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Gary Phillips

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Feb 26, 1995, 8:57:14 PM2/26/95
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: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

:: Correction: far from "quoting someone as Kant", I quote good old
:: Kant himself, from _The Metaphysics of Morals_, _The Doctrine of
:: Virtue_, Part I, Chapter I -- "Man's Duty to Himself as an Animal
:: Being". As regards "the entire point of what he taught us", it
:: readily yields an a priori argument to the effect that any attempt
:: at a moral apology of homosexual (or otherwise essentially sterile
:: and reproductively counterpurposive) acts must constitute irrational
:: aesthetization of morality, in so far as it is bound to rest on the
:: specious arrogation of a unique moral privilege to a class of people
:: distinguished by their peculiar inclinations. No claim to special
:: entitlement could be more inimical to the spirit of autonomous moral
:: legislation; and hence it comes as no surprise to see Kant argue
:: that "unnatural lust, which is complete abandonment of oneself to
:: animal inclination, makes man not only an object of enjoyment but,
:: still further, a thing that is contrary to nature, that is, a
:: _loathsome_ object, and so deprives him of all respect to himself."

: I fail, Mikhail, to see how this spurting proves anything at all. He cites
: no evidence, gives no examples, refers to no-one else; he merely is sitting
: at his desk intellectually masturbating about what he thinks is right. By
: reKanting his words you prove not a goddamn thing.

> Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is
> a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents,

Well, that's an interesting enough question all by itself, isn't it?
And not one to which moral philosophers necessarily have to agree upon the
answer. Even if morality is taken as a universal constraint upon
permissible action, the content of what those restraints restrain is a
subject with which Kantian ethics is ill-equipped to deal. Using another
example from Frankena, "one can adopt the maxim that one will never help
those in need and will this to be a universal law." Admittedly, one may
find himself in the inconsistent position of having to will the abrogation
of this maxim. "Still, it is not hard to imagine a man whose fortune is
fairly sure or one who is willing to be consistent and to take the
consquences of his maxim's being universally acted on; if there are such
people, Kant's test [the categorical imperative] will not suffice to
establish benevolence as a duty. Of course, one might conclude that it is
not a duty just because it does not pass this test; but this seems a rather
drastic conclusion, and deontological as he was, even Kant could not draw
it."

> any
> proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
> your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable. So
> Kant tells you that, since you owe your very provenance as an agent to a
> single fertile act of sexual intercourse, any necessarily infertile form
> of sexual intercourse cannot be willed to be an instance of a lawlike
> choice, in so far as its instantiation at the moment of your conception
> would have preempted your biological existence as a necessary condition
> of your current moral deliberation.

And although such a blanket type of rule which overlooks, as it
does, a universe of subtlety can easily be conditioned so that the false
dilemma you pose is no further threat to the conditions of one's moral
agency, freedom, and rationality.
When I was young and would do something that my mom didn't like, she
would sometimes say, "What if everyone acted like that?" as if this
thought ought to give one pause. Of course, it need not give one pause at
all, since the obvious retort is that not everyone ever has nor currently
does act in any one way. I believe it is safe to assume that we can rely on
the variety, multiplicity, inventiveness and sheer bull-headedness of
ordinary human beings everywhere to ensure that "everyone" never will.
Heck, we can't even agree on the foundations of moral philosophy.
What good reason is there to imagine that everyone would act the same way,
no matter how strongly one *wished* it?

--
Gary Phillips
orp...@kaiwan.com
Laguna Beach, CA

Michael Zeleny

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Feb 27, 1995, 5:12:59 AM2/27/95
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In article <3ir2c9$3...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com>
orp...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Gary Phillips) writes:

::::: The worst that one could fairly say about gay sexual acts from a Kantian
::::: perspective is that they are non-moral (as opposed to amoral, immoral, or
::::: explicitly moral). For one can formulate a proposition such that one can
::::: will that everyone should engage in non-exclusive homosexual sexual
::::: activity without self-contradiction.

:::: This is silly. Any act is intrinsically exclusive of its alternatives.

::: I am speaking of a sexual pattern in which homosexual acts
::: are not practiced exclusively, but individuals engage sometimes in
::: homosexual acts and at other times, heterosexual ones. Or, better
::: yet, individuals engage in homosexual acts for pleasure and emotional
::: fulfillment and heterosexual acts only for the purpose of propogation.

:: You might as well try speaking of an economic pattern in which stealing
:: is not practiced exclusively, but light-fingered individuals engage
:: sometimes in unauthorized acquisition of goods and at other times,
:: magnanimously remunerate the current owners for their property. Or,
:: better yet, individuals engage in theft for pleasure and emotional
:: fulfillment and honest toil only for the purpose of community service.

: Sex is not stealing unless it is rape. and in that case, it is not sex.
: Thus, the two activities (sex and stealing) are completely different in
: their essential nature, and no valid comparison between them is possible.

The issue of consent is irrelevant to the analogy. Theft violates the
Categorical Imperative because it is self-contradictory, not because
it is coercive: the thief seeks to appropriate the goods by abrogating
the bonds of ownership. Other forms of coercive appropriation (such
as taxation and other tools of distributive justice) can pass the Law
of Nature test by dint of functioning within the bounds of a general
doctrine of Right. On the other hand, numerous illicit actions cannot
gain legitimacy through consent. In this category, murder and buggery
are on par.

: Simply put, the problem with your argument is that you conflate two
: separate moral issues: that of propagation and that of sexual interaction.
: The issue of propagation becomes a moral issue in sexual ethics only
: insofar as conception is possible in the course of any particular sexual
: interaction. Regarding sexual interactions outside that limited
: framework, your maxim says nothing constructive (nor even merely
: informative) whatsoever. To say that propagation is the sole justification
: for sexual activity is as logically short-sighted and morally obsolete and
: incomplete as it is outdated and practially untenable.

That is not at all what is being said. Kant does not posit a need for
justifying any activity in general, and sexual activity in particular.
Rather, his point is that in so far as generative powers inhere in the
sexual act, any sexual act that excludes generation of necessity,
cannot constitute an instance of a universal law.

::: I shall will that every human being propagate at least once
::: during his or her lifetime, in order to ensure the survival of the species
::: and leave him to pursue whatever ends he may in the rest of his sexual
::: activities in his lifetime.

:: This willing has nothing to do with the maxim of any given action.

: Nonsense. The maxim is clearly stated. It is that which I have
: willed, as stated above. If you fail to recognize it as a maxim, it can
: only be because of your aforementioned conflation of the issues of
: propagation and sexual interaction.

It is possible to recognize a functional connection between two types
of action, whilst maintaining the relevant type distinctions. As
regards your clear statement, it is not a maxim but a mantra. To
recognize the legitimacy of subsuming extenuating intentions into the
maxim of one's action is tantamount to gainsaying the application of
the Categorical Imperative. Any course of action whatsoever can be
promoted to the status of an instance of a universal law of nature,
given sufficient laxity with explicitly stipulated exceptions, and
sufficient blindness to the logical form of universal laws.

: The only thing I would add is that I presume that
: the "ends ... in the rest of [a man's (or woman's)] sexual activity" to be
: not immoral, but either moral or non-moral, and failed to make this
: explicit. In any case the evaluation of their moral standing is a separate
: issue from that of the moral obligation of propagation.

Your presumptions are of no interest to the other parties in this
conversation. If you wish to demonstrate that the condemnation of
homosexuality by Plato and Aristotle, or Aquinas and Kant, is bereft
of any rational basis, by all means do so by exposing the factual
falsehoods and logical contradictions in their arguments. If you want
to argue from the first principles that homosexuality is blameless or
praiseworthy, go right ahead. Beyond that, I have no interest in your
thoughts, your inclinations, your agenda, or your personality. Save
the weepy bits for your analyst.

::: This makes sense because, according to you, the only morally
::: valid rationale for engaging in heterosexual acts appears to be the end
::: of propogating the species. Clearly, homosexual sexual acts cannot
::: have this end, but once the moral obligation of propogation is satisfied,
::: there would appear to be no particularly compelling reason ever to
::: engage in heterosexual sex again. In fact, to continue to do so clearly
::: harbors the potential threat of accelerating the overpopulation of the
::: planet; and to overpopulate the planet is as counter-purposive as not
::: populating it at all.

:: I already explained the difference between distal consequences and
:: proximate aspects of acting. I will not bother to say things twice.

: There would be no point in repeating yourself, at any rate, since
: what you've had to say so far has just been debunked.

What I have had to say so far is fairly standard in published
discussions of the Categorical Imperative. Far from threatening the
interpretive status quo, you have managed no more than a hackneyed
illustration of a well-known travesty of moral thought. Rabelais did
that much earlier and infinitely better, with his famous tale of the
city of happy debtors -- just tell yourself that your promise incurs
no literal obligation, and promise away all you want. This is the
moral equivalent of crossing your fingers to exculpate yourself in
course of telling a lie. Perhaps the morally different ought to try
the same tack to absolve themselves from perversion whilst cornholing
their catamites.

: From what you have stated in our correspondence, your maxim can
: only be that every human being has the moral obligation to reproduce, which
: is fine, as far as it goes. But this has nothing whatsoever to do with the
: morality of any sexual act that any individual may take part outside the
: narrow parameters within which propagation is possible. The abject
: inadequacy and irrelevancy of your maxim to the remainder of human
: sexual activity is appalling.
: Nevertheless, I have taken your proposed maxim and shown its
: absurdity by carrying it out to its logical end: reductio ad absurdam
: (above, below and previously, taken together).

This is dreadfully confused. Maxims make no reference, either
explicitly or implicitly, to any moral obligation. The purpose of
submitting your maxim to the test of the formula of the law of nature
is not to reaffirm the pre-established tenets of morality, but to
discover the inherent moral merit of a proposed course of action,
formulated independently of any conception of duty or value.

::: You object that the threat of overpopulation is "at best a
::: distal consequence," but this can only be true if everyone on the
::: planet who *can* reproduce does not, in fact, do so. You assume
::: the current state of affairs, rather than the necessary consequence
::: of your moral legislation, as you have stated it.

:: Kant is not a consequentialist. Neither am I.

: The argument above does not depend on consequentialism any more
: than Kant's argument against the universalization of lying does. The
: argument is not that the consequence of universal propagation would be
: bad (although, in fact, I believe it would be), but rather that in willing
: universally that every sexual act be aimed at propagation (for the purpose
: of ensuring the survival of the species, since this is what you claim to be
: the sole justification of any sexual act) one is involved in a contradiction
: of will. One would be willing both that it be possible to reproduce
: indiscriminately and indefinitely and that the species be able to survive
: at the same time. But this is inherently self-defeating and thus logically
: self-contradictory since, if that maxim were in fact universally acted on,
: the results of over-population would inevitably destroy the possibility of
: the survival of the species. Reductio ad absurdam.

Sorry, no dice. Most animals give the lie to your contention by
propagating indiscriminately and universally. There is no logical
contradiction or physical incompatibility in willing that every act of
sexual intercourse be potentially fertile. The point of the CI test
is not to measure the possible consequences of one's action against
the survival of the species, or any other particular goal, but to
construe the conditions of willing it consistently within an instance
of a universal law. Final causes will never enter into deontological
consideration as such, any more than they enter into the formulation
of the laws of physics; however the maxim must subsume the agent's
representation of his proximate ends, to the extent that they may be
relevant to the determination of the type of his action. To take an
extreme example, though I may be operating under a delusion of being a
man of steel, my maxim of aiming a gun at my breast in order to test
the extraordinary resilience of my skin is a maxim of suicide, my lack
of awareness thereof notwithstanding; for the facts of the matter take
precedence over figments of the imagination.

: In addition to your argument being intrinsically absurd (logically)
: and beside the fact that you have unjustifiably conflated the issues of
: propagation and sexuality beyond merit, your argument makes several
: unwarranted practical assumptions and smacks of misogyny upon
: further analysis.
: You really have to pull the wool over everyone's eyes here, including
: your own, by stating that you are not a consequentialist in this matter.
: The reality is that you can't *afford* to be a consequentialist because,
: when taken on consequentialist grounds, your argument falls apart even
: more quickly than it does on logical grounds alone, and you know this.
: The world is a limited space with limited resources within which we are
: irremediably bound. How "rational" and "responsible" is it to presume
: unlimited space and resources when formulating your propagational sexual
: ethic? The impracticality of your argument actually highlights and informs
: its logical absurdity. So long as you refuse to consider the consequences,
: you can pretend that you are being moral. But what good is a morality
: that is inherently incapable of being applied in the real world? How
: "logical" is it? I'll answer for you: It is, in a word, vacuous, both in
: terms of its "good" and in terms of its logic.

Look out, folks -- here comes the hoary cliche' of buggery as Higher
Malthusianism! Never mind that the position I had expounded contains
nothing that would mandate indiscriminate reproduction, or prohibit
responsible contraception. Kindly consider applying your
sanctimonious invocations of "the real world" at home -- it is hardly
necessary to turn your erotic energies towards the barren ground of
your own gender, in order to alleviate your concern about the putative
insufficiency of scarce resources for the care and feeding of the
future generations.

: Moreover, who is going to raise and care for all these children you
: say are necessary to ensure the survival of the species? Who has the
: responsibility of raising them to be morally competent citizens? Is there
: an obligation to be a loving parent? In the words of Annette Baier, "Such
: evidence as we have about the conditions in which children do successfully
: 'learn' the morality of the community of which they are members suggests
: that we cannot substitute 'conscientiously' for 'lovingly' in this
: hypothetically extra needed obligation [to rear one's children lovingly]."
: In her words again, you "have to take a loan out not only on the natural
: duty of parents to care for children ... but on the natural *virtue* of
: parental love ... [and/or the maternal instinct]."
: Not only are you forced to presume a system of moral training
: adequate to the task of inculcating moral values in all of these children
: you want to bring into the world (in order to ensure the stability of your
: morality over several generations), you are forced to reduce women to
: the status of mere "baby factories." You presume that women will have
: no qualms owning up to their "duty" to have all these children you want
: to bring into the world with every sexual act that henceforth takes place.

Straw man. There is a lot of room between practicing a necessarily
sterile -- because of the intrinsic biological nature of one's chosen
partner -- form of sexual intercourse, and willing that each sex act
result in conception. Consider that you could owe your provenance to
a failure of contraception in a heterosexual encounter, whereas it is
biologically impossible for you to have emerged as the issue of any
homosexual act.

: Your proposition is not "moral," Zeleny. In addition to being
: illogical and pragmatically untenable, it is profligate and dissolute.
: It cannot even meet it's own standard of morality.

If you say it three times, it must be true.

:::: And the contradiction implicit in the homosexual act is fundamental,
:::: involving as it does two parties owing their provenance to heterosexual
:::: acts. ... Overpopulation is at best a distal consequence, ipso facto
:::: irrelevant for deontological assessment, whereas the contradiction
:::: of intrinsic sterility arises directly from the proximate goals of the
:::: act -- to engage in sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex --
:::: which are indispensable for individuating it as a volitional occurrence.
:::: So the two aspects are not comparable.

::: Perhaps, if we limit ourselves to the consideration of a single
::: sex act per life of an individual. But this involves a "desert island"
::: fallacy. It is inapplicable to the real world.

