Resolved: Viewing Pornography is Morally Wrong
This debate should be impossible to accept, if you somehow find a method of accepting you automatically forfeit all 7 voter's points. If you would like to play, just leave me a comment :P
Pornography: Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.
View: look at or inspect (something).
Morally wrong: out of line with morality.
Morally right: Not out of line with morality
This debate is meant to discuss the various reasons why watching pornography is or isnt acceptable. This debate wil Not consider religious factors or decrees on the matter of pornography to vindicate or otherwise negate the resolution. Any attempt to incorperate religious proclimations on the matter are stricly forbidden and will result in the forfeiture of all 7 voter's points, as agreed by the person who accepts this debate. Burden of proof is Shared.
I exclude forms of pornography such as snuff pornography, child pornography, pregnat pornography, mutilation pornography, rape pornography, fecal matter pornography, all forms of explicitely illegal forms of pornography (in the US), and all forms of pornography where the women/participant is forced to do some action against their will. However all forms of hentai including rape hentai, mutilation hentai...ect are up for debate. Fetishs are included.
Please be mature about this debate and only accept if you truely believe that viewing porn or specific types of porn not excluded in these rules cause adverse effects that outweigh any positive effects. Thank you and perhaps we will have a nice and controvercial debate.
"No great advance has been made in science, politics, or religion without controversy." -Lyman Beecher
"Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost." -Chauncey Depew
I will be arguing from three approaches:
1. Viewing pornography is immoral according to Kantian deontology.
2. Viewing pornography is immoral according to Rossian deonotology
3. Pornography is a negative force in society (a society is better without pornography than with pornography).
Naturally, for approaches 1 & 2 I will explain why both Kantian and Rossian ethics are veridical ethical theories, if my opponent disagrees with either Kantian or Rossian ethics then he can voice his concerns and I will defend the theories accordingly.
Immanuel Kant writes a huge amount regarding ethics, but the main points of his theory are:
1. The moral worth of actions is intrinsic, as opposed to being defined by pleasure or pain.
2. A good intention is the only thing that is universally good.
3. Morality ought to only be considered from a rational viewpoint - adding emotional bias into the equation can only serve to cause confusion, as our emotions are fickle and changeable.
Using our reason, we can now establish a criteria for the morality of certain acts. An action is immoral if it does not satisfy all the following, rationally derived, criteria for morality.
1. Universalisability - when acting in a certain way, we must be willing that everyone be justified in acting in the way that we are. For example, if we steal a loaf of bread, we must be willing that everyone steal a loaf of bread in the same situation.
2. Ends - as rational moral agents, human beings are intrinsically valuable. This entails that we ought to treat the welfare of our fellow man as intrinsically, not extrinsically valuable. The implication of this is that we ought not to treat humans as means to an end - we ought not to 'use' people for our own end because this shows a lack of respect for human dignity.
3. Ideal society - when determining the morality of an act, we ought to consider how that act would fit in with the laws of a hypothetical "ideal society". If an act would be forbidden in the ideal society, then we ought not to do it.
Relating back to pornography, the act of viewing pornography is immoral because it does not adhere to the "ends" criteria. When one watches pornography they are using someone as a means (the source of sexual stimulation) to an end (sexual pleasure). This is immoral because it does not respect the "pornstar" (for want of a better word) as a rational human being - it respects her as a tool for our own selfish and base pleasures that do not benefit ourselves either.
As Kant put it:
"to allow one's person for profit to be used by another for the satisfaction of sexual desire, to make of oneself an Object of demand, is to dispose over oneself as over a thing and to make of oneself a thing on which another satisfies his appetite, just as he satisfies his hunger upon a steak. But since the inclination is directed towards one's sex and not towards one's humanity, it is clear that one thus partially sacrifices one's humanity and thereby runs a moral risk. Human beings are, therefore, not entitled to offer themselves, for profit, as things for the use of others in the satisfaction of their sexual propensities." (1)
Although this quote only condemns those who produce pornography, viewing pornography is supporting it.
Another approach to ethics is based on duty-based intuitionism. W.D Ross highlighted that our rational intuitions recognise 7 "duties" that are moral to obey and immoral to disobey. As rational persons, we recognise these duties as self-evidently "good", we do not need to try and explain why they are good because their good is intrinsic and intuitionally known. The duties are as follows:
Fidelity: We ought to keep promises
Reparation: We ought to resolve any harm that we may have previously caused
Gratitude: We ought to especially do good to those who do good to us
Non-maleficence: We ought not to harm others
Beneficence: We ought to do good to others
Justice: We ought to distribute benefit according to merit
Self-improvement: We ought to improve ourselves and make ourselves more virtuous people.
In the context of pornography, viewing it is immoral because it disobeys our duty for self-improvement. Watching pornography is contrary to self-improvement. I will explain in more detail...
Discourages romantic success/development
In short, viewing pornography hinders one's romantic successes or development. It does so because it removes the incentive to go out, meet and become romantically involved in actual women. Let us imagine being in the place of someone who watches pornography; why would he want to make the effort to go out and romanticise average women when he can stay at home and satisfy himself on pornography that features beautiful naked women?
