Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pornography, Wrong Because?

I was recently reading an article about Pornography. In AlJazeera no less! I won't get into talking about the article itself, it had some points, as well as a lot if internal contradictions, you can read it if you want. I was struck though by some of the comments. One in particular:
Your moral standards hit Bikini Bottom.
Pornography is wrong because it uses woman for the entertainment of others.
It's wrong because you wouldn't like your child to watch it.
It's wrong because you feel guilty after you watch those kind of things.
I'd just like to take a second to analyze this. The first line is simply ad hominem, so we can ignore it.

The second boils down to two things. 1, we are using women for the entertainment. 2, that is morally wrong. Both of these are incorrect. Pornography does use women, that is true. But is is misleading, because pornography also uses men. We use PEOPLE, not women, for entertainment. The second part is the statement that using them is wrong. But using people for entertainment isn't wrong. Movies, Television, Music, all use other people to entertain us. The content might be wrong, but the fact that other people are entertaining us isn't inherently bad.

The third line says that you shouldn't let your child watch it, and so it's morally wrong. The problem here is the author makes no differentiation between children and adults. There are many things that I wouldn't let my child do that I don't think are morally wrong. Join the military, getting married and have sex, skydiving. None of these are morally wrong. They do however, require maturity and the ability to reason, which children don't have yet. I wouldn't want my child to look at pornography. That doesn't mean it's morally wrong for an adult though.

Finally the fourth line says that it is wrong because we feel guilty after watching. Well, I don't feel guilty, and it's hardly my problem is the author does. Whether an action is ethically wrong or right cannot be dependent on feelings of guilt because feelings of guilt aren't universal. A skilled psychologist could condition someone to feel massive feelings of guilt at watching porn. That psychologist could also condition that person to feel zero guilt. Do those changeable feelings dictate that porn is morally wrong or not? No, they don't, because ethics isn't based on perception. Reality isn't based on belief. The majority at one point believed the Earth was flat, which didn't change the fact that the Earth is round. I can feel guilty after looking at porn because I believe it's morally wrong, which doesn't change the fact that porn isn't morally wrong.

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