:: The central question of deontological morality is whether or not a
:: given course of action conforms to duty. To pretend that one can
:: arbitrarily extend the scope of the action in question over an entire
:: lifetime, not only vitiates the main premiss -- that any given choice
:: is either right or wrong --

: I am not a deontologist. To pretend that one can make valid
: moral distinctions absent any consideration of the real world is
: patently absurd: it ignores the basis of the necessity for moral
: values at all - that people have to live together and live with themselves
: at the same time in a circumscribed world with limited resources in
: which each has an earnest and inherent interest that extends not only
: over their lifetime, but over that of future generations as well. To ignore
: this basis of necessity for making moral distinctions is to vitiate the
: relevancy of one's moral hypothecation altogether.

Big words, little content. The real world is the place where every
man owes his existence to a heterosexual act. I have explained at
length the ways in which homosexual acts fail to take account of this
fact. In return, you give me vague handwaving about the salutary
effect of buggery on the suffering multitudes, and discombobulated
apophthegms of ladylike morality bearing little or no relevance to the
crux of the matter. Deontology is the morality of duty; nothing in
the general formulation of the deontological approach, or in its
particular deployment in Kantian moral philosophy, can rule out due
consideration of the physical arena and factual constraints of one's
action.

: Moreover, to presume that reason can be the sole basis of morality
: ignores the fact that the decision to be rational is itself not a rational
: decision. The decision to approach the world rationally is pre-rational.
: Moral claims are inextricably intertwined with the attachments of human
: passion. For instance, claims of justice are based on our passionate
: attachment to our life, limbs, and property; claims to property are based
: on our passionate attachment to the fruit of our labor, and claims to the
: fruit of our labor are, in turn, based upon the passionate attachment
: and distincitive relation that we hold to our body-selves.
: Thus, any account of morality which does not take cognizance of
: the reality of this human condition, cannot expect to have persuasive,
: much less binding, moral force.

To translate into level-headed vernacular: our "passionate attachment"
to the orifices of our own gender exempts us from the natural duty to
deal with the icky parts of the opposite gender. By the same kind of
reasoning, a passion for gratuitous killing would exempt us from the
need to respect life, and a passion for rapacious acquisition would
exempt us from the need to respect property rights.

:: ... To pretend that one can arbitrarily extend the scope of the action
:: in question over an entire lifetime ... arrogates to the agent the
:: impossible faculty of instantaneous control over his life plans.

: Not at all. It is simply a recognition of the fact that not every
: act is of moral importance. Your argument rests on a fallacy, to
: wit: if the world was decimated but for one island and there were
: only three people left on that island, at least one of whom was able
: to have children, and there was only one sexual act available to
: them in their lifetime, what would be the right thing for them to do?
: As Anthony Flew once put it, the assertion that your maxim has
: any relevant application to the real worl has "died by a thousand
: distinctions." It is called the "desert island" fallacy and you have,
: of necessity, based your entire argument upon it.

Your persistent name-dropping fails to address the point. Your
intention to do something else at another time and place bears no
relevance to the merit of your action here and now -- until and unless
you persuade Anthony Flew to sell you some philosophical indulgences
to compensate the depravity of today with the probity of tomorrow.

:: We do
:: not say that a single murder is extenuated by an intention to impregnate
:: an entire chorus line, so as to maintain the population growth in its
:: aftermath; nor can we maintain that a single act of buggery can be
:: compensated for by similar means.

: "Buggery," as you call it, necessitates no compensation since
: nothing is wrongfully taken, whereas in the cases of murder and theft
: something is wrongfully taken. Your argument thus fails to make its
: point.

You are begging the question of moral worth with your distinction of
wrongful taking. Buggery is similar to murder, in so far as both
vitiate and contravene the natural means of continuation of life. And
the subject of compensation was first introduced by your scenario of
optional heterosexuality practiced for the sake of reproduction, so as
to permit habitual homosexuality practiced for the sake of enjoyment.

: In continuing to consider your maxim, it is interesting to not that
: there are now plenty of sperm banks in the world. It would seem that these
: days, there is no necessity for heterosexual intercourse at all. I should
: think that would make *you* a very happy man. ;-) After all, artificial
: insemination is such a clinical and antiseptic process -- very clean, very
: tidy. Much like the self-contained (albeit delusory) world of the rational
: absolutist. Just think of all the messy, dirty, sweaty, smelly "problems"
: we are now able to *avoid* all because of those millions of frozen little
: test tubes. Titillating, isn't it? No sex: no problem, right?
: Now that the sole moral justification for heterosexual sex has been
: obviated by technology, by your reasoning we ought to will that no one
: have sex at all. We can simply conscript all women as receptacles for
: the world's sperm banks. Given an adequate pre-screening process for
: sperm donors, we can eliminate sexually and hereditarily transmitted
: diseases. We avoid domestic disputes regarding "whose baby it is," since
: only the state need know (for genetic and disease tracking purposes).
: And once a receptacle has recovered from delivery, it can be reprocessed
: so that the survival of the species need never be in doubt. This is
: better for all concerned. Don't you agree?
: Sex is now morally obsolete. I'm sure the world will be thrilled to
: hear it.

Sorry to disturb your utopian vistas of immaculate conception, but
anyone who owes *his* existence to the natural means of reproduction,
would run into a contradiction of will in the practice of sexuality
that depends on artificial means of conception for the continuation of
his species.

::: The fact is that the vast majority of people engage in far more
::: than one sexual act, have more than one sexual partner, and at least 15%
::: of all people have one or more partners of each sex during their
::: lifetimes. The numbers may vary, depending upon which surveys you wish to
::: cite, but the fact that human sexual activity is extensive and varied is
::: as unquestionable as is the fact that most of us have a lifetime in which
::: to engage in it.

:: In other words, your behavior is justified because it is not uncommon.

: No. It is justified because of the distinctive relation I hold to my
: body and the necessity of freedom and bodily integrity to moral agency.
: I posted to you extensively on this topic under another thread (Homosexual
: Rights = Special Rights?) in this conference (talk.philosophy.misc).

The distinctive relation you hold to your body and the necessity of
freedom and bodily integrity to moral agency fail to license buggery,
in the same way they fail to license gratuitous self-mutilation. The
rest is commentary.

: The point above was that your failure to take cognizance of factors
: relevant to considerations of sexual ethics rendered your maxim and
: your criticism irrelevant, at best.

At issue is a single given act. The question is whether it is right
or wrong. Just as present credit cannot be given for recounting the
splendid moral accomplishments of your past, it cannot be given for
issuing grandiose promises of future feats.

::: Of course, what people actually do is not necessarily what they
::: actually *should* do, but if our moral legislation is to have any
::: applicability to the real world, it must at least take some responsible
::: account of the real world.

:: The real world is a place where every member of a dioecious species
:: owes the fact of his existence to heterosexual contact. Consider
:: taking some responsible account of that fact.

: I already have, both in my personal philosophy and in the maxim
: which I formulated above for the purposes of this discussion. You
: continue to conflate acts of propagation and acts of sex per se, without
: warrant.

See above.

::: Moreover, Kant doesn't assume that the inherent self-contradiction
::: in the will to universalize lying rests in a single instance of lying. He
::: assumes that if lying were the moral law, everyone would do it all of the
::: time. One of the weaknesses of his method lies in the fact that in
::: formulating imperatives we can condition them in ways that make allowances
::: for exceptions to what would otherwise be an overstated rule. Take the
::: issue of lying, for instance, (quoting William Frankena, 'Ethics',
::: Prentice-Hall, 1973, p. 32):
:::
::: "It must also be pointed out that [Kant] is not free from
::: the difficulties due to conflicts between duties; it seems
::: possible, at any rate, that keeping a promise might on
::: occasion prevent one from helping someone in trouble.
::: Possibly Kant could argue in this case that it would be
::: right to break the promise and help the person in trouble,
::: since one can will the maxim, "When breaking a promise
::: is required in order to help someone I will break it," to be
::: universally acted on in the situations specified, especially
::: if it is also specified in the maxim that the promise is not
::: crucially important and that the help is. Kant, however,
::: does not take this line, and talks as if he can show that
::: promises ought never to be broken. But this his argument
::: does not suffice to show. As was just indicated, one may
::: be able to will a specific rule that permits promises to be
::: broken in a certain kind of situation to be universally acted
::: on, even though one cannot will a more blanket one to
::: become a universal law."

:: I would have expected Frankena to know that helping someone in
:: trouble, unlike not harming him and keeping a promise, does not
:: constitute a perfect duty to others.

: So much for your expectations. They really have nothing to do with the
: argument, however. The fact is that Frankena is correct and you are wrong.
: One cannot will that individual propagagation for the purpose of ensuring
: the survival of the species become a universal law without inherent self-
: contradiction of the will any more than one can consistently will that
: homosexual sex be universalized on a permanent basis. This is not to say
: that either sexual act is immoral, but it is saying that the realm of
: sexual ethics and of propagation is of greater subtlety and complexity
: than that for which your maxim can either allow or account.

You have asseverated so on numerous occasions, without adducing any
rational justification in support of your claims. Consider another
refutation of your theses -- since it is not logically necessary that
the biosphere must remain spatially bounded as its inhabitants
continue to increase in number, there can be no a priori limitation on
the accomodations and resources available for the future generations.
For that matter, we know of no insurmountable physical, biological, or
social obstacles to their limitless growth. Overpopulation may lead
to extinction, but it may equally well force a transition of the
species to more hospitable grounds capable of sustaining its growth.

::: The scenario I formulated in the beginning of this message is
::: another example of conditioning the imperative to allow for exceptions and
::: for the resolution of conflicting duties.

:: The scenario you formulated is nothing more than an attempt to
:: contrive an exception to the general rule in order to accomodate
:: your peculiar inclinations.

: So you say. Aside from the fact that your expectations regarding
: the applicability and sufficiency of Kant's ethical philosophy have
: apparently been dashed by Frankena, whom I have followed in
: constructing the scenario mentioned above, you seem to have little
: of relevance to say regarding the maxim I have proposed, and even less
: such to say in defense of your own proposition.

I have said enough to answer your objections. Consider the
possibility that your resistance is grounded not in any shortcoming of
my response, but in a failure of your understanding. As regards the
Kant-Frankena controversy, I am perfectly happy to align my compass
with the light of a distant star, instead of orienting myself by the
corner streetlight.

cordially, don't
mikhail zel...@math.ucla.edu tread
writing from the disneyland of formal philosophy on
"Le cul des femmes est monotone comme l'esprit des hommes." me

Gary Phillips

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Feb 27, 1995, 5:29:05 AM2/27/95
to
quir...@kosmos.wcc.govt.nz wrote:

: The exact lines of Zeleny's quoted material:
:
: "unnatural lust, which is complete abandonment of oneself to


: animal inclination, makes man not only an object of enjoyment but,
: still further, a thing that is contrary to nature, that is, a
: _loathsome_ object, and so deprives him of all respect to himself."
:

: I notice that Zeleny ripped this from context. On the face of it,
: it would appear to be referring to lust divorced from control by
: reason and an higher ethical standard than mere animal inclination.

That is precisely what it does mean.

: Zeleny contends that this "unnatural lust" was meant to refer to
: reproductively sterile sex, such as homosexual sex. Zeleny, however,
: conspiciously failed to provide any quote backing up his interpretation.
: I think he's lying. Got quotes showing that Kant was referring to sex
: for purposes other than reproduction when he wrote this, Zeleny ?

I believe that this application of Kant's comments is Mr. Zeleny's
own invention. I wouldn't say that he's "lying," but I would say that
he's seriously in error.

: Anyone who's studied Kant able to shed light ?

I'm in this for the fun of it. I've read the "Foundations of the
Metaphysics of Moral," and "A Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics." I
have his "Critique of Pure Reason," but have not gotten around to reading
it, though it's been in my library for over ten years now. I suppose I
will do so fairly soon now that my curiosity is picqued, but I can't say
that anything Mr. Zeleny has put forth as an argument has required any
in-depth knowledge of Kant in order to refute it. Any elementary course
in Ethics would allow one to stand one's own ground with him, based on
what I've read of his postings.

Michael Winnett

unread,
Feb 27, 1995, 7:42:39 AM2/27/95
to

In article <3iounk$d...@saba.info.ucla.edu>, Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) writes:
snip

>Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is
>a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents, any

>proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
>your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable.


The passage which you originally quoted referred to fantasising
and did not seem to refer to homosexual activity specifically.

IMO the argument put rests on one of two assumptions.

1/ that non-reproductive sexual activity is not conducive to to the
survival of the individual.

2/ that......ditto......................of the species.


If so can you explain which of these represents your view, and how
you intend to prove that it is a correct assumption.


Mick

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Feb 27, 1995, 4:12:22 PM2/27/95
to
In article <3irbhq$n...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com>
orp...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Gary Phillips) writes:

::: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

MZ:
:::: Correction: far from "quoting someone as Kant", I quote good old


:::: Kant himself, from _The Metaphysics of Morals_, _The Doctrine of
:::: Virtue_, Part I, Chapter I -- "Man's Duty to Himself as an Animal
:::: Being". As regards "the entire point of what he taught us", it
:::: readily yields an a priori argument to the effect that any attempt
:::: at a moral apology of homosexual (or otherwise essentially sterile
:::: and reproductively counterpurposive) acts must constitute irrational
:::: aesthetization of morality, in so far as it is bound to rest on the
:::: specious arrogation of a unique moral privilege to a class of people
:::: distinguished by their peculiar inclinations. No claim to special
:::: entitlement could be more inimical to the spirit of autonomous moral
:::: legislation; and hence it comes as no surprise to see Kant argue
:::: that "unnatural lust, which is complete abandonment of oneself to
:::: animal inclination, makes man not only an object of enjoyment but,
:::: still further, a thing that is contrary to nature, that is, a
:::: _loathsome_ object, and so deprives him of all respect to himself."

BP:
::: I fail, Mikhail, to see how this spurting proves anything at all. He

::: cites no evidence, gives no examples, refers to no-one else; he merely
::: is sitting at his desk intellectually masturbating about what he thinks
::: is right. By reKanting his words you prove not a goddamn thing.

MZ:
:: Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is


:: a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents,

GP:
: Well, that's an interesting enough question all by itself, isn't it?


: And not one to which moral philosophers necessarily have to agree upon the
: answer. Even if morality is taken as a universal constraint upon
: permissible action, the content of what those restraints restrain is a
: subject with which Kantian ethics is ill-equipped to deal. Using another
: example from Frankena, "one can adopt the maxim that one will never help
: those in need and will this to be a universal law." Admittedly, one may
: find himself in the inconsistent position of having to will the abrogation
: of this maxim. "Still, it is not hard to imagine a man whose fortune is
: fairly sure or one who is willing to be consistent and to take the
: consquences of his maxim's being universally acted on; if there are such
: people, Kant's test [the categorical imperative] will not suffice to
: establish benevolence as a duty. Of course, one might conclude that it is
: not a duty just because it does not pass this test; but this seems a rather
: drastic conclusion, and deontological as he was, even Kant could not draw
: it."

If you must name-drop, try to choose somebody more impressive than a
tendentious third-rater. Kant discusses benevolence in the Groundwork
423, in the context of testing a maxim of willing never to help anyone
else. He concludes that its universal form contradicts the empirical
fact that human weakness compels men to seek and desire help from
others in times of need, and hence that a categorical refusal to help
anyone else is contrary to duty. On the other hand, this reasoning
does not establish a perfect duty to help others at all times, in so
far as rational agency does not depend on *constant* assistance from
other rational agents. So Frankena's comments are both textually
irrelevant and substantially nonsensical.