So ultimately, viewing pornography is an act that seeks to replace interaction with normal women with visual sexual stimulation. Yet in the long term, this will inevitably lead to personal loneliness, social ineptness with the opposite sex and even sexual assault - as men become frustrated with women when they have been brainwashed from countless hours of submissive women only to face the tough competition of the actual dating scene.
Furthermore, viewing pictures of beautiful naked women will higher one's 'standards'. This would mean that a pornography-viewer would seek prettier women than a non-pornography-viewer. This will, however, lead to the former being more sexually/romantically disappointed than the latter.
Studies show that pornographic consumption leads to an increase in sexual health problems among young males. Including erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, abnormal sexual fantasies, depression, fatigue, dissatisfaction and sexual anxiety. (2)
As well as studies that have shown pornography consumption to correlate to depression (3), pornography is highly addictive (4). Addiction is obviously contrary to self-improvement.
Ultimately, viewing pornography is contrary to self-improvement, and as we have a moral duty to look after ourselves and become more virtuous and health people, viewing pornography is immoral.
Viewing pornography is also immoral from a sociological perspective. It encourages men to view women as a source of sexual satisfaction as opposed to an equal human being. Furthermore, pornography consumption brainwashes people into believing that sexual intercourse is merely a casual hedonistic practice, instead of a loving, caring act that is intrinsically ordered towards procreation.
This widespread view of sex as a mere pleasure-generating act has poisonous effects on wider society. Disconnecting procreation from sex would invariably lead to an increase in teenage pregnancies, as people would not consider the procreative potential of the act that they choose to casually take part in.
Viewing pornography can also desensitise the brain - the more sexual material that one consumes (especially considering that their specific fantasies/fetishes can be catered to), the less satisfied they will be with their wife. This would lead to an increase in divorce as men become increasingly dissatisfied as their wives are not able to live up to the ridiculous sexual standards set by pornography. I do not think I need to explain why divorce is negative to society.
I have more arguments to say, although I'm afraid I have used most of my character count.
To summarise, watching pornography is immoral because:
1. Doing so treats people as means to an end
2. It is contrary to self-improvement
3. It is negative to the health of the wider society
I must vehmenantly appologize for the tight response time, however I have completed my arguemts to my satisfaction and will now begin my argument:
Another key point that Philocat brings up is on using another person as a means to any end, and to this I must question and prod my opponent for further logical reasoning. His argument that “we ought not to 'use' people for our own end because this shows a lack of respect for human dignity.”…is unfounded. Simply put Philocat has stated that ANY use of another human being to achieve a given end, is immoral. Thus, treating one as a tool to achieve a sexual end is immoral. I can only see this as a sort of Black and White reasoning which limits literally everything into the realm of the immoral. For instance, Is a customer and an employer not treating his servant/employee as a tool to gain something (means to and end like food, money…ect)? Does one not literally survive to leach off of other people (whether it be beneficial for only them, or both people)? To demonstrate this point, take into account the philosophical writings of Jeremy Bentham, the father of utilitarianism:
“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do......They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain subject to it all the while.”
The overarching theme here is that whatever we do, we do in search of pleasure. Whether it be a talk with your mother, or a raging orgy that is recorded for pornography. In this way, man can do nothing but use inanimate and animate objects, including humans, as means to an end. Thus I must reject this philosophy as of now. On another note, if we take a look beyond whether or not having sex is wrong in the first place and look towards the actual act of viewing porn, I can in no way see the connection between viewing something and thusly being required to support that thing in its bad nature. This connection is absolutely, and I repeat absolutely essential to the success of Philocat’s argument and without it, I maintain the argument is in no way relevant to the subject, nor would it be topical.
On the topic of Rousseau, I must first point out the comedic irony in making an argument holding that morality is based solely on reason, then to argue that 7 things are inherently good ‘just b’cuz’. This can be found in the beginning of second argument which states:
“we do not need to try and explain why they are good because their good is intrinsic and intuitionally known”
I will contend now that the two arguments are mutually exclusive and thus that philocat must choose one over the other and stick with it. Overall however I will humor the 7 arguments as truthful statements and refute the claims made. With this in mind we should do it the easy way and start with the first argument that Philocat makes concerning romantic success. Firstly I would like to point out the contradiction in here claiming that sex prevents one from having a sexual life at all, and then later claiming that pornography causes one to get into unsatisfying relationships. Next we should examine the underlying premise that seeking romantic encounters is good at all. Under this idea, porn wouldn’t be completely bad, think about the minors that we don’t want to engaging in sex, would porn not then stop underage sex and also save hundreds of thousands from STDs? Well, anyway the idea doesn’t hold up in the first place being that Philocat doesn’t cite any sources to back his claims up. Finally, lets examine the huge claims here, which again have no citations: “personal loneliness, social ineptness with the opposite sex and even sexual assault”……These are all things that Philocat claims are results of porn however I contend that Philocat, and many others, are perceiving a reverse relationship. It is not that pornography makes one depressed, lonely or socially awkward. It is that those types of people are attracted to pornography. Thusly, porn may be a host to those types but watching porn doesn’t mean that you become one of them. It is simply a means to feels pleasure like drinking, smoking cigarette, or having a chat with your boss. Here is one way to think about it, if you were a person who grew up literally by yourself in a log cabin and one day you found porn and began to watch it often, you wouldn’t suddenly become a lonely or depressed individual because that is simply not how porn functions. Philocat’s final claims states that porn increases sexual assault, this is quite ridiculous and is refuted by my last few statements.
