It may seem odd for the natural law theorist to recruit Nietzsche to this analysis, but he is, of course, the great diagnostician of egalitarian transvaluations of values.  Moralistic egalitarian rhetoric is, on Nietzsche’s analysis, a mask for resentment and envy – a way that those with a deep sense of failure and weakness can secure revenge against those who uphold the virtues they can’t measure up to.  Of course, the way Nietzsche develops this sort of analysis is problematic.  For example, he applies it to a critique of Christian morality, but his target is really a caricature of Christian morality.  But the basic idea that transvaluations of values can reflect envy, resentment, and the desire for revenge is plausible, and it is as plausibly applied to liberationist views in the sexual context as it is to the kinds of egalitarianism Nietzsche himself had in mind.

It is also worth noting that as the sexual revolution has progressed, it has led to claims ever more bizarre and manifestly preposterous – such as the claim that the biological distinction between male and female is bogus and an expression of mere bigotry.  How could anyone seriously believe such nonsense?  The motive for wanting to believe it is not mysterious, since one might have gotten oneself locked into sexual vices so extreme that their rationalization requires such an absurd thesis.  But how could one fool oneself into actually believing it?  Here too a kind of Bizarro-world moralism rides to the rescue.  If one can whip oneself up into a self-righteous frenzy that directs attention away from the absurdity of one’s belief and onto the purported bigotry of those who deny it, then the belief can (perhaps just barely) be sustained.  And the more manifestly absurd the belief, the more moralistically shrill will be the rhetorical defense of it, because rhetorical force has to make up for the lack of any rational basis. 

We might call this the law of compensatory moralism: The more manifestly shameful or absurd one’s sexual vices, the more shrilly moralistic one will tend to be in attacking those who object to them, so as to compensate psychologically for one’s own deep-down awareness of this shamefulness and absurdity.

3. Counter-Pharisaism: But why do so many people who do not share such vices go along with this compensatory moralism?  Why do even many people whose personal sexual behavior is relatively conservative nevertheless strongly object to any insistence that such conservatism ought to be normative? 

In part this is simply a consequence of the lazy relativism and sentimentalism that tend to prevail in egalitarian societies.  The very idea that any one way of life is better than another, and the prospect of someone’s feelings being hurt if one were to suggest otherwise, become intolerable.  (Again, see Plato’s analysis of democracy in the Republic.)  Hence even those who prefer to live more conservative lives often won’t let themselves commit the thought-crime of believing that it is morally better to do so.    

But I would suggest that there is more to it than that.  Consider the following analogy.  The Pharisees are often described as having built a “fence” around the Mosaic Law, so as to make it as unlikely as possible that anyone will violate it.  The fence consisted of a set of secondary prohibitions, respect for which was meant to ensure that one wouldn’t even get close to offending against the primary ones.  For example, if you do not allow yourself even to pick grain on the Sabbath, then you will be sure to avoid anything that might more clearly constitute working on the Sabbath. 

Now, what I am suggesting is that tolerance of more recherché sexual vices allows those whose vices are more humdrum to build a “fence” of permissibility around them.  It’s a kind of Bizarro-world parody of Pharisaism.  If even really extreme things are not prohibited, then it is less likely that more mundane things will be prohibited.  For example, traditional sexual morality condemns fornication as well as transsexualism, but it regards the latter as more directly contrary to nature than the former.  Hence if even the latter comes to be seen as permissible, it will be that much easier to justify the former. 

So, Pharisaism expands the boundaries of what is impermissible so as to safeguard the prohibitions that the devout person really cares most about.  And the counter-Pharisaism of the “bourgeois bohemian” progressive expands the boundaries of what is permissible to safeguard the milder sexual vices that are what he really cares about. 

* * *

I am not saying that the three psychological tendencies I’ve identified – the daughters of lust, the law of compensatory moralism, and Bizarro-world Pharisaism – are at work in absolutely everyone with more liberal views about sexual morality, or that they are equally strong in everyone in whom they are at work.  But they are a big part of the story, and an increasingly big part as the sexual revolution metastasizes. 

Nor, of course, am I saying for a moment that identifying these psychological factors suffices to refute the claims or arguments of those with liberal views about sexual morality.  That would be an ad hominem fallacy.  Those claims and arguments need to be (and can be) answered on their own terms, entirely independently of the motivations of or psychological influences on those who make them.

Still, it is important to consider these psychological influences.  For one thing, bad ideas and arguments often have a hold over people even when the logical problems with them are laid bare.  It can be useful for someone in thrall to such errors to consider the non-rational influences that might be leading him to give them more credence or consideration than they deserve.

For another thing, those who would defend traditional sexual morality need to have a realistic understanding of the cultural situation.  As I have said, some conservative religious believers lack this.  For example, even contemporary Catholic churchmen, on the rare occasions when they talk about sexual morality at all, often do so only in the vaguest and most inoffensive way.  They will bend over backwards to attribute good motives to their opponents and to concede the alleged injustice and insensitivity of past upholders of Christian morality, even though such courtesies are never reciprocated by the liberal side.  And they will deemphasize the importance of sexual morality relative to, say, questions of social justice.

The great churchmen and saints of the past would regard all of this as breathtakingly delusional.  In reality, there cannot possibly be true social justice without sound sexual morals, because the family is the foundation of social order and the family cannot be healthy without sound sexual morals.  The sexual revolution is the cause of millions of children being left fatherless, with the intergenerational poverty and social disorder that that entails.  Nor is there any greater manifestation of the deep selfishness that makes social justice impossible than the callous willingness of millions to murder their own children in the womb.  Talk about social injustice that ignores the fundamental role of the sexual revolution in fostering such injustice is mere chatter – unserious, sentimental, and prone to make modern people comfortable in their sins rather than telling them what they really need to hear.  The warrior for true social justice must be an uncompromising reactionary in matters of sex.

And not the least of the reasons for this is the role that sexual immorality plays in undermining moral understanding in general, as Aquinas teaches us.  We are not dealing with a mere intellectual mistake made by well-meaning people but nothing less than a culture-wide psychosis.  As the twelve-steppers say, the first step is to admit the problem.

219 comments:

  1. "The warrior for true social justice must be an uncompromising reactionary in matters of sex." Bravo.
    And the anti-freudian conclusion you led us into is simply amazing: it is not religion that is a "collective delirium" or, as you said, a culture-wide psychosis, but sexual revolution and its implications. Great text.

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  2. I don't understand the strong disagreement for egalitarianism in these woods. If you were a pre-existing soul who couldn't choose which station in society you would end up in but could choose the type of laws the society would enact, most people would choose laws that favored egalitarianism.

    That is, unless you are a whale. Then this argument doesn't apply to you and you probably shouldn't enter a casino either.

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  3. Nor is there any greater manifestation of the deep selfishness that makes social justice impossible than the callous willingness of millions to murder their own children in the womb

    It is better to let the mother die in a fatal pregnancy than it is to abort the baby. Dying during childbirth is extremely meritorious (Spartans treated women who died in childbirth as equals to men who sacrificed themselves in combat) and it both provides the opportunity to administer the last rights to the mother (ensuring her salvation) and baptize the baby (ensuring its salvation).

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  4. That is Rawlsian theory, correct? It seems to me that argument seems to falter on a few accounts.

    If you were a pre-existing soul, then it would be in your best interest to wish for the society most capable of meeting your needs. A political traditionalist would argue that that society is one ordered to the common good, containing specialization and thus hierarchy. While that doesn't prove that an egalitarian society wouldn't be best, to assume that for the argument begs the question against the traditionalist.

    Second, what station would be "best" for you in society would largely depend on your personality, disposition and talents (I, for example, would never want to be a CEO, or an aristocrat). Thus, wouldn't it be possible to set up a perfectly egalitarian society and then end up pigeonholed into a role and position that's incongruous with who you end up being, even if they are theoretically higher in "status?"

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    1. If you were a pre-existing soul, then it would be in your best interest to wish for the society most capable of meeting your needs. A political traditionalist would argue that that society is one ordered to the common good, containing specialization and thus hierarchy.

      It is comforting to know that right-wing authoritarians sincerely believe that strict hierarchical societies are good because they are most capable of meeting the needs of a pre-existing soul. If they believed that an egalitarian society would better meet the needs of a pre-existing soul but refused to enact it because they want said soul to eat you-know-what, or because they love power... then they would be pure evil. But now the balance of evidence favors RWA's as good.

      (I have a very juridical concept of morality.)

      Thus, wouldn't it be possible to set up a perfectly egalitarian society and then end up pigeonholed into a role and position that's incongruous with who you end up being, even if they are theoretically higher in "status?"

      Could you elaborate more on this?

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    2. The argument for egalitarianism based on a pre-existing soul choosing the laws of society is one of the most inept philosophical arguments I have ever seen. It is an example of the bankruptcy of modern philosophy, that decides beforehand the conclusions and, then, it looks for arguments to support these conclusions, no matter how insane those arguments are. I am feeling sick and English is not my mother tongue. My powers of communication are greatly reduced, but I couldn't resist saying that.

      1) Basing a society in the self-interest of people is completely debatable. Utilitarianism is assumed in this argument as a fact without arguing for it. In fact, it is false (but this is a different debate).

      2) In addition, self-interest is used in a contrived situation like not knowing your station in life but being able to decide the laws of society. The fact that such an unrealistic situation has to be made up to find an argument for egalitarianism is only an example of the difficulty of finding good arguments for egalitarianism and the gullibility of people when they find an excuse that support their pre-existing views.

      3) In addition, the argument assumes that most people in this contrived situation would choose egalitarian laws. This is claimed but not proved or argued for. It is "because I say so!"

      4) Even if you accept 1), 2) and 3), this mental experiment would only prove that most people are selfish and, in this contrived situation, they THINK that they will get the better deal with egalitarian laws. This does not mean that they would get a better deal (in fact, they would get a worse deal but I digress).

      5) Even if you accept 1), 2), 3) and 4), this does not mean that having people individually making the best gamble of laws for their life would result in the best society, because society is not a sum of atomized individuals. You can't ignore effects like the Tragedy of the Commons or similar.

      The argument is fallacy over fallacy over fallacy. But, hey, it is in favor of egalitarianism. So let’s disconnect the brain!
      And now for the personal part.

      "If you were a pre-existing soul who couldn't choose which station in society"

      When you say "you", please don't include me or most people here. Maybe replace "you" by "people that think like me". You can't decide the opinions of other people.

      Since pre-existing souls are not equal and they don't have the same properties, I, as a pre-existing soul, would choose a society where each person has different station in life. Even if there are better people than me that have better station in life, I will get benefits because the society will be better. Even if I don't get benefits about the society being better, I am not that self-centered that I think that the society has to adapt to my selfishness and self-interest.

      I am not an envious person (envy being the think that is beneath egalitarianism). When I see people having better station in life than me, I am happy for them. I don't call to a complete redesign of society so there are no people above me.

      And now back to bed.

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    3. Chent,

      The important thing is that you should understand why an intelligent person would choose the social ideology that would make him the most happy.

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    4. The important thing is that you should bring forth arguments to prove your case, something you're not doing.

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    5. So the magnum opus of the #1 political philosopher of the 20th century is not an argument? O_o

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    6. Can you make an argument for your case or not?

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    7. My argument is the original position put forward by John Rawls. And demanding that I compose my own original argument on-the-fly is unreasonable (and might constitute trolling).

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    8. Balanced,
      What I meant by the second comment was that like Chent, I don't find the pre-existing soul argument very compelling precisely because it neglects inherent differences in people. This makes it very problematic from a traditionalist standpoint where difference (and the natural roles that people thrive in due to difference) is something that any good political philosophy must take account of.

      A fundamental problem with the modern world, in the traditionalist mind is, as Chent observed, the fact that it takes a "lone rights bearer" approach to the human person, stripped of common relationships, bonds and obligations, all of which the traditionalist account of society view as being just as (or even more) natural than rights. Thus, any plan for society which is established apart from these key components of our ethical framework would be incomplete. Its also worth noting that what people would choose and what they ought to choose (and what they would choose based on the assumptions of their culture, which, if that is subtly inserted back into the argument undermines the point of a "pre-existing soul") are often very different.

      Any political philosophy that flows from an inadequate philosophy of human nature will inevitably warp into a monster.

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    9. @Balanced

      I didn't ask you to compose anything. You're supporting a position (that pre existing sould would choose a society whose rules favor egalitarianism) and I'm asking you to provide arguments for it. Be it yours, Rawls' or anyone else's.

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    10. CasualThomist,

      I understand why you don't like the original position argument. But I realized that I don't need the original position argument to make my point.

      If a man doesn't know that he's going to be an elite or a ghetto gang member, why should he choose a non-egalitarian society?

      And objections along the lines of "egalitarian represents selfishness, but aristocracy represents selfless love because you're sacrifices your own happiness for the happiness of the elite, which is the greatest form of selfless love" or "it is impious to God to support egalitarianism because it is focusing all of your happiness on this life rather than the next" are basically "look, a squirrel!" The subject isn't an ought to but an is a. We're not asking whether we ought to support egalitarianism, but rather is it the case that egalitarianism is the system of government that is the best. And those objections are actually admissions of defeat. They're basically saying to Rawls that he was 100% right in saying that egalitarianism is the best but he's a bad man for supporting it. It's an admission that you privately know that egalitarianism is the best but you'd rather focus on how immoral it is the support the best form of government.

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    11. Balanced,

      You make a good point concerning the deficiencies of my original post, and I'll admit I'm not very good at this kind of argument yet (in fact my reason for posting here is to practice).

      I suspect that from a purely argumentative standpoint it was probably a bad idea for me to try and state a traditionalist response to the argument above, and I realized why when you used the word "best" in the post above. The point at issue is a fundamental difference in the view of what the purpose of a (legal) society is.

      If it is indeed to provide the best chance for individual material prosperity (or any of its extensions, ex. power, fame, status, etc), then yes, I'd say there's a very good argument to me made for egalitarianism being the best way to organize it. As my appeal to an inherent human nature above was meant to indicate though, that is a fundamental difference between the political philosophy of modern liberalism and a traditionalist vision of society.

      If, however, the purpose of society is to aid in human happiness though, I'd say that egalitarianism is a rather poor way of organizing society. Drawing on my admittedly limited knowledge of Aristotelian/Scholastic ethics (if any more experienced posters have something to add, I'm always open to learn more) is correct, then the purpose of human existence (positing an inherent telos to human nature, another difference between the traditionalist and liberal projects) is the contemplation of the good, as encountered through virtue. In this reading, the basis of society is the family unit rather than the individual, and it is only through cultivating virtue for the sake of the family (and by extension the society), and extending into theology, to know, love and serve God, can a person find true happiness. Insofar as egalitarianism would force people into a role of competing on an even playing field separated from these natural obligations or an acknowledgement of difference, it fails to meet the right end of a society, leading to the instability of the body politic as Plato said, and the isolation and disillusion of individuals as has played out in modern society. I realize that all of this requires a lot more reasoning to fully flesh out, but what it boils down to is the fact that the traditionalist image of government basically flows logically from its philosophy of human nature (and we have reason to accept as true if they are) while the liberal tradition contains serious contradictions (such as the criticisms of Rawls pre-existing soul spaced here), limitations which I for one, haven't found a way out of.

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    12. When I say "X is the best" I defined it to be "X has a natural tendency to make everyone happy (it doesn't actually have to make everyone happy; it only generally speaking has a tendency to make all individuals happy) and it can last indefinitely."

      Which government, CasualThomist, would you consider best? And please address me by BTO.

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    13. When I say "X is the best" I defined it to be "X has a natural tendency to make everyone happy (it doesn't actually have to make everyone happy; it only generally speaking has a tendency to make all individuals happy) and it can last indefinitely."

      And it I would argue that an egalitarian system (like ours) fails to meet both of those criteria, as the way it distributes power encourages people to abuse it (I'd argue that the voters do this all of the time and that politicians' manipulation to garner votes is as much a reflection on the voters as on the people we put in office), and manipulate the moral order to meet their personal desires, and that it encourages the kind of rapid, breakneck distribution of resources via consumption which is destroying the planet. The place of virtue and the nature of morality largely determine what makes an effective government, in my opinion, and so any debate about political philosophy must take them into account.

      This is where the distinction between government and society is important; that's key to note or none of what follows will make any sense. If I were to build a system, I would develop one like ours here in the United States in many respects; after all, we have a non-elected federal judiciary where fitness for office is determined by limiting factors of legal education and specialty, and we do have age requirements (and thus limiting factors) on both voting and elected positions. We also have important factors for encouraging virtue and prudence such as a separation of powers, a federalized community of states, and civilian oversight for the military. We also have, though its accentuated to an intolerable extreme, a recognition that the state and even the True Church are separate entities.

      However, its too easy for people to have a say in government. I include myself in this category as I don't really follow current events enough for my opinion to correspond to immediate reality. I would try to find some way to limit the electorate based on fitness to vote (for example, perhaps some examination like the examination for citizenship could be implemented), as a start (this is far from fleshed out, so keep that in mind). I'd also return power over senatorial appointments to the State Legislatures. I'd build a list of criteria for the presidency based on experience of previous office or service to the country.