MZ:
:: any


:: proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
:: your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable. So
:: Kant tells you that, since you owe your very provenance as an agent to a
:: single fertile act of sexual intercourse, any necessarily infertile form
:: of sexual intercourse cannot be willed to be an instance of a lawlike
:: choice, in so far as its instantiation at the moment of your conception
:: would have preempted your biological existence as a necessary condition
:: of your current moral deliberation.

GP:
: And although such a blanket type of rule which overlooks, as it


: does, a universe of subtlety can easily be conditioned so that the false
: dilemma you pose is no further threat to the conditions of one's moral
: agency, freedom, and rationality.
: When I was young and would do something that my mom didn't like,
: she would sometimes say, "What if everyone acted like that?" as if this
: thought ought to give one pause. Of course, it need not give one pause at
: all, since the obvious retort is that not everyone ever has nor currently
: does act in any one way. I believe it is safe to assume that we can rely
: on the variety, multiplicity, inventiveness and sheer bull-headedness of
: ordinary human beings everywhere to ensure that "everyone" never will.

Translation: the conscientious homosexual perforce believes that it is safe
to assume that he can rely on the variety, multiplicity, inventiveness, and


sheer bull-headedness of ordinary human beings everywhere to ensure that

"everyone" never will follow his singular, unique, exceptional, sui generis,
and extraordinary lifestyle. The trouble with this form of fanciful and
elitist self-representation is that it is but a shade of subjective coloring
away from the vulgar characterization of homosexuality as aberrant, deviant,
abnormal, perverted, unnatural, and anomalous. Only exquisitely oblivious
arrogance can sustain the distinction between the norms incumbent upon hoi
polloi and exceptions allowed to the morally different.

GP:
: Heck, we can't even agree on the foundations of moral philosophy.


: What good reason is there to imagine that everyone would act the same way,
: no matter how strongly one *wished* it?

A free man represents himself as subject to universal laws of his own
legislation, because he understands his moral constraint and prerogative
to be grounded in nothing but his autonomous rationality, on par with the
universal laws of physical nature. In other words, he realizes that his
sentiment and inclination are utterly irrelevant to moral deliberation.
By contrast, your entire performance in this debate can be understood in
terms of an effort to stake an incontrovertible claim to moral entitlement
on the basis of your sexual preference.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Feb 27, 1995, 11:44:34 PM2/27/95
to
In article <1995Feb27...@kosmos.wcc.govt.nz>
quir...@kosmos.wcc.govt.nz writes:

: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

:: Kari Cowan <co...@luna.cas.usf.edu> writes:

::: No offense sir, but you cannot justify widespread derogatory
::: generalization by quoting someone as Kant. To do so misses the entire
::: point of what he taught us.

:: Correction: far from "quoting someone as Kant", I quote good old
:: Kant himself, from _The Metaphysics of Morals_, _The Doctrine of
:: Virtue_, Part I, Chapter I -- "Man's Duty to Himself as an Animal
:: Being". As regards "the entire point of what he taught us", it
:: readily yields an a priori argument to the effect that any attempt
:: at a moral apology of homosexual (or otherwise essentially sterile
:: and reproductively counterpurposive) acts must constitute irrational
:: aesthetization of morality, in so far as it is bound to rest on the
:: specious arrogation of a unique moral privilege to a class of people
:: distinguished by their peculiar inclinations. No claim to special
:: entitlement could be more inimical to the spirit of autonomous moral
:: legislation; and hence it comes as no surprise to see Kant argue
:: that "unnatural lust, which is complete abandonment of oneself to
:: animal inclination, makes man not only an object of enjoyment but,
:: still further, a thing that is contrary to nature, that is, a
:: _loathsome_ object, and so deprives him of all respect to himself."

: The exact lines of Zeleny's quoted material:
:
: "unnatural lust, which is complete abandonment of oneself to


: animal inclination, makes man not only an object of enjoyment but,
: still further, a thing that is contrary to nature, that is, a
: _loathsome_ object, and so deprives him of all respect to himself."

:
: I notice that Zeleny ripped this from context. On the face of it,
: it would appear to be referring to lust divorced from control by
: reason and an higher ethical standard than mere animal inclination.

As a matter of fact, Kant explains his terms (in the Metaphysics of
Morals) by contrasting unnatural use of sexual organs and capacities
of another, with the natural, or potentially procreative use thereof,
and stipulating that the former "takes place either with a person of
the same sex or with an animal of a nonhuman species." (MM277)

Note that the stipulation of the involvement of another, be it a
person or a nonhuman animal, is inessential to the moral denunciation
of all essentially non-procreative sex, to the extent that mere self-
debasement might be considered as blameworthy as the debasement of
another. In addition to the functional definition of unnatural lust,
Kant offers a phenomenal characterization of this proclivity:

Lust is called _unnatural_ if a man is aroused to it not by
a real object but by his imagining it, so that he himself
creates one contrapurposively; for in this way imagination
brings forth a desire contrary to nature's end, and indeed to
an end even more important than that of love of life itself,
since it aims at the preservation of the whole species and not
only of the individual.

The implication is clear, -- given that nature's end in instilling
lustful feelings within ourselves is the preservation of our species,
it follows that any imaginative deviation from the reproductive ends
of nature, is utterly blameworthy. For consider the maxim: "A man
should engage in an act contrapurposive to nature's end in bringing
him about." Now, the nomological counterpart of the maxim would be
necessarily applicable at all times and places, given type-identical
antecedent conditions. Thus in willing through this maxim as if it
were a universal law of nature, the agent ipso facto wills away the
very conditions of his own existence qua member of his species, and so
wills away the possibility of his own willing. Contradiction.

: Zeleny contends that this "unnatural lust" was meant to refer to
: reproductively sterile sex, such as homosexual sex. Zeleny, however,
: conspiciously failed to provide any quote backing up his interpretation.

For more fun along the same lines, look into the discussion of the
morality of mutilation, as conducted in the aforementioned text.
Although Kant thinks that castration is a big no-no, whenever it is
performed for the sake of securing a livelihood in the entertainment
industry, he is willing to give it his seal of approval whenever it
is performed as punishment for buggery.

: I think he's lying. Got quotes showing that Kant was referring to sex
: for purposes other than reproduction when he wrote this, Zeleny ?

Read the book, Mr Q.

: Anyone who's studied Kant able to shed light ?

This should be fun.

: - Tony Q.
: ---
: Tony Quirke, Wellington, New Zealand (email for phone no)
: "Arthur, you forgot to mention the chicken that gave birth to a human
: in Atlanta. Tuesday last. No one knows. It ate the evidence."
: - John Constantine.

Michael Zeleny

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Feb 28, 1995, 1:30:26 AM2/28/95
to
In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.950227182002.24423A-100000@lab1>
Gene Ward Smith <gsmith@lab1> writes:

:Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:: This thread persists primarily as a means for Bruce Garrett to call
:: me a Nazi sympathizer because of my view that homosexual acts are
:: morally wrong, and for me to expose the tawdry and mawkish basis of
:: his compulsive attempts to justify his sexuality to all and sundry.

: A lie. Many people can manage to believe that homosexual acts are
: morally wrong without going over the line into hate speech. It is the
: fact that you hate, and lie about the fact that you hate, and make it
: obvious that you lie about the fact that you hate, and keep repeating
: this loop, which makes the Nazi comparison go.

In other words, Gene Ward Smith is objecting to outspoken opposition
to his outspoken sexual perversion. There still remains a question of
what constitutes hate speech. I explicitly repudiate acts of violence
and legal persecution aiming to censure acts that occur in private
between consenting adults. Nevertheless, Mr Smith elects to classify
my moral opposition to buggery on par with Hitler's persecution of the
alleged Untermenschen. Would he be acting as irrationally without the
incentive of his deviant sensibilities?

Kyle Elisabeth Overstreet

unread,
Feb 28, 1995, 1:56:20 PM2/28/95
to
Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

: Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is

: a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents, any


: proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
: your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable. So
: Kant tells you that, since you owe your very provenance as an agent to a
: single fertile act of sexual intercourse, any necessarily infertile form
: of sexual intercourse cannot be willed to be an instance of a lawlike
: choice, in so far as its instantiation at the moment of your conception
: would have preempted your biological existence as a necessary condition

: of your current moral deliberation. Hence a natural creature that freely
: wills away the sole engendering condition of its natural kind, thereby
: implicitly arrogates to itself the prerogative of being an exception to
: the universal moral order. As regards the rest of your claim, I will get
: back to you once the fruit of your intellectual labors begins to approach
: the moral credibility of Manny's solitary exercises.

: mikhail zel...@math.ucla.edu tread


: writing from the disneyland of formal philosophy on
: "Le cul des femmes est monotone comme l'esprit des hommes." me

Is that what my California education dollar is supporting? The use of the
categorical imperative against non-procreative sex? No wonder we always
think of UCLA as the satellite campus.

The application of the categorical imperative in this way is specious,
because this argument makes the untrue assumption that the nonprocreative
sexual act, if not performed, would have resulted in the performance of a
procreative sexual act.

The reduction of this line of thinking is thus: I am now posting on
USENET instead of having sex. If my parents had been posting on USENET
instead of having sex on the night of my conception, I would not have
been born, and thus would be unable to post on USENET. Thus, posting on
USENET is immoral, because the universal application of it would make my
choice to do so impossible (not to mention the bandwidth crunch!)

I won't even bother to address your unreasoned conflation on
nonprocreative sex and homosexuality.

Michael Zeleny

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Feb 28, 1995, 10:05:32 PM2/28/95
to
In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.950227174233.23476B@lab1>
Gene Ward Smith <gsmith@lab1> writes:

: On Sun, 26 Feb 1995 BPB...@husc.harvard.edu wrote:

:: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

MZ:
::: The refractory homosexual is a pathetic freak of
::: nature who, whenever left to his own tawdry devices, acts as a vivid
::: reminder of the misery concomitant with willful deviance from the
::: moral ends of mankind.

GWS:
: Note, once again, that this is hate speech, and shows yet again that the
: comparison of Zeleny with the Nazis is quite apt. Note also that Zeleny
: (in a manner worthy of any Nazi, incidentally) thinks that to be a "freak
: of nature" is to be worthy of contempt; so in effect he is pouring hatred
: and contempt not just on homosexuals, but also on people with all the
: variety of ills that can or might cause them to be termed "freaks of
: nature" by spiteful homunculi of Zeleny's kind.

On the contrary, the above would apply only to people who deliberately
cultivate and proudly exhibit their diseases. A man who strives to
overcome his unwholesome inclinations merits the highest praise. But
a refractory homosexual is no different from a refractory coprophage.

GWS:
: You might also take note that in calling homosexuals "freaks of nature",
: he is contradicting the Robertsonesque "lifestyle choice" rhetoric he at
: times employs elsewhere. In his utter intellectual dishonesty, he finds
: any stick which is handy at the time a good enough one to beat homosexuals
: with.

Observe that I characterized refractory homosexuality as a willful
deviance. Inclination is mostly determined by involuntary factors;
acting upon it is invariably a matter of free choice. Not that I
would expect you to exercise your reading comprehension skills in
the midst of a self-justificatory conniption fit.

MZ:
::: Consider that the passage I have cited is part of Kant's discussion of
::: sodomy in _The Metaphysics of Morals_. Read the book.

BP:
:: You ignored my statement as usual and refused to answer my concerns.
:: If I wanted to read Kant I would be on alt.deadguy.Kant. Your logic,
:: though couched prettily, is bunk. Try again, this time less personal
:: attacks and a little INFORMATION would get you further.

GWS:
: It doesn't matter in any case. If you actually try to argue on the basis
: of Kant, as I once did, he backpedles at once, he "holds no brief for the
: Konigsburg wanker." Zeleny is even more of a pretentious fraud than most
: people realize, and that is saying a lot.

The high point of your argument "on the basis of Kant" was running a
thread dedicated to my putatively putrid pink butthole and threatening
to sabotage my career prospects. You are a bad sport, Mr Smith, but
that is to be expected. Every outburst of self-serving flatulence
emitted by your net persona goes a long way towards confirming the
timeless stereotype of the whining, scheming, hysterical rimadonna.
You are a worthy representative of your kind. Keep up the good work.

cordially, don't

Gary Phillips

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Mar 1, 1995, 4:58:56 PM3/1/95
to
Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:
: In article <3ir2c9$3...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com>
: orp...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Gary Phillips) writes:

: : Sex is not stealing unless it is rape. and in that case, it is not sex.


: : Thus, the two activities (sex and stealing) are completely different in
: : their essential nature, and no valid comparison between them is possible.

: The issue of consent is irrelevant to the analogy.

Untrue. The issue of consent is everything to the analogy because the
ability to consent (or not) is a part of the very nature of rational
beings by virtue of their moral autonomy. The fact that the very idea of
ownership proceeds directly from the free exercise of the moral autonomy
of our body-selves in itself and in the world necessarily implies that we
must be free to do with our bodies and our property, or to have done to
our bodies and our property what we will, and the corresponding right to
refuse such consent. This is the basis for every person's sexual freedom.
Theivery and rape violate the categorical imperative precisely because
they violate that which properly belongs to the moral autonomy of another
rational being. This is a more fundamental error than an abridgement of
the categorical imperative because the existence and binding force of the
categorical imperative *necessarily rest upon* the sanctity of the moral
autonomy of rational beings.


: On the other hand, numerous illicit actions cannot


: gain legitimacy through consent. In this category, murder and buggery
: are on par.

Homosexual sex acts are not illicit. The absolute right to do to one's
body and to have done to it what one wills is implicit in the moral
autonomy of the will.

: : Simply put, the problem with your argument is that you conflate two


: : separate moral issues: that of propagation and that of sexual interaction.
: : The issue of propagation becomes a moral issue in sexual ethics only
: : insofar as conception is possible in the course of any particular sexual
: : interaction. Regarding sexual interactions outside that limited
: : framework, your maxim says nothing constructive (nor even merely
: : informative) whatsoever. To say that propagation is the sole justification
: : for sexual activity is as logically short-sighted and morally obsolete and
: : incomplete as it is outdated and practially untenable.

: That is not at all what is being said. Kant does not posit a need for
: justifying any activity in general, and sexual activity in particular.
: Rather, his point is that in so far as generative powers inhere in the
: sexual act, any sexual act that excludes generation of necessity,
: cannot constitute an instance of a universal law.

In this he is wrong. Generative powers inhere only to particular
kinds of sexual acts, not to all sexual acts. Therefore, only those
sexual acts to which the possibility of those generative powers being
realized is present are subject to moral imperatives concerning them.
To speak otherwise is simply to conflate two distinct moral issues.

: ::: I shall will that every human being propagate at least once


: ::: during his or her lifetime, in order to ensure the survival of the species
: ::: and leave him to pursue whatever ends he may in the rest of his sexual
: ::: activities in his lifetime.

: :: This willing has nothing to do with the maxim of any given action.

: : Nonsense. The maxim is clearly stated. It is that which I have
: : willed, as stated above. If you fail to recognize it as a maxim, it can
: : only be because of your aforementioned conflation of the issues of
: : propagation and sexual interaction.

: It is possible to recognize a functional connection between two types
: of action, whilst maintaining the relevant type distinctions. As
: regards your clear statement, it is not a maxim but a mantra. To
: recognize the legitimacy of subsuming extenuating intentions into the
: maxim of one's action is tantamount to gainsaying the application of
: the Categorical Imperative. Any course of action whatsoever can be
: promoted to the status of an instance of a universal law of nature,
: given sufficient laxity with explicitly stipulated exceptions, and
: sufficient blindness to the logical form of universal laws.