On the sexual health argument I will simply point out that your own citation contradicts your statement as proven by these quotes from it:
“The specific numbers are unknown since it has been difficult to do proper research.
“Researches could not find any college aged males who were not using internet porn. This created a blindspot. Imagine if all guys started smoking at age 10 and there were no groups that didn’t, we would think that lung cancer is normal for all guys.””
“conclusive scientific data is unavailable”
I consider that negated
Philocat’s citation that porn leads to depression is posted as a page that “cannot be found” thus the conclusion is not backed by literature and is not to be considered true. Philo then claims that pornography is addictive and to this I will simply say that he is obligated to provide quoted evidence when citing a full research paper so I can check his facts. But also I must note that whether porn is addictive or not is irrelevant, coffee is addictive, shopping is addictive and even daily routenes are addictive…addictiveness does not equate to morality unless it causes a net negative effect, which porn does not.
In my opinion I dislike this argument the most as it is mostly pathos and ethos based, using broad assumptions founded on traditional and unsupported assumptions disguised as facts. First, I contend that sex is both a hedonistic and a loving act. Second I contend that this view does not have poisonous effects on society nor does it increase teen pregnancy which can be proven if need be, as well as contending that Philocat himself provides no evidence to support this claim. The argument on teen pregnancy is the same for desensitization, no evidence.
I believe I have successfully refuted all of Philocat’s points and I now give then pen back to him to criticize my analysis of his arguments. Thanks for reading, hope everyone enjoys the ideas going about!
I thank my opponent for such a detailed reply, I will now respond to his points.
Con's initial point of contention is that an ideal society is utopian. I agree with this sentiment, but just because something is impossible it does not mean that we ought not to seek it. For example, it is impossible for someone to not commit immoral acts, yet we still acknowledge that one ought to seek to avoid immoral acts.
Nonetheless, critiques of Kant's principle of the ideal society do not pertain to the debate, as the basis for asserting the immorality of pornography is based on Kant's principle of ends and means. Even if the principle of the ideal society is unsound, it will not harm my arguments.
Con goes on to request logical reasoning to support the veracity of the principle of ends - Why ought we not treat people solely as a means to an end?
It is all a matter of consistency; one can only hold a rational moral position if it is a consistent proposition. The proposition that "we ought to treat people solely as a means to an end" is not consistent, as one would not rationally desire that they be treated solely as a means to an end. Therefore the negation must be true, that "we ought to not treat people as solely a means to an end".
Con opines that such a principle limits the majority of human interaction to the realms of immorality. This is a common misconception; it is only immoral to treat people solely as a means to an end - as this does not respect our fellow man as a rational moral agent with intrinsic value. There is nothing immoral about using someone as a means as well as an end, as this still respects that person.
To use an example, a customer is using a shopkeeper as a means to an end (the end being the providing of wares), yet this is not immoral if we still treat the shopkeeper as an end in himself as well as a means, which entails treating the shopkeeper in such a way that his intrinsic value is recognised.
Con presents a differing account of morality, that of the utilitarian-egoist approach of Jeremy Bentham. But all Con does here is provide evidence that we act out of our desires, he does not provide any justification for the reasoning that, just because we only act out of our desires, it is moral to do so. It is later claimed that man can do nothing else apart from using both animate and inanimate objects as means to an end. Aside from the previously-mentioned fact that Kant only condemns using people exclusively as a means to an end, this claim entails that altruism is impossible. As altruism is clearly present in our lives and the lives of others, the above claim cannot be correct.
Finally, Con fails to see the link between viewing pornography and supporting pornography in its "bad nature". He is correct in highlighting that proof of such a link is imperative to the success of my argument, but I maintain that such a link exists.
The link is that viewing pornography entails either purchasing the pornographic material or visiting a pornography website. Both of these methods of viewing pornography provide financial support to those who produce pornography.
Just to clarify, this argument is based on the ethics of W.D. Ross, not Jean-Jacques Rousseau as my opponent seems to believe.
Firstly, Con opines that the rational basis of Kantian ethics contradicts the intuitional basis of Rossian ethics. I am aware of this but I maintain that it does not harm my arguments.
The reason I presented both ethical systems is to show that viewing pornography is wrong both on an intuitional and a rational basis. I was catering to whoever reads this debate; if the reader happens to be a moral rationalist, then I explain why pornography is wrong under that paradigm, if the reader instead is a moral intuitionist, then I explain why pornography is wrong under that paradigm as well.
