Intrinsic Value- God and the Categorical Imperative

As a way of both studying for my philosophy final and procrastinating studying for my philosophy final I’m going to write the post that “God and the Categorical Imperative” was teasing for.

In philosophy I’m finding that a lot of philosophers disagree about where a person’s value comes from. In talking about the morality of homosexuality Koppelman asks the question “what relationships have value?” asserting that homosexual relationships have intrinsic value. Gallagher argues on the opposite side that the institution of traditional marriage has intrinsic value that is undermined by same-sex marriage. Hobbes talks about people’s different strengths and weaknesses and how everyone is intrinsically equal, but not in the same way(yet intrinsic value is determined by characteristics of you.) Thomson, in talking about abortion, asserts that value is determined by whether or not your mother gives you permission to use her body?(I’m really not sure what she believes. Honestly. Maybe it’s because I’m a closed minded conservative that hates women. I don’t know. That’s what I gathered from Thomson.) Warren, also in response to abortion, believes that value– nay humanity– is determined by your mental faculties and presents a scary viewpoint that seems to lead to abortion, infanticide, and genocide of the mentally handicapped as well as those in a vegetative state(but hey, if we discover intelligent alien life, it’s wrong to kill them.) Marquis believes that your value comes from the value of your future. Which is good, but then is it right to euthanize? Aristotle presents the idea that merit(in whatever field) constitutes value. Hospers asserts that you are as good as you work, and those who work hard are worth more than those who don’t. Nozick seems to believe that you are as valuable as you make yourself(perhaps. Maybe not.) Murray agrees with Hospers up there. Anderson bases worth on some mystical something that everyone is born with regardless of station, but she doesn’t really point to a specific thing(at least not in the reading that I did…)

But there are two people that I want to specifically talk about.

Both Pruss in his argument against abortion and Scruton in his defense of the conservative view of sexual ethics assert this idea of the wholeness of personhood. For Pruss, your body, mind, and soul are all unified as one at conception. You are the fetus. All of you. Scruton asserts that your sexuality is a part of you that cannot be separated and set on the table. Basically you aren’t a hodge podge of elements that all combined at some unknown point to become the mess that makes you you. You are a rational, spiritual, sexual, physical being. You can’t separate these parts. You can’t give bits up. You can’t say “Oh, I don’t have that part.” nope. It’s all you. And you can’t do something that affects one of those areas without it affecting the others. Because you’re more like kool-aid than a bunch of pebbles in a jar.

You are you, and you are valuable by no merit other than existence.

This is why conservatives believe premarital sex is wrong. This is why conservatives believe that abortion is wrong. For this argument I’m going to focus on premarital sex because that was the initial thought that I had way the heck back earlier in the semester.

Backing up, The categorical imperative(in its second formulation by Emmanuel Kant) states that people should not be used as means to an end, but that they are ends in and of themselves. Mr. Russell uses this categorical imperative to somehow justify having lots of sex while you’re young and getting it out of your system because traditional values are irrational and antiquated and forcing people to wait until marriage is on the same level as prostitution…. yeah.

Well. That’s perfectly fine if your sexuality isn’t a part of you and is simply a good to be exchanged…

But I’m inclined to believe that sexuality is a little bit more than that.

I mean think about it, why is sexuality such a big deal? Why is rape such a big deal? If sexuality is just a good to be exchanged then rape is just a property crime(That’s my synthesis of Pruss and Scruton. Think I’ll pass the final?) Every bit of you screams out “NO! Rape is horrible! It’s not just a property crime, it’s a violation of the most intimate part of a person!”

Yeah. It is a violation of the most intimate part of a person. It’s a violation of the person’s very being. It’s devaluing them. It’s saying “You are a possession to be used and that is all you are worth.” It’s a violation of the categorical imperative. When you use someone for sex(even if it’s consensual, mutual using) it’s treating that person as a means and not an end.

Anyways, now that I’ve established that sexuality is kind of a big deal, I’m going to hit things home for you. Don’t be mad if I hit a nerve.

How is rape any different from lust? When you look at someone for the purpose of gratifying your sexual desire you are using them. You’re violating the categorical imperative. You’re devaluing them. You’re taking both your sexuality and theirs, setting it on the table, and saying “well this is nothing special.”

Except your sexuality is as much a part of you as your soul. Would you lay your soul on the table and say “well this is nothing special.”

Final food for thought:

If every person you had sex with became one of your horcruxes(a la Harry Potter. For you normal people go to this wikipedia article) would you be a little more careful about who you sleep with? To get a little more uncomfortable: if every person you lusted after became one of your horcruxes would you be a little bit more guarded in your thoughts?

Well considering how hopelessly sinful we all are, I’m just going to point out what a broken people we are. With all this soul tearing. It’s pretty painful.

I’m just going to say that HALLELUJAH God has the power to take all these broken soul pieces and give me a new one.

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3 Responses to Intrinsic Value- God and the Categorical Imperative

  1. bekahcubed says:

    I disagree with your statement “This is why conservatives believe premarital sex is wrong. This is why conservatives believe that abortion is wrong.” I don’t think that is an appropriate characterization of general conservative belief. I am inclined to think that more than a few conservatives hold their positions on premarital sex and abortion for a variety of unrelated reasons.

    On the other hand, the Christian ought to believe that premarital sex and abortion are wrong (and wrong in a different sense than property crime) because they recognize that 1) humanity is created in the image of God and 2) humans are a union of soul and body (as you’ve been mentioning.) Mom’s Facebook comment hits the nail on the head when she mentions I Cor 6:18 – sexual sin is a sin against one’s own self.

  2. Gracie says:

    Rebekah, thank you, I should clarify that I have presented one view that is by no means exhaustive of the reasons why conservatives believe the things they believe. I myself hold more beliefs on this subject than are presented here. I would like to mention that for the most part this is the philosophical, worldly argument that is almost completely separate from the “Premarital sex is reprehensible to God and is therefore immoral” argument.

    Additionally, Mom is way smarter than me. In almost every way. So in all matters moral I can defer to her better judgement. :)

  3. bekahcubed says:

    Good clarification. I agreed with most of what you said, with the exception that you represent the general conservative argument in this post. Hope your week is going well!

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