I am not responsible for the failure of Kant's theory to tell us
what kinds of content are to be considered morally relevant when
formulating imperatives. One can also will that everyone whistle in the
dark. It's not a moral issue either, but there is nothing in Kant's
theory that can tell us so.


: : From what you have stated in our correspondence, your maxim can


: : only be that every human being has the moral obligation to reproduce, which
: : is fine, as far as it goes. But this has nothing whatsoever to do with the
: : morality of any sexual act that any individual may take part outside the
: : narrow parameters within which propagation is possible. The abject
: : inadequacy and irrelevancy of your maxim to the remainder of human
: : sexual activity is appalling.
: : Nevertheless, I have taken your proposed maxim and shown its
: : absurdity by carrying it out to its logical end: reductio ad absurdam
: : (above, below and previously, taken together).

: This is dreadfully confused. Maxims make no reference, either
: explicitly or implicitly, to any moral obligation. The purpose of
: submitting your maxim to the test of the formula of the law of nature
: is not to reaffirm the pre-established tenets of morality, but to
: discover the inherent moral merit of a proposed course of action,
: formulated independently of any conception of duty or value.

Very well. Please explain how the maxim "one ought to whistle in the
dark" is of moral merit. It certainly meets the test of
universalizability and it certainly has doesn't treat anyone as merely a
means. Imperatives, by definition, are a "command of reason." And if
their form corresponds to and meets the criterion of the categorical
imperative they are, in fact, obligatory on all rational beings -- at
least according to Kant. So I ask you, are we all obliged to whistle in
the dark?

Michael Zeleny

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Mar 1, 1995, 7:43:20 PM3/1/95
to
In article <3j2qn0$6...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com>
orp...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Gary Phillips) writes:

: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:: orp...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Gary Phillips) writes:

::: Sex is not stealing unless it is rape. and in that case, it is not sex.
::: Thus, the two activities (sex and stealing) are completely different in
::: their essential nature, and no valid comparison between them is possible.

:: The issue of consent is irrelevant to the analogy.

: Untrue. The issue of consent is everything to the analogy because the
: ability to consent (or not) is a part of the very nature of rational
: beings by virtue of their moral autonomy. The fact that the very idea of
: ownership proceeds directly from the free exercise of the moral autonomy
: of our body-selves in itself and in the world necessarily implies that we
: must be free to do with our bodies and our property, or to have done to
: our bodies and our property what we will, and the corresponding right to
: refuse such consent. This is the basis for every person's sexual freedom.
: Theivery and rape violate the categorical imperative precisely because
: they violate that which properly belongs to the moral autonomy of another
: rational being. This is a more fundamental error than an abridgement of
: the categorical imperative because the existence and binding force of the
: categorical imperative *necessarily rest upon* the sanctity of the moral
: autonomy of rational beings.

Ownership bears no relevance to the subject in question. You are
gratuitously importing Lockean assumptions of possessive individualism
into a context wholly alien thereto. Moral autonomy is a condition of
the intelligible nature of man, which has no direct and necessary
bearing on his corporeal nature; consequently no claim of property
rights in one's body can be grounded therein. Indeed, the consistency
of reciprocal coercion with full moral autonomy is discussed by Kant in
_The Metaphysics of Morals_, 232 (p 57 of the Cambridge edition). For
instance, on the Kantian construal of marriage, there can be no rape
between the spouses whose relationship is grounded in a total mutual
alienation of bodily rights. And suicide and self-mutilation are not
only deemed immoral, but may be regarded as illicit. (MM 422-3/218-9)

:: On the other hand, numerous illicit actions cannot


:: gain legitimacy through consent. In this category, murder and buggery
:: are on par.

: Homosexual sex acts are not illicit. The absolute right to do to one's
: body and to have done to it what one wills is implicit in the moral
: autonomy of the will.

Kant does not think so, and neither do I -- though I would not go as
far as recommending castration as a condign punishment for buggery,
under the ius talionis. As an aside, I would be very happy to find an
incontrovertible moral ground for an inviolable right to privacy, but
it just does not seem to be compatible with any sort of social contract.

::: Simply put, the problem with your argument is that you conflate two


::: separate moral issues: that of propagation and that of sexual interaction.
::: The issue of propagation becomes a moral issue in sexual ethics only
::: insofar as conception is possible in the course of any particular sexual
::: interaction. Regarding sexual interactions outside that limited
::: framework, your maxim says nothing constructive (nor even merely
::: informative) whatsoever. To say that propagation is the sole justification
::: for sexual activity is as logically short-sighted and morally obsolete and
::: incomplete as it is outdated and practially untenable.

:: That is not at all what is being said. Kant does not posit a need for
:: justifying any activity in general, and sexual activity in particular.
:: Rather, his point is that in so far as generative powers inhere in the
:: sexual act, any sexual act that excludes generation of necessity,
:: cannot constitute an instance of a universal law.

: In this he is wrong. Generative powers inhere only to particular
: kinds of sexual acts, not to all sexual acts. Therefore, only those
: sexual acts to which the possibility of those generative powers being
: realized is present are subject to moral imperatives concerning them.
: To speak otherwise is simply to conflate two distinct moral issues.

I beg to differ. Sexual gratification is biologically correlated with
sexual reproduction, just as the latter is correlated with natural
mortality. So the generative powers are latent in each particular
instance of gratifying deployment of the genitalia. By gainsaying the
obvious, you are merely attempting to exclude homosexual acts from the
purview of moral judgment.

::::: I shall will that every human being propagate at least once


::::: during his or her lifetime, in order to ensure the survival of the
::::: species and leave him to pursue whatever ends he may in the rest of
::::: his sexual activities in his lifetime.

:::: This willing has nothing to do with the maxim of any given action.

::: Nonsense. The maxim is clearly stated. It is that which I have
::: willed, as stated above. If you fail to recognize it as a maxim, it can
::: only be because of your aforementioned conflation of the issues of
::: propagation and sexual interaction.

:: It is possible to recognize a functional connection between two types
:: of action, whilst maintaining the relevant type distinctions. As
:: regards your clear statement, it is not a maxim but a mantra. To
:: recognize the legitimacy of subsuming extenuating intentions into the
:: maxim of one's action is tantamount to gainsaying the application of
:: the Categorical Imperative. Any course of action whatsoever can be
:: promoted to the status of an instance of a universal law of nature,
:: given sufficient laxity with explicitly stipulated exceptions, and
:: sufficient blindness to the logical form of universal laws.

: I am not responsible for the failure of Kant's theory to tell us
: what kinds of content are to be considered morally relevant when
: formulating imperatives. One can also will that everyone whistle in the
: dark. It's not a moral issue either, but there is nothing in Kant's
: theory that can tell us so.

In other words, notwithstanding copious scientific and commonsensical
evidence for the moral relevance of sexual behavior, I am expected to
repudiate it on your say-so.

::: From what you have stated in our correspondence, your maxim

::: can only be that every human being has the moral obligation to
::: reproduce, which is fine, as far as it goes. But this has nothing
::: whatsoever to do with the morality of any sexual act that any
::: individual may take part outside the narrow parameters within which
::: propagation is possible. The abject inadequacy and irrelevancy of
::: your maxim to the remainder of human sexual activity is appalling.
::: Nevertheless, I have taken your proposed maxim and shown its
::: absurdity by carrying it out to its logical end: reductio ad absurdam
::: (above, below and previously, taken together).

:: This is dreadfully confused. Maxims make no reference, either
:: explicitly or implicitly, to any moral obligation. The purpose of
:: submitting your maxim to the test of the formula of the law of nature
:: is not to reaffirm the pre-established tenets of morality, but to
:: discover the inherent moral merit of a proposed course of action,
:: formulated independently of any conception of duty or value.

: Very well. Please explain how the maxim "one ought to whistle in the
: dark" is of moral merit. It certainly meets the test of
: universalizability and it certainly has doesn't treat anyone as merely a
: means. Imperatives, by definition, are a "command of reason." And if
: their form corresponds to and meets the criterion of the categorical
: imperative they are, in fact, obligatory on all rational beings -- at
: least according to Kant. So I ask you, are we all obliged to whistle in
: the dark?

It is very gratifying to see you finally attend to the commonplace
discussions of Kantian ethics. To answer your question, you cannot
will anything that, once universalized, would interfere with your
sleep. You might have done better with the traditional example of
facing north at noon, which interferes only with a contingent social
responsibility of minding the store. Incidentally, the observation
of the social contingency of the CI injunction against theft has
been famously made by Hegel. A little bit of learning would aid you
in criticizing a theory on its own terms.

quir...@kosmos.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 1:21:51 PM3/2/95
to
zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

>Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is
>a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents, any
>proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
>your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable.

In that case, homosexual sex is not immoral. It does not prevent the
heterosexual creation of children. The continuing reproduction of
the human species is not based on the necessity for any *one* particular
person to become or make someone else become pregnant.
It is based on the requirement that a *sufficient* number of the members
of the human race become pregnant. There is no sign that homosexual sex,
contraception, the rhythm method or oral sex has dented this aggregate
total.


>So Kant tells you that, since you owe your very provenance as an agent to a
>single fertile act of sexual intercourse, any necessarily infertile form
>of sexual intercourse cannot be willed to be an instance of a lawlike
>choice, in so far as its instantiation at the moment of your conception
>would have preempted your biological existence as a necessary condition
>of your current moral deliberation.

Nope. Even I can tell that Kant is stating that *preventing* heterosexual
intercourse from occuring is immoral. Homosexuality does not prevent
heterosexual intercourse. The population curves demonstrate this quite
well.

I mean, *think*. You're stating that *any* non-fertile sex act is
"immoral".

>Hence a natural creature that freely wills away the sole engendering
>condition of its natural kind, thereby implicitly arrogates to itself the
>prerogative of being an exception to the universal moral order.

How do homosexuals prevent heterosexual reproduction sufficient unto
sustaining the human race, that being the condition for those homosexuals
to appear ?

Jesus, Zeleny, when your arguments are so crappy that even people who
haven't studied any philosophy can drive holes through them, it's time to
retire.

- Tony Q.
---
Tony Quirke, Wellington, New Zealand (email for phone no)

"A cripple taught me how to dance, a blind man taught me how to see.
A fallen angel taught me how to fly, and a prisoner taught me to be free."
- Simple Image.

Gary Phillips

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 6:11:05 AM3/2/95
to
Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

: In other words, Gene Ward Smith is objecting to outspoken opposition


: to his outspoken sexual perversion. There still remains a question of
: what constitutes hate speech. I explicitly repudiate acts of violence
: and legal persecution aiming to censure acts that occur in private
: between consenting adults. Nevertheless, Mr Smith elects to classify
: my moral opposition to buggery on par with Hitler's persecution of the
: alleged Untermenschen. Would he be acting as irrationally without the
: incentive of his deviant sensibilities?

Michael,
How can you reconcile a right to "private acts between consenting
[homosexual] adults with your alleged "moral" opposition to homosexual
sexual engagements (let's ignore the fact that "buggery" is something
that heterosexuals engage in at a much higher rate than gay people do)?

Brian Kane

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 10:12:28 AM3/2/95
to
Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) sez that since our
parents acted heterosexually, it is immoral to act homosexually:

:Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is


:a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents, any
:proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
:your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable.

You have an exceedingly poor grasp of causality.
--
Brian Kane~~~Astroboy~~~kane@{buast1,bu-ast,buast7,protostar}.bu.edu
"The altar boy's on fire!" Mary Lorson _Bring It Down_ (1993)
"Those dudes up in the UFO described the truth as a yellow lifeboat"

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 3:28:40 PM3/2/95
to
In article <3j4n8s$2...@news.bu.edu> ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) sez that since our


: parents acted heterosexually, it is immoral to act homosexually:

:: Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is
:: a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents, any
:: proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
:: your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable.

: You have an exceedingly poor grasp of causality.

Try to conceive a world wherein every dioecious creature deliberately
chooses essentially sterile forms of intercourse on each occasion of
sexual contact. Since such creatures must owe their provenance to an
instance of fertile sexual contact, a world operating in accordance
with the stated principle is logically impossible.

The homosexual claims that his choice to bugger his partner in no way
contravenes the possibility of conception of other creatures of their
kind occurring elsewhere, on a different occasion, between some other
human couple indulging in a disparate, fertile form of sex. But in
choosing to act in the way he does, he wilfully construes himself as
an anomaly to the principle in accordance with which such generative
action would occur -- and therefore as a deliberate exception to the
moral condition of his own genesis. Since morality admits of no
exceptions, he is acting immorally.

Our parents could not but (non possum non) have acted heterosexually
so as to become our parents; hence it is immoral to act homosexually.

: --


: Brian Kane~~~Astroboy~~~kane@{buast1,bu-ast,buast7,protostar}.bu.edu
: "The altar boy's on fire!" Mary Lorson _Bring It Down_ (1993)
: "Those dudes up in the UFO described the truth as a yellow lifeboat"

cordially, don't

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 9:00:34 PM3/2/95
to
ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:: ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

::: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) sez that since our
::: parents acted heterosexually, it is immoral to act homosexually:

:::: Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is
:::: a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents, any
:::: proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
:::: your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable.

::: You have an exceedingly poor grasp of causality.

:: Try to conceive a world wherein every dioecious creature deliberately
:: chooses essentially sterile forms of intercourse on each occasion of
:: sexual contact.

: Would you care to calculate the probability of this happening?

Consideration of probability is irrelevant because moral obligations
cannot be delegated. Otherwise you could excuse yourself from the
performance of any duty, arguing that a society of predominantly
conscientious men could -- and does -- suffer and sustain a small
proportion of parasites.

:: Since such creatures must owe their provenance to an


:: instance of fertile sexual contact,

: Morality isn't about acting because of an "owing" to the events of the
: past---it's about acting out of a sense of *present* respect for absolute
: notions of "property", "property" being any number of things including life,
: volition, ideas, and material possessions. In short, there is no temporal
: notion to morality.

Life, volition, and ideas are wholly dissimilar from any material
possessions, in arising and attaching to their owners irrespectively of
any social conventions, and in being physically inalienable therefrom.
Furthermore, morality can and does arise before and independently of the
notion of material ownership, or any other social institution whatsoever,
though this fact may be difficult to grasp for someone happily inured to
the cupidity and rapaciousness of the Anglo-American tradition. And if
we incurred no moral obligation to the events of the past, retributive
justice would be nothing but a hollow farce.

:: a world operating in accordance


:: with the stated principle is logically impossible.

: Exactly. So the chance of this happening is zero. Thus there is
: no moral imperative for everyone to reproduce.

Surely if there is a non-negative probability of an average primate
deciding to dedicate the rest of his days to sterile pursuits, there is
ipso facto a slight yet non-negative probability of the rest of his peers
deciding to follow suit. But since the universality of moral obligation
rules out all probabilistic consideration, there is no need for you to
concern yourself with a subject you evidently know nothing about.

:: The homosexual claims that his choice to bugger his partner in no way


:: contravenes the possibility of conception of other creatures of their
:: kind occurring elsewhere, on a different occasion, between some other
:: human couple indulging in a disparate, fertile form of sex.

: Right...(except that heterosexuals claim this, too...)

Are you trying to show that if buggery is good for Boris and Natasha, it
must be equally good for Brian and Bruce? Then consider that Boris and
Natasha have the immediately available option of changing the venue for a
more fruitful outcome, without changing or dissolving their partnership.
Not so with Brian and Bruce.