I understand that one cannot hold both ethical theories to be correct at the same time, but the reason I use both in this debate is to pertain to the moral sentiments of the readers.
Con claims that I contradict myself by 'claiming that [pornography] prevents one from having a sexual life at all, and then later claiming that pornography causes one to get into unsatisfying relationships.'
But I never said that pornography causes one to get into unsatisfying relationships, I maintain that it hinders one's own sexual life, but what I said was that, if someone was to enter a relationship then that relationship would be less satisfying if that person does watch pornography than if he does not.
The premise that romantic encounters are good is questioned by Con. I did initially think this to be evident, but perhaps it needed reaffirming that romantic encounters are good because they lead to the continuation of our species, increase our mental health as well as increase our self-confidence (1). Obviously this would only apply to consensual adults; teenagers are often not mentally stable enough to cope with the emotional rollercoaster that is a sexual relationship.
Con suggests that pornography could decrease underage sex as well as STDs. Yet statistics and common sense would suggest otherwise. If one is presented with sexual material then they will be more inclined to seek more of it or try out what they watch. A Rand study showed that watching sexual material on TV (analogous to pornography) leads to a higher proportion of teenagers losing their virginity in the period afterwards(2).
This would suggest that watching pornography actually increases promiscuity among teenagers.
Many of my claims are highlighted to lack citation. The reason I did not deign to add citation is because reason dictates that my claims are true. I will explain:
'loneliness': Pornography is a major factor in relationship breakdown (3)
'social ineptness with the opposite sex': Constant exposure to women portrayed as sexual objects will inadvertently lead to the brain perceiving them as so. So when one interacts with women they will struggle to view them as persons.
'sexual assault': Pornography presents women as submitting easily to sex - so men would perceive this to be normal and will be frustrated when they find resistance in real women. Frustration could lead to assault.
Of course, this could be a reverse relationship, but the reasoning displayed above explains why this relationship is most likely not reverse.
If Con had read the source, it goes on to say that there is evidence of sexual health problems despite there not being any quantitative data. This evidence comes from likeness to symptoms of other addictions as well as evidence from people who have previously watched pornography and experienced these problems.
I apologise for my source, it appears the end of the link got cut off. Here is the link: https://www.psychologytoday.com...
I know that most things can be addictive, but my point was that pornography is especially addictive, as much as cocaine in fact. (4)
Mary Anne Layden, a psychologist, wrote:
'Porn is the most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of existing today.' (4)
I agree that 'sex is both a hedonistic and a loving act', but the problem with pornography is that it doesn't present the latter.
The reason it could lead to an increase in teen pregnancy is that, if teenagers are given the impression that sex is only hedonistic and not necessarily loving, then they will not see love as a prerequisite to sex. Hence it would be easier to justify the decision to jump into bed together if they believe it is not necessary to love the partner.
It is a great round so far and I thank Philcat for is response, here are my arguments:
1.) Morality is based on logic
2.) Logic will never contradict itself
3.) Thus logic is consistent
4.) The alternative of not being a means to an end, is being a means to an end
5.) This is not consistent with what we would want someone to do to us (the universality principle)
6.) Thus the alternate must be true
This argument even on face value doesn’t seem very logical. Here are my points
A.) Pro hasn’t logically stated why the supposed converse of the ends principle is logically inconsistent.
B.) Pro has committed a Black or White fallacy in that those are not the only 2 options. You yourself have said that you can treat someone as both a means and an end. This is still logically consistent.
C.) Pro is using circular logic in that he is justifying one principle on another (end on universiality) and yet hasn’t defined why the universality principle is logically sound.
My Argument: Philocat is making a silent assumption that a porn star is being used solely as a means to an end when in reality I content that she has the same job as someone who works in a restaurant. Philocat must prove that hiring porn stars is solely using them as a means to an end. I argue that it does the opposite and thus embraces human rational intrinsic value.
The idea is simple. Man is literally driven by either pleasure or pain in any given moment. Philocat fails to recognize that I do not mean that man is driven by his DESIRES, but that the pure pleasure and pain that might result in the future or in the current situation is what drives desires themselves, thusly these two masters drive all actions as a whole. Philocat is correct is suggesting that there is no such thing as altruism. Ultimately though that is a slightly different debate. The altruism debate comes down to whether the word altruism refers to if an action results in the overall lesser wellbeing of an individual, sacrificed for the gain of someone else, or if it refers to whether or not an individual does what is in his personal subjective best interest at any given moment. The conflict comes in that the definition of the word supports the second idea and the common meaning supports the latter. Over all however it is simply irrefutably impossible for someone to act out of their own personal subjective best interest. Which is exactly my point. At all times we use people to achieve our end of pleasure, whatever form it may take. There IS no such thing as only using someone as a means instead of an end because we are all simply using one another to get some pleasure, whether we are trying to or not, this is simply the essence of being alive. Thus the proposition that we can even act beyond treating someone as anything EXCEPT a means to an end is a ridiculous claim which would need proof to back itself up.
Hey I noticed it was rossian ethics lol, I kinda realized when it was already posted though lol. My bad but I have it now.