      Most importantly though, in addition to something like the Bill of Rights (though I believe that the First Amendment of the US Constitution is too sweeping to be healthy for even natural civic religion; and I would also include the 13th, 14th, 15th amendments and such as well), I would include a table of principles, which, if violated would render a law unconstitutional. They would include things like a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, a declaration that life began at conception, and an affirmation of the existence of some sort of Divine Operator. It would also include statements such as "the family is the inherent foundation of society, and is thus to be favored in law," and "the purpose of human life is defined in terms more than material," which, while they don't pose distinct restrictions on the creation of legislation, would act as binding tenets in considerations of jurisprudence. I think I would also, after further consideration, give a primacy of place to the Catholic Church, though pragmatically I take what Feser calls a "moderate integralist" approach, that the Church has the right to expect special rights from society but it is not always prudent to take them.

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    14. I know that from the liberal perspective, all of the above paragraph seems like a wishful demand that my personal list of programs be enshrined in law, but from the traditionalist perspective, I'd assert they are as crucially axiomatic for the healthy and virtuous operation of society as "innocent until proven guilty," and, "all are equal before the law" (a relatively liberal proposition that I happen to agree with).

      This is where the distinction between government and society is crucial. Culture and society are clearly upstream from government and even were a society somehow able to construct a new government completely impersonally, the operation of that apparatus would change drastically based on the kind of society that it was attached to. Hence, I see no contradiction between opposing egalitarianism and embracing a form of small r republicanism. I'll add that I'm not really that well read on political theory, and am certain that there are flaws, contradictions and issues with the above even from the traditionalist view I'm espousing. I still believe the central thrust of it is defensible.

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  5. And I assume that the law of compensatory moralism deals not only with one's sexual vices, but also with one's absurd rationalizations thereof.

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  6. As a cartoon character once eloquently said: "Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source."

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  7. Agreed with almost everything here.But the problem is, and this related to your point no 3. There just doesn't seem to be a solution to all this in sight.That is what should be the most important point that defenders of strong sexual morality should discuss I think.Just how can we actually minimize or eradicate these vices if as we are told, they aren't sorts of diseases that could be 'cured' or they don't seem to be the sort of things that people can control. What can be done in the first place?

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    1. The answer is the same as,"how do people get and keep morals in the first place?"
      They have to be well taught and trained from an early age. The moral breakdown starts at the top, with weak or sinful Popes in our case. Nowadays, most of the hierarchy is corrupt. They can't teach what they don't practice. Same in the family. When the hierarchy gets straightened out, it will filter down into society.
      Now an individual must always turn to God and respond to His grace by his own choice. We must make that easier for others just as parents teach their children. Not every child grows up to be good, but none will if no effort is made. The same with people who have these problems.
      We can't fix the country or world with the Church in eclipse, but we can help those around us.
      As for the world, it will only be saved by devotion to the Immaculate Heart, the final remedy for the end times which destroys all heresies.
      Work for the fulfillment of the Fatima Devotion so that we will have a holy pope and peace in the world.

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  8. Dr. Feser, your analysis of how sexual liberalism has evolved makes sense, but I’ve been finding it harder and harder to take “the Left has gone insane” seriously as Trump’s presidency continues.

    However irrational they may be re: sexual morality, I’ve found that educated liberals have a better grasp of the world than, say, Trump’s diehard supporters.

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    1. Really? I would say the opposite. I have never liked Trump, but the Democrats-media response to him has been insane. Have you seen CNN lately? Ben Shapiro likes to put it, the Democrat slogan for 2020 should be, don't be crazy, yet they just can't live up to this. Trump will probably be re-elected for just this reason.

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    2. Probably the first thing to remember, in this context, is that Trump is with the liberals in this matter. His personal life does not lend us any reason to think he favors traditional sexual morality as such, he appears rather to have some of the vices to which Feser was referring (though not the worst such vices).

      Secondly, the loudest of Trump supporters, so far as I can tell, are pretty much in the same boat as far as the kind of moral practices they would LIKE to have, if they had the money to escape most of the natural consequences of them. The less strident of Trump supporters, I suspect, are those who more closely associate themselves with traditional morality (who, at least, would like to live up to that morality and repent of it when they succumb to temptations against it), but who are willing to hold their noses in voting for Trump as a sort of "lesser of two evils" comparison.

      Thirdly, it is an interesting facet of modernity that there is a broad swath of the "elite", the educated class, who actually practice a modicum of the traditional sexual morality: one spouse, no adultery, no kinky bedroom antics, interiorly frowning on the promiscuity of one-night-stands. Many of these actually DO realize some of the downstream bad social effects of sexual license, though they are unwilling to attribute these to faulty moral principles that support such license. Like Feser said above, while in public they support the notional "right" of people to practice all of these aberrational behaviors (well, mostly excepting adultery unless mutually consented by the spouses) many of them don't actually like the feel of those practices in their own ambit and left to their own preferences they would tend not to associate with those who are public about their aberrational behavior. (That is, they would associate with such people professionally but prefer not to have them over for dinner.) Thus they don't actually practice what they preach, what sexual vices they have may be very minor and muted, and as a result such people may actually have a better feel for the rest of morality as a whole than, say, a strident Trump supporter who whose vision of heaven is that of the Islamic myth of "72 virgins" etc. But such a result is not the least bit contradictory to what Dr. Feser said above.

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    3. At least on Youtube, there are many channels run by Liberals who may not like Trump, but are defending the traditional "gender roles" of man and woman. There are also many Conservatives who not necessarily like Trump, but who defend traditional virtues.
      Sometimes, political labels are not that conclusive, but whether or not you support Trump is really no identificator at all. Just think of people outside the US who do not have to argue about whether to support Trump or not.
      As someone who does not live in the US, yes, the Left has gone insane. Especially now that they take that little brat's (Greta Thunberg) advice as their Holy Gospel. I am sorry, but I just hate this annoying Scandinavian monster.

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  9. That Alpha is a bit loopy does not endow Beta with a better grasp of diddly squat.

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    1. No, not *per se*. But:

      1) Alpha is not just “a bit loopy.” To put it in the words of Sen. Lindsey Graham before he was brought to heel, Alpha is “batshit crazy.”

      2) Beta, on average, consistently displays a significantly better understanding of science, economics, history, journalism and civics than the opposition. Those who specialize in these fields substantially skew team Beta, and Beta laymen do better than Alpha laymen. Consider how the fake news industry preys almost entirely on team Alpha laymen.

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    2. Seriously!

      You are claiming that Betas have a better grasp of...

      Science: Men can become women by fiat of feelings...

      Economics: Krugman - the economy/stock market will never recover after Trump's election...

      History: The whole Jesus never existed crowd...

      Journalism: Russian collusion hoax reported endlessly, Rachel Maddow, etc...

      And watch MSN for fake news in the extreme.

      So no, the Betas have no advantage over the Alphas in those areas.

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    3. And if you reply that, ON AVERAGE, Betas have a better understanding than Alphas of those things, then please show us the study for that claim.

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    4. The whole Jesus never existed crowd...

      This isn't something Democrats believe. This is something a few extremely diehard atheists like Dan Barker believe... who tend to be more libertarian than liberal.

      Men can become women by fiat of feelings...

      A misrepresentation of what liberals believe. If they believed what you said, then they would also believe that trans women can become cis men by feelings and reverse the gender dysphoria.

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  10. "Hence a healthy moral psychology requires a firm intuitive grasp of what is natural and what is contrary to nature’s purposes."

    We can take out "intuitive" and put in something like "dictated by Feser".

    As Aristotle points out, the dancing girl uses the hand as a foot, and the foot as a hand. All for an art.

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    1. Can you print the complete Aristotle quote so that I can understand it? Several paragraphs please.

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    2. Personally, I'm unimpressed by your offered criticism, ficino. Whatever quote you might give BTO, it seems clear enough that Aristotle hasn't rejected the important theses you seem to dispute, namely:
      1. There is a morally significant distinction between using some feature for purposes other than and using it for purposes contrary to its natural ends.
      2. The functions of our various features are knowable (even if some are harder to figure out than others).

      It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to guess what the sexual powers are for, or to realize that "using a hand as a foot" and vice versa are not cases of frustrating the natural ends of either structure. So if I've understood your point, you haven't made a good argument for replacing "intuitive" with "dictated by Feser."

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  11. I see Ed has been mentioned on the daily kos. This guy's argument seems rather tenuous, not to mention confused on Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Realism, but some of the comments are interesting. Any thoughts? https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2019/7/19/1872925/-Ed-Feser-s-problem-with-the-color-red

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  12. A person or society which has become highly corrupted in matters of sex is especially likely to become morally corrupt full stop. //

    This is demonstrably false. Modern societies are far superior morally to the society of Aquinas. We have religious freedom, racial equality, no acceptance of slavery, equal treatment of women etc.

    The moral corruption in this regard of Aquinas's society is manifestly more extreme than ours, and yet they had far greater sexual repression in that era.

    Furthermore, societies today wit far greater repressions on sexual matters have a tendency to also be far more morally inferior to western societies. For example, Islamic societies in regard to women and apostates.

    I would need to see actual evidence that sexually permissive societies are actually more morally inferior than societies where that is not the case.

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    1. "This is demonstrably false. Modern societies are far superior morally to the society of Aquinas. We have religious freedom, racial equality, no acceptance of slavery, equal treatment of women etc."

      Actually, its not demonstrably false. A case can be made for it, but it is by no means as clear cut as you claim, especially since a great deal depends on your moral presuppositions or position. For example, we have the massive abortion industry, weapons that can now wipe out all of humanity, rampant fatherlessness, family breaking divorces, terrorism caused by the push for diversity, etc. Not very moral, all that.

      Furthermore, we are also living on the embers of Christianity in the Anglo West. Once that is gone, let us see if the progressives maintain religious freedom, racial equality, etc. As it looks now with the way they talk about Christians and straight white men, I doubt it.

      Finally, there is also the point that if you are entrall to the sexual looseness that Feser speaks of, of course you will argue that our society is so much better than the old ones...precisely because, as Feser said, you want to keep it going and cover up your shame.

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    2. The moral corruption in this regard of Aquinas's society is manifestly more extreme than ours, and yet they had far greater sexual repression in that era.

      Furthermore, societies today wit far greater repressions on sexual matters have a tendency to also be far more morally inferior to western societies. For example, Islamic societies in regard to women and apostates.


      Hah, that's funny. Unknown, here, unbeknown to himself, equates sexual repression with sexual morality. So, a society that enforces outward sexual restraints by prison or by castration or death but promotes interior sexual vice in terms of viewing woman as chattel to be used is (on his terms) one that is to be considered moral sexually speaking. The reader is left an exercise to infer why he would equate these.

      Modern societies are far superior morally to the society of Aquinas.

      Why, then, is exploitation of the weak, marginalization of the many, commercial sin, sins against our habitat, and sinful waste of resources so rampant, as our far-left media constantly trumpets? Is there no way in which these so-prevalent sins are to be tied to sexual license?

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    3. Modern societies are far more morally superior than Aquinas's society
      Mass murder of helpless babies is far worse a crime against humanity than either torture or slavery. If you don't have a right to life then you don't have any rights at all.

      Modern society is a mass killing machine. It's a factory of death and drugs. Since the 20th century, humanity has never seen so much systemic slaughter.

      The fact the degenerate left knows it has to force its moral debauchery onto the rest of society and forcibly inculcate its debauchery into the minds of all children is the proof that they know full well they can't survive on their own two feet. The suicidal and self-destructive cult of the left is painfully aware that they need to drag down everyone with them because if they were isolated they would disappear naturally in a single generation.

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    4. But Feser's argument require that in every moral capacity we become worse, because our very capacity for moral reasoning is compromised by sexual permissiveness. But we don't see that. There really isn't a chance that Sweden is going to introduce concentration camps for Jewish people any time soon, or be executing people for heresy or apostasy.

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    5. "But Feser's argument require that in every moral capacity we become worse, because our very capacity for moral reasoning is compromised by sexual permissiveness."
      No, it doesn't require that at all; it only implies that there will be a general moral decline in more than just sexual ethics. It says nothing about how long it will take or what other aspects of our moral knowledge will crumble next. And we're already seeing moral decline in other parts of life - pedophilia is being pushed on us now and we're forcing parents to choose between mutilating their children or losing them.

      This is ignoring your questionable treatment of slavery and other issues.

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    6. Paedophilia is not being accepted in the West, and even were it so, sex with 13 and 14 year olds has been accepted for far longer in sexually repressive societies, provided it is accompanied by marriage.

      And it does kind of require that - his argument is that corruption of sexual morality leads to a corruption of general morality, because of the failure to treat things logically in accordance with their nature. So there should be no barrier or impediment to this general moral corruption. Which isn't visible, and certainly isn't visible to the extent it was of the past

      Indeed, given the continuing condemnation of the Nazi, the Holocaust, witch burnings, slavery etc. it would seem to indicate that the modern sexually permissive West still maintains a more generally good moral sensibility than the sexually repressed past..

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    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pedophile_and_pederast_advocacy_organizations

      Note that the majority of such organisations exist/existed in the Netherlands and Germany, and that very few such were established in, say, Poland or Italy. The mass-push for pedophilia normalisation may have died out, but it was only possible in the first place because of the Sexual Revolution.

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    9. So, our more sexually permissive societies (with gay marriage) have less advocacy for paedophilia than the more sexually repressive 1970s/1960s. And that is supposed to count as a strike against *my* argument? Okay.

      Also, as I said, you still have all your work ahead of you, because past sexually repressive societies allowed, or even approved, of people marrying and having sex when young, at 13 or 14. So, the sexually permissive west, *even if you are correct* still hasnt fallen as far as most sexually repressive societies.

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    10. It counts as a strike because the societies of the 60s and 70s were far more sexually permissive than the societies which immediately preceded them. The fact is that it took off because of increased sexual permissiveness, and only died off because the remains of traditional sexual morality were and (for the moment) are still strong enough to oppose it. Increasing liberalisation of sexual mores *certainly* did not contribute to the condemnation of pedophilia.

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    11. Marrying at 13 is still not the same as advocating for full-on sexual relations between full-grown adults and prepubescent children, so your attempt at a tu quoque fails.

      Furthermore, you are committing a large equivocation by consistently referring to "sexually repressive societies", as if Medieval France, modern day Saudi Arabia, Paleolithic Japan, etc all formed some kind of coherent unity that could be criticised together, when each of these societies was massively different from each other. The fact that *some* societies that were anti-sexual-libertinism also happened to allow immoral behavior is not a strike against my position, because there are plenty of other ways that a society can be immoral, and a society can be right about some or most of sexual morality while still being wrong about some parts.

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    12. "Modern societies are far superior morally to the society of Aquinas. We have religious freedom, racial equality, no acceptance of slavery, equal treatment of women etc. " This claim confuses things from different periods. Western Europe in Aquinas' time was not a slave owning society (with minor exceptions), and they were not particularly concerned with racial differences. These attitudes arose three or more centuries later when the European powers started to trade in black slaves. On the issue of sexual oppression, this appears to be the writer's term for sexuality morality. He could ask whether more children grew up without fathers, in Aquinas' time compared to today. Our alleged moral superiority could be cancelled by a single nuclear exchange - then who would be morally superior?

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    13. These attitudes arose three or more centuries later when the European powers started to trade in black slaves. //

      So a sexually repressive past is worse than the sexually permissive present in this criteria? Okay, that works for me.

      And nuclear weapons are a product of a more sexually repressed era.

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    14. because there are plenty of other ways that a society can be immoral, and a society can be right about some or most of sexual morality while still being wrong about some parts.//

      That is literally my point. But Feser is arguing that a morally permissive society is at especial risk of general moral corruption. However, as you point out, many sexually repressive societies were far more corrupt than ours in relation to non-sexual matters. But if it is true that sexually permissive societies are at especial risk of general moral corruption, you need to show that they have at least become more generally morally corrupt than those sexually repressive societies, because recall the claim is that they are at *especial* risk of being corrupt. But there is no evidence of that

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    15. Marrying at 13 is still not the same as advocating for full-on sexual relations between full-grown adults and prepubescent children, so your attempt at a tu quoque fails.//

      Generally speaking when someone starts fine slicing which kid f*CK*ing is acceptable and which isn't, it strongly indicates they have lost the moral high ground. Just a thought. But if you want to argue adults having sex with 13 year olds is acceptable then you run with that. I don't

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    16. He could ask whether more children grew up without fathers, in Aquinas' time compared to today.//

      This would fit into the same category as sexual transmitted diseases as the physical products of sexual permissiveness, so isn't really the focus of this argument. Does sexual permissiveness lead to come negative physical consequences? Sure it does. So does dietary permissiveness. But the topic at discussion is if it leads to general moral corruption. I am observing that there is simply no evidence for this.

