Thursday, October 10, 2013

Papalinton's ethical challenge.

This is a comment which I originally posted on Victor Reppert's blog "Dangerous Idea"
I'm reposting the challenge here in the hopes that papalinton might respond to it.

First, consider the idea of a “vomitorium”, in which the patrons go through a cycle of eating then regurgitating. (Apparently, contrary to popular belief, vomitoriums as such didn’t actually exist in ancient Rome.)

I could well imagine that for some people, (provided they protected themselves from the damage to the teeth and throat which comes with repeated exposure to stomach acid), a vomitorium could indeed maximise their pleasure.

But, surely the pleasure that we get from eating is coupled to the good of nutrition. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasure which comes with eating, but when the pleasure itself becomes the end and is completely decoupled from the good, then we get this perverse behaviour.

Also, we can refer here to the proper use of the body. Surely it’s a *misuse* of one’s facility of vomiting to deliberately regurgitate healthy food like that?

Consider another example, this time in the sexual sphere. It may indeed be the case that a number of people have the potential to climax sexually via necrophiliac acts. On a utilitarian framework, there would be no harm involved and significant pleasure. But, surely such acts are a profoundly ugly and depraved *misuse* of the human body, and a person who has such urges is ethically obliged to resist temptation.
Do you agree that ethics must include some reference to the proper use of the body?

It seems to me that you have three options:

1. Deny that the two acts I’ve described are actually immoral.

2. Expound an ethical theory which plausibly explains the immorality of these acts, but doesn’t refer to teleology.

3. Concede that there are examples of teleology which aren't a psychological illusion but, rather, a true perception of an independently existing reality.

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