Deontological Arguments

 Both of the arguments in (3) above are exemplars of deontological arguments. That is, as Kant argued, human beings are primarily autonomous, and thereby capable of rational self-rule. This means that, far from being seen and treated as “just meat,” free human beings must be allowed to determine their own ends or goals, rather than serve as the means (“just meat”) to ends and goals imposed by others. On this line of reasoning, free human beings thus have (near) absolute rights, beginning with the right to respect from others and the right to be treated as equals.

The debate here, then, is whether or not – and, if so, how and in what ways – SEMs serve to enhance or degrade this core human autonomy. In this light, one’s judgments and attitudes toward bodies and sexuality become especially critical to the debate. A Scandinavian feminist, for example, as someone who is inclined to regard sexuality as normal and natural, may be more open to the view that SEMs can work to enhance human autonomy. A conservative US Christian, by contrast, may be persuaded that bodies and sexuality are implicated in Original Sin and are thereby to be enshrouded in privacy, if not shame, and so she or he is far more likely to view SEMs as only reinforcing such already strongly negative views toward women and sexuality. From this perspective, it is hard to see how they could thus work for equality and the emancipation of women.

In this light:

(A) given that you endorse a deontological emphasis on human beings as primarily free agents who must be respected and not treated as “just meat,” how far do you find SEMs to be more likely to work:

(i) against emancipation and equality, and/or

(ii) for emancipation and equality?

(B) especially if you find yourself coming down strongly on the side of either A(i) or A(ii), can you tell whether your response is consistent with your personal and/or cultural judgments and attitudes toward bodies, women, and sexuality?

Pornography*: More ethical debates and analyses These three major difficulties of pornography* and ethics underline

Susanna Paasonen’s warning at the opening of this chapter: “The plethora of available online pornographies guarantees that virtually any stance on porn can be backed up with multiple examples supporting one’s argument”. To say this somewhat differently, the still more recent dramatic explosion of diverse forms and genres of SEMs online thus makes it difficult to move forward with any sort of ethical analysis and arguments without first defining a focus: that is, which (relatively) specific form(s) of pornography* do we have in mind?

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