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    17. Unknown
      "even were it so, sex with 13 and 14 year olds has been accepted for far longer in sexually repressive societies, provided it is accompanied by marriage."
      You know these cases aren't parallel, since ideas about adulthood have changed with time.

      And no, if you still think that a general decline in morality means that everything goes down the toilet, you clearly don't know what "general" means; it doesn't mean "universal and unqualified." It obviously doesn't follow that there will be no barriers to moral decline, it only means that certain ones will decay first. I've already mentioned that there are other barriers.

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    18. You know these cases aren't parallel, since ideas about adulthood have changed with time.//

      Yes yes like ideas about personhood have changed so now black people are recognised as people and not mere animals. Doesnt make the racism of the past any worse. And I'm pretty sure the paedophilia advocates made arguments that children were sexual beings who could consent - and so were in some sense adult enough for sex. So don't start pulling at the "changing attitudes" thread because it really doesn't go anywhere, and starts to smack a bit of moral relativism - "f*cking 13 year old children was acceptable back then because they were considered adults" really isn't the moral argument you seem to be saying it is. But, as I said to that commenter, if you want to be the sexual conservative arguing that adults having sex with 13 year old children is acceptable,
      You go right ahead.

      universal and unqualified.//

      It kind of does, as Feser elaborates that such a society will be especially likely to fall into tyranny, the apotheosis of a moral corrupt society. We don't see that today in any sexually permissive society. And which non-sexual moral barriers do you think the modern sexually permissive west is worse than a sexually repressive society at? Because from every single one I can think of, the west is superior. In terms of racism, slavery, the subjugation of women, freedom of religion and religious pluralism, even environmental awareness, they all come out ahead. And it isn't sufficient that you show that they are morally corrupt either, but that they are so morally corrupt that they exceed the sexually repressive societies we have discussed. Because again, I here a lot of wind blowing through these comments, not must actual hard evident or examples.

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    19. Lol he literally said 'general' basically means 'universal and unqualified'.


      Cuckoo cuckoo

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    20. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/general?q=General

      "involving or relating to most or all people, things, or places, especially when these are considered as a unit:"

      Synonyms include: across-the-board, substantially, whole.

      So, essentially my interpretation of the word as used in this context.

      If Feser does not wish to evoke the idea of a substantial or significant proportion then he should be more accurate in his language.

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    21. Unknown, euthanasia is a prime example. Life itself is of no particular value.

      I wonder how long before consent loses its value. Some feminists are already flirting with the idea that some fully rational adults are incapable of consenting because they are too oppressed.

      Even anti-natalism is growing.

      Killing your own unborn is deemed a good thing, while putting chickens in cages is deemed horrific.

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  13. But the claim is that sexually permissive societies are especially likely to become morally corrupt. If that is the claim, then it should be clearly demonstrated that a significant number of sexually permissive societies have actually become morally corrupt.however, we don't see that in terms that are mutually agreed, such as racial equality, lack of sexism, lack of slavery, lack of persecution by apostates, freedom of religion etc. If permissive sexual morality is more likely to lead to moral corruption, then the more sexually permissive we become the more likely we should be to countenance e.g. slavery. This hasnt happened, and so the claim fails.

    Regarding sins against our habitat, we are actually far more aware of, and condemnatory, towards the exploitation and destruction of the natural world than in the sexually repressive past. The destruction of forests across Europe happened during a time of greater sexually repression, nuclear weapons are a legacy of a more sexually repressed era, the extinction of high profile animals like the dodo, the Moa, and others, all occured in more sexually repressed societies.

    If one is going to claim that it is more likely that sexually permissiveness is likely to lead to moral corruption generally, then it needs to be shown that sexually permissive nations (like the modern west) are actually more morally corrupt generally than sexually repressed societies in both the present and past. And it is not sufficient to point to the sexual permissiveness as the moral corruption because the claim is that the sexual permissiveness leads to corruption beyond the sexual sphere.

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    1. There's nothing more sexist than porn but it is manufactured and flourishes in sexually permissive societies. That people have become so benighted they believe that the reduction of other human beings to private instruments of personal gratification - to a commodity for sexual indulgence - is proof to Aquinas's and Feser's point that sexual sins blind people's moral understanding.

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    2. I dispute the contention that there is "nothing" more sexist than porn. I think the killing of female babies in China is more sexist, as is the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, and as was the treatment of women in Aquinas's society, where they were considered basically subservient to men. And given that porn usually involves men as well, it can hardly be considered "sexist" in the sense of being against women. And so this would just be another example of alleged shortcomings with regard to sexual morality, which doesn't advance the argument forward, because we are looking for examples beyond that

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    3. And given the fact that the sexually repressive past literally treated human beings as property to be bought and sold like animals, you still have all your work ahead of you to show that sexually permissive societies are *especially* at risk of becoming morally corrupt. Because we can see just how disgustingly morally corrupt the sexually repressive world is/was, so the bar is really very low indeed.

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    4. Porn does buy and sell people like property and animals and normalizes treating people like private commodities. And abortion only becomes wrong when women are selected? That's rather sexist itself. Slavery is evil but not as evil as abortion because abortion is permanent whereas a slave might be freed and if people do not have a right to live all other rights and freedoms are non-existent.

      The moral blindness of the left makes them insensitive to the worst crime against humanity: the wilfull and arbitrary killing of a group or class of human beings who are killed for no other reason than daring to inconveniently exist.

      Lastly, denying gender and marriage and sex's orientation to procreation/children is sexual repression. Therefore modern society is the most sexually repressive to have ever existed and the morally blind left is responsible for the modern sexual dark age.

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    5. Pretty sure that legal porn requires the consent of the parties involved, which makes it categorically different from chattel slavery. But, if you are right, why hasn't chattel slavery like that which was practiced in America become legal on Sweden? Is it your position that Sweden will be legalising chattel slavery like in the US, due to sexual permissiveness? Are you expecting to see black people kidnapped and sold into slavery in Sweden? If so, okay, but I really don't think it is likely.

      It is nonsense to say that the modern age is more sexually repressed than the past or Saudi Arabia, as there are far more things that are legal for consenting adults to engage in in the West than in Islamic societies. And in any case that claim really doesn't matter in relation to this argument. The point is that the West allows and accepts a greater range of sexual expression than other societies - the actual name you give that (permissive Vs regressive) is irrelevant.

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    6. "But, if you are right, why hasn't chattel slavery like that which was practiced in America become legal on Sweden? Is it your position that Sweden will be legalising chattel slavery like in the US, due to sexual permissiveness?"
      That was an awesome leap of logic.
      You surely know better than to assume that people will follow through their folly with immediate and indisputable* consistency. The answer is that there are other factors that you're asking us to ignore when you pose these gotcha questions, such as the importance of Hobbesian rationality and the development of new technologies that help avoid the consequences and/or motivations for assorted forms of wickedness.

      Sometimes what seems obvious to us happens to be a remote implication, and thus will take time for those who are blinded to the obvious to work their way to.

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    7. Okay, but then there is no evidence for the claim that they are at especial risk of falling into moral corruption generally, because that claim itself ignores all the other factors that are in play in society and the individual. Until the sexually permissive west starts to reintroduce chattel slavery or adopt the racial practices of the sexual repressive past, or the religious freedom policies of Saudi Arabia, I simply don't see the justification for acceptinf Feser's assertion that sexually permissive societies are at especial risk of falling into general moral corruption. Perhaps you, or he, would care to estimate when it will happen? I mean, Sweden and the West generally has been sexually permissive from an AT perspective for about 70 years, so another 10? 20? I mean, even climate change activists put some numbers behind their predictions - you are giving literally nothing.

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    8. Unknown
      "Okay, but then there is no evidence for the claim that they are at especial risk of falling into moral corruption generally, because that claim itself ignores all the other factors that are in play in society and the individual."
      Please learn to read.
      1. A cogent argument has been made, and such arguments count as evidence.
      2. The argument given doesn't ignore these other factors. It doesn't make the absurd claim that sexual moral decline must lead back to slavery and racism. You're the one ignoring those other factors in leveling that awful excuse for a counterargument.

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    9. No, such arguments do not count as evidence. What counts as evidence is actual modern sexually permissive socities, none of which demonstrate the moral depravity of past socities in anything other than sexual matters.

      And it kind of does if the claim.is that sexual permissiveness must lead back to tyranny.

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    10. And, given the fact that chattel slavery, like concentration camps, are the acme of evil for a society (both practices in more sexually repressive socities), you have to show that modern sexually permissive socities have actually or are actually on the route to the same or similar levels of moral depravity. Not you, or anyone else here, has been able to provide a clear example of this.

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    11. It is clearly demonstrated. In liberal cultures we see the largest government sanctioned mass murder in human history, pride parades where all kinds of deviant and perverted behavior is celebrated, high divorce rates and out of wedlock births, and an economy run on usury. In fact, liberal cultures are so morally bankrupt vice is seen as virtue and virtue as vice.

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    12. Most of those examples are sexual matters, and so can be disregarded in this conversation. Regarding the claim of usury in our economy, I dispute that claim - our economy has its AT defenders as well as detractors. And, let's face it, even if your claim was true, it still wouldn't be as utterly depraved as the feudal economic system which essentially treated peasants as property of gentry, or even communism, which was far less sexually permissive than modern societies - they persecuted gay people for a start.

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    13. It is not an accident that most of the examples are directly related to sex for concupiscence is the mother of all sin. And that is kind of the point here. When a culture no longer recognizes the nature of sex everything else follows. What results is the break down of the family, #metoo, LGTBQ+ pride parades, an unlimited number of genders, the rejection of any innate masculine and feminine qualities, and finally government sanctioned mass murder.

      Modern usury does treat persons as property and in this sense is of the same genus as slavery. Anytime a lien is taken on persons rather than property (i.e. personal IOUs), it's in the category of slavery.

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  14. Once that is gone, let us see if the progressives maintain religious freedom, racial equality, etc.//

    The most irreligious western societies, like in Scandinavia, are consistently better with religious freedom and the status of women then Islamic societies, or the society of Aquinas, yet they are also sexually permissive.

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    1. We'll just ignore all the disgusting diseases that flourish in sexually permissive societies I guess. We'll ignore the life long guilt, shame and trauma people suffer from abortion and multiple failed relationships too.

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    2. Disgusting diseases flourish in sexually repressed societies - the Black Death, Ebola, Cholera, Malaria, Leprosy. Pretty certain that modern Scandinavia has a higher life expectancy than almost all sexually repressed societies, but I could be wrong.

      I suppose if you consider having multiple failed relationships to be the equivalent of slavery or the subjugation of women, or the killing of apostates and heretics, then yes I suppose modern sexually permissive societies are worse than sexually regressive ones.

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    3. That is a childish equivocation. Sexual promiscuity causes a litany of disgusting and debilitating diseases that are completely unnecessary. Sexual competence did not cause the Black Death or a single disease to spread: sexual immorality, however, does spread diseases.

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    4. Lots of things case disease - travel, diet, smoking, poor hygiene and yes, sex as well. But the contention here is that sexual permissiveness must lead to a general corruption of morality - and even if it is the case that sexual diseases are more common in sexually permissive societies, the amount of every other illness and ailment is far less.

      But maybe you are right and modern Sweden is more disease ridden and unhealthy than Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, or Medieval England. I doubt this though.

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    5. 1) Correlation does not imply causation. Sweden (and similar countries) is not more healthy because it has more immorality. Saudi Arabia is not more unhealthy because it has less immorality. You haven't established the causation. You could say that White countries are more healthy or Germanic languages cause the lack of diseases.

      2) Frequency of diseases is not the only way to measure the good of a society. Let alone "religious freedom" or "equality of women".

      3)Besides this, Saudi Arabia would claim that these are not goods but evils. Of course, Sweden is better according to the Western criteria than Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is better according to the Muslim criteria than Sweden. You need to argue what set of values is better. But you didn't argue. You just ASSUMED that your values are better. You are a fundamentalist that you can't conceive that people have different ways of seeing life than yours.

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  15. ***Writing from my phone, so I can't be as comprehensive as I would like.***

    Unknown,

    Look, your comparisons--such as to Sweden--are largely specious.

    First, technology helps to cover a lot of the reprecussions of immorality, especially of the sexual kind. For instance, without modern medicine, a sexual permissive society--both heterosexuals and homosexuals--would be filled with disease, bastards, abortion, etc. By contrast, a sexually healthy society of life long monogamous marriage would have almost no sexual diseases or such other issues. So modern technology masks a lot of the consequences.

    Second, as I mentioned earlier, the societies that you point to as examples are living on the embers of Christian morality. Soon, those embers will die. Thus, let us see what happens to the "morality" of those societies in 50 years, after the full repurcussions of tbe sexual revolution have really hit home. Given the track record of non-Christian or anti-Christian secular societies, the result likely won't be good.

    Third, comparing countries is not a good comparison, as within a country, there is enough variation to make comparison difficult. Instead, compare, for example, some sexually progressive city like San Francisco--a place literally covered in feces and homeless--to a sexually healthy place like, say, Warsaw, Poland. Unless you are a millionnaire, the latter is a better and healthier place to be then the former.

    Finally, it is funny that you mention Sweden and Jews/concentration camps, because while the Swedes likely will not build them, their progressive diversity mindset made them so stupid that they invited in tons of other people of a certain persuasion that have created no go zones and chased Jews out of cities like Malmo. So even in Sweden, their sexual obtuseness extented to other areas, and now they are paying for it.

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    1. 1) of course technology removes some of the consequences of sexual permissiveness. But we are talking about general moral corruption, not the physical consequences of the specific sexual corruption - of course a more sexually permissive society is going to have more STIs than a chaste society. But than isn't what is being discussed.

      2) okay, but until that actually happens it makes most sense to be sceptical of these absurd claims about sexually permissive societies being at especial risk of general moral corruption. I simply see no evidence that they are at *especial* risk of moral corruption. They would have to fall pretty darn far to overtake the sexually repressed chattel slave era, or Saudi Arabia.

      3) Your contention is that Warsaw Poland is a nicer place to live because of sexual repressiveness? But I'm willing to bet Warsaw Poland now is a nicer place to live than Warsaw Poland 250 years ago, when it was even more sexually repressive, wouldn't you say? Or how about Houston Texas 150 years ago, vs Houston Texas today?

      4) even if that were true, it would be actions perpetrated by the sexually repressive. Or do those people you mention typically approve of gay marriage and single mothers and abortions? I don't think so.

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    2. Also, re 3) if decreasing Christianity/increasing sexual permissiveness makes places incrementally worse places to live due to general moral corruption then we would expect Sweden to have become a less desirable or moral generally immoral society than 70 or 150 years ago. I mean, you can make the argument that Sweden is more racist now than 150 years ago, but I doubt it.

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    3. As many have pointed out, the chief problems with your contentions here is that you are cherrypicking criteria that happen to be favorable to you (racism is not the only way that a society can be bad, and it is likely that many of the things you see as good or morally neutral we regard as grave evils, such as abortion and acceptance of the transgender ideology), and also failing to establish any kind of causation (ie, the advantages of Sweden are not there *because* of their sexual permissiveness, but because they happen to live in the most technologically advanced and wealthy part of the world. To prove your point, you would have to show that Sweden would *not* be better off with a culture that valued and promoted sexual sanity, lifelong monogamy, etc, than it is now, not merely that it is better than some other place that happens to believe 'repressive' values.

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    4. I am disregarding every aspect of sexual immorality because that is the very thing under discussion. I am focussing on those things I assume we all believe are bad e.g. slavery

      I don't need to show causation. I don't believe they are better because of their progressive sexual morality. But that is not is what being argued. Feser is arguing that a society with permissive sexual morality will become generally morally corrupt and tyrannial. I am saying, "okay, show me". Show me the sexually permissive sexual society today that is as generally morally corrupt or tyrannical as Saudi Arabia, or Medieval England, or China, or a host of other sexually repressed societies. If it is the case, as Feser contends, that sexually permissive societies are at especial risk of falling into tyranny, then he or you should be able to give examples of where the have done so in the modern world. The fact that *none* have fallen into such tyranny and *none* have fallen into a general moral decay, seems to indicate that they are not actually at especial risk of doing so. Talk of what Sweden would be without sexual permissiveness is irrelevant, because the claim is that Sweden with sexual permissiveness should be a generally morally corrupt and tyrannical *now*. It isn't.

      And the only comparisons actual available are with the past or with other nations. If those aren't acceptable to you, then the claim that morally permissive societies are at especial* risk is fundamentally unmeasurable, and can dismissed out of hand. If someone told me that a type of bridge was at especial risk of falling down, but could not provide a single instance of one doing so over decades of their existence, it is rational to be sceptical of their claims.

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    5. And i should add, if Now-Sweden is "tyrannical" and "generally morally corrupt" in relation to a hypothetical Sweden without permissiveness, then I have to say that Now-Sweden still has not reached the grotesque moral corruption of the sexually repressive past, so the claim that they are at *especial* risk of falling into general moral corruption fails, because they still possess more moral sanity then those sexually repressive societies did/do.