Philocat brings up many new basis arguments and claims that they are common sense and were thus assumed, Since this IS a debate, I would like to point out that nothing of that scale should be assumed. The entire purpose of any debate is to define and clarify certain ideas while casting out those which are untrue. Philocat must justify these assumptions:
That whatever promotes the continuation of our species is moral good or suggestable
That “ If one is presented with sexual material then they will be more inclined to seek more of it or try out what they watch.” (Especially given that philocat literally just claimed that porn will stop people from seeking our relationships, a massively clear contradiction)
Bodily and Social Effects
Make no mistake, this IS a reverse relationship and con will need some pretty convincing evidence that shows how simply watching the act of sex will somehow cause the same effects as being an alcoholic, schizophrenic or other drug addict, including: depression, lack of sexual drive, an increase in teen pregnancy ,social anxiety and extreme addiction. Simply go back to my log cabin analogy. If a man were to grow up 100% alone in a log cabin and then find a pornography tape and start the process that takes place when one finds a pornography tape, that he would somehow become this angry depressed rapist. It simply isn’t ‘Logically Consistent’, bringing it back to your point made earlier. I have not addressed many of the specific claims simply because philocat lack evidence and I consider the things provided to be below substantial in the evidence confidence section. Just provide substantial evidence, that’s all
"In The Sunny Side of Smut, Scientific American’s Melinda Wenner Mover says the research in several studies suggests that “…moderate pornography consumption does not make users more aggressive, promote sexism or harm relationships. If anything, some researchers suggest, exposure to pornography might make some people less likely to commit sexual crimes.” Mover does not see this as proof that porn decreases sex crime, but Christopher J. Ferguson, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M told Mover that the trends “just don’t fit with the theory that rape and sexual assault are in part influenced by pornography.”
Participants of both sexes in a 2007 study of more than 600 Danish men and women aged 18-30 found that self-reporting adults said that “hardcore” pornography had a positive effect on their lives. Researchers Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth asked the subjects to report the effects of hardcore porn consumption on “sexual knowledge, attitudes toward sex, attitudes toward and perception of the opposite sex, sex life and general quality of life.”
Along the quality-of-life lines, Dr. Donald Ardell, who was credited with helping found the wellness movement in the 1970s, writes in A Wellness Perspective on Pornography, that wellness is about quality of life, and that pornography, with its ancient lineage (he mentions the Kama Sutra, circa 300 AD) and huge number of users “seems to enhance life quality, unless of course they get caught looking at it.” He sites humor and stress release as two possibly life-enhancing qualities of porn.
In a small study from the University of Montreal in 2009 -- also self-reporting -- the male participants claimed that watching porn didn’t change their views of women or impact their relationships. An oft-repeated punchline of the study was that the researchers tried, and failed, to find men who had never viewed porn.
Then there was a 2009 study by Michael Twohig (cited in Sunny Side) from the University of Utah, which asked students whether or not their porn consumption was problematic. Twohig found that porn itself didn’t affect the students’ mental state; it was only a problem when they tried to control their urge to watch it.
So some studies indicate that adult entertainment could have its positive effects. Are there other benefits, ones that might be more difficult to quantify?"
In sum: We arent treating porn stars and others in the industry as anything more that one would treat a store clerk, the simply do their job, Man can do nothing but treat others as a pure means to an end, I seek justification for a few moral assumptions, I point out just a few of the glaring contradictions in philocat's sexual and societal impacts contentions and finally I show that the hard evidence supports porn has no adverse effects. I now rest my speech and give con his time to respond. Thank you all for reading thus far!
Con presents the consistency argument in a logical form in order to refute it, yet just to avoid any straw-mans I will reiterate the logic behind the assertion that treating people solely as a means is morally inconsistent.
P1: Morality is based on logic
P2: An inconsistent position is illogical
C1: An inconsistent position is immoral
P3: Treating people solely as means to an end is inconsistent
C2: Treating people solely as means to an end is immoral
P1 is fairly self-evident; I commend its veracity to the voters.
P2 is justified because, when one has an inconsistent position they are simultaneously stating that 'X is good' and 'X is not good' at the same time. This is a contradiction which is illogical.
C1 is apparent if one considers that, if morality is based on logic, an illogical thing cannot be a moral thing.
P3 is justified because that statement 'Treat people solely as a means to an end' is inconsistent. The reason for this is that one would not rationally consent to be treated as solely a means to an end.
To illustrate, let X = 'Treat people solely as a means to an end'
So if one was to say 'X is good' then, in order for them to be consistent, they would also have to say that 'X is good even if done to me'. As this latter statement would not rationally be desired, the former statement must be inconsistent.
C2 is deductively valid from C1 and P3.
Therefore treating people solely as a means to an end is immoral, and as viewing pornography treats the 'actresses' solely as a means to an end, viewing pornography is immoral.
I do not commit the 'black or white fallacy' because this fallacy only applies to non-dichotomous choices. Yet choosing whether or not to use people solely as a means to an end is wholly dichotomous. We either can, or we cannot.