:: But in choosing to act in the way he does, he wilfully construes himself


:: as an anomaly to the principle in accordance with which such generative
:: action would occur -- and therefore as a deliberate exception to the
:: moral condition of his own genesis.

: Nonsense. There are no moral conditions of being. Only moral actions.

Somebody had to take a moral responsibility for his genesis, in a moral
action that constituted its moral condition.

:: Since morality admits of no exceptions, he is acting immorally.

: No, since the premise is *NOT* true (the premise being that
: there is a moral imperative for each individual to reproduce),
: this doe *NOT* follow.

In other words, you are pleading for exceptions to the common rule.

:: Our parents could not but (non possum non) have acted heterosexually


:: so as to become our parents; hence it is immoral to act homosexually.

: As I said, your notion of causality is all mixed up.

Quoting your own words does not make them more authoritative.

Gene Ward Smith

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 9:23:42 PM3/2/95
to
On 28 Feb 1995, Michael Zeleny wrote:

> How terribly nice for you to figure out a convoluted way of saying
> that vulgar moral rules do not apply to your extraordinary kind.

Gosh--Mikhail Zeleny, Man of the People and all around regular guy. Of
course, as we shall see, Zeleny violates his own moral rules all the time.

> I never assume a moral claim, Grasshopper -- I argue for it.
> Buggering your Adams House roommate is immoral because it is
> tantamount to willfully relinquishing your responsibility for
> the future generations to other couples, on other occasions,
> anywhere but the place where you happen to be at the moment.

Yet Zeleny admits to using contraceptive measures, which is an even greater
"violation", since it is undertaken for the purpose of preventing
conception, rather than being an incidental consequence of the type of
sexual activity in question. Zeleny is, according to Zeleny, an immoral
pervert.
--
Gene Ward Smith/Brahms Gang/University of Toledo
gsm...@lab1.utoledo.edu

Gene Ward Smith

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 9:28:39 PM3/2/95
to
On 28 Feb 1995, Michael Zeleny wrote:

> The implication is clear, -- given that nature's end in instilling
> lustful feelings within ourselves is the preservation of our species,
> it follows that any imaginative deviation from the reproductive ends
> of nature, is utterly blameworthy.

In that case, I suggest you quit indulging in the perverse sexual activity
you boast of, Pervert.

By the way, what is your expert moral view on sexual activity with
people under the age of 18?

Gene Ward Smith

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 9:32:27 PM3/2/95
to
On 28 Feb 1995, Michael Zeleny wrote:
> In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.950227182002.24423A-100000@lab1>
> Gene Ward Smith <gsmith@lab1> writes:

> In other words, Gene Ward Smith is objecting to outspoken opposition
> to his outspoken sexual perversion.

Excuse me, Pervert, but I am not the one defending what I call perversion,
you are the one defending and admitting to what you (if you were honest)
would be compelled to call sexual perversion.

So knock off the "perversion" claims, Pervert.

Caitlin Mackay Shaw

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 10:03:44 PM3/2/95
to
In article <3j59po$d...@saba.info.ucla.edu>
zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

>Our parents could not but (non possum non) have acted heterosexually
>so as to become our parents; hence it is immoral to act homosexually.

By this line of reasoning, it is immoral for a woman to resist being
raped by a man, because her mother had sex with a man once.

See the problem? Simply because a thing can be good done *once* does
not mean it must be done *at all times*. For instance, Michael, if your
parents had spent all their time typing on UseNet you never would have
been born; therefore, it is immoral for you to spend *any* time at all,
ever, on UseNet.

As a side note, you fail to address the question of lesbians and
artificial insemination.

Caitlin
--
___-----______________________________________________________________-----___
____---____________-- Caitlin Shaw <cms...@princeton.edu> --___________---____
_____-_____________"There is no /one true way/." --M. Lackey____________-_____

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 10:43:12 PM3/2/95
to
Gene Ward "I'm What Genders?" Smith <gsmith@lab1> writes:

Correction -- unlike the ongoing sexual perusal of your orifices, normal
means of contraception do not prevent conception, but merely lessen its
natural likelihood, in view of the ever-present, non-negligible chance of
pregnancy remaining under all but the unjustifiably debilitating surgical
means of birth control. Since we have been over this ground many times
before, I surmise that the deterioration of your immune system under a
perpetual ingress of foreign proteins has gravely taxed and damaged your
modest cognitive faculties. One often hears of psychosomatic ailments --
but you afford a living example of a mind irremediably corrupted by
abject bodily degradation.

Gary Phillips

unread,
Mar 3, 1995, 5:55:30 AM3/3/95
to
: In addition to your argument being intrinsically absurd (logically)
: and beside the fact that you have unjustifiably conflated the issues of
: propagation and sexuality beyond merit, your argument makes several
: unwarranted practical assumptions and smacks of misogyny upon
: further analysis.
: You really have to pull the wool over everyone's eyes here, including
: your own, by stating that you are not a consequentialist in this matter.
: The reality is that you can't *afford* to be a consequentialist because,
: when taken on consequentialist grounds, your argument falls apart even
: more quickly than it does on logical grounds alone, and you know this.
: The world is a limited space with limited resources within which we are
: irremediably bound. How "rational" and "responsible" is it to presume
: unlimited space and resources when formulating your propagational sexual
: ethic? The impracticality of your argument actually highlights and informs
: its logical absurdity. So long as you refuse to consider the consequences,
: you can pretend that you are being moral. But what good is a morality
: that is inherently incapable of being applied in the real world? How
: "logical" is it? I'll answer for you: It is, in a word, vacuous, both in
: terms of its "good" and in terms of its logic.

> Look out, folks -- here comes the hoary cliche' of buggery as Higher
> Malthusianism! Never mind that the position I had expounded contains
> nothing that would mandate indiscriminate reproduction, or prohibit
> responsible contraception.

Yes it does, Michael. What's the difference between "responsible
contraception" and oral or anal sex? They are all "essentially sterile" and
"counter-purposive" to procreation, to use your phraseology. If
"responsible contraception" is morally permissible, then so are oral and
anal sex, for exactly the same reasons, regardless of the sexes of the
parties involved.
Your position also mandates indiscriminate reproduction. If any
"essentially sterile" or "contrapurposive" sexual act is excluded as a
morally acceptable sexual option then, ipso facto, the only acceptable
sexual option is one which will lead to conception -- every time. Since
sexual abstinence is "essentially sterile" and "contrapurposive" to the
"natural ends" of sexuality, we cannot choose abstinence as a morally
acceptable option either. Therefore, every time the opportunity for a
successful act of reproduction presents itself, we are duty-bound to perform
it, if we accept your position. Ergo propter ita est.
Ready to concede? ;-)

Brian Kane

unread,
Mar 2, 1995, 7:08:13 PM3/2/95
to
Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:In article <3j4n8s$2...@news.bu.edu> ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

::Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) sez that since our
::parents acted heterosexually, it is immoral to act homosexually:

:::Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is
:::a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents, any
:::proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions of
:::your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable.

::You have an exceedingly poor grasp of causality.

:Try to conceive a world wherein every dioecious creature deliberately
:chooses essentially sterile forms of intercourse on each occasion of
:sexual contact.

Would you care to calculate the probability of this happening?

:Since such creatures must owe their provenance to an


:instance of fertile sexual contact,

Morality isn't about acting because of an "owing" to the events of the


past---it's about acting out of a sense of *present* respect for absolute
notions of "property", "property" being any number of things including life,
volition, ideas, and material possessions. In short, there is no temporal
notion to morality.

:a world operating in accordance


:with the stated principle is logically impossible.

Exactly. So the chance of this happening is zero. Thus there is


no moral imperative for everyone to reproduce.

:The homosexual claims that his choice to bugger his partner in no way


:contravenes the possibility of conception of other creatures of their
:kind occurring elsewhere, on a different occasion, between some other
:human couple indulging in a disparate, fertile form of sex.

Right...(except that heterosexuals claim this, too...)

:But in choosing to act in the way he does, he wilfully construes himself as


:an anomaly to the principle in accordance with which such generative
:action would occur -- and therefore as a deliberate exception to the
:moral condition of his own genesis.

Nonsense. There are no moral conditions of being. Only moral actions.

:Since morality admits of no exceptions, he is acting immorally.

No, since the premise is *NOT* true (the premise being that
there is a moral imperative for each individual to reproduce),
this doe *NOT* follow.

:Our parents could not but (non possum non) have acted heterosexually


:so as to become our parents; hence it is immoral to act homosexually.

As I said, your notion of causality is all mixed up.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 3, 1995, 3:39:01 PM3/3/95
to
In article <3j4949$6...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com>
orp...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Gary Phillips) writes:

: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

I do not believe that the government has the right to punish immoral
acts that occur between consenting adults. There is not enough
certainty in our moral reasoning to countenance the legislation of
morality.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 3, 1995, 3:41:45 PM3/3/95
to
In article <3j6sj2$s...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com>
orp...@kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Gary Phillips) writes:

GP:
::: In addition to your argument being intrinsically absurd (logically)


::: and beside the fact that you have unjustifiably conflated the issues of
::: propagation and sexuality beyond merit, your argument makes several
::: unwarranted practical assumptions and smacks of misogyny upon
::: further analysis.
::: You really have to pull the wool over everyone's eyes here, including
::: your own, by stating that you are not a consequentialist in this matter.
::: The reality is that you can't *afford* to be a consequentialist because,
::: when taken on consequentialist grounds, your argument falls apart even
::: more quickly than it does on logical grounds alone, and you know this.
::: The world is a limited space with limited resources within which we are
::: irremediably bound. How "rational" and "responsible" is it to presume
::: unlimited space and resources when formulating your propagational sexual
::: ethic? The impracticality of your argument actually highlights and informs
::: its logical absurdity. So long as you refuse to consider the consequences,
::: you can pretend that you are being moral. But what good is a morality
::: that is inherently incapable of being applied in the real world? How
::: "logical" is it? I'll answer for you: It is, in a word, vacuous, both in
::: terms of its "good" and in terms of its logic.

MZ:
:: Look out, folks -- here comes the hoary cliche' of buggery as Higher


:: Malthusianism! Never mind that the position I had expounded contains
:: nothing that would mandate indiscriminate reproduction, or prohibit
:: responsible contraception.

GP:
: Yes it does, Michael. What's the difference between "responsible


: contraception" and oral or anal sex? They are all "essentially sterile"
: and "counter-purposive" to procreation, to use your phraseology. If
: "responsible contraception" is morally permissible, then so are oral and
: anal sex, for exactly the same reasons, regardless of the sexes of the
: parties involved.

I have an aversion to saying the same thing more than twice to any
single persom, without geting any signs of understanding in return.
It makes me wonder about the intellectual honesty and adequacy of my
interlocutor; and if I have no reason to regard him as anything other
than a mendacious moron, the conversation must come to an end. So
please help me out here. I have stated on several occasions that I
refer to essences in a precise technical sense, which ought to be
familiar to anyone who enjoyed a cursory acquaintance with the 2.5
millennia of the Western philosophical tradition, from Aristotle and
Aquinas to Putnam and Kripke. Nevertheless, you obstinately continue
to regard my "essentially impossible" as synonymous with "highly
unlikely". If you want to criticize your own arguments, there is no
need to talk to anyone else; just make like Travis Bickle facing the
mirror in _Taxi Driver_, and go for it. But if you prefer talking to
other people, consider doing so in mutually agreeable terms.

: Your position also mandates indiscriminate reproduction. If any


: "essentially sterile" or "contrapurposive" sexual act is excluded as a
: morally acceptable sexual option then, ipso facto, the only acceptable
: sexual option is one which will lead to conception -- every time. Since
: sexual abstinence is "essentially sterile" and "contrapurposive" to the
: "natural ends" of sexuality, we cannot choose abstinence as a morally
: acceptable option either. Therefore, every time the opportunity for a
: successful act of reproduction presents itself, we are duty-bound to perform
: it, if we accept your position. Ergo propter ita est.

Consider the difference between the compliance conditions of the
imperatives "Do not do X unless it can result in Y" and "Do X only if
it will result in Y." They diverge even if one assumes with Aristotle
that whatever is not explicitly permitted is ipso facto forbidden, and
with Schiller -- that whatever is not explicitly forbidden is ipso
facto permitted.

: Ready to concede? ;-)

You can do better than this.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 3, 1995, 3:56:30 PM3/3/95
to
In article <1995Mar3.0...@Princeton.EDU>
cms...@flagstaff.princeton.edu (Caitlin Mackay Shaw) writes:

: In article <3j59po$d...@saba.info.ucla.edu>
: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

:: Our parents could not but (non possum non) have acted heterosexually
:: so as to become our parents; hence it is immoral to act homosexually.

: By this line of reasoning, it is immoral for a woman to resist being
: raped by a man, because her mother had sex with a man once.

There is a great deal of confusion in this analogy. Resistance to
illegitimate (not antecedently and implicitly consented to) coercion
is legitimate regardless of the aims of your opponent. And generally
speaking, you are ignoring the difference between being obligated to
avoid doing X unless it can result in Y, and incurring an obligation
to do X if and only if it can result in Y.

: See the problem? Simply because a thing can be good done *once* does


: not mean it must be done *at all times*. For instance, Michael, if your
: parents had spent all their time typing on UseNet you never would have
: been born; therefore, it is immoral for you to spend *any* time at all,
: ever, on UseNet.

I already explained the difference between fucking and net-surfing to
another poster. Feel free to look into it on your own time.

: As a side note, you fail to address the question of lesbians and
: artificial insemination.

Just like you fail to take into account the difference between sexual
intercourse and a medical procedure.

Kyle Elisabeth Overstreet

unread,
Mar 3, 1995, 8:05:39 PM3/3/95
to
Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

: The homosexual claims that his choice to bugger his partner in no way


: contravenes the possibility of conception of other creatures of their
: kind occurring elsewhere, on a different occasion, between some other
: human couple indulging in a disparate, fertile form of sex. But in
: choosing to act in the way he does, he wilfully construes himself as
: an anomaly to the principle in accordance with which such generative
: action would occur -- and therefore as a deliberate exception to the
: moral condition of his own genesis. Since morality admits of no
: exceptions, he is acting immorally.


That presumes that the maxim demonstrated by that choice is that "sexual
nature is to be fulfilled in sodomy", or some such. If the maxim to which
one is following is "one must act in accordance with ones sexual nature,
if in doing so one does not violate the free agency of another", then the
Categorical Imperative doesn't apply. If my parents had violated this
principle, I would not have been born, because my parents weren't homosexual.

There are a number of problems with the CI as a basis for ethics; the
most central is that it is applicable to matters we consider nonmoral
(the choice of a trade) and inapplicable to matters we consider moral
(decieving the stalker, as mentioned before). Also, the deduction of the
maxim from circumstance always presumes the question, as above demonstrated.

In a sense, the CI makes epistemological assumptions that Kant himself
disallowed.

But you are much too busy grinding an axe to be of much use for generating
light on Kant.


Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 4, 1995, 12:17:06 AM3/4/95
to
In article <3j8772$j...@news.bu.edu> ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) attempts to defend the
: morality of contraception with a probabilistic argument:

:: Correction -- unlike the ongoing sexual perusal of your orifices, normal


:: means of contraception do not prevent conception, but merely lessen its
:: natural likelihood, in view of the ever-present, non-negligible chance of
:: pregnancy remaining under all but the unjustifiably debilitating surgical
:: means of birth control.