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    6. First off, yes you do need to establish causation, because if modern Sweden is more moral than past Sweden, but only by accident, a result of technology advancing and wealth increasing, that is like claiming that, because an inbred millionaire has a better quality of life than a non-inbred homeless person, that inbreeding does not harm your quality of life. It obviously does, and the inbred in this case only has better because of his wealth, which has nothing to do with being inbred.

      You claim to be ignoring divisive topics and sticking to "what we both accept", but this is an obvious evasion. By doing so you are deliberately sidestepping the major moral problems with most modern societies. Refusing to do so is like the Islamic apologist arguing that Saudi Arabia is obviously better than Sweden because it doesn't permit idolatry - it is a deliberate attempt to narrow the field of debate to the point where you can't lose. Sweden needn't go back to the sins of the past, they can invent new ones. Consider the lack of conscience rights - Swedish doctors can be forced to perform abortions regardless of their beliefs, which is unique among even the EU.

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    7. No, I don't need to show causation, because it doesnt matter if these societies are better because of sexual permissiveness or are sexually permissive because they are better. Feser's argument is that they will become morally corrupt as a result of sexually permissive morality - this does not require causation. if true it is enough to show that sexually permissive morality exists alongside non-corrupted morals. And to go to your analogy, if an inbred family has existed for generations, and *every* inbred family is wealthy and healthier, and every non-inbred family is in poverty and sick, then the claim that being inbred results in an *especial* risk of being in poverty and illness should also be considered sceptically. It is only by seeing the actual results of inbreeding that one can claim that inbreeding leads to poverty.

      In any case, it is not the claim that Sweden is superior because of its technology or health, but because of its *morals* - its lack of slavery, racism, etc. If moral degeneracy must result from sexual permissiveness, then you would expect to see sexually permissive societies exhibit them more frequently than sexually repressed societies. You don't.

      And I am ignoring the issue of sexual permissiveness because we aren't talking about that issue as such - we are talking about general morality that is claimed is corrupted as a result of sexual permissiveness.

      Regarding the Swedish doctors - if true is still wouldn't demonstrate that they are at *especial* risk of moral corruption. Afterall, sexually repressive societies ignore conscience rights all the time - Aquinas's society persecuted heretics, and Saudi Arabia executes apostates. You still have all your work ahead of you to show that sexually permissive societies at at especial risk of falling into general moral error, not simply the same risk that sexually repressive societies have/are in



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    8. I think the fundamental problem here comes down to "general morality". You seem to have a different understanding of such than what we here think about it, and the casual assumption that we both agree on what it contains or what is the best example of it is causing us to talk past each other.

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    9. From my reading of this blog, things like slavery, execution for apostasy, racist segregation, the subjugation do women, would all be condemned as contrary to the AT moral law? In anycase, Feser is arguing precisely that sexually permissive morality leads to corruption of morality generally, meaning that there are moral considerations beside the sexual, and therefore it is precisely those non-sexual morals that I am saying the sexually permissive west is vastly better at than Aquinas's society, Saudi Arabia, or any other sexually repressive nation, past or present, that you care to name.

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    10. Would you care to name a non-sexually related moral consideration that Aquinas's society is clearly much better at than the modern sexually permissive West? And not just better, but so much better as to justify Feser's claim that it indicates that sexually permissive morals put society at *especial* risk of general moral corruption. Because I genuinely cannot think of a single example.

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    11. Rampant abortion is proof of moral corruption. Children do not get a choice in the matter (which obliterates lame leftist appeals to excusing immorality on the grounds of its being "consensual.") So your attempt to excuse the reduction of a human being to a commodity to be used for personal self-gratification on the grounds of "consent" holds no water. Consent doesn't actually matter and feeding the vice that takes pleasure in another human being's debasement or humiliation requires a morally corrupt society. Modern society indulges in this vice. Therefore modern society has become morally corrupt on account of sexual permissiveness.

      It frankly creeps me out thar the apologists of sexual debauchery either pretend to be or are actually blind to the glaring slippery slope that is obvious in things like porn production and consumption: that it habituates its producers and consumers to see other human beings as nothing else than instruments of their own selfish pleasure and gratification. This opens wide the door to outright slavery.

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    12. From my reading of this blog, things like slavery, execution for apostasy, racist segregation, the subjugation do women, would all be condemned as contrary to the AT moral law? In anycase, Feser is arguing precisely that sexually permissive morality leads to corruption of morality generally, meaning that there are moral considerations beside the sexual, and therefore it is precisely those non-sexual morals that I am saying the sexually permissive west is vastly better at than Aquinas's society, Saudi Arabia, or any other sexually repressive nation, past or present, that you care to name.

      But Feser seems to be arguing that individuals and societies who are dominated by sexual vice, or highly corrupted in sexual matters, become generally morally corrupt. Until recent times I think most examples would involve individuals or groups within a society, I can't think of many past societies where sexual vice has become a central thing on a social level. (Others have already pointed that in the past this kind of thing would have destroyed a society and been unviable).

      A society revolving around sexual vice, with highly corrupted sexual attitudes on a social level is probably something that has only really come into existence in certain developed nations in the last 20-30 years. There does seem to be a developing tendency in these nations to squander their moral inheritance and start to ignore lessons accumulated in the past.

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    13. Okay, so you view consensual pornography as worse than chattel slavery. That's a view I suppose. Im not sure it is one that can be cogently argued from an AT perspective, but I'm sure others have a view on that.

      And the fact that sexually permissive societies today haven't introduced chattel slavery or the racism of the past is again evidence that they are superior in that regard to past sexually repressive societies.

      This opens wide the door to outright slavery.//

      And yet no where has a sexually permissive society reintroduced slavery. Let me state that again, for clarity: not a single sexually permissive society has become so morally debauched as the sexually repressive past in allowing and approving of chattel slavery. On that basis, again, the claim that sexually permissive societies are at *especial* risk of moral corruption fails. You still have all your work ahead of you to show that they are at especial risk of moral corruption, and that the vices you see (consentual pornography) are categorically worse than chattel slavery or execution of apostates.

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    14. There does seem to be a developing tendency in these nations to squander their moral inheritance and start to ignore lessons accumulated in the past. //

      And I am directly denying that, and not one of these very clever people on here, or yourself, have actually provided a clear example of a sexually permissive Western society that is morally worse in the non-sexual sphere to Aquinas's society or any other sexually repressive society. Or are claiming that modern Sweden is more racist,more sexist, less religiously free then it was 150 years ago, or that Houston Texas is less morally good (aside from sexual matters) than Houston Texas 150 years ago. By any, non-sexual measure, modern west end societies are superior - they are less racist, more religiously free, less likely to treat women as inferior or to subjugate them etc. Name your non-sexual criteria and that willing to be that the sexually repressive past/present is worse than, or no better than, the modern West.

      Even our friend above who claims that pornography instrumentalises people has to contend with the fact that the sexually repressive past literally treated human beings as chattel goods to be bought and sold, and killed people for heresy and/or apostasy. So again, there is simply no evidence that modern sexually permissive societies are at especial* risk of moral corruption

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    15. Could you give an example of Christians selling each other as chattel goods? You realize this was more the hallmark of the Church's implacable pagan and Islamic opponents, don't you?

      You are right that in the West people became virtually attached to the land they worked. But strictly and legally speaking you bought or traded in the use of the land and rights to its fruits or products.

      Christians were the primary spoil of the Medieval slave trade by both Islamic and pagan barbarian raiding parties. At times Christians would reply in kind particularly with hostages they captured defending against such raids. This is deplorable but hardly evidence that Christians and Christianity as a social force pushed towards sla ery. In fact, albeit passively, the practice of slavery disappeared from Europe directly under the influence of the Church. Where the Spanish started buying African slaves from African kings who were already in the habit of enslaving their own people to feed the Islamic slave market, the Pope issued a bull excommunicating anyone involved in the practice, regardless of the race or religion of the slave.

      But none of this excuses the fact you are admitting the porn industry is in fact comparable to reducing human beings to mere commodities or merchandise and obscenely try to excuse this moral abomination by pointing to a by-gone age, as if it mattered. Sexual permissiveness is the direct cause of this modern moral abomination and therefore suffices to prove that modern moral sexual permissiveness causes immorality.

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    16. Sexual permissiveness is the direct cause of this modern moral abomination and therefore suffices to prove that modern moral sexual permissiveness causes immorality.//

      You seem to have missed the point of this discussion, and also failed to understand my position. Firstly, I do not accept that it commodifies humans, because they are still treated as humans possessing will - that is why their consent is required. I am also denying that pornography is worse than chattel slavery, a product of a sexually repressive past. That modern western societies have not reintroduced chattel slavery is sufficient evidence alone that they are morally superior to those sexually repressive societies that did have chattel slavery. And you tacitly admit this in another post where you say it opens the door to the reintroduction of slavery - it could only reopen the door if it was a lesser moral depravity.

      And even were it the case that pornography was as equally morally repulsive to chattel slavery, you still haven't proved that Feser's argument is correct that sexual permissiveness is an especial risk to general morality. You have only succeeded in showing that all human societies are at risk of moral corruption, which I'm sorry to tell you, but no one anywhere denies, least of all me.

      Now, unless you have something new or interesting to say, I'm afraid I won't reply to any more of your comments, as there as other people on here with more challenging objections (even the conservative who thinks adults screwing 13 year olds is morally acceptable)

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    17. @Unknown

      I apologise if I'm missing something important in your argument, but I think you're conveniently classifying abortion on demand as a sexual matter, disqulifying it as evidence of moral corruption.

      As a reminder: on AT, abortion is murder. So when pointing to it, your opponent is highlighting the fact that there exists in the sexually permissive societies of today wide societal and state acceptance (if not promotion) of murder of innocents by people with grave obligations to their victims.

      Then there's irreligion and/or religious indifferentism, which are profoundly evil on AT. The purchase of religious toleration at the price of betraying the highest good is a very bad deal on AT.

      In fact, religion and parenting concern the most important human goods. The at least possible lack of evident moral decay in other areas of human life is plausibly accounted for, I think, by considering the pressures of societal selection, improvements in social engineering and incentivesation/marketing via the modern media and general material wealth. 'Give it time' seems a good enough counter, especially considering the historically rather brief existence of societal laxity in sexual matters.

      I also think that one should not omit to mention that the notable abolitions of the evils such as chattel slavery were carried out by the sexually 'repressive' precursors of the countries in question. If we are entertaining guesses concerning the plausibility of Sweden introducing chattel slavery, and I concur in your assessment, I do not consider the suggestion that chattel slavery would retained and rationalised if already present and important enough to be at all implausible.

      P.S.
      I submit that Saudi Arabia is a suboptimal counterexample: Salafism is bad religion, and Saudi sexual mores can be easily considered lax (if selectively so).

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    18. Thank you for your reply.

      I appreciate that moral acceptance of abortion from an AT perspective would be gravely immoral. In that one regard only would modern western socities be considered inferior.

      Re irreligion, I suppose this is arguable, but I have yet to read the AT theorist who says that it is better to kill heretics than allow apopstatsy or irreligion. Maybe you could direct me to them? I don't think Feser has made this argument anywhere?

      I think there has been long enough in certain nations: 70 years at the least in some places. Care to guess when it will happen? Given that the sexual permissive culture is founded on notional individual choice, I don't see it adopting slavery or racism anytime soon. Presumably you see how this "give it time" approach effectively insulates your position from ever being verified by actual observation - 150 years have past, too soon! 250 years, too soon! Care to give even a general estimate in years when this collapse will happen, and what actual evidence you see of the collapse happening, in terms of those other areas?

      And I don't think anyone seriously consider Saudi Arabia to be more sexually permissive than the West. They kill/physically punish homosexuals and adulterers afterall. And you could select any number of other Islamist socities, or indeed any other number of Christian African socities. Or indeed slavery nations from the past.

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    19. PS,

      In regards to chattel slavery, I would point out that it was banned by a relatively more sexually permissive era than the millennia before it.

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    20. In regards to chattel slavery, I would point out that it was banned by a relatively more sexually permissive era than the millennia before it.

      Not in the British Empire. The idea that Britain in the 19th century was less observant as far as the traditional sexual morality Feser is talking about compared to 1000 years before is bizarre.

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    21. I think there has been long enough in certain nations: 70 years at the least in some places.

      It is more like 20-30 years. Traditional sexual morality has been a significant influence in Western societies until quite recent times. The tendency to normalisation of serious sexual vice as a societal norm is probably linked to the growth in internet use and cultural/educational developments in the last couple of decades.


      And I don't think anyone seriously consider Saudi Arabia to be more sexually permissive than the West. They kill/physically punish homosexuals and adulterers afterall. And you could select any number of other Islamist socities, or indeed any other number of Christian African socities. Or indeed slavery nations from the past.

      AFAIK Saudi princes seem to have about 20+ wives, keep harems of concubines for their other sexual needs, the laws against sodomy appear to be very selectively enforced, death penalty for adultery is not part of traditional sexual morality etc. Saudi as an example of a country that observes traditional Christian sexual morality; no.

      You seem fixated on things like chattel slavery as a judge of virtue. Chattel slavery is economically inefficient and a waste of resources anyway, purely self interested reasons would be enough to see it abolished.

      One of the signs of decline in moral virtue in Western European societies is the re-emergence of strange forms of racialist thinking and bizarre immigration policies.

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    22. Also, Feser seems (and Aquinas definitely is) talking about traditional Christian sexual morality and vice and sexual corruption in the context of it.

      Changing to talk about sexually permissive and repressive societies (whatever definition for this is used) seems like a way of changing the subject.

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    23. I find the notion that Aquinas's society was more sexually permissive than the 19th century to be equally bizarre. What about Aquinas's society leads you to think it was more sexually permissive?

      Contraception, the great sign of sexual permissiveness has been pretty heavily accepted in the West since the end of WW2. That is the signpost I am taking my cue from.

      Regarding Saudi attitudes to sex. I highly doubt sodomy and adultery are widely tolerated in those communities. Punishment for adultery very definitely is part of traditional approaches to sexual morality.

      I suppose if you want to think the modern West is more racist than 150 or 200 years ago that is fine, but I don't think it really works as a claim. And the At approach to current immigration policies is not settled, to put it mildly.

      I am using the terms sexually permissive and repressive as short hand for socities that broadly accept homosexuality Vs those who don't, given what Feser says in this article I think it is pretty clear that that is what he has in mind. On that measure, Saudi Arabia very definitely is AT in its approach.

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    24. Re chattel slavery. What you have described are the conditions for it not be utilised, not for it to be banned and condemned. That it remains banned and very heavily condemned does redoubt to the moral strength of western socities

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    25. @Unknown
      The problem you have Unknown is that you fail to perceive that pornography habituates people to chattel slavery by attacking the root moral in opposition to slavery; namely, seeing your neighbour as a human being with their own proper dignity and not as an instrument or means to an end.

      The meaningless "consent" (does a drug addict doing porn to keep a roof over their head and get their high actually provide consent?) does nothing to excuse the immorality of the producer and consumer of porn that reduces human beings to a commodity for the purpose of base self-gratification or profit.

      Your incapacity to see how abominable the tolerance of pornography is is proof of what Dr Feser and St Thomas are talking about when they refer to the blindness lechery causes.

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    26. Timocrates,

      So you consider pornography as bad as chattel slavery. Okay. I'm pretty sure Feser has never argued that though.

      And if you think acceptance of pornography will lead to reacceptance of chattel slavery then I can't dissuade you, but I am willing to wager pretty much everything that it isn't going to happen. I fear you will be waiting a long time if you hope to see acceptance of slavery in the west.

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    27. And I would just point out that for pretty much all of human history, people have treated and accepted the treatment of others as means to profit. So all the west is doing is exhibiting the exact same vice that humanity has always exhibited, unless you mean to entertain the ridiculous notion that medieval and ancient socities did not excuse or justify the exploitation of others for profit or gratification.

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    28. Unknown has problems both with history and logic.

      1. One example of historical confusion can be seen here:

      I find the notion that Aquinas's society was more sexually permissive than the 19th century to be equally bizarre. What about Aquinas's society leads you to think it was more sexually permissive?

      Contraception, the great sign of sexual permissiveness has been pretty heavily accepted in the West since the end of WW2. That is the signpost I am taking my cue from.


      When challenged about the 19th C (when abolitionism arose and was successful, the response refers to post WWII contraception. Really?

      Further there is plenty of evidence that Aquinas's world was less "repressed" than the 19th C Brits. E.g., his point about tolerating harlots lest the world be consumed by lust contrasts with the Victorian policy suppressing the use of licensed brothels by the Indian Army.

      2. I'm not the first to point out that chattel slavery was NOT characteristic of Latin West. In fact, there were very strict rules of when slavery was allowed, and they were punitive in nature. Which doesn't really differ with our own practice. (The same goes for POWs.) Granted, Iberia was a special case, but then, special cases are special.

