Morality: what issues should or shouldn't concern morals?

Something that came to my mind today is the distinction between issues of morality and issues of logic.  I was considering what does and doesn't qualify as a moral issue in terms of sexuality, and I realized that it's completely arbitrary.  Specifically, I was fantasizing about how I would teach my future children what is and isn't acceptable.  Sometimes, I opted for the moral stance, "...because it's wrong to hurt someone."  Other times, I opted for a logical stance, "...because if you don't, you might contract and contribute to the spread of STIs."

I then asked myself, "Why wouldn't I teach condom use as a moral?  It would be more effective."  I have a feeling my distinctions between issues of morality and issues of logic are heavily influenced by my upbringing, which was, without a doubt, unplanned.  I don't like that.  I would like to explicitly justify the choice between instilling morality and teaching logic, but I'm having trouble coming up with something.

What do you all think?  Why are some issues moral and others logical?  When should we invoke one strategy or the other?  Where is the line drawn for your current beliefs?

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When considering these things, do you have a well-formed understanding of what each one should be or are you trying to piece together a picture from mandates of what each one shouldn't be?

Since your focus seems to be sexuality, I would summarize the modern version of it as "an act of bonding (even if temporarily) which should be mutually enjoyable, safe, and happily consenting in all actions and the possible intent for procreation." Starting from this clearly-formed understanding, I can't see any reason for moral adjudication since all of the advice would be along the lines of "Here's how you get to what it should be."

In my experience, moral stances are usually only required when you give someone else a free hand for experimentation (i.e. no idea what they're looking for) but expect them to find the "right" (socially correct) answer for your cultural background. If you can give your future-kids a positive framework which is flexible enough to adapt to their personal tastes then there's no particular need for moral restrictions. If you can't give them that, then morality is useful as a stopgap to keep your kids in line until they're 18.

I'm kind of curious, though: for what part of sexuality did you have to answer "because it's wrong to hurt someone"? The only case I could think of was discussing rape, which is generally understood as a violent act and not part of sexuality (I'm assuming your kids will be properly educated). So even in general cases I'm not seeing where you're running into the moral stances.

When considering these things, do you have a well-formed understanding of what each one should be or are you trying to piece together a picture from mandates of what each one shouldn't be?

I don't really have a strategy, but I'm sure I tried both instinctively.  I would have replied to this myself to bump it if I had any ideas at all.  I'm truly stumped.

Your definition of sexuality first assumes the very morality in question with the "should" clauses, and also either precludes oral and anal sex and masturbation, or includes initiating conversation since procreation is possibly the intention.  I don't think it is completely necessary to discuss beliefs about sexuality in this topic, except to use them as examples, so defining sexuality is also not really necessary anyway.

According to your belief about this, it sounds like morality is completely unnecessary (although not necessarily avoidable).  Is that true?

The "hurt someone" part referred to the understanding that having sex with someone against their will is harmful, so you shouldn't do that, "because it's wrong to hurt someone."  The assumption is that the situation was otherwise non-violent, as in the theoretical case of someone clearly stating they are unwilling but making no efforts to physically resist.

I would say don't get hung up on the specific moral issue of sexuality and don't get hung up on my fantasy that led to this question.  I was only providing background information. :)

"Since your focus seems to be sexuality, I would summarize the modern version of it as "an act of bonding (even if temporarily) which should be mutually enjoyable, safe, and happily consenting in all actions and the possible intent for procreation."

This is absolutely correct and I would wholeheartedly support this, except that this does not take in to account the interests of a third person. Marriage is still a socially accepted and respected institution and this automatically becomes a restraint for mutual consent.

Sex and and wealth are two main factors that determine a society's code for morals and ethics. This does not mean that there are no other factors.

MADHUKAR KULKARNI.

and the possible intent for procreation

Are masturbation and anal and oral sex considered "sex" by this definition, since they are not acts with the possibility for procreation?

If not, then why are they not exempt from the rules for sexuality (public display, age restriction, etc)?

If so, assuming the reasoning is that the intent could have been for procreation, then sex would extend to include kissing, massaging, hugging, holding hands, all the way to initiating conversation with a potential sex partner, making the term practically useless.

Tenken

Since procreation is mentioned, it is obvious that he is talking about sex act. Kissing etc are acts of affection, not necessaryly involving sex.

MADHUKAR KULKARNI.

Clarifying:

The "should" indicates a "functional ideal" - i.e., the most enjoyable experience overall, rather than a moral prescription. 

The "possible intent for procreation" was highlighting that having a child (becoming a parent) is a distinct form of consent. Essentially, the modern concept of sexuality allows (and generally encourages) sex for pleasure, sans procreation. So this definition would be inclusively of all related activities, including the production of pornographic material (even masturbation is a multiple-party situation).

 

But here's where the use of a non-moral approach gets a little complicated, because it doesn't support any such rules of public display, age restriction, etc. if the primary conditions are still satisfied. So if a hundred people attended a wet t-shirt contest, that public display would be entirely unproblematic; but the same actions performed in a synagogue or church would be improper because of the implied lack of happy consent by the other (viewing) parties. Perhaps more heretically, the same situation applies to age restrictions, where statutory rape is often seen as a misapplication of law within modern sexuality in cases where it was voluntary, mutual, etc.  

 

This doesn't give a pass to criminal behaviors, though, as any case where coercion, mental or physical harm, etc. were applied are still violations; the difference is simply that this definition cannot blindly present moral absolutes without additional context. (Perhaps) unfortunately, this does open a door regarding fantasies, or fictional images, stories, and other works which can portray contextual situations that don't occur in real life. With the ability to manipulate fictional situations, there are conditions under which any desire can be presented in a not-quite-disallowed manner.