Note that in question is the physical possibility of a proximate
outcome of your own action.

: Interesting. This opinion flies in the face of your own moralistic
: philosophy:
: =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
: From: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny)
: Subject: Re: Bigots Target
: Date: 3 Mar 1995 02:00:34 GMT
: Message-ID: <3j5t82$m...@saba.info.ucla.edu>
:
: Consideration of probability is irrelevant because moral obligations


: cannot be delegated. Otherwise you could excuse yourself from the
: performance of any duty, arguing that a society of predominantly
: conscientious men could -- and does -- suffer and sustain a small
: proportion of parasites.
:

: Surely if there is a non-negative probability of an average primate


: deciding to dedicate the rest of his days to sterile pursuits, there is
: ipso facto a slight yet non-negative probability of the rest of his peers
: deciding to follow suit. But since the universality of moral obligation
: rules out all probabilistic consideration, there is no need for you to
: concern yourself with a subject you evidently know nothing about.

Note that this is a matter of relying on the possibility of action of
other autonomous agents -- as I clearly specified by reference to the
impossibility of delegation.

Something that came out in discussion two years ago was the moral
impossibility of justifying one's homosexual lifestyle as redeemable
by Wilsonesque attempts to enhance the inclusive fitness of his kin
(or his entire species). The main premiss, that one can conduct his
epicene influence in accordance with the precept of "do as I say, not
as I do", neglects the autonomy of one's putative beneficiaries by
imputing to them a limitless and unquestioning moral malleability --
for their choice between following his teachings and following his
example remains essentially beyond his control. Mill's defense of
private acts as morally irrelevant to the outsiders fails for similar
reasons.

: =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
: --


: Brian Kane~~~Astroboy~~~kane@{buast1,bu-ast,buast7,protostar}.bu.edu
: "The altar boy's on fire!" Mary Lorson _Bring It Down_ (1993)
: "Those dudes up in the UFO described the truth as a yellow lifeboat"

cordially, don't

Michael Zeleny

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Mar 4, 1995, 12:41:00 AM3/4/95
to
In article <keoD4w...@netcom.com>
k...@netcom.com (Kyle Elisabeth Overstreet) writes:

: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:: The homosexual claims that his choice to bugger his partner in no way
:: contravenes the possibility of conception of other creatures of their
:: kind occurring elsewhere, on a different occasion, between some other
:: human couple indulging in a disparate, fertile form of sex. But in
:: choosing to act in the way he does, he wilfully construes himself as
:: an anomaly to the principle in accordance with which such generative
:: action would occur -- and therefore as a deliberate exception to the
:: moral condition of his own genesis. Since morality admits of no
:: exceptions, he is acting immorally.

: That presumes that the maxim demonstrated by that choice is that "sexual
: nature is to be fulfilled in sodomy", or some such. If the maxim to which
: one is following is "one must act in accordance with ones sexual nature,
: if in doing so one does not violate the free agency of another", then the
: Categorical Imperative doesn't apply. If my parents had violated this
: principle, I would not have been born, because my parents weren't homosexual.

You are forgetting that the only morally relevant factors for the
determination of duty in an empirically given setting are autonomy,
agency, and rationality. Desires are explicitly enjoined from playing
a constitutive role therein, on pain of vitiating autonomy. See the
first part of the Groundwork for more details.

: There are a number of problems with the CI as a basis for ethics; the

: most central is that it is applicable to matters we consider nonmoral
: (the choice of a trade) and inapplicable to matters we consider moral
: (decieving the stalker, as mentioned before). Also, the deduction of the
: maxim from circumstance always presumes the question, as above demonstrated.

The first item is grounded in a common misunderstanding -- witness
Russell's complaint that the CI forbids all competition for scarce
resources. The reason people impute this idiocy to Kant, is because
they are too lazy to read the Metaphysics of Rights. The application
of the moral rule to any social context presupposes an antecedent
determination of a rational social order. You may choose a trade iff
the general maxim of your choice is consistent with the functioning of
such order. Here something needs to be said about relating the utopian
Kingdom of Ends to the status quo -- but that is a subject for another
sermon. As for deceiving the stalker, I think that coercion vitiates
communication -- in so far as he succeeds in unjustly forcing you to
speak, he forfeits his right to a true answer; and in so far as you
remain free not to answer, you have a right and a duty not to do so.

: In a sense, the CI makes epistemological assumptions that Kant himself
: disallowed.

You have not shown that.

: But you are much too busy grinding an axe to be of much use for generating
: light on Kant.

On the contrary, my axe is much duller than Manny's razor-sharp
hatchet -- after all, I am not the one proposing castration as the
just punishment for buggery.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 4, 1995, 4:01:58 AM3/4/95
to
In article <netnewsD...@netcom.com>
Jeffrey J Barbose <bar...@netcom.com> writes:

: Michael Zeleny, zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu writes:

:: ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

::: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:::: ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

::::: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) sez that since our
::::: parents acted heterosexually, it is immoral to act homosexually:

MZ:
:::::: Perhaps you ought to take the trouble to think about it. If morality is


:::::: a universal constraint on permissible action of free rational agents,
:::::: any proposed course of action that directly contravenes the conditions
:::::: of your freedom, rationality, or agency, cannot be morally acceptable.

BK:
::::: You have an exceedingly poor grasp of causality.

MZ:
:::: Try to conceive a world wherein every dioecious creature deliberately


:::: chooses essentially sterile forms of intercourse on each occasion of
:::: sexual contact.

BK:
::: Would you care to calculate the probability of this happening?

MZ:
:: Consideration of probability is irrelevant because moral obligations


:: cannot be delegated. Otherwise you could excuse yourself from the
:: performance of any duty, arguing that a society of predominantly
:: conscientious men could -- and does -- suffer and sustain a small
:: proportion of parasites.

JJK:
: Welcome to the wonderful world of evolutionarily-stable strategies. If
: you'd just get away from your absolutist thinking, you'd see that EVERY
: population has its share of doves and hawks, its share of parasites and
: free-living organisms.

So?

JJK:
: I'm guessing that you haven't studied iterative systems much. Am I
: correct?

Not at all -- save for a bit of nonlinear analysis, a smidgeon of
fixpoint theory, a few years of classical and higher recursion, and a
smattering of other mathematical minutiae. Surely nothing that would
compare with your expertise.

MZ:
:::: Since such creatures must owe their provenance to an


:::: instance of fertile sexual contact,

BK:
::: Morality isn't about acting because of an "owing" to the events of the


::: past---it's about acting out of a sense of *present* respect for absolute
::: notions of "property", "property" being any number of things including
::: life, volition, ideas, and material possessions. In short, there is no
::: temporal notion to morality.

MZ:
:: Life, volition, and ideas are wholly dissimilar from any material


:: possessions, in arising and attaching to their owners irrespectively of
:: any social conventions, and in being physically inalienable therefrom.

JJB:
: Do you find yourself having to type with one hand when you use sentences
: and words like these?
:
: You DO seem to get off on being this pedantic.

As a point of fact, what I really get off on is presumptuous nitwits.
Thank you for obliging me with your presence.

MZ:
:: Furthermore, morality can and does arise before and independently of the


:: notion of material ownership, or any other social institution whatsoever,
:: though this fact may be difficult to grasp for someone happily inured to
:: the cupidity and rapaciousness of the Anglo-American tradition. And if
:: we incurred no moral obligation to the events of the past, retributive
:: justice would be nothing but a hollow farce.

JJB:
: You have a fucked up sense of causality. Morals FOLLOW. Morals are
: codifications of observed behaviors that worked (or didn't work) in the
: PAST.

Is that a fact, or just something your poor old mother told you instead
of a bedtime story? And would you care to adumbrate your pragmatic
precepts to a 400 pound gorilla intent on having his way with you just
because "might is right" has always worked for him in the PAST?

JJB:
: Most moral codes (and there are a multiplicity of them) are based on
: epidemiological requirements....the food we eat, the sex we have, etc.

Yes, eating and screwing always felt like an infectious disease to me, too.

JJB:
: To take morals and then reapply them absolutely and without modification
: to the present or the future betrays a serious unwillingness to think for
: one's self.

And to take your unsupported categorical dicta as the last word in
moral thinking would betray a streak of daring originality.

MZ:
:::: a world operating in accordance


:::: with the stated principle is logically impossible.

BK:
::: Exactly. So the chance of this happening is zero. Thus there is


::: no moral imperative for everyone to reproduce.

MZ:
:: Surely if there is a non-negative probability of an average primate


:: deciding to dedicate the rest of his days to sterile pursuits, there is
:: ipso facto a slight yet non-negative probability of the rest of his peers
:: deciding to follow suit. But since the universality of moral obligation
:: rules out all probabilistic consideration, there is no need for you to
:: concern yourself with a subject you evidently know nothing about.

JJB:
: Who ever said that moral obligation is universal? Moral obligations are
: an emergent phenomenon, and highly context-sensitive.

Nice terms. Too bad there is no argument to back them up.

MZ:
:::: The homosexual claims that his choice to bugger his partner in no way


:::: contravenes the possibility of conception of other creatures of their
:::: kind occurring elsewhere, on a different occasion, between some other
:::: human couple indulging in a disparate, fertile form of sex.

BK:
::: Right...(except that heterosexuals claim this, too...)

MZ:
:: Are you trying to show that if buggery is good for Boris and Natasha, it


:: must be equally good for Brian and Bruce? Then consider that Boris and
:: Natasha have the immediately available option of changing the venue for a
:: more fruitful outcome, without changing or dissolving their partnership.
:: Not so with Brian and Bruce.

JJB:
: Is it always the best strategy to be as fecund as one can? Can
: statistical phenomena be applied to an individual absolutely?
:
: I'll give you the answers: "not always", and "not always".

I was unaware of conducting this discussion in reference to an ulterior
motive. What ever happened to "Virtue is its own reward"?

MZ:
:::: But in choosing to act in the way he does, he wilfully construes himself


:::: as an anomaly to the principle in accordance with which such generative
:::: action would occur -- and therefore as a deliberate exception to the
:::: moral condition of his own genesis.

BK:
::: Nonsense. There are no moral conditions of being. Only moral actions.

MZ:
:: Somebody had to take a moral responsibility for his genesis, in a moral


:: action that constituted its moral condition.

JJB:
: Morality takes a back seat to reality.

Can I quote you on that?

MZ:
:::: Since morality admits of no exceptions, he is acting immorally.

BK:
::: No, since the premise is *NOT* true (the premise being that


::: there is a moral imperative for each individual to reproduce),
::: this doe *NOT* follow.

MZ:
:: In other words, you are pleading for exceptions to the common rule.

JJB:
: Hardly. Rather, depending on context, exceptions ARE the common rule.
: Perhaps the only one.

If everything were exceptional, there would be nothing to be excepted
from. Contradiction.

MZ:
:::: Our parents could not but (non possum non) have acted heterosexually


:::: so as to become our parents; hence it is immoral to act homosexually.

BK:
::: As I said, your notion of causality is all mixed up.

MZ:
:: Quoting your own words does not make them more authoritative.

BK:
: Pedantic sentences and stilted vocabulary doesn't work, either.

Works better than posts with the bulk of content squeezed into the .sig file.

: ---------------------------------------------------------------------
: "Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Few really
: ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers
: they have already shaped in their own minds - justification,
: confirmation, forms of consolation without which they can't go on.
: To really ask is to open the door to a whirlwind. The answer may
: annihilate the question and the questioner." -- Anne Rice
: ---------------------------------------------------------------------

Michael Zeleny

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Mar 4, 1995, 5:02:40 AM3/4/95
to

: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

:: quir...@kosmos.wcc.govt.nz writes:

::: In that case, homosexual sex is not immoral. It does not prevent the


::: heterosexual creation of children. The continuing reproduction of
::: the human species is not based on the necessity for any *one* particular
::: person to become or make someone else become pregnant.
::: It is based on the requirement that a *sufficient* number of the members
::: of the human race become pregnant. There is no sign that homosexual sex,
::: contraception, the rhythm method or oral sex has dented this aggregate
::: total.

:: If morality is universal, whatever is *generally* morally incumbent
:: upon anyone, is ipso facto incumbent upon everyone. Ii particular, if
:: the action X is required as the condition of your existence, you are
:: not in a position to delegate that type of action to anyone else.

: Is the action of growing food necessary to your existence, Zeleny ?

Only in virtue of the selfsame social arrangement that directs me to
buy food in the grocery store more often than hunt and farm for it.

: Are you a farmer, Zeleny ?

No. But my occupation supports and sustains the farmers in virtue of
playing a productive part in the economy. You really ought to think
about Keynes some time -- and not just as an exemplary reformed
homosexual.

: It's blindingly obvious that Kant was making a comment about actions
: *against* those conditions necessary to the actor's existence being immoral.
: Under his view, therefore, actions designed to prevent the human race from
: producing enough children to continue, or actions designed to prevent
: the human race from producing enough food to feed itself are immoral. I
: agree, to some extent.

I see that you still have not bothered to read the book. Does it
gratify you to proffer opinions on the subject you know nothing about?
Last time it was evolution; before that it was constitutional law; now
it is Kantian ethics. What do you do for an encore -- deliver a
spontaneous lecture on cold fusion?

: This does *not* mean that there is a moral requirement for any
: *particular* person to breed or to farm, in the absence of any crisis
: requiring this. The fact that your existence required *some* people to
: breed in order that the human race survived does not mean that *everyone*
: is obliged to breed.

No one ever claimed otherwise.

: It means that everyone is obliged to not prevent sufficent others from
: breeding as to threaten extinction. In a similar vein, the fact that food
: needed to be grown to feed the human race does not obligate *everyone* to
: grow food. It obligates everyone to not take actions designed to prevent
: sufficient food being grown.

That is hardly sufficient to satisfy your duty. The obligation is to
act in a way conforming to a possible universal law consistent with the
production of food -- or the production of the next generation. In an
economy characterized by a division of labor, any productive occupation
satisfies this criterion. However the human nature does not admit of a
sexual division of labor. This is not just a biological fact grounded
in our dissimilarity from a society of ants; it is based in our moral
nature as autonomous agents capable of determining and fulfilling our
duty without any reference to our inclination. It matters not at all
whether this inclination be due to nature or to nurture; until and
unless you succeed in disregarding it in course of moral deliberation,
you will not be able to act freely, responsibly, and morally.

: Homosexuality and homosexuals, as with all non-fertile sex acts and
: members of the human race, threaten the existence of mankind not at all.

The same could be said about self-mutilators, zoophiles, and drug addicts.
None of it is relevant to moral merit.

: Your argument is, therefore, crap.

So you say.

::: Nope. Even I can tell that Kant is stating that *preventing*

::: heterosexual intercourse from occuring is immoral. Homosexuality
::: does not prevent heterosexual intercourse. The population curves
::: demonstrate this quite well.

:: Based on the evidence so far presented, I doubt that you can tell your
:: arse from a hole in the ground, much less discern what Kant is stated
:: without having perused the text. My interpretation has satisfied Kant
:: scholars. I am not interested in satisfying you.

: A politics professer I was fond of stated that the mark of a true master
: of a subject was that they could explain the basics to a layman and make
: them understand and enjoy it. The mark of a true academic was the *desire*
: to explain their particular subject to others.

Indeed.

: He commented that there were academics that were not masters of their
: subject, and that they were deadly boring at parties.