      3. There is a general impressionist conflation of different eras throughout. The clearest case is the talking about racial attitudes. Racism just wasn't a thing in Aquinas's day. The question of intermarriage, a century later in Chaucer (Man of Law's Tale), is solely a religious issue. (The same applies even later, in Ariosto). Which contrasts with the 1960s, and a fortiori, earlier days. It is a progressive superstion that if things were bad at time T, they must have been at least as bad - and probably worse - at T-1.

      4. But really, the logical problem is even worse. The standard set for the moral inferiority of the 13th C comes down to "they disagreed with us." That is as heroic a begging of the question as I can conceive.

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    29. Just to clarify, when I say (in #3) I was thinking about the 19th, or earlier 20th C. I ought to have made that clear.(Note that Othello is a midpoint. Brabantio doesn't like the marriage, but he ultimately didn't stop it. In 1900, he would have. Even those sympathetic to the lovers saw a greater problem, e.g., King Solomon's Mines.) The modern progressive assumptions are baseless here.

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    30. 1. I was using the example of acceptance of contraception as an example of the initiation of the modern sexually permissive society, not as the sexual permissiveness of Aquinas's society.

      I am pretty sure that there was a fair few prostitutes in Victorian London, and cities generally, perhaps indicating that these services were being used quite frequently to support such a population of prostitutes?

      2. & 3. I know chattel slavery was not practiced in exactly the same way in Medieval England as it was in the 19th century. My point was that it is and was practiced in more sexually repressive and cultures than today, like the 18th and 19th century.

      Regarding racism, again the point was to draw attention to earlier sexually repressive socities that failed on this essential moral question, whereas the sexually permissive west have largely got it right. And you ignore the anti-Jewish pogroms and persecution in England. But I suppose you might classify them as anti-religious persecution?

      When discussing broad categories of nations and socities there will of course be some generalisation.

      4. I obviously don't have the time or inclination in a combox argument to establish exactly what AT proponents regard as the moral failings of sexually repressive socities, so I of course made some assumptions that we could all agree on things like freedom of religion, the treatment of women, racism, and slavery. I don't think that is a real big failing of mine but I requirement of the format. What do you expect, after all, in a combox!?

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    31. societies today haven't introduced chattel slavery or the racism of the past

      Only if you ignore the outright hatred of whites and the destruction of American history and culture.

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  16. Ed, your counter-pharisaism remembered me this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRQNePWbEaU

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  17. So is anyone going to bring up how in the Medieval ages prostitution was blithely tolerated by the Catholic Church and widespread? Not to mention the series of Popes and other officials having mistresses alongside other sexual deviances as well. So much for "sexual morality"

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    1. No one has ever claimed that the Church consists of morally perfect human beings. ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Your attempt at the tu quoque does not even rise to the dignity of a fallacy; it is a mere irrelevance.

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    2. prostitution was blithely tolerated by the Church
      And if it wasn't leftists would be howling like hyenas about how mean and intolerant the medieval Church was for having those mean and oppressive inquisitional courts prying into people's private business, lives and affairs. I and many others are simply sick and tired of playing this ridiculous game.

      The fact the Church saved millions of lives by eradicating the practice of abortion goes completely unmentioned, of course. God surely knows how many people only exist today because of the Church's success in ending pagan practices like exposure and infanticide but nonetheless rail madly against that same Church.

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    3. Oh shut it, Timocrates. You're the guy who claims to be "pro-life" yet have no issue with "illegal" immigrants being detained and put in horrible camps by Trump and with children being separated from their families and being subjected to horrible conditions in these camps as well even risking death. So spare me the fake "pro-life" attitude.

      Also stop with the whole holier-than thou attitude. You're the one who supports Trump and believes ridiculous things like "racism against white people" or whatever. It' impossible to take you seriously on anything about morality.

      Why don't you go whine about being kicked out of college for being a Trump supporter or something(BTW we both know you got kicked out for doing something racist or bigoted and are upset that you didn't get away with it like Trump does.)

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    4. Racism against white people


      In scare quotes!! :O

      Must be that Muslim guy who's drunk too deep from the rusty social studies handbooks. More on activism less on scholarship.

      What were the three letters for his name again?

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  18. Prof Feser

    This statement of yours points to the reason why a sexually permissive society is encouraged:

    Repeatedly taking sexual pleasure in activity that is directly contrary to natures ends dulls the intellects perception of nature, to the point that the very idea that some things are contrary to the natural order loses its hold upon the mind.

    The state is the beneficiary. That is why it is encouraged and celebrated.

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  19. Prof Feser

    This book may aid you in your analysis, the thesis contained within its pages is compelling:

    Stoller, R. (1976). Perversion: the erotic form of hatred. Hassocks, Sussex.

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  20. I know several homosexual people. Your statements all are true. They have confessed to me a deep sense of shame, of hopelessness, etc. The way they numb their consciences is to seek public approval, but this makes the shame only worse. They don't know how to behave with their condition, but anything that reeks of "they want to take my freedom away" is evil to them, which means that chastity is not an option most of the time.

    I am deeply grateful that a scholar like yourself delivers a "Scholastic" foundation for what I have known by interrelational experience.

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    1. I know several homosexual people too and they have no sense of shame or hopelessness at all.
      They know very well how to behave with their condition, namely by having a loving relationship with their partner.
      The bottom line is that each indivudual is different and that seems on of the things the Scholastic foundation ignores.

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    2. Unknown is a refreshing voice of reason in these comboxes--but certainly not the only one. Feser and the Aquinas partisans make their good points too. But I like this quote from Unknown--"Modern societies are far superior morally to the society of Aquinas"--which seems largely unanswerable because it is so obviously, in the main, true. The weak counter-points ("what about abortion, etc.") and the prediction (by Anonymous) that, if we all just wait for thirty years to pass, Sweden will be in a decline brought on by sexual corruption and the letting of Muslims into the country, just reinforces Unknown's clear-sighted, zoomed-out, big picture observation. If the West's scientific and moral foundations over the past four centuries have been, on close inspection, incoherent--and "Aristotle's revenge" is asserting itself at long last, then why is it that the West has been so triumphant on so many levels when it has not worried itself overmuch about Aristotle or what Moses or Jesus thought or would do?

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    3. Walter makes a very important point: "The bottom line is that each indivudual is different and that seems on of the things the Scholastic foundation ignores." Yes. Any discussion of sex ought to include evolution--which is the basis for any contemporary discussion of "difference" (Walter's word). Difference or variation is what evolution functions on, and this variation is on the individual, not the species, level. To make behavior uniform on the species level, not allowing for behavioral differences to emerge at the individual level, would be an attempt to arrest evolutionary experiment.

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    4. Yes, gay people have a deep sense of shame but I've never seen a case where a gay man became heterosexual (not as in: occasionally can make love to a women, but as in: attraction to women is so compelling that it leads to blindness of mind for the exgay).

      So there's no point in internalizing the shame because it isn't worth it. It's basically declaring war against neurology. It is neurologically impossible for the shame to lead up to anything productive like a change.

      And the option that the RCC gives "practice celibacy" doesn't fix anything. Sexuality is essential to thinking because figuring out what's a good idea is basically figuring out what turns your mind on and causes it to orgasm. If a gay man has disordered sexuality (and he does) then he's basically condemned to never have a worthwhile idea. Which faith offers a cure for that? None. Not Evangelicals, not Catholics, not Islam, not Buddhism. NOBODY.

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    5. If the West's scientific and moral foundations over the past four centuries have been, on close inspection, incoherent--and "Aristotle's revenge" is asserting itself at long last, then why is it that the West has been so triumphant on so many levels when it has not worried itself overmuch about Aristotle or what Moses or Jesus thought or would do?

      This seems question begging or at least not immediately warranted conclusion to assert. One needs a non question begging conception of 'triumphant' first. Secondly , why consider such 'triumphant' ness as foundation of moral theory or consider it as evidence of conceptual coherence of a metaphysical picture? Keep in mind that these sorts of questions are very much discussed in contemporary philosophy of science. Metaphysical and moral theories should be considered on their own terms with known costs and benefits as foundation for analysis and comparison. And moral picture needs to be adjusted for moral luck, that is why I disagree that certain past societies were necessarily morally worse than certain modern ones.

      Yes. Any discussion of sex ought to include evolution--which is the basis for any contemporary discussion of "difference" (Walter's word). Difference or variation is what evolution functions on, and this variation is on the individual, not the species, level. To make behavior uniform on the species level, not allowing for behavioral differences to emerge at the individual level, would be an attempt to arrest evolutionary experiment.

      Right, but it is plausible to think that any moral theory needs substantive commitments, especially to tackle with evolutionary debunking. So certain clash or at least some extra commitment isn't confined to moral theory of our interests here.

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    6. Hi Red. By "triumphant," I would offer as an example Einstein. Einstein didn't start with Aristotle--and he didn't finish with Aristotle. He was a creative. He didn't discover Aristotle waiting for him at the end of his road. Einstein might be wrong in the end, but who knows? The fact is he made progress; he brought interesting ideas into the world. If he had edited himself with an elaborate metaphysics worked out in advance of his thinking about physics, he might well have found himself in a position similar to 1970s geologists who had a prior commitment to believing that continents could not drift. So the operative success and triumph of the West over the past four centuries doesn't seem to be a hangover from Christianity and Thomism, but in having made space for experiment (mental, behavioral, intellectual, empirical, practical, etc.). Getting the metaphysical system right first, and following it to universal, necessary conclusions, seems an impediment to human experiment and innovation. Democracy, human rights, Locke, capitalism, science, and so on loosen the grip of conformity, making space for creatives.

      As a teenager, Michelangelo was terrified of the medievalist Savonarola. He needed to find sympathetic people who would give him space for his art. He found them. Thank goodness for the reforms of the Renaissance. But even then, his Sistine nudes were scandalous, and needed protection from the religiously severe. Protestant reformers, for instance, thought the nudes scandalized Christianity. Thank goodness for avant-garde Catholic clergy. We wouldn't have Michelangelo's art without them.

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    7. When correctly modified so that no questions are begged and that when we compare morality we are actually comparing apples with apples . . . .

      The idea that modern society is superior to Aquinas'society is utterly trivial.

      You'd need to control the variables to make your point if the point is to argue for the surprised philosophical moral beliefs of the moderns over the scholastics.

      For example, you'd have to account for democracy vs monarchy, you'd have to account for the great gulf in technology. Modernity has capable police institutions, it has food and water at the ready within walking distance every day. It has created immense wealth through the market economy that has trickled down to the lowest in the economic ladder so much that within less than a century people who live on less than $2 will have been eradicated. Education is far more available, medicine greatly improved quality of life.

      None of the above conceptually arises from the modern ethical philosophy. It depends on modern science, contingent historical matters like the British development of parliament and a development of economic theory.

      It's your burden to demonstrate that this sits comfortably with modernity and uncomfortably with scholasticism if you think it is anyway evidence for one over the other.

      The crucial pitfall you will need to evade is mistaking contingent historical events for inevitable philosophical consequences.

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    8. I think its wrong, as you are suggesting that certain conclusions don't have any metaphysical underpinning at all, this seems wrong about Einstein, he very clearly seems to have some heavy duty metaphysics behind all his theorizing, the sorts of picture we have to accept regarding time, causation, identity, persistence, etc are very much related to the scientific picture of the world.

      It seems you are thinking that asserting any sort of moral requirements amount to complete oppression and recommending any sort of metaphysical system amounts to complete final knowledge of the world with nothing more to be added.I don't think these are true or that a Thomist is asserting that.

      About art I would say there obviously are constraints on which sort of art is morally appropriate. I don't think anyone should deny that even if they don't accept particular view of such constraints.

      My point is that our creativity and freedom isn't being diminished in the view you are criticizing its just that proper constraints are being recommend. Everyone should think that there are some such constraints.

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    9. 'Getting the metaphysical system right first, and following it to universal, necessary conclusions, seems an impediment to human experiment and innovation'.

      How much of a handle to you have on Aristotelianism? This is s caricature even of medieval science let alone how the philosophers in that tradition would see it's relationship with science.

      I mean, even Ed himself has been at pains to point out you can do physics without coming down one way or the other on a philosophical interpretation of science.

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    10. Anyone who feeds Santi has no respect for this blog.

      I notice he lied when he said he wasn't sticking around this time. Let's all hope the blight doesn't last long this time. Not feeding the trolls, which some seem unable to accomplish, would be a gold start.

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    11. The fox condemns the trap, not himself. (Blake.)

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    12. Red: A jealous metaphysics can be as smothering to vision and creativity as a jealous deity. To paraphrase Emily D. again: "We would rather / Not with them / but with the others play." So I agree that one can read implicit metaphysics out of Einstein, and maybe an over-attachment to early successes accounts for some of Einstein's subsequent metaphysical rigidities ("God does not play dice," etc.). But my thought is that any language you overlay onto reality is going to color what one sees. It will make one sensitive to the noticing of some things as opposed to others. It will give you aspect seeing, which you might then mistake for the whole. Thus, even if Aristotle's language is, at bottom, correct in virtually all its particulars, it might not be useful along the way, and in this moment. Creative people might have good warrant for ignoring or disregarding it in pursuit of other intellectual or creative prey. The initiators of the scientific and political revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries thought they were better off ignoring Aristotle and the religious tradition, and to think about things afresh. The successes suggest they were vindicated in their intuitions.

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    13. Aristotle's Jedi: You wrote: "[Y]ou can do physics without coming down one way or the other on a philosophical interpretation of science." Obviously. One can bracket science from Aristotle's system (for example) and be successful. The past four centuries have proven that. But this blog post addresses sex. Can you bracket off moral reasoning from natural law successfully?

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    14. Aristotle's Jedi: Let me put it to you more precisely: Can you bracket off moral reasoning about homosexuality from natural law as a way of making some fresh progress on moral reasoning?

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    15. Obviously not *because you are doing moral reasoning*.

      You points about the history of science and philosophy are irrelevant to that, however. Which was my point.

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    16. "If the West's scientific and moral foundations over the past four centuries have been, on close inspection, incoherent--and "Aristotle's revenge" is asserting itself at long last, then why is it that the West has been so triumphant on so many levels when it has not worried itself overmuch about Aristotle or what Moses or Jesus thought or would do?"

      The Scientific foundations weren't incoherent though. That's s caricature.

      And then, when you take into account the scientific and so technological advancement on the one hand, you find much reason to see why the other (moral foundation) hasn't been a shit show

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    17. "Sexuality is essential to thinking because figuring out what's a good idea is basically figuring out what turns your mind on and causes it to orgasm."

      Is this for real? Perhaps all good logic textbooks should have chapters on orgasms?

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    18. Aristotle's Jedi: You wrote that "scientific foundations" haven't been "incoherent," but Feser's newest book argues, at bottom, that they have been. That's "Aristotle's revenge." Feser's book is devoted to tidying up the incoherences that scientists have assumed along the way (atomism, over-reliance on mathematical models, multiple worlds interpretations of quantum physics, etc.), offering ways to bring science back into a logically possible realignment with Aristotle's system.

      So, Aristotle's Jedi, the A-T person can do science without attending to Aristotle's metaphysics only because philosophers like Feser are at the ready to clean up the debris of interpretational errors left over after the fact.

      My argument is that something like this has happened with ethical reasoning as well. Public reasoning about gay marriage over the past decade has ignored Aristotle (natural law, etc.) and A-T thinker now see their role as a mopping up project. In the meantime, real moral progress has been made (gay lives are better, human freedom has expanded, etc.).

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  21. I read Feser's "Aristotle's Revenge" this past week, and it is excellent from start to finish. There is a paragraph in it pertinent to Feser's discussion here of sex, and it suggests (at least to me) why his analogy of metaphysics with mathematics in this blog post is strained, at best. It appears on page 311, where Feser writes the following: "[O]n the most natural interpretation of [Einstein's] relativity...the theory describes a world that is entirely actual and devoid of potentiality. By contrast, on the most natural interpretation of quantum mechanics...the theory describes a world that is merely potential until actualized with the collapse of the wave function...In other words, it [quantum mechanics] can be read as recapitulating Aristotelian hylemorphism."

    Notice Feser's qualifying language ("natural," "can be read as," etc.), and that Feser is thus saying that Aristotle seems to go better with quantum, as opposed to Einsteinian, physics. For the discrepancies, he offers alternative, logical possibilities, but the point is this: there are lots of theories out there, and no one knows.

    Now read Feser in his blog post above: "[A] person...might take this [his pleasure in math perversity] as a personal attack on him, on what he is. 'I can’t help but believe that 2 + 2 = 5! That’s just the way nature made me!' Other people might pity him and start to think...the entire cultural tradition that had incorporated traditional mathematics would appear oppressive and something to be torn down."