Furthermore, I do not use the principle of universalisability to defend the principle of ends. It just so happens that the principle of universalisability is also based on arguments regarding consistency.
Pro argues that a pornstar is being used in the same way as someone who works in a restaurant.
However, the differences are very apparent. A pornstar is being considered not as a person but as an object for sexual gratification. When one watches pornography, they only consider the woman as an object (hence 'objectification').
In contrast, someone in a restaurant is considered as a person (insofar as they are treated with respect that accords with one's personhood) - they are not being objectified, unlike a pornstar.
The principle of ends opposes objectification, as objects have no intrinsic value (and so cannot be treated as ends in themselves). Hence if one treats persons as objects then they are not granting them intrinsic value, which entails that they are treating them solely as a means to an end.
JVN postulates that man is inextricably motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Yet I dispute this premise. Robert Nozick's 'experience machine' is a thought experiment that shows that we can act contrary to the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain:
'Suppose there was an experience machine that would give you any
experience you desired. Super-duper neuropsychologists could stimulate
your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel,
or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would
be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you
plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life experiences? [...]
Of course, while in the tank you won't know that you're there; you'll think
that it's all actually happening [...] Would you plug in?' (1)
If we could only desire pleasure then we would undoubtedly plug into the machine, yet it is perfectly plausible, if not expected, to choose to not be plugged into this machine despite the result being less pleasure and more pain.
To conclude, Con's premise that we are only driven by pleasure and pain is refuted, and hence his following conclusions that altruism is impossible and that we cannot treat people as ends in themselves are invalid.
As a side note, Con seems to misunderstand the principle. I will reiterate; it is not immoral to use people as a means as well as an end, it is only immoral to use people as a means and not as an end.
JVN takes issue with the intuitional basis of the seven duties that are fundamental to W.D Ross's ethical theory. Yet trying to justify the goodness of these duties is like trying to justify logic or reality - we know by intuition that keeping promises, making up for bad things we do, showing gratitude, not harming others, doing good to others, acting justly and becoming better people are good.
I know this is a debate, but that does not mean that we cannot accept fundamental axioms such as the goodness of the duties described above. It is absurd to suggest that these duties are not good, so reductio ad absurdum, they are most likely good.
Pro asks me to justify that:
'That whatever promotes the continuation of our species is moral good or suggestable'
This is justified because humanity has a certain teleology, which is to say that we are naturally ordered towards certain ends. As a biological species, man is naturally ordered towards survival and continuation of our species. So as we are ordered towards that end, it is good that that end be sought. For example, a clock is ordered towards telling the time, so if the clock does tell the time then we have solid grounds to assert that it is a good clock.
Pro says that I contradict myself when I say that:
'If one is presented with sexual material then they will be more inclined to seek more of it or try out what they watch.'
'porn will stop people from seeking out relationships'
I apologise for this lack of clarification. In context, the latter was in relation to adults and the former in relation to teenagers. The difference in reactions to pornography is because teenagers are more likely to try new things and take risks (2).
JVN insists that the relationship between pornography and poor mental health could be reverse, but considering that there is such a clear link (as shown by my previously cited sources), it is implausible to maintain that all cases of poor mental health are not caused by pornography consumption. I do not doubt that occasionally it is a reverse relationship, what I deny is that this is the case 100% of the time. For example, loneliness is often linked to depression, yet it is absurd to assume without evidence that loneliness does not ever cause depression. The log cabin example is irrelevant, because the majority of mental health problems linked to pornography are in context of interaction with other people and with society as a whole, whereas the person in the log cabin has no interaction with others.
Pro goes on to present studies that deny a link between pornography and poor mental health / rapist mentalities. Yet the glaring problem with these studies is that they are self-reporting. It is obvious that someone who views pornography will not talk negatively about it or admit that they are more likely to be a rapist ; as if that was the case they would not watch it (or at least not admit to it). To use an analogy, it is like determining how healthy smoking is by asking current smokers to report their experiences.
To conclude, I have substantially defended my assertions on how pornography is immoral on a consistency basis and a mental health basis. JVN drops my arguments regarding how pornography is bad for society.
Philocat has offered me a unique experience to debate moral principles and for that I am glad that we can have a civil debate about something as controversial as pornography, but haste is for the old so I will begin my arguments.
I will begin with a disclaimer of sorts. I would simply like to state; despite the fact that I have not refuted the usage of Kantian and Rossian ideologies as moral platforms, that does NOT mean that I agree with them. I say this in order to prevent a claim of concession to them in the last round. Again, for the purposes of the debate I Do Not support Kantian or Rossian ideologies acceptable moral platforms to base the outcome of the debate however I may use its own logic against the claim in order to test its own integrity and logic. Let’s begin:
Pro has stated that treating people solely as a means to an end goes against the logic of morals. Verbatim he said: “P3 is justified because that statement 'Treat people solely as a means to an end' is inconsistent. The reason for this is that one would not rationally consent to be treated as solely a means to an end.” My first point on this is that Philocat has simply pushed back the question instead of giving a substantial answer. I saw this before last round and that is one reason I assumed he must have been just using the universality principle as the answer, which he was not I now know. Back to the point, I would like to say that Philocat must answer the question, “Why ought we treat people how we want to be treated?” This must be justified with logic or reason even if it seems obvious.