It is ever so telling that you should be concerned about performance at
parties more than about performance in the workplace.

: I suspect he'd consider you neither a master or an academic, but a
: posturing fool.

The best teacher I ever knew has taught me that no knowledge can be
imparted unto a pupil who has no humility. You are nearly as arrogant
and obstreperous as I was in my day. I would be a fool to try teaching
you philosophy before you have been thoroughly humiliated.

::: I mean, *think*. You're stating that *any* non-fertile sex act is
::: "immoral".

:: Any *essentially* non-fertile sex act is immoral. No scare quotes are
:: required. I am not about to assume the responsibility for your failure
:: to understand the modal distinctions. Feel free to be a moron on your
:: own time.

: That includes oral sex. Ever had a blow-job, Zeleny ?

Foreplay has no bearing on the productive potential of intercourse.

: That includes contraception. Ever worn a condom or had sex with someone
: on the Pill, Zeleny ?

Contraceptives do not exclude pregnancy. They merely lessen its likelihood.

: That includes masturbation. Ever jacked off, Zeleny ?

Masturbation can degenerate into a form of deleterious self-abuse. But
it is never a sex act in the relevant sense, since it does not involve
any choice of partners outside of your imagination. Still, if you want
to make a big deal out of wanking, be my guest.

: That includes wet dreams due to prolonged celibacy. Ever had a wet dream,
: Zeleny ?

Nocturnal emissions are hardly exemplary of deliberate action.

: Ever had sex at all, Zeleny ?

Funny you should mention -- I am told that I never will have sex again
unless I come to bed in fifteen minutes. I better cut this short.

::: How do homosexuals prevent heterosexual reproduction sufficient unto


::: sustaining the human race, that being the condition for those homosexuals
::: to appear ?

:: If your action is to proceed according to universal laws of your own
:: legislation, it cannot differ in kind from the laws that can arise
:: uniformly in a society of such free agents.

: Are you a farmer, Zeleny ?
:
: Surely it is a universal law that people require food. If *you* are not
: producing it, surely that is immoral, yes ?

See above.

:: (This is what Kant means by his transition to the formula of the Kingdom of
:: Ends.)

: I'm sorry, but I don't trust your interpretation. Since I am under the
: impression that you are a pseudo-intellectual poseur using philosophical
: garble to obscure bigotry, I prefer to ignore *your* assertions of what
: Kant meant.

Good for you. Read the book and figure it out for yourself.

:: Universal legislation of the maxim of homosexual intercourse is
:: incompatible with the genesis of men, and therefore incompatible with human
:: agency.

: I agree.
:
: No-one, however, mentioned "universal legislation of the maxim of
: homosexual intercourse".

See the Categorical Imperative, the formula of the law of nature.

: Universal legislation of the maxim of full-time study is incompatible
: with the existence of men, and therefore incompatible with human agency.
: Does this imply that being a university student is immoral ?

Students participate in the economy, just as Keynesian ditch-diggers.

::: Jesus, Zeleny, when your arguments are so crappy that even people who


::: haven't studied any philosophy can drive holes through them, it's time to
::: retire.

:: Your failure to study philosophy is the only reason you can sustain
:: your smug belief of having refuted my arguments.

: Your arguments, as shown above, fall to pieces under their own idiocy.

Better luck next time.

Richard Foy

unread,
Mar 4, 1995, 11:33:06 AM3/4/95
to
In article <3j7uu9$7...@saba.info.ucla.edu>,

Michael Zeleny <zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu> wrote:
>
>I have an aversion to saying the same thing more than twice to any
>single persom, without geting any signs of understanding in return.
>It makes me wonder about the intellectual honesty and adequacy of my
>interlocutor; and if I have no reason to regard him as anything other
>than a mendacious moron, the conversation must come to an end. So
>please help me out here.

I will try though I am busting in here.

Discussions on subejcts such as homosexuality, abortion etc., no
matter who carefully crafted the phrases and the words, are never
intellectual debates. They are always emotional expressions, no
matter who deeply the emotions are buried. Thus it is futile to
argue intellectually on either side of these arguments.

--
"The anti-Establishment Establishment is like the Internet, for,
by definition, it has no leaders, no membership directory and no
central philosophy." --Los Angeles Times December 4, 1994

Richard Foy ftp://ftp/netcom.com/pub/rf/rfoy/home.html

Michael Zeleny

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Mar 4, 1995, 2:23:06 PM3/4/95
to
In article <rfoyD4x...@netcom.com>
rf...@netcom.com (Richard Foy) writes:

: In article <3j7uu9$7...@saba.info.ucla.edu>,
: Michael Zeleny <zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu> wrote:

:: I have an aversion to saying the same thing more than twice to any
:: single persom, without geting any signs of understanding in return.
:: It makes me wonder about the intellectual honesty and adequacy of my
:: interlocutor; and if I have no reason to regard him as anything other
:: than a mendacious moron, the conversation must come to an end. So
:: please help me out here.

: I will try though I am busting in here.

Your intervention is welcome.

: Discussions on subejcts such as homosexuality, abortion etc., no


: matter who carefully crafted the phrases and the words, are never
: intellectual debates. They are always emotional expressions, no
: matter who deeply the emotions are buried. Thus it is futile to
: argue intellectually on either side of these arguments.

What alternative to dispassionate discussion do you prefer?

: --

: "The anti-Establishment Establishment is like the Internet, for,
: by definition, it has no leaders, no membership directory and no
: central philosophy." --Los Angeles Times December 4, 1994
:
: Richard Foy ftp://ftp/netcom.com/pub/rf/rfoy/home.html

cordially, don't

Caitlin Mackay Shaw

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Mar 4, 1995, 3:42:50 PM3/4/95
to
In article <3j7vpu$h...@saba.info.ucla.edu>

Hypothetical situation: lesbian couple has a supply of frozen sperm.
Every morning they get up and do the turkey-baster thing. Is it moral
or immoral for them to have sex?

I say it's amoral -- completely irrelevent to the question of the
morality of reproduction. This is because **sex and procreation are not
intrinsically linked** in this example. For the above women, sex has as
much to do with children as music does.

Brian Kane

unread,
Mar 4, 1995, 4:13:45 PM3/4/95
to
Once again proving that as a putative author, he would bore
editors to tears, Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:In article <3j8772$j...@news.bu.edu> ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

::Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) attempts to defend the
::morality of contraception with a probabilistic argument:

:::Correction -- unlike the ongoing sexual perusal of your orifices, normal
:::means of contraception do not prevent conception, but merely lessen its
:::natural likelihood, in view of the ever-present, non-negligible chance of
:::pregnancy remaining under all but the unjustifiably debilitating surgical
:::means of birth control.

:Note that in question is the physical possibility of a proximate
:outcome of your own action.

In that case, we could assign an *extremely* small but nonetheless non-zero
probability to the gamete produced or available during an act of homosexual
intercourse somehow finding itself conceiving a zygote with a gamete of the
opposite gender.

Historical case in point (just for a chuckle, Misha): during the American
Civil War, a Confederate soldier was shot through the testes during a battle
(one at Bull Run?), the bullet eventually stopping in the womb of a woman hiding
in a nearby house. The woman became pregnant, although she claimed she was
a virgin. The doctor who removed the bullet from her abdomen had noted that
there was testicular tissue next to it. Seems very unlikely, but apparently
it happened.

Now, imagine that a similar scenario happens. This time a gay-hating burglar
attempting a robbery in an apartment in a gay ghetto accidentally comes upon
a gay male couple (Mikhail and Vitaly) engaged in anal intercourse on their
luxurious exposed-wood floor. The enraged robber decides that his ego is more
important than his wallet and thus takes careful aim and castrates the
insertive partner (Vitaly) with his bullet, the bullet flying through the floor
into the apartment below, carrying with it spermatozoa and testicular tissue.
The bullet just happens to come to rest in the womb of the boys' best friend,
Valentina, who lives directly below them, served as maid of honor in their
wedding, and has incidentally agreed to be a surrogate mother to their
child(ren) one day. Valentina becomes pregnant with Vitaly's child, the
sperm-half of which was meant to be deposited in Mikhail's rectum, or
wherever Mikhail liked it best.

In light of the very nonexistence of IMPOSSIBILITY of any proximate outcome of
ones own actions, and indeed the false distinction between the treatment of
proximate and eventual (indirect) outcomes, I then went on to say that this
probabilistic notion seems OK to Misha when in regard to ones own actions,
but not OK in regard to ceding actions to others---

::Interesting. This opinion flies in the face of your own moralistic


::philosophy:
::=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
::From: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny)
::Subject: Re: Bigots Target
::Date: 3 Mar 1995 02:00:34 GMT
::Message-ID: <3j5t82$m...@saba.info.ucla.edu>
::
::Consideration of probability is irrelevant because moral obligations
::cannot be delegated. Otherwise you could excuse yourself from the
::performance of any duty, arguing that a society of predominantly
::conscientious men could -- and does -- suffer and sustain a small
::proportion of parasites.
::
::Surely if there is a non-negative probability of an average primate
::deciding to dedicate the rest of his days to sterile pursuits, there is
::ipso facto a slight yet non-negative probability of the rest of his peers
::deciding to follow suit. But since the universality of moral obligation
::rules out all probabilistic consideration, there is no need for you to
::concern yourself with a subject you evidently know nothing about.

::=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

:Note that this is a matter of relying on the possibility of action of


:other autonomous agents -- as I clearly specified by reference to the
:impossibility of delegation.

I presume you consider "impossibility of delegation" as a premise to
your argument. (Forgive me if in a fit of boredom or pedantophobia
I inadvertantly skimmed by any of your arguments stating otherwise.)
But since it is not a moral imperative for *each* person to reproduce
(the fact that not every member of the species has to reproduce to
ensure species survival is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH), you are begging the
question.

But let's just go along with your "duty" theory, just to amuse you,
Misha. Certainly you are right that until recently, every sexual
being "owed" their state of being to heterosexual intercourse. Now,
though, a considerable number of people are the products of in vitro
fertilization.

Is there a similar duty for those conceived in vitro to make their
own baby in vitro? In other words, do the circumstances of conception
factor into your theory of "moral duty"?

If they don't, then you have to admit that gay men and lesbians who
conceive a child with one of their gametes have fulfilled their
duties to reproduce.

And what of celibate people, regardless of sexual orientation
or preference? Are they degenerate reprobates?

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 4, 1995, 11:40:59 PM3/4/95
to
In article <3jal69$j...@news.bu.edu> ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

: Once again proving that as a putative author, he would bore


: editors to tears, Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

:: In article <3j8772$j...@news.bu.edu> ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

::: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) attempts to defend the
::: morality of contraception with a probabilistic argument:

:::: Correction -- unlike the ongoing sexual perusal of your orifices, normal
:::: means of contraception do not prevent conception, but merely lessen its
:::: natural likelihood, in view of the ever-present, non-negligible chance of
:::: pregnancy remaining under all but the unjustifiably debilitating surgical
:::: means of birth control.

:: Note that in question is the physical possibility of a proximate
:: outcome of your own action.

: In that case, we could assign an *extremely* small but nonetheless non-zero
: probability to the gamete produced or available during an act of homosexual
: intercourse somehow finding itself conceiving a zygote with a gamete of the
: opposite gender.

You fail to take into account the concept of proximate outcome.

: Historical case in point (just for a chuckle, Misha): during the American


: Civil War, a Confederate soldier was shot through the testes during a battle
: (one at Bull Run?), the bullet eventually stopping in the womb of a woman
: hiding in a nearby house. The woman became pregnant, although she claimed
: she was a virgin. The doctor who removed the bullet from her abdomen had
: noted that there was testicular tissue next to it. Seems very unlikely,
: but apparently it happened.

Why am I not surprised to see you base your moral casuistry on Ann Landers?

: Now, imagine that a similar scenario happens. This time a gay-hating burglar


: attempting a robbery in an apartment in a gay ghetto accidentally comes upon
: a gay male couple (Mikhail and Vitaly) engaged in anal intercourse on their
: luxurious exposed-wood floor. The enraged robber decides that his ego is
: more important than his wallet and thus takes careful aim and castrates the
: insertive partner (Vitaly) with his bullet, the bullet flying through the
: floor into the apartment below, carrying with it spermatozoa and testicular
: tissue. The bullet just happens to come to rest in the womb of the boys'
: best friend, Valentina, who lives directly below them, served as maid of
: honor in their wedding, and has incidentally agreed to be a surrogate mother
: to their child(ren) one day. Valentina becomes pregnant with Vitaly's child,
: the sperm-half of which was meant to be deposited in Mikhail's rectum, or
: wherever Mikhail liked it best.

The moral depravity of an action cannot be vitiated by the possibility
of a happy accident, any more than its probity can be subverted by an
unforeseeable disaster. The possibility of conception, as a natural
issue of heterosexual intercourse, necessarily enters into the moral
determination of its maxims, which depend in their identity on the
direction of will and the laws of nature. You might as well have
adduced the non-zero probability of your partner's arse metamorphosing
into a fully functional uterus as a consequence of a random quantum
effect -- for neither outcome enjoys an intrinsic connection to the
maxim of buggery.

Note that the doctrine of double effect need not be invoked in order
to draw the distinction between distal and proximate outcomes, in so
far as the latter may be distinguisged by reference to the intentional
and nomological aspects of agency. Consequently, if the putatively
meritorous outcome of your action essentially depends on somebody
else's intentional intervention, or even the constancy of your own
subsequent resolve, it is ipso facto distal and morally irrelevant.

: In light of the very nonexistence of IMPOSSIBILITY of any proximate outcome

It is not a premiss, but a conclusion that follows from the imputation
of freedom to rational agents. You may catch up with the argument by
perusing _The Metaphysics of Morals_, 226-7/52.

: But since it is not a moral imperative for *each* person to reproduce


: (the fact that not every member of the species has to reproduce to
: ensure species survival is a UNIVERSAL TRUTH), you are begging the
: question.

By similar reasoning, is not a moral imperative for *each* person to
produce anything at all, in so far as the fact that not every member
of the species has to produce to ensure species survival may be
another UNIVERSAL TRUTH. Accordingly, you should feel free to plant
yourself on your arse and act (by failing to act) upon the maxim of
sloth. Better yet, note that the proper counterpart of buggery is the
toil of Sisyphus, rather than idleness.

: But let's just go along with your "duty" theory, just to amuse you,


: Misha. Certainly you are right that until recently, every sexual
: being "owed" their state of being to heterosexual intercourse. Now,
: though, a considerable number of people are the products of in vitro
: fertilization.
:
: Is there a similar duty for those conceived in vitro to make their
: own baby in vitro? In other words, do the circumstances of conception
: factor into your theory of "moral duty"?

This is an interesting question, -- is there ever a good reason to
distinguish the duties of Macduff, "being of no woman born", from the
duties of young Siward, "born of woman"? Notwithstanding the radical
divergence of their success in confronting Macbeth, the difference in
their genesis does not result in a disparity in their powers; and Kant
is clearly committed to the view that all rational agents must be be
bound by the same rules. Nevertheless, different rational agents may
be subject to diverse physical limitations, each of which entails
multifarious restrictions on their moral maxims. For instance, it is
natural to demand that the maxim of action willed by a mortal agent,
should take into consideration the empirical fact of his mortality;
and this in turn would necessitate a relativization of the pure moral
law envisaged by Kant to the contingent empirical circumstances of his
peculiar condition. But even though a properly universalized maxim of
homosexual comportment may be compatible with the provenance of a test
tube baby, it would cause a contradiction of will by dint of remaining
incompatible with conception as a proximate outcome of the act.