    So here's why Feser's analogy doesn't work. Metaphysics is not math. Aristotle's system is not math. In many of their final pronouncements, metaphysical systems--including Aristotle's--are uncertain. With metaphysics (as in so much else in life), we are primarily in the realm of the logically possible, not the logically inescapable. 2+2=4 is inescapable, but Aristotle's system of metaphysics--and thus the system of values read out of it--is not.

    One reason we give space for gay marriage (for instance) is because we don't know if Aristotle and the deliverances of the traditional religions see it right. We can make place for plurality of perception and human practice because, at bottom, we wisely understand that we're not smart enough to know everything. Before imposing sexual conformity on others by law, "Cromwell's rule" needs foregrounding: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."

    Doubt is a virtue, and thus making space for dissent and alternative practices is a virtue. Isn't a failure to doubt--and the closing off of spaces from doubt--a form of immorality itself, in that it does not give proper place to it?

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    1. This is an interesting analysis but it seems wrong, or at least it seems way too costly.
      Problem here is that if what you say is true then there simply isn't any moral authority at all. Each moral proposition can be doubted then, even the one asserted in your post.

      Thing is metaphysical and moral theories are divisive but that doesn't mean that they don't have any authoritative plausibility at the end of the day. Nor does it mean that they don't follow from any sorts of first principles, for example the sorts you mention.

      I think you should not take Feser to mean that, it is ultimately a matter of choice which theory is true, if this is what you are thinking. What he means is that there are some other theoretical consideration which should guide our theory choice instead of the standard ones.

      And finally I doubt even mathematical truths are so authoritative among academics, I am sure you can find theories which entail that 2+2 could have been 9.

      So even though there might be reasonable disagreements it doesn't mean that certain moral intuition for example that certain sexual acts are impermissible or wrong are necessarily
      unreasonable.

      btw, are you the same Santi Farella, there was some blog I once read few years ago, Archimedes unchained or something like that was the name, did you wrote there?

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    2. Stop feeding the troll. Santi is the worst troll ever to inflict this place, including SP.

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    3. @Anonymous. "The most sublime act is to set another before you." (Blake.)

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    4. Anon, I was just addressing few interesting points. And it doesn't seem like he is trolling or anything like that in these posts.

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    5. Red: Yes, I am the same person. It's Prometheus Unbound, not Archimedes Unchained. : )

      I actually learned of Feser about a decade ago when he was in tussles with Jerry Coyne, and I blogged about them a bit, usually taking Feser's side. At one point, Feser linked to one of my blog posts. Feser has long struck me as a reliable and ethical voice in the discussion of the deepest philosophical problems. I trust him when he characterizes positions, that he'll be fair, and I trust him that he has focused in on the right problems. I enjoyed his most recent book very much. Obviously, that doesn't mean that I always agree with his conclusions. Fundamentally, I'm still in Richard Rorty's camp, but Feser is a very good foil for challenging my own ruts in thought.

      I read Feser as an espouser of a language game--an Aristotelian-Thomistic language game. The voice is the one that you can also find in two Catholic academic journals, "The Review of Metaphysics" and "The Thomist." Feser's voice, writing style, and sensibilities are roughly the same as in these.

      So when reading these, I ask myself, "What value is there in looking at the world in the Aristotelian way?" It's a live question for me, and I come back to it from time to time. Aristotle gives me another window on the world. That doesn't mean I want to abandon other windows. If you give up the quest for certain foundations, it's not a zero sum game.

      There are all sorts of creative languages generated by creative people in the world. Einstein's way of looking at the world is one; quantum physics is another; the reductionist's approach to science is another; Derrida's is another, etc. The Beatles made a language that I like. It's all about aspect seeing for me, not about reaching granite, "with rocks in place" (to quote Thoreau). Such a pursuit for ultimate foundations is human, but I'm not optimistic at all about the pursuit's prospects for success. For now, there are lots of ways to be human, play, and be spell cast by Dionysus. Aristotle's metaphysics, in my appraisal, is one of those ways.

      As to being morally ungrounded if not committed to one language or system, I don't know what to say. My best answer is to ask--"Who or what functions as an end in himself (or herself)?" Is it God? Is it the individual? Is it the state? Is it an animal or ecosystem? And then the obvious question is why, which brings up the Euthyphro dilemma. That clears a lot of fog around moral questions, at least for me. Who or what is being valued and disvalued, and to what end--and why now? Emily Dickinson once wrote, "God is indeed a jealous God / He cannot bear to see / That we would rather not with Him / But with each other play." God as summum bonum misses the play of now; the play of particulars. It leaves out too much.

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    6. Red, look up his past behavior on this blog. He is a logorrheic, self-indulgent, emotivist windbag. I recall it was quite normal for him to begin relatively lucid (though sometimes he'd jump right in with the emotivist, fallacious bs) and then draw numerous posters down his emotivist bs-hole. He may have changed, but I doubt it. Watch out. A Santi infection is quite virulent. It can spread as quickly and clog up the combox as much as SP or Counter-Rebel. He has already begun to post an awful lot in this thread. He's best treated very cautiously until there is strong evidence he has reformed.

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    7. Yes, I am the same person. It's Prometheus Unbound, not Archimedes Unchained. : )

      Oh Wow, that was comical from me.

      Well there is no way for me address all the points you mention here and above without either repeating myself or maybe going really off-topic. I will just try to be brief.

      A jealous metaphysics can be as smothering to vision and creativity as a jealous deity.

      Again, the simple fact of acknowledging ones metaphysics doesn't amount to asserting complete authority over every truth so this claim is not quite right, On the other hand to simply ignore ones metaphysics so as to not addressing its short comings or not allowing them to be addressed by your opponents is not the case of not engaging it. So a 'Jealous metaphysics' grounds every claim any theorist make, whether its about morality or something else.

      But my thought is that any language you overlay onto reality is going to color what one sees. It will make one sensitive to the noticing of some things as opposed to others. It will give you aspect seeing, which you might then mistake for the whole.
      Right, but simple possibility of being wrong should not make us stop any particular intellectual activity. If this is correct then this goes for everyone, not those who accept a particular view.

      The initiators of the scientific and political revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries thought they were better off ignoring Aristotle and the religious tradition, and to think about things afresh. The successes suggest they were vindicated in their intuitions.

      Again I doubt that particular vision of success should give us any evidence or justification of a particular metaphysical picture or ethical practices. They had their benefits but they also have their costs. If another system which is theoretically better but also incorporates certain elements of old systems which are thought to be unsuccessful then that isn't automatically evidence of its shortcoming.

      There are all sorts of creative languages generated by creative people in the world. Einstein's way of looking at the world is one; quantum physics is another; the reductionist's approach to science is another; Derrida's is another, etc.

      But this doesn't seem quite right to take language as fundamental element to which all those views are ultimately reduced, or at least this suggestion is as controversial as other here. And important point is that it is hardly just an ambition of A-Tists to find a unified science of the world. Many different approaches in philosophy of science take exactly that aim, you would find that particularly in A-T's biggest rival, Ontic Structural Realism.

      As for your remarks regarding morality, I am just going to say I disagree with that particular picture you draw here. But more importantly this shows that one can't be that uncommitted after all. Just think of how much even these few remarks turn on metaphysics, from cosmology to personal identity , any metaphysical issue is going to have a certain impact on this.

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    8. Anon, you might be right but Like I said I just wanted to offer some remarks on few point I find interested, I don't intend to have a much longer engagement.I am assuming good faith on his part for now.

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    9. Well, it's up to you. You could be right he is acting in good faot, but the fact he claims to respect and engage with Feser and yet doesn't show basic familiarity with his work (e.g., Santi makes cliched, grossly simplistic claims about the scientific revolution without a hint that Feser has written extensively on what this did, and didn't, mean for Aristotelianism). The stuff about jealous metaphysics is textbook Santi. If you continue to engahe him, I would bet he would double-down on that sort of thing, saying the same thing repeatedly, just in ever-longer (and more silly) posts.

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    10. Anonymous:

      Since you finally provided a thoughtful reply to my presence here, I think I owe you and others who are old timers to this site an explanation. When I came to this blog in late 2015 and part of 2016, I was a genuine novice in reading the A-T material, and was combative toward it, as an atheist/agnostic. Recall that Feser can be combative, so he pretty much invites this reaction in people who don't really know the rudiments of the intellectual language he's deploying. My first introduction to Feser was in the midst of his combative exchanges with numerous atheists (Coyne, Jason Rosenhouse, Brian Leiter, etc.)--and then when I finally got around to reading his books, I started with the one against atheism, which has some pretty startling passages about gays. I'm not gay myself, but completely pro-gay equality. After I decided I'd had enough of Thomism, and stopped commenting here, I would return on occasion to the books and journals to give them some additional thought. I thus have more of a handle on the reasoning now than I did then. I agree I say too much. I'm not at all clear whether I'll comment in these comboxes much in the future. My initial reaction was no, then I read Feser's newest book this past week, and it feels interesting to me again. So I don't know. If things come up surrounding the book, I might comment. I have zero interest in trolling. I take no pleasure in provocation for provocation's sake--at least not consciously. I'm genuinely interested in the subject, but my ongoing resistances--and the objections that occur to me--are obviously not entirely welcome to those in these threads. As I settle down I expect either (a) to move on completely, or (b) to seek more information, probably with more questions than opinions. In the meantime, I plan to be ever more brief in commenting. I am trying--and obviously failing--today.

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    11. Red. You wrote the following: "[S]imple possibility of being wrong should not make us stop any particular intellectual activity." Agreed. I'm not opposed to setting up intellectual projects or communities directed toward commitments to this or that system of metaphysics. We all have to gamble. What I'm opposed to is the imposition of one's metaphysical commitments onto others, as with laws that might appeal to natural law as a reason for denying gay tax payers their basic rights (such as the right to marry the person of their choice). It's cliche, but if one doesn't like gay marriage, don't have one. If one doesn't like racially mixed marriages, don't have one. If one doesn't like religion, don't join one. So when Feser writes this--"counter-Pharisaism of the 'bourgeois bohemian' progressive expands the boundaries of what is permissible"--that sounds to me like he means to make certain sexual behaviors impermissible.

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    12. Right,this would take us into difficult territory of how ethical disagreements ought to be negotiated publicly,I don't have particular well thought out theories in this regard so I can't properly engage your point right now.

      You might be right here but its compatible with your point that at least there should be open possibility that certain moral theories and viewpoints are explored. Even those which ultimately claim these activities to be wrong.

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    13. @Santi

      If you continue to comment, please break your text up into paragraphs. It's quite hard to follow you when you clump all your words together.

      I was a complete novice a few years ago, but I've known for a long time that you don't criticize something you don't understand. You have an ethical obligation to study the material before posting attacks from a platform of ignorance. That's why you got negative reactions from the regulars. Why in the world should they act deferential toward a person who attacks something without knowing what he's attacking?

      The best thing to do is to simply ask questions. Since you have a level of interest in A-T metaphysics, it's best to simply ask for clarification on something you don't understand. Once you fully grasp the material, your criticisms will at least be informed, and you'll be arguing much more intelligently. That, in turn, will engender respectful replies from the many intelligent Thomists who post here. Who knows? You might find yourself doing a 180. More than one atheist has abandoned atheism (including Feser himself) by taking the time to seriously study the material.

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    14. Santi, when you came here first, you were a tedious, ignorant windbag who clogged up the blog with reams of emotivist, fallacious bs. Observant posters quickly learnt that to try to engage you was useless, although there are always those who can't resist responding.

      Maybe you have changed, by there are certainly warning signs in your current posts that suggest that you at least aren't fully reformed.

      If you want to be taken seriously, post less; pontificate less; understand more; argue (non-fallaciously) more.

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    15. Bill,

      Yes, your advice is good. One reason atheists discover Feser's blog in the first place is that Feser enters into debates across blog platforms (with people like Jerry Coyne and Brian Leiter).

      Imagine what it's like to cross over from their blogs to Feser's, and to first enter the buzz-saw of combox Catholics fluently speaking "Aristotelian." It's a very different language from the one that is usually deployed in debates between atheists and Protestants.

      Part of learning a language is trial and error, and whether one ultimately goes on using the language has to do with whether one finds it useful to one's purposes in life. Can an agnostic like myself really make use of such a language? I spoke to a colleague (an expert on birds) about Aristotle and he told me, frankly, that he personally couldn't see usage for him in his own thinking about birds. The overlay just doesn't inform much, from his perspective.

      But not giving up, I'm looking for a route in for myself. In reading Feser's book this past week, for instance, I'm very interested in the intersections between Aristotle and ecology, but Feser doesn't address it directly. I was hoping the book would end with a chapter on it. It seemed like a logical stopping point. I marked all the places along the way where I noticed Feser bringing up the subject of holism, so naturally I was curious as to how he might relate Aristotle, in principle, to ecological systems theory, a major element in biological science (the place where all contemporary biology texts culminate). How might an Aristotelian think about the Gaia hypothesis, etc.? I also went to an academic library and browsed for journal articles written by A-T philosophers over the past twenty years on Aristotle and ecology--and turned up zip. Do you know of anyone--besides myself--pursuing this line of inquiry--or do you have an opinion on whether the pursuit is likely to be fruitful? Do you have an opinion as to how Aristotle might approach ecological issues?

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    16. @Santi

      Not everybody here is a Catholic. There are quite a few non-Catholic believers who agree with A-T. As to ecology, it's not my thing, so I'm not able to help you in that regard. Sorry.

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  22. The facts ON THE GROUND simply do not correspond with the OP's hypothesis, and I frankly don't care what Aquinas or Augustine or Aristotle said. In fact I can make my own psychoanalysis which much better corresponds with reality. And yet, I am not a sexual libertine. But not precisely for the same reasons as Dr. Feser proffers.

    But first, the argument itself is less than convincing.

    Simply because a given act produces a given result a small minority of the time does not suffice to conclude that the result is the teleology of the act. (In fact, this is a strong argument AGAINST it; if a given result is the teleology it should be produced the VAST MAJORITY of the time, like an eye that sees.) But that is the only argument A-T can provide for the claim that reproduction is the teleology of sex (in addition to "it's obvious!") A-T has NO answer whatsoever as to why sexual "perversions" are absolutely rampant in many animal species. Animals don't have a free will so it can't be said they are willingly perverting it from its proper end. And it can't be argued that God is, by His will, perverting it (which would make God the author of evil). A-T is going to be reduced to arguing that reproduction is the purpose of sex in humans only, which is simply special pleading.

    The reality is that at least in Christianity anyway, at least dating back as far as Augustine, but maybe Paul, there is a long, long history of considering sex as something "dirty" in itself, for which only the possibility of children could justify it, and a convenient A-T "justification" for this was heaped upon it when Christians learned about Aristotle. From here, of course, stems the idea that sexual vice makes someone "dirty", with all the "daughters of lust", etc. Granted Catholic theology has turned away from this in recent years, but the baggage still remains.

    No, I'm afraid A-T simply loses to Kant on this one. The purpose of sex is bonding, which can only properly take place within a committed relationship, and what makes sexual vice vice is the using of another as an end, in violation of the categorical imperative. The fact that both parties consent does not mean they aren't using each other as ends. (And just a footnote. The sexual "promiscuity" and rampant "births out of wedlock" in Scandinavian countries is mainly the result of unmarried couples living together. It really can't be compared with a total sexual free-for-all and total triumph of the sexual revolution.)

    Finally, there is a definite correlation, as noted above, between strict sexual morals and toleration of things like slavery and serfdom and racism, general lack of concern for the poor and underprivileged, and tendencies to authoritarianism. In complete contradiction to the idea that loose sexual morals are the floodgate which lets everything else in. This wouldn't happen if these sexual morals came about as a result of the categorical imperative. But they don't. It comes about as a result of the psychological angst inflicted when one believes, despite the experience that sex is as natural as eating and breathing, that it in reality is highly "dirty" and that God is ready to strike down with His wrath and send to hell for all eternity one who engages in even a single action of illicit pleasure, simply for having dared to contravene His will. This type of God is an authoritarian ass devoid of compassion, and so it is no wonder His followers become authoritarian asses devoid of compassion themselves.













    ReplyDelete
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    1. Pontificate less and argue more.

      Delete
    2. 1. Do read some Kant on Sexuality,

      https://philpapers.org/archive/SOBKAS.pdf

      2. Morality is inherently authoritative.

      Delete
  23. @Vince, you write:

    A-T has NO answer whatsoever as to why sexual "perversions" are absolutely rampant in many animal species. Animals don't have a free will so it can't be said they are willingly perverting it from its proper end.

    The telos of the human mind is to think rationally. If the mind doesn't think rationally, then something is wrong. It could be that the agent refuses to think rationally, in which case he's morally culpable. Or it could be the case that said agent is incapable of thinking rationally which indicates a mental deficiency perhaps caused by a genetic defect.

    If animals exhibit homosexual behavior, it can certainly be the case that it is also caused by a genetic defect or hormonal imbalance. In fact, Feser specifically addressed this in The Last Superstition. He and other Thomists have no problem accepting the idea that homosexuals are born they way they are. Squirrels can be born without tails too, but that doesn't make it normal.