My second point starts at the definition of the word ‘inconsistent’ which turns out to be: ‘not compatible with’ or ‘staying the same throughout’. This entails that there is something already substantiated beforehand which has been violated, in some way, that would then create an ‘inconstancy’. This is also a reason I thought Philo was using the universality principle. Philocat however doesn’t have any aforementioned points, he is adding a new moral contention to back the claim of inconsistency. Moving on from the definition, my next point will be in contrast to you claim made in the last paragraph. I say you must back your claim that one cannot Morally consent to being treated as solely a means to an end; which leads me to the next piece of this argument, that one CAN consent to being treated solely as a means to an end, furthermore that Kantian deontology allows it. Take the following verbatim quote form Kant himself: “The sole condition on which we are free to make use of our sexual desire depends upon the right to dispose over the person as a whole…. But how am I to obtain these rights over the whole person? Only by giving that person the same rights over the whole of myself…..Matrimony is an agreement between two persons by which they grant each other equal reciprocal rights, each of them undertaking to surrender the whole of their person to the other with a complete right of disposal over it.” Thus clearly even Kant concedes that one can agree to be treated solely as a means to an end. Remember, even without Kant agreeing, I still maintain you can agree to it.
Recently I saw a debate talking about an scenario in which a man has the option divert an oncoming train from a track which has 5 people tied up to it, onto a track with only 1 person, thus saving more lives. The con argued that this is wrong because according to Kant, if you switch the track then you treat that sacrificed person as a means to an end, the end being saving other people and thus that would be wrong. But if I were on the track and yelled for him to change it then I would be agreeing to be used as a means to an end, would I not? Certainly I could do that.
B.) More Unsupported Claims
Do an F3 search for “A pornstar is being considered” – this claim is unsubstantiated
Lastly, I would like to address Philocat directly. I fell as if you are kind of like my math teacher, she knows what she is talking about but she doesn’t know exactly how to explain it sometimes. In the same way that I might ask her to explain something in a bit more detail I would like a little more clarification on what exactly it means to treat someone as a means to and end and some examples of what would be wrong and vice versa. That’s all, thank you.
C.) Viewing Porn VS Supporting Porn
Earlier in the round we discussed how viewing pornography is giving it financial aid and thus supporting something immoral, making watching it immoral, however I would like to point out that according to Kantian deontology it is not the outcome that makes an action moral or immoral, but the intent of the action being done. One does not watch pornography to support it and thus according to kant, this argument must be thrown out. Thus viewing porn isn’t immoral. If viewing pornography is not immoral then Philocat has no connection to the case and must lose as the resolution specifically states is viewing porn bad rather than is making porn bad. This is a case take out.
A.) Robby Noz
Pro said that Rob’s analogy proves my entire argument on altruism is wrong, but alas the argument is very very flawed. Remember that the difference between our two points is that Philocat believes altruism refers to an action that results in putting the person being altruistic in an undisputable, over-all disadvantaged position for another person, while I contend that while that may be the laymen’s definition, the actual definition, which talks about motives is inherently flawed, this is because although we may do an action that is physically worse for us, like dying or taking a bullet for someone else, we do this not out of pure selflessness, but that on a purely fundamental level we do all things for what we think will benefit us subjectively the best. So an example would be that, a man takes a bullet because in his own HEAD the outcome of him dying is BETTER than the outcome of that other person dying. Not that over all, for him, it is factually or ‘evolutionarily’ better for him. So while your argument offers a state of nirvana to anyone who hooks up, and while that may be Over-all, factually more pleasurable, the person doing deciding doesn’t understand the full pleasure and thus when he weighs factors like the uneasy feeling of thinking yourself as being in a fake reality, you consider In Your Head that it is better to not hook up. Again its just you doing what is best for yourself, with the knowledge you have. Thus the argument on altruism as a take out to Bentham has been thwarted. Secondly, This further proves that humans ultimately are going for the best possible idea and always use people as a means to achieve that end, thus making literally every interaction immoral, invalidating the Kantian ideology because if everything is immoral than that is not logically consistent.
Pro starts off by asking:
'Why ought we treat people how we want to be treated?'
Good question. The answer is that we ought to treat people how we want to be treated because this is morally rational to do (as to not do this would be to have inconsistent double-standards). We ought to act rationally because we are intrinsically rational beings, which entails that we are intrinsically ordered towards using reason. To return to my earlier analogy, a clock is intrinsically ordered towards telling the time, hence a clock ought to tell the time. In this way, man is intrinsically ordered towards using reason, hence man ought to use reason. Using reason entails being morally consistent.
Next, JVN postulates that using people as a means to an end is justified insofar as the person being used consents to it. Yet this ignores the crucial caveat; that a person cannot rationally consent to being used solely as a means to an end. And as reason is the determining factor for morality, if one cannot rationally consent to something one cannot morally consent to something.