 

One example is the recent popularity of adult characters with child-like bodies who, unlike real children, are interested in and capable of consenting to sex. Since these fantasies can present it as mutually safe, consenting, etc. then there's no strict grounds for castigation. But when they do that, there's an unavoidable and necessary barrier between the fantasies and the real subjects they parody; so it is perhaps positive to consider that the tolerance of modern sexuality could allow such people to find a satisfying place in shared fantasy without bleed-over into harmful real actions.

 

So while a moral proscription might declare, "Sexual interest in or by children is sinful and wrong," such an inflexible rule often causes harm in false-positive events from otherwise-harmless behavior. This is exacerbated by the arbitrary cut-offs usually required by proscriptions, such as 18 for adulthood (regardless of puberty) and 21 for alcohol (because we damn well said so). Ethical approaches are much more flexible and beneficial for all the people involved, but they aren't very effective for enforcing cultural norms because they don't apply many restrictions to isolated thoughts or fantasies.

 

In the end, I'd say it takes the question, "Do you want your children to be like you or like themselves?"

Moral teaching ensures the continuity of cultural beliefs from one generation to the next, effectively preserving your personal values.

Ethical teaching (logical teaching) ensures the maximum compatibility between who a person is and what they are socially allowed to be, but your children may end up choosing a different path in life than your own (like becoming an atheist).

...should be mutually enjoyable, safe, and happily consenting in all actions...

The "should" indicates a "functional ideal" - i.e., the most enjoyable experience overall, rather than a moral prescription.

The same could be said for every social interaction, sexual or not.  Otherwise, you imply that sex should not be used for punishment, which is a moral judgment and does not belong in an objective definition.

moral - of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong

So this definition would be inclusively of all related activities, including the production of pornographic material (even masturbation is a multiple-party situation).

You avoided the question (How do you define related activities?  Where do you draw a line?), but okay.  Based on this, initiating casual conversation is sexual, since the intent could possibly be for procreation and therefore related to sex.  On the other hand, making out could not be sexual.

We must always remember that when we talk about human "sexual" behavior, we are not simply describing some objective factual occurrences. We are also choosing a very special point of view from which to focus on these occurrences. In short, we are expressing a certain subjective (and perhaps shortsighted) philosophy.
Human Sexual Behavior



...who, unlike real children, are interested in and capable of consenting to sex.

This pseudoscience is only true in adult fantasies...  I would discuss this in more detail, but it has been made clear that the AN representatives do not allow rational discussion about child sexuality.  Feel free to PM me though.  There was a lot more to your post that I would also be happy to discuss that doesn't really seem to address the question I asked.



In the end, I'd say it takes the question, "Do you want your children to be like you or like themselves?"

What does it mean to be "like themselves"?  Neglecting to intentionally condition your children only means they will be conditioned by everyone else instead.



Moral teaching ensures the continuity of cultural beliefs from one generation to the next, effectively preserving your personal values.

This is one use for it, but as in the condom example in the OP, there are other possible uses.  To be clear, I'm asking what justifies the use of moral vs logical ("ethical") teaching.

"The same could be said for every social interaction, sexual or not."

 

Not so. Most social interactions, especially those relating to commerce, organizational efforts, or community policy have no connection to personal enjoyment. 

 

What makes a functional-ideal different than a moral perfection is that you can have non-ideal combinations which are still allowable (but considered less desirable). For example, unenthusiastic consent, uncautious sexual conduct, and one-way service are within the acceptable range of actions, but the overall experience would be less desirable than the functional-ideal. Action without consent qualifies as harmful behavior that elicits judgment outside of this definition by ethics/morals regarding harm. 

 

"How do you define related activities?  Where do you draw a line?"

 

The common definition is that sexual activities are multiple-party actions involving the genitalia or displays intended to elicit arousal as a direct prelude to such actions. The secondary parties may be objects intended to imitate genitalia or otherwise act as a substitute for a human partner. 

 

It's worth noting that arousing activities that do not lead to direct sex are not included, so kissing alone is distinct from kissing-as-foreplay. I don't find it to be a particularly contentious issue as most adults share a common understanding of it.

 

"This pseudoscience is only true in adult fantasies"

 

That's the point of the loophole. Fantasies can work around any ethical boundary.

 

"What does it mean to be 'like themselves'?"

 

Perhaps it would help to clarify my views a bit more. I believe that all people possess a set of inherent predilections, or modes of experience which they resonate with more effectively, which shape their selective responses to the opportunities and experiences of their environment.

 

For example, sexual orientation describes a predilection for gender arousal, so even if a homosexual man was only ever exposed to females his overall reaction would be meager and generally ineffective. Conversely, even limited exposure to an attractive male would have a greatly amplified impact on his growth and perceptions. The environmental conditions determine the available resources for building our identities, but our predilections shape our selections and effectiveness in using those resources.

 

So to answer your question, being "like themselves" means optimizing the array of available resources to the individual's predilections so that their minds and bodies can develop in the most effective fashion. Moral restrictions attempt to unilaterally eliminate certain experiences, leaving individuals with a "hollowness" in their identities which can encourage and sustain violative behavior patterns. Ethical guides instead attempt to channel desires toward effective, socially-harmless outlets that undercut violative behavior.

 

"I'm asking what justifies the use of moral vs logical ("ethical") teaching."

 

In short, my answer is that moral teaching is never justified over ethical teaching. But if you lack the experience or sophistication to develop ethical guidelines, then moral rules are an inferior replacement that at least prevent a back-slide to more-destructive behavior.

Well, I think you cant have morals without logic and compassion. :)

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