    Sexual attraction is overwhelmingly heterosexual, and it's disengenuous to state that A-T philosophers avoid argument on why the telos of sex is procreation. They don't simply state, "It's obvious." And they don't deny that "bonding" is also one of the purposes of sex. The penis is used to ejaculate semen and to expel urine. The tongue is used for tasting food, swallowing and speaking. Sexual arousal in males leads to ejaculating semen filled with sperm, and the sperm is designed to fertilize an ovum. Its telos is NOT to be deposited into the anus of another male. Why do lesbians have ovaries and why do gay males produce sperm? They're given that equipment because they are inherently directed toward sexual reproduction. If their desire runs contrary to the equipment they've been given, something is amiss. Your appeal to animals demonstrates your complete ignorance of A-T metaphysics.

    Same sex attraction is just as unnatural as attraction toward children and, yes, it's also possible that pedophiles are born that way. Being born with defective parts doesn't make the defect normal. And you don't help anybody when you call something defective normal.

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    1. Bill

      If you state:

      Thomists have no problem accepting that homosexuals are born the way they are.

      Then you must also accept:

      Thomists have no problem accepting that murderers are born the way they are.

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    2. Non sequitur. Nobody is born a murderer; it is by committing the act of murder that you become one. The analogy fails at the root.

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    3. Tom Simon

      Then the Thomist position:

      Thomists have no problem accepting that homosexuals are born the way they are.

      is incorrect, right?

      Delete
    4. In which way accepting the first should lead into accepting the other?

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    5. dontfeedthetroll

      According to Bill's understanding of the Thomist Principle of Non-contradiction,
      acceptance of the first requires accepting the other in order to avoid the second being an inversion of the first in he same sense; violating the PNC

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    6. The principle of non-contradiction, which is not a thomist principle but a law of logic, states that you cannot hold two contradictory positions at the same time.

      It is your job to explain where the contradiction lies, since you assume that there is one.

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    7. dontfeedthetroll

      So, the Principal of Non-Contradiction IS NOT the Truth Making Principle of Thomism.

      What is the Truth Making Principle of Thomism?

      1/ Thomists have no problem accepting that homosexuals are born the way they are.

      2. Thomists have a problem accepting that murderers are born the way they are.

      C. (p & (p -> q)) & ¬q

      Delete
    8. Philip, as you can tell by my username, I don't feed the troll. So, I'm gonna ask again, can you show where the contradiction lies or not?

      Delete
    9. Of course, there is no contradiction, because there is no logical connection between the two propositions. Philip Rand refuses to see this.

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    10. Tom Simon

      Incorrect.

      Logical connections between the two propositions are clear.

      Inf(p;q) = There is a valid inference from p to q.

      And

      Inf(p,q;r) = There is a valid inference from p to q to r.

      This states that for murder and homosexuality only a single morality is r-related to.


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    11. dontfeedthetroll

      Philip, as you can tell by my username, I don't feed the troll.

      Interesting... that means, that either I am not a troll or that you are a liar

      Which is interesting... for should you accuse me of being a troll then...

      Matthew 5:21 You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’

      22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to the fire of hell.

      So, you lose either way....

      What is also interesting is that this means that Tom Simon's comment:

      Non sequitur. Nobody is born a murderer; it is by committing the act of murder that you become one. The analogy fails at the root.

      contradicts Jesus Christ...

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    12. @Bill,

      You're not distinguishing between something not being done at all (rational thought) and something being done, but in a manner contrary to its hypothesized teleological end (homosexuality). And you're not distinguishing between the fact that things have ends (an A-T metaphysical truth which I am not denying) and precisely what those ends are and may be known as such (for which you must provide a rigorous argument based upon empirical reality).

      The fact that, in nature, something is frequently observed to be done in a manner intrinsically contrary to its hypothesized end is a defeater for the proposition that the hypothesized end is in fact the true end, if we remain true to A-T metaphysics. Defects in nature (such as hormones, genetics, or whatever else) fails as an argument against this. Defects in nature indeed can prevent that something from being done, or they can indeed prevent the end from being achieved if the act is done in its normal manner. They cannot explain the act being performed in a manner intrinsically contrary to what is supposed to be its end. (It can in defective rational beings, who have the power to mistake a false end for the true one. It can't in irrational animals, who have no such power.)

      To deny this (as Feser would like to do) is to invoke mechanism and/or materialism, where the hormones and genes "explain" the homosexual behavior in animals. But if we remain true to A-T metaphysics, God is moving the animal from the potency of homosexual behavior to act, an act in direct contradiction to the ends which He has (allegedly) willed for sexual activity. IOW, God is acting in contradiction to Himself, which is nonsense.

      Everyone knows the relevant biology, but it doesn't lead to the conclusion you want it to. To say that something is at times used for something else (e.g. the penis for ejaculation) or that something has a specific potency for something else (e.g. the sperm has potency to fertilize an egg) does not prove that that something else is its telos. There is a difference between the reproductive system, and say, the circulatory system. It's clear the purpose of the heart is to pump blood, which contains oxygen and other nutrients, throughout the body, in order to remain alive. But the existence of the reproductive system gives us to power to reproduce, not reproduction per se.







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    13. @Vince

      You're not distinguishing between something not being done at all (rational thought) and something being done, but in a manner contrary to its hypothesized teleological end (homosexuality)

      The distinction is made by virtue of the illustration. When observed phenomena run contrary to a natural end, we know that something is wrong, whether the contrariness is willful or the result of a physical defect.

      And you're not distinguishing between the fact that things have ends...and precisely what those ends are and may be known as such (for which you must provide a rigorous argument based upon empirical reality).

      Comboxes are generally not places for the type of "rigorous argument" you are looking for. Ed and others have provided that kind of argument. You don't accept it or you're unaware of it. That's life in the big city.

      The fact that, in nature, something is frequently observed to be done in a manner intrinsically contrary to its hypothesized end is a defeater for the proposition that the hypothesized end is in fact the true end, if we remain true to A-T metaphysics.

      It's a defeater only if you presuppose that occurrence demonstrates telos which is not what A-T asserts.

      Defects in nature (such as hormones, genetics, or whatever else) fails as an argument against this...They cannot explain the act being performed in a manner intrinsically contrary to what is supposed to be its end.

      And your "rigorous argument" for this is? Are you a geneticist? Where does sexual desire come from? Based on your comments, it cannot be manufactured by the will. Since animals have sexual desire, it must be hard-wired into the nature of animals (including the rational animal called human). For the vast majority of animals, that desire is directed toward the opposite sex. For the extreme minority, there are persistent aberrations of desire (e.g. objects such as shoes, chains, lingerie, ad nauseam). For others, the aberration is directed toward the same sex. But if sexual desire is hard-wired, then it follows that if something is defective in the wiring, the desire will be correspondingly defective. That is, an agent will desire something that he/she/it should not desire. So the fact that aberrations exist and persist in no manner acts as a "defeater" to the argument that they are contrary to the telos of a thing. If sexual desire can be directed toward a particular thing (and it is incumbent upon you to prove that it cannot), then it is equally possible for defective wiring to misdirect the object of desire.

      To say that something is at times used for something else (e.g. the penis for ejaculation) or that something has a specific potency for something else (e.g. the sperm has potency to fertilize an egg) does not prove that that something else is its telos.

      It most certainly does. As you should know, the potentcies inherent in a thing are directed toward a particular effect or a range of effects so that there can be several final causes depending on the situation. With the penis, the final cause is either waste removal or reproduction, depending on the situation. The clear purpose of ejaculation is to expel sperm which are designed to cause fertilization. If you're really "familiar with the biology," then the directions aren't hard to see. As I said, those ovaries are there for a reason---the human race doesn't survive without reproduction.

      Delete
    14. Philip Rand,

      I don't feed the troll by ignoring your efforts to evade the issue. Again, can you show where the contradiction lies or not?

      Delete
    15. @Bill,

      You're bullshitting, not to put too fine a point on it. Please explain why God wills homosexual activity in animals. You can't, without either admitting that reproduction is not the final cause of sex or turning some other fundamental piece of A-T metaphysics on its head. You will have to resort to some ridiculous evasion such as what God "really" wills is heterosexual activity, but His will is thwarted by natural defects such as genetics and hormones.

      And yes, observations running contrary to a proposed natural end (to be distinguished from the mere absence of obtaining of that end) are a defeater for the proposition that the proposed natural end is the true natural end, unless it can be explained through willfulness. A natural defect cannot be an explanation. Rational beings can oppose God's will and hence act in opposition to their natural end. Nature cannot. If you don't see this you simply don't know how to think critically and logically. The fact that some acorns don't germinate isn't an argument that their final cause isn't a maple tree. The fact they grow into oak trees is.

      And your final arguments again betray a lack of critical thought. Potency != final cause, so you can't infer a final cause from a potency, as you are trying to do. It only works in reverse, where you can infer a potency from a final cause. Water has a potency to freeze, but it isn't the final cause of water to be ice. Nor is there a transitive property of final cause such that if B is the final cause of A, and C is the final cause of B, then C is the final cause of A. I'll agree that a final cause of the penis is to remove sperm. I'll agree that a final cause of sperm is to fertilize an egg. It doesn't follow that a final cause of the penis is to fertilize an egg. Some ejaculations, as you know, occur during sleep, where there is no possibility of fertilization.


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    16. @Vince

      You're bullshitting...

      Given the content of your reply, this is a clear projection.

      Please explain why God wills homosexual activity in animals. You can't, without either admitting that reproduction is not the final cause of sex or turning some other fundamental piece of A-T metaphysics on its head.

      Why call out homosexual activity? Why don't you "please explain why God wills" Huntington's Disease, Down's Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, etc.? Is autism the final cause of some children? Should we celebrate Down's Syndrome as a perfectly normal, "persistent" aspect of human existence? There's a world of difference between a disorder and the actual form of a thing.

      You will have to resort to some ridiculous evasion such as what God "really" wills is heterosexual activity, but His will is thwarted by natural defects such as genetics and hormones.

      The float-like-a-butterly master here calls himself Vince. You've acknowledged that sexual desire isn't an act of the will. And since it isn't a product of the will, then it must be hard-wired into the essence of a thing. If your sight wiring is defective, your vision will be defective. If your lung wiring is defective, your breathing will be defective. And if your sex attraction wiring is defective, it follows that your attraction will be correspondingly defective. Calling obvious facts "ridiculous" isn't a rational response. It amounts to stomping your feet because you can't offer a cogent reply.

      And yes, observations running contrary to a proposed natural end (to be distinguished from the mere absence of obtaining of that end) are a defeater for the proposition that the proposed natural end is the true natural end, unless it can be explained through willfulness.

      And you're repeating yourself as if it will somehow shore up your bad argument.

      Water has a potency to freeze, but it isn't the final cause of water to be ice.

      You must have attended a different A-T school. There are multiple "final causes" in things depending on the circumstances.

      I'll agree that a final cause of the penis is to remove sperm. I'll agree that a final cause of sperm is to fertilize an egg. It doesn't follow that a final cause of the penis is to fertilize an egg.

      What you "agree" with has no bearing on biology. And your refusal to grasp the obvious doesn't change the obvious. How about this from Webster?

      Definition of penis
      : a male erectile organ of copulation by which urine and semen are discharged from the body and that develops from the same embryonic mass of tissue as the clitoris


      What about dictionary.com?

      the male organ of copulation and, in mammals, of urinary excretion.

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    17. @Vince (continued)

      It's obvious to everybody but Vince what the purpose of the penis is. God gave males that appendage to expel semen and urine. The former is for the PURPOSE of reproduction, and the latter is for the PURPOSE of waste removal. Do you need diagrams? During sexual arousal, the penis stiffens for the purpose of penetrating the vaginal cavity. The vaginal cavity is so structured as to receive the penis, etc. If you need something more graphic, perhaps Hustler or Playboy will help. Humans must reproduce to survive, and reproduction occurs via sexual activity. Sex is pleasurable and that is the inducement to engage in sex. In order to reproduce, the object of desire MUST be toward the opposite sex. If the male doesn't produce sperm, something is wrong. If the ovaries do not produce ova, something is wrong. And if sexual desire is directed to something other than the opposite sex, something is wrong.

      Sorry, Vince, but you're the one who's failing to think logically. And at this point it's obvious you're denying the obvious because you're pursing an agenda. You clearly have an aversion to facts---which is a clear indicator that....something is wrong.

      Delete
    18. @Vince

      And finally, please explain why God wills pedophilia. It's also a "persistent" phenomenon in human history. Does God will male adult sex with four-year-old girls?

      Delete
    19. @Bill

      You still can't offer a coherent reply as to why God wills homosexual activity in animals. All you can do is throw up some red herrings combined with several insults, including the insinuation that my conclusion must be because I am homosexual myself (which, as matter of fact, is not the case). You MUST stoop to this level because you lose the debate on legitimate argument.

      (For everyone else: This is why in general conservatives suck just as much as liberals who, when faced with evidence that "structural racism" might not be to blame for absolutely everything: they say that you're only saying that because you're racist. They are both, in their own ways, equally allergic to the TRUTH, or put another way, how the world ACTUALLY IS as opposed to how they think it should be.)

      This is par for the course for ideologues in general including conservative ideologues, for whom intellectual honesty is optional, let alone making proper distinctions and critical thinking. The possibility that they MIGHT be wrong on something is just too horrible to contemplate. They're never wrong about anything; it's always everyone else with an "agenda".

      The INTELLECTUALLY HONEST conclusion to draw from homosexual activity in animals is that reproduction is not the telos of sexual activity. Nobody denies the biology that dictates that reproduction will sometimes be the result of it. But that doesn't make it the telos, no matter how loudly you protest that it should, and that is, in fact, your only argument. Drunkenness is sometimes the result of alcohol, yet that's not the telos of whiskey either.

      Your red herrings:

      Sickness/neuropathology: God doesn't will sickness, though He permits it, as natural things can be subject to defects and God is not bound, by His nature, to prevent every single possible defect in the natural world.

      Homosexual attraction: Ditto.

      Pedophilia: a quite intellectually dishonest red herring, since we already made it clear we were talking about natural defects and not perverse wills of rational beings. It just shows your desperation that you must resort to a cheap "gotcha" argument like that.

      But we aren't talking just about homosexual attraction. We're talking about homosexual activity, which you well know despite your best efforts to argue dishonestly and obfuscate the point. We're talking about the positive presence of something (homosexual activity vs. doing nothing at all) rather than a defect or lack of something. And that positive something is, despite all your shouting, what you can't explain. Granted the animals' wiring is wrong. What explains their acting on it but God raising potency to act, as First Mover?


      Delete
    20. @Vince

      You still can't offer a coherent reply as to why God wills homosexual activity in animals.

      When you offer a coherent reply why God wills genetic diseases in humans and animals, you'll get your answer.

      All you can do is throw up some red herrings combined with several insults, including the insinuation that my conclusion must be because I am homosexual myself (which, as matter of fact, is not the case).

      Are you the pot or the kettle? Stop throwing around this "BS-ing" stuff and you might get some respect. I can sling it as much as you can, but it's typical of your kind to engage in the behavior you find objectionable in others. By the way, I never accused you of being a homosexual, but given your inability to craft a cogent argument, I can see why you see things that aren't there. I accused you of having an agenda (gay persons aren't the only ones trying to justify gay behavior). And given your denial of facts, the charge is credible at this point.

      You waste a couple of paragraphs on a political rant. I guess you think it provides the ammunition you need. Hint: it doesn't.

      Sickness/neuropathology: God doesn't will sickness, though He permits it, as natural things can be subject to defects and God is not bound, by His nature, to prevent every single possible defect in the natural world.

      Then you have your answer.

      Homosexual attraction: Ditto.

      If you didn't intend to type something else, you consider homosexual attraction to be a defect---which is what I've been saying all along!

      Pedophilia: a quite intellectually dishonest red herring, since we already made it clear we were talking about natural defects and not perverse wills of rational beings.

      This of course assumes that pedophilia is exclusively the perverse will of a rational being. We see evidence of pedophilia in animals too. So, since animals don't have this "rational" nature, why do they engage in pedophilia? Are you going to do a 180 and tell us that its perfectly natural to have sex with immature offspring?

      But we aren't talking just about homosexual attraction. We're talking about homosexual activity, which you well know despite your best efforts to argue dishonestly and obfuscate the point.

      You must be a tap-dancer. If people have a defective sex attraction wire so that they are erotically attracted to the same sex, are you surprised when they, you know, actually engage in sex?? If the attraction is defective, as you now admit, then the act following the attraction is defective as well.

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    21. I know Bill has already dealt with this, but why on earth would you think homosexual acts are any different from other defects in animals, unargued? Similarly, why would you make such an unsupported distinction between homosexual and paedophilic inclination? Vince, you don't half like to tour rather bad or clichéd objections as if they were knock out refutations of Thomism. This isn't the first time you have done this. Anyone with a bit of knowledge just rolls the eyes when they hear homosexual acts of animals brought up as an alleged refutation of natural law prohibition on homosexual acts.