What Kant is saying in Pro's quote is that it can be rational to consent to being used only if the other person is also being used. In a way, it cancels out because nobody is taking advantage of the other.
This does not justify pornography however, because the pornography-viewer does not grant the pornstar rights over the viewer.
In the trolley scenario, the person on the track who is yelling to be sacrificed for the good of the many, I would hazard that this is a difficult scenario and has achieved fame because of its difficult nature. Yet the person still cannot be used as a means to an end because they cannot rationally consent to being sacrificed. This is because self-preservation is rational.
Pro opines that my claim that a pornstar is being objectified is unsubstantiated.
I'm surprised that he calls me up on this claim in particular, as it is fairly self-evident. When one masturbates to pornography they do not consider the person, they consider the body alone. This is to say that only the physical essence of the pornstar is being valued (which is objectification). It is evident that a pornstar is not considered as an intrinsically valuable person when one watches pornography.
JVN asks for some more examples of treating people solely as a means to an end, very well, I will provide some:
1. Having sex with someone just to gain sexual pleasure is using someone only as a means, and not an end in themselves.
2. Buying groceries from a shopkeeper is using someone as both a means as well as an end. The means is to obtain groceries, but so long as the shopkeeper is respected as a person and treated as such, he is also being treated as an ends.
3. Donating a kidney to a total stranger is using someone only as an end and not as a means. The donor is not using the person as a means to an end, but only as an end.
Pro goes on to highlight that, since Kant only values intention, the consequences of watching pornography ought not be morally considered.
However, Kant maintains only that consequences ought not take precedent over a good intention; yet if no good intention is present (as is the case in watching pornography) then the consequences can be considered insofar as they are intrinsic to the action.
What this means is that, since moral maxims are synthetic (truth is contingent on experiential conclusion)(1), if we experience that a given action almost always gives rise to a given consequence, then the moral worth of that action is still in a way influenced by that consequence. It is only consequences that are unforeseen or unusual that can be discounted, as they are not intrinsic to the action itself.
In relation to pornography, the act of viewing it almost always brings about the consequence of providing financial support to those who make pornography, then viewing pornography is immoral because part of the act itself entails the support of immoral practice (production of pornography).
Here, Pro appears to concede that our actions are motivated by concepts other than pleasure. Instead, Pro maintains that:
'its just you doing what is best for yourself, with the knowledge you have'
But under Bentham, doing what is best for yourself is equivalent to maximising one's own pleasure. Nozick refutes this notion, so another criteria for 'best for yourself' is needed.
This also goes against empirical observation; as many people overwork themselves, especially carers, and ultimately they are not doing what is best for themselves, they are doing what is best for those that they care for. This is empirical evidence that people can act outside of egoistic motivations.
'This further proves that humans ultimately are going for the best possible idea and always use people as a means to achieve that end, thus making literally every interaction immoral'
Yet he does not realise that the 'best possible idea' could be the best interests of other people. Also, Pro forgets that Kant does not forbid using people as means to an end, he only forbids using people solely as a means to an end.
JVN begins this section by claiming that:
'Watching porn is the same as watching two people have sex live'
Yet this is not true at all; pornography is in no way representative of normal sexual intercourse (2).
Furthermore, Pro asserts that simply watching sex will not make you a depressed rapist. But I do not say that this is always the case, I maintain that watching pornography increases the likelihood that one will have aggressive attitudes towards women, as this study shows (3).
Supposedly all my evidence is unreliable since 'everyone watches porn'. Of course a lot of men watch porn, but then again there are a fair few who don't. Only about 68% of men watch pornography regularly (4) which leaves about 42% of men with which control groups could be made. Albeit some of my studies did not have control groups, but this does not entirely discredit their findings, it merely limits their conclusive veracity. On the other hand, my other studies use control groups yet have similar conclusions.
JVN highlights that perhaps pornography could be good insofar as it encourages teenagers to go out and reproduce, and hence continue the species.Yet this only considers the quantity of reproduction, not the quality. Monogamous procreation within marriage ensures the best quality upbringing for children (5), which is just as important if not more important than quantity of reproduction.As pornography promotes a casual and non-loving approach to sex, this does not constitute quality reproduction that is essential to the promotion of our species.
Finally, Pro claims that pornography is good because it 'combats sexism'.
I'm sorry but this is a blatantly misguided claim. Firstly, pornography worsens sexist attitudes in men (6).
Secondly, women in pornography are rarely being pleasured; they only exist to pleasure the man and this enforces this damaging and sexist framework in wider society. The man almost always dominates the woman in a pornographic film and he never fails to get what he wants from a woman.
To conclude, I have successfully upheld my arguments as to why pornography is immoral, coming from a deontological framework that I have defended sufficiently as well as a sociological framework.
TheJuniorVarsityNovice forfeited this round.
My opponent has forfeited but he has explained that this was not intentional.
Therefore as a token of gratitude for a great debate, I request that voters do not penalise my opponent for his forfeit, and instead judge on the basis of the first four rounds.
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