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    22. Vince S

      Bill has tabled this positioon concerning A-T Metaphysics:

      You must have attended a different A-T school. There are multiple "final causes" in things depending on the circumstances.

      That statemeent is an inference free ride for him.

      To be exact, that inference free ride he gives himself means that he can formulate any proposition which gives a spurious consistency and coherence to disordered and inchoate beliefs.

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    23. @Jeremy

      Hi, Jeremy. I think Vince has a deterministic view of A-T. He thinks that God directly causes animals to have gay sex (due to his confusion over act/potency). It's a reductio ad absurdum which attempts to show that if our assessment of sexual telos is correct, God is the direct cause of something contrary to His will.

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  24. It does not take “a morality to beat a morality”. Take the moral injunction in Lilliput to open a boiled egg from the little end. We do not need to replace this with the Blefuscunian moral injunction to open a boiled egg at the big end. We can put forward the claim that it simply doesn’t matter; that which end of an egg you open is not a matter of morality. What would be a matter of morality, in this case, would be how one acted towards people dependent on their egg-opening proclivities. Prejudice either way would be seen as appalling and would likely provoke just the sort of reactions you object to.

    Even a confirmed Little-Endian who does see it as immoral to open an egg from the Big-End may well balk at prejudicial actions against those on the Big-End side. The Mayor of London is a Muslim (I think) and, presumably, thinks consuming pork and alcohol a sin. He has not, though, taken steps to rid his city of bacon sandwiches and beer.

    A Little-Endian philosopher or theologian who was very careful to calmly and rationally put forward arguments against Big-Endianism, in the right context, without extending it to calls for prejudicial actions, would likely still get the same reaction. He would get that reaction because people have become so used to those who put similar arguments forward without being calm, without being rational, outside of a context of a philosophical/theological debate and do extend it to calls for quite appalling prejudicial actions. Perhaps this reflects poorly on people’s ability to take an argument in isolation, or the general standard of debate in society, or the prevalence of actual bigots; it doesn’t though require the type of explanations you have put forward.

    You explanations appear, then, superfluous. “1) People think what others do sexually is their business. 2) They don’t like seeing gays getting beaten up. 3) They are either too ignorant or too lazy to distinguish a gay-basher’s rationalisation from a philosophical/theological argument” seems to work fine.

    And your explanantions are, to be frank “a bit of a stretch”. Your second point is dependent on anything contended to be a moral issue being a moral issue. Your first seems to be straightforwardly false: were a person who had “become highly corrupted in matters of sex” be “especially likely to become morally corrupt full stop” we would see a correlation in society as a whole, but we do not. I think you’ll agree that the third is rather speculative. It’s an interesting hypothesis as to whether people defend extreme behaviour to make themselves seem more moderate, but has it been investigated? (My guess would be that people tend to over-condemn rather than over-approve: they exaggerate the sins of others to make their sins seem less threatening).

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    1. It does not take “a morality to beat a morality”. Take the moral injunction in Lilliput to open a boiled egg from the little end. We do not need to replace this with the Blefuscunian moral injunction to open a boiled egg at the big end. We can put forward the claim that it simply doesn’t matter; that which end of an egg you open is not a matter of morality.

      The claim that something doesn't matter morally is itself a moral claim: it is equivalent to a moral injunction to avoid treating it as mattering morally. Indeed, that is very closely related to Swift's entire point (the misplacement of moral priorities on the basis of moral justifications is very often what Swift is highlighting in his satire -- he often satirizes the treatment of morality as a narrower thing than it actually is, as you are doing here).

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    2. Brandon: You wrote, "The claim that something doesn't matter morally is itself a moral claim." True, but doesn't this then come down to whether society should be organized around the summum bonum, doubt and alternative practices be damned? Maybe Tony Lloyd's point is not that it doesn't matter in the deepest sense, but that it shouldn't be a matter of public, law enforcement concern. One can have contending opinions without rancor so long as each side, at the end of the day, is left to return to their respective corners and enact their own visions of community (the gay community is given space to flourish, the Church is given space to flourish, etc). Tony put it perfectly: "The Mayor of London is a Muslim (I think) and, presumably, thinks consuming pork and alcohol a sin. He has not, though, taken steps to rid his city of bacon sandwiches and beer." Would you say the mayor of London is not an intellectually consistent Muslim? Would you advocate a Catholic mayor of Los Angeles banning condoms, if he or she had political support, in the name of the summum bonum?

      And what about competing goods? In moral reasoning, there are often competing goods at stake.

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    3. I think the distinction between mattering in the deepest sense and being matter of public concern seems problematic. Just what sort of relation do they have? What sort of sufficient and necessary conditions select matters of public and deepest concern?

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    4. Red: Doubt. If you can acknowledge to yourself that you might be wrong, even as you treat a matter as of grave concern--you can make room for competing communities in the public square. Doubt and tolerance seem to me to be connected.

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    5. I disagree. It does take a morality to beat a morality. Otherwise what's the point?

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  25. Even a confirmed Little-Endian who does see it as immoral to open an egg from the Big-End may well balk at prejudicial actions against those on the Big-End side. The Mayor of London is a Muslim (I think) and, presumably, thinks consuming pork and alcohol a sin. He has not, though, taken steps to rid his city of bacon sandwiches and beer.

    Tony Lloyd, it is not necessary to hold that the state is ordered to a sort of minimalist level playing field or bare sufficiency of certain basic material goods in order to conclude that the state should not involve itself in every matter of "the good". St. Thomas explicitly taught that the state should not make laws against each and every sort of immoral act. There are many reasons why this is true, but they aren't based on "because the state is not ordered to the good". In reality (as St. Thomas calls it), the state is ordered to the common good, and the common good includes within it, as a necessary facet, assisting the people to lives of virtue. For, the state is an entity of the temporal order, and while we are in the temporal order right now our final end is outside the temporal order, and the state, in ruling us, is a means to an end that extends beyond the state. The totalitarian state that makes the trains run on time is not a good state, because it may have many well-ordered elements of a temporal society, but it is not promoting the virtue of the people, it instead promotes their being slaves of the state with slave mentality.

    In inculcating virtue, each state will have its own specific things that its people excel at, and other things its people have problems with, and its laws must take note of what is possible to this people at this time. So for example, outlawing alcohol may work for one people and not for another. In our sexually degenerate society, absolutely outlawing fornication right now would be counterproductive, but in a more wholesome society outlawing fornication would help the young learn the virtue of chastity.

    So, there is a huge difference between saying that "in this state, with the conditions we have, the state should tolerate X evil", and saying "it is absolutely beyond the boundaries of civil law to address X evil."

    Tony M (usually just "Tony" around here)

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  26. Wow, this post has touched a nerve, hasn't it? Comment after comment of atheist people clogging the comment area.

    A Catholic missionary that worked in Africa and was friend of my parents used to say: "It is impossible for the Pope to convert to the True Faith, it's very difficult for the priests to do that but the atheists that hate anything that is religious are damn easy to be converted to the True Faith". This is because the opposite of love is not hate but indifference.

    I have a complete indifference for agnostic and atheist blogs. I never comment there. I don't want to convert atheists to my views. And even if I wanted, an Internet debate in the combox cannot change anybody's mind.

    If Santi Tafarella thinks that his life is short (because he does not believe in an afterlife) and he wants to spend his short time clogging Thomist blogs (instead of enjoying life), hey, this is better than doing drugs! But this passion and this obsession betrays something. Don't be surprised if some years down the line, Santi writes a book: "How Aquinas made me a Catholic traditionalist by Santi Tafarella. Preface by Edward Feser" :-)

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  27. Yes, Chent, I grew up in a Catholic family, so that sort of conversion could happen, but at this point in my thinking about Aristotle, I'm repeatedly caught up short on the movement from Aristotle's metaphysics and physics to their translation by Thomists into claims about natural law and sexual morality, as when Feser writes sentences like the following: "Repeatedly taking sexual pleasure in activity that is directly contrary to nature’s ends dulls the intellect’s perception of nature,..."

    I know why Feser doesn't want to foreground evolutionary history in evaluating an actual, natural substance in the present, but after Darwin I think it's folly not to come up with an Aristotle-Darwin hybrid analysis of how nature may be directed toward numerous, plural ends at once.

    Please note that Aristotle deemphasized the individual in his analysis of essence whereas Darwin foregrounds it as a unique variant interacting with a very particular, contingent, ever changing environment. And in evolution, a variant may be among the first of a new species, and thus may prove sui generis in key ways.

    This is why "disordered" is a tricky word for me.

    Aristotle also foregrounds organismal unity, but contemporary Darwinists foreground modularity, where many aspects of an organism may be in tension--from competing brain modules to competing bodily modules to competing gut bacteria--with evolutionary pressures tugging in numerous directions at once. Thus it's very different to talk about what a penis is "for" in a snake, say, and what a penis or clitoris is "for" in a social animal with hands and a big brain. The very combination of traits that come with a penis or clitoris suggest alternative, beneficial uses that evolution might well reward. Evolution is often driven by form following, not leading, behavior (squirrels jumping from trees as ancestors to flying squirrels, etc.).

    Thus human sexual behavior--including masturbation, openness to interracial mating, gay and lesbian behavior, etc.--may be an artifact of ongoing selection in our species toward ever greater human self domestication (a byproduct of an evolutionary deceleration in our species away from certain forms of go-it-alone, alpha aggression, and toward gentleness, vulnerability, and sociality). Wolves behave differently from dogs.

    In his most recent book, Feser makes a very big issue of how hydrogen and oxygen are only potential as opposed to actual when they come together as water. In other words, as water, hydrogen and oxygen are to be thought of differently from when they are in isolation from one another. I would suggest this can be applied analogously to sexual organs. When these are attached to the bodies of big brained social animals with hands, their natural expression cannot be assumed to be the same as when they are attached to a simpler, smaller brained, non-social animal.

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    1. Darwin is random mindless motion (🤮) and has a deep emotional appeal to those whose brains operate on the principle of random mindless motion (🤮).

      The vomit emoji was not a coincidence. Vomit is a random assortment of predigested objects just like Darwinian selection.

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    2. BalancedTryte: If you read Feser's new book, you'll find a section he titles, "Natural selection is teleological," and on page 418 of that section he points to Thomas Nagel as an atheist who has a "solution to the 'selection for' problem."

      Feser does not promote the idea that evolution is incompatible with Aristotle.

      I personally would reconcile the two by describing selection pressures this way: there is a phase space for the concept "white polar bear" that kicks in under the right conditions, tending to conserve it with non-teleological processes of selection. There is also a phase space for "off-white polar bear," "brown polar bear," and so on, that the spectrum of selection can switch to as the environment's color and temperature changes.

      As my own opinion on these matters have evolved, I don't have a problem with thinking of these phase spaces as "real essences" with "real attributes," not just nominal ones--but I think you also have to include evolutionary continuums between the essences all along the way--so that selection can shift organisms from one attribute--and ultimately essence--to another.

      You also need to think "modularity"--keeping in mind that evolutionary pressure is acting on numerous systems in the same body at once, and often at cross purposes. (The play system of the brain may be in conflict with the fear system, etc.)

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  28. Nature has purpose in sex.
    Dr Kelley Ross [on the Kant Friesian site] has in his PhD thesis that is over there a whole section on purpose. He uses it to show a direction between subject and object. [I think Reinhold (a philosopher right around Kant's time) may have mentioned something similar.] So even though Kant would hold like Hume that you can not derive an ought from an is, still nature clearly has "ought" and intensions as basic part of its stucture.

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  29. "The sexual revolution is the cause of millions of children being left fatherless, with the intergenerational poverty and social disorder that that entails."

    What a load of bunkum. I have just finished reading Dr Feser's article.
    It's the kind of perspective held by those who fear the ineluctable transition towards a post-Christian society as humanity matures into adulthood with a greater and deeper understanding of the nature of our sexuality as a species. And we are the better for it. And we will be the better for it when the Church accepts fully, without qualification, responsibility for the untold and unspeakable clerical sexual misconduct, damage and harm to millions of children perpetrated on an international scale, and all under God's roof, so to speak. We all understand the loss of power of the Church in the village square in defining the community's sexual mores may be a cause for concern; but it is, only to those who wish to perpetuate such perverse clerical/religious derivations of sexual behaviour as portrayed by Feser and his rather perverse Thomistic outlook.
    For the individual, the world is indeed a little bit better a place today than in Aquinas' time. After all, 7 billion people can't be wrong? :o)

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  30. @Papalinton

    Better to throw ad hominems and red herrings than to actually, you know, engage Feser's arguments, right?

    Do you really think you'll change anybody's mind with a rant?

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    1. Because the brain is modular, Bill, a short sentence like "What a load of bunkum" can trigger the attentional part of the brain, the skeptical part, etc., priming it to notice other aspects surrounding the issues at hand. So, yes, rhetorical moves--however dubious on closer inspection--can have the effect of changing the mind (or at least the brain), and prime it toward fresh noticing. Logical positivism in the 1930s, for example, may have had flaws on a closer inspection--such as those Quine and Popper pointed out--but its impatience with abstract, metaphysical, imprecise usages of language shifted the terms of debate on issues that clearly deserved attention at the time.

      And so who can dispute that Papalinton is correct about the fear driving conservative reaction? And who can dispute that literally a million or more children over the past two millennia have surely been abused by priests, not because of the sexual revolution, but because of unaccountable, secretive structures with access to vulnerable populations? It is a free press that made possible contemporary exposure of sexual abuse--but such abuse goes back millennia.

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    2. @Santi

      Hi, Santi. You write:

      And so who can dispute that Papalinton is correct about the fear driving conservative reaction?

      Well, for one, I can. There's not an ounce of fear in me when I react to bad arguments. And unless one has proof that Ed or anybody else who is a conservative is driven by fear, it's an empty claim.

      And the fact that many children have been abused by many within the Catholic Church is a red herring. First, I don't dispute that, and I believe that Ed doesn't dispute it either. Second, Ed has presented an argument relating to ideas about sex and objective morality. Saying "you too" or "look how bad you are" is fallacious, and that's the point of my comment to Papalinton. Fallacious arguments are non-starters.

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    3. Hi Bill,

      I agree with you that such arguments are fallacious, but I'm just noting the obvious: when evaluating the sexual revolution, there are two sides to the "damage to children" bookkeeping ledger.

      In other words, the sexual revolution cannot be untangled from Anglo-French Enlightenment freedoms--freedom of the press, freedom to marry and divorce, the right to own one's body and property, freedom of science and capitalism (to technically discover, then market contraceptives, etc.)--and if Feser's argument is that all of this ultimately damages large numbers of children in the resultant feminist and sexual revolutions, then it can be pointed out that untold numbers of women and children are also empowered by these very freedoms insofar as they keep institutions accountable.

      The reason, for example, that the Catholic Church is acting on the child abuse issue now--as opposed to a thousand years ago--has to do with various terms set in place by the Anglo-French, feminist, and sexual revolutions: people are now allowed to question authority and reject body shaming; they have a right to seek remedies in secular courts; they have the right to leave the religion of their birth because there is no monopoly religion recognized by the state; they have a right to consent to sex--and say no to sex; they have a right to set up an adversarial press, thereby holding institutions accountable, and so on.

      These revolutions represent a power shift. The power shift keeps institutions on their toes--and thus is in the process of saving untold numbers of children as we speak. Imagine the million or more--millions?--of children harmed by sexual abuse over the past millennium within one religion alone--the Catholic Church--because such rights were not yet secured.

      Imagine how much psychological harm over millennia has been done to children because they were raised by parents and institutions focused on sexual shaming and Stockholm-like Syndrome techniques of control (getting love and threat from the same source): God and family will love you so long as you are bound to the group--but if you ever leave the religion, you'll be shunned by family and sent to hell by God to be tortured forever. Is psychological abuse, abuse?

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  31. @Santi

    I agree with much of what you say, although I think it is most inappropriate to single out Catholics (and I am not Catholic). Institutions of all stripes were abusive (because governments tended to be authoritarian). Even today, you find just as much if not more abuse of children in the public school system as you would in the Catholic church---and that's with all the liberties the "revolution" has produced.

    Other than that, I most certainly agree with Madison that since men are not angels, they need checks and balances.

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  32. Free mind, free body. To care about one is to care about the other.

    So since this is a post about the psychology of the sexual revolutionary, one should note a key motive in intellectual sexual revolutionaries coming from square homes.

    It is characteristic of young intellectuals raised in religious homes to discover that the freeing of the mind from home/church mental prohibitions--experimenting with dangerous ideas--is often accompanied by the freeing of the body from shame and prohibition (via dance, risque dress, music, sex).

    And since, at home/church, mental thoughts and bodily deeds are under religious prohibition--threats of torture in hell--the liberating of oneself from fear of hell means, in college, liberating mind and body.

    To echo Sinatra in another context: "You can't have one without the other."

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