It is a commonplace of contemporary philosophy that certain empirical
propositions pertaining to the structural identity of objects, are
thought of as necessary. ("Water is H_2O.") Thus one's genetic
origin is said to be an essential property of oneself -- so that any
given person necesssarily originates from the particular gametes that
came together to form a zygote at the moment of his conception. But
it is not commonly noted that this thesis presupposes the necessity of
action-type, as well as the necessity of its components -- for surely
the essences of the dramatis personae and their issue do not exhaust
the essential nature of the originary proceedings. And so it appears
to follow that the agent's willing through the maxim of his action, as
if it were a universal law of nature, must avoid all logical conflict
with the actual (and thus essential to him) nature of his begetting.
In particular, it would seem most unbecoming if a person owing his
existence to a petri dish stuck inside of an incubator, were to will
an act of technoclastic Luddism. Similarly, each man has an option of
willing that the natural manner of future conception should come to be
replaced by an alternative process. Since sexual reproduction need
not depend on a sexual act, if Brian were to stick a condom on before
his night of passion with Bruce, he could use it to fertilize any egg
which might be handy, either by schlepping it to the incubator for an
in vitro encounter with another gamete, or by going downstairs for in
vivo fertilization of his sister Brenda through cunning deployment of
a turkey-baster. But this imaginative deployment of a rubber would
fail to exonerate him for the simple reason of falling outside of the
strict purview of his proximate willing. For the maxim of Brian's
action can subsume only the immediate bringing about of events that
are necessarily connected therewith; his collateral intentions not
being so connected, must perforce be swept away along with the rest of
his ultimate goals. So we may imagine him conscientiously chanting
his mantra of subsequent fertilization throughout the duration of his
sheathed pedication of his pathic, only to stumble and spill his sperm
whilst traipsing to its ultimate destination. In this case, Brian's
meritorous attempt to further his lineage is clearly disconnected from
the meretriciousness of his prior congress with his hapless catamite;
and the possibility of such discontinuity conclusively demonstrates
the moral independence of the two acts.

In other words, though the ejaculate deposited in Bruce's rectum may
be retrieved and reused for subsequent nonorthogenital conception in
vivo or artificial conception in vitro, these acts would lack the
requisite essential voluntary and nomological connection with the
homosexual act as such. Hence they could be willed through a "fertile
homosexual maxim" as part and parcel of naturally sterile intercourse,
for the same reason that the goal of rendering oneself bulletproof
cannot be willed through a maxim authorizing one to aim and fire a .45
Colt at one's naked breast. In short, Brian's ambitious attempt to
exercise his homosexual inclinations in a morally unexceptionable
fashion founders on his inability to connect the intrinsic nature of
buggery with the eventuation of conception, and could be fulfilled
only by means of thoroughgoing genetic and biological modification of
Bruce, involving the implantation of a fully functioning uterus and
ovaries within his commodious rectum.

: If they don't, then you have to admit that gay men and lesbians who


: conceive a child with one of their gametes have fulfilled their
: duties to reproduce.

Once again, there is no duty to reproduce. There is only a duty not
to prevent reproduction by an intrinsic aspect of your sexuality.

: And what of celibate people, regardless of sexual orientation


: or preference? Are they degenerate reprobates?

No more and no less so than slothful lotus-eaters.

: --


: Brian Kane~~~Astroboy~~~kane@{buast1,bu-ast,buast7,protostar}.bu.edu
: "The altar boy's on fire!" Mary Lorson _Bring It Down_ (1993)
: "Those dudes up in the UFO described the truth as a yellow lifeboat"

cordially, don't

Kyle Elisabeth Overstreet

unread,
Mar 5, 1995, 1:21:42 AM3/5/95
to
Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

: : That presumes that the maxim demonstrated by that choice is that "sexual

: : nature is to be fulfilled in sodomy", or some such. If the maxim to which
: : one is following is "one must act in accordance with ones sexual nature,
: : if in doing so one does not violate the free agency of another", then the
: : Categorical Imperative doesn't apply. If my parents had violated this
: : principle, I would not have been born, because my parents weren't homosexual.

: You are forgetting that the only morally relevant factors for the
: determination of duty in an empirically given setting are autonomy,
: agency, and rationality. Desires are explicitly enjoined from playing
: a constitutive role therein, on pain of vitiating autonomy. See the
: first part of the Groundwork for more details.

This exemplifies my suspicion of this kind of normative ethics. If,
frankly, I'm unable to reliably act ethically without having read the
Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, ethical action is a
near-impossibility for most.

I do intend to read the Groundwork, and perhaps reread SELECTIONS of the
Metaphysic itself (I'm very busy, I work full time and I stopped studying
philosophy when I left college...), but the nature of this discussion has
gone to reinforce my moral intuitionism; it is evident that normative
ethics are always held up to an extant moral intuition which is the
actual foundation for moral choice.

: : In a sense, the CI makes epistemological assumptions that Kant himself
: : disallowed.

: You have not shown that.

Perhaps I will essay such a demonstration. But as a prelude to it, I
offer that the ontology of "sexual powers" exceeds the boundaries of
practical knowledge, and is in fact a teleological claim. Otherwise, I
agree that I have not shown that. I suggested it, and I suggest it again.

: : But you are much too busy grinding an axe to be of much use for generating
: : light on Kant.

: On the contrary, my axe is much duller than Manny's razor-sharp
: hatchet -- after all, I am not the one proposing castration as the
: just punishment for buggery.

Let's be grateful for small wonders.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 5, 1995, 4:05:04 AM3/5/95
to
In article <keoD4y...@netcom.com>
k...@netcom.com (Kyle Elisabeth Overstreet) writes:

: Michael Zeleny (zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu) wrote:

::: That presumes that the maxim demonstrated by that choice is that "sexual
::: nature is to be fulfilled in sodomy", or some such. If the maxim to which
::: one is following is "one must act in accordance with ones sexual nature,
::: if in doing so one does not violate the free agency of another", then the
::: Categorical Imperative doesn't apply. If my parents had violated this
::: principle, I would not have been born, because my parents weren't homosexual.

:: You are forgetting that the only morally relevant factors for the
:: determination of duty in an empirically given setting are autonomy,
:: agency, and rationality. Desires are explicitly enjoined from playing
:: a constitutive role therein, on pain of vitiating autonomy. See the
:: first part of the Groundwork for more details.

: This exemplifies my suspicion of this kind of normative ethics. If,
: frankly, I'm unable to reliably act ethically without having read the
: Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, ethical action is a
: near-impossibility for most.

This is silly. "If, frankly, I'm unable to reliably count my change
and balance my checkbook without having studied arithmetic, economical
action is a near-impossibility for most." I do this in-between writing
one book, editing two other books, organizing a non-profit foundation
presently charged with typesetting two mathematical journals, taking
care of a dozen graduate course incompletes, maintaining three Italian
motorcycles, bringing up a 100 pound puppy, and having a private life.
So please forgive me if I make a textual reference to a classic source
in lieu of proffering an extended explanation of elementary matters to
someone who appears capable of doing her own research.

: I do intend to read the Groundwork, and perhaps reread SELECTIONS of the

: Metaphysic itself (I'm very busy, I work full time and I stopped studying
: philosophy when I left college...), but the nature of this discussion has
: gone to reinforce my moral intuitionism; it is evident that normative
: ethics are always held up to an extant moral intuition which is the
: actual foundation for moral choice.

No, it is not. Certainly nothing that transpired in this discussion
constitutes evidence supporting your claim.

::: In a sense, the CI makes epistemological assumptions that Kant himself
::: disallowed.

:: You have not shown that.

: Perhaps I will essay such a demonstration. But as a prelude to it, I
: offer that the ontology of "sexual powers" exceeds the boundaries of
: practical knowledge, and is in fact a teleological claim. Otherwise, I
: agree that I have not shown that. I suggested it, and I suggest it again.

So what? Teleology and intentionality are regarded as irreducible to
efficient causation and indispensable to scientific explanation by some
of the best modern thinkers in evolutionary biology and philosophy of
mind. That makes ethics dependent on science. I see no harm and much
good in this situation, especially since the reciprocal dependence has
long been recognized by many scientists.

::: But you are much too busy grinding an axe to be of much use for generating
::: light on Kant.

:: On the contrary, my axe is much duller than Manny's razor-sharp
:: hatchet -- after all, I am not the one proposing castration as the
:: just punishment for buggery.

: Let's be grateful for small wonders.

Civil discourse is one among many.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 5, 1995, 4:36:13 AM3/5/95
to
Gene Ward Smith <gsmith@lab1> writes:

: On 28 Feb 1995, Michael Zeleny wrote:

:: Gene Ward Smith <gsmith@lab1> writes:

:: In other words, Gene Ward Smith is objecting to outspoken opposition
:: to his outspoken sexual perversion.

: Excuse me, Pervert, but I am not the one defending what I call perversion,
: you are the one defending and admitting to what you (if you were honest)
: would be compelled to call sexual perversion.

You are not excused, fonkin. If you are too fatuous to comprehend the
simple moral and modal difference between heterosexual contraception
and homosexual buggery, it is your own problem. Do not blame the world
for your pathetic intellectual handicap.

: So knock off the "perversion" claims, Pervert.

So sorry, I forgot my folklore --

"The inverts
(a word preferred by homosexuals to perverts)
attempt to win converts."

Have it your own way. Repeatedly.

: --


: Gene Ward Smith/Brahms Gang/University of Toledo
: gsm...@lab1.utoledo.edu

Isn't it about time for you to invite me to fuck my ass with broken
glass? Isn't it funny how even a screaming rimadonna will use anal
penetration of a man as a term for abject humiliation?

Richard Foy

unread,
Mar 5, 1995, 8:22:26 AM3/5/95
to
In article <3jaemq$o...@saba.info.ucla.edu>,

Michael Zeleny <zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu> wrote:
>
>: I will try though I am busting in here.
>
>Your intervention is welcome.

Thanks.

>
>: Discussions on subejcts such as homosexuality, abortion etc., no
>: matter who carefully crafted the phrases and the words, are never
>: intellectual debates. They are always emotional expressions, no
>: matter who deeply the emotions are buried. Thus it is futile to
>: argue intellectually on either side of these arguments.
>
>What alternative to dispassionate discussion do you prefer?

Actually I probably don't "prefer" other forms. I too tend to fool
myself that intellectual discussion can be effective on topics such
as the above.

However, when I can step back from the emotional issues, I know that
the best way of discussing them is to discuss the emotions involved
rather than the intellectual rationalizatiosn we have that support
the emotional aspects.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 5, 1995, 2:31:39 PM3/5/95
to
In article <rfoyD4y...@netcom.com> rf...@netcom.com (Richard Foy) writes:

: Michael Zeleny <zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu> wrote:

::: I will try though I am busting in here.

:: Your intervention is welcome.

: Thanks.

::: Discussions on subejcts such as homosexuality, abortion etc., no
::: matter who carefully crafted the phrases and the words, are never
::: intellectual debates. They are always emotional expressions, no
::: matter who deeply the emotions are buried. Thus it is futile to
::: argue intellectually on either side of these arguments.

:: What alternative to dispassionate discussion do you prefer?

: Actually I probably don't "prefer" other forms. I too tend to fool
: myself that intellectual discussion can be effective on topics such
: as the above.

If you are implying the impossibility of converting inverts through
rational appeal, my experience differs. While I find it hard to
motivate men with appeals to utilitarian considerations, Platonic
Ideas work very well indeed.

: However, when I can step back from the emotional issues, I know that


: the best way of discussing them is to discuss the emotions involved
: rather than the intellectual rationalizatiosn we have that support
: the emotional aspects.

Are desires considered to be emotions, or are they prior thereto?
Do you ever desire unwarranted sudden demise of your neighbor?
If so, what do you do about it?

quir...@ix.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Mar 6, 1995, 1:15:10 AM3/6/95
to
zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:
>ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

>: Right...(except that heterosexuals claim this, too...)

>Are you trying to show that if buggery is good for Boris and Natasha, it

>must be equally good for Brian and Bruce? Then consider that Boris and
>Natasha have the immediately available option of changing the venue for a
>more fruitful outcome, without changing or dissolving their partnership.
>Not so with Brian and Bruce.

Alas, you have just contradicted yourself.

I requote your words:

"So Kant tells you that, since you owe your very provenance as an agent
to a single fertile act of sexual intercourse, any necessarily infertile form
of sexual intercourse cannot be willed to be an instance of a lawlike choice,
in so far as its instantiation at the moment of your conception would have
preempted your biological existence as a necessary condition of your current
moral deliberation."

And to be even clearer:

"Any *essentially* non-fertile sex act is immoral."

Anal sex is an essentially non-fertile sex act, whether between male and
male, male and female, or even female and female. Because of this, and since,
if your parents had decided to indulge in this instead of PiV sex at the
moment of your conception (*), by your own words *all* anal sex must be
immoral.

Anal sex is a sexual act unto itself, just like oral sex or mutual
masturbation. They cannot be considered "foreplay" if they lead to (male)
orgasm.

By your own logic, Bruce and Natasha (or even Michael and whoever might
be unlucky enough to occupy the same bed) are acting "immorally" if Bruce
ejaculates anywhere but in Natasha's vagina.

Care to explain why you contradicted yourself, Zeleny ?

- Tony Q.

(*) "Your" being a generic term derived from Michael's post as above. If
used as a personal term, referring specifically to Michael, I confess that
it may very well be possible that he results from anal sex.
---
Tony Quirke, Wellington, New Zealand (email for phone no)
"A cripple taught me how to dance, a blind man taught me how to see.
A fallen angel taught me how to fly, and a prisoner taught me to be free."
- Simple Image.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Mar 6, 1995, 3:34:07 AM3/6/95
to
In article <3je99e$l...@golem.wcc.govt.nz> quir...@ix.wcc.govt.nz writes:

: zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:

:: ka...@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:

::: Right...(except that heterosexuals claim this, too...)

:: Are you trying to show that if buggery is good for Boris and Natasha, it
:: must be equally good for Brian and Bruce? Then consider that Boris and
:: Natasha have the immediately available option of changing the venue for a
:: more fruitful outcome, without changing or dissolving their partnership.
:: Not so with Brian and Bruce.

: Alas, you have just contradicted yourself.

Have I?

: I requote your words:


:
: "So Kant tells you that, since you owe your very provenance as an agent
: to a single fertile act of sexual intercourse, any necessarily infertile form
: of sexual intercourse cannot be willed to be an instance of a lawlike choice,
: in so far as its instantiation at the moment of your conception would have
: preempted your biological existence as a necessary condition of your current
: moral deliberation."
:
: And to be even clearer:
:
: "Any *essentially* non-fertile sex act is immoral."

I stand by that claim.

: Anal sex is an essentially non-fertile sex act, whether between male and


: male, male and female, or even female and female. Because of this, and since,
: if your parents had decided to indulge in this instead of PiV sex at the
: moment of your conception (*), by your own words *all* anal sex must be
: immoral.

Correct -- anal sex being identified with ejaculation in the anus.

: Anal sex is a sexual act unto itself, just like oral sex or mutual


: masturbation. They cannot be considered "foreplay" if they lead to (male)
: orgasm.

Lovely. Erin instructs me to inquire whether or not such acts can be
considered foreplay if they lead to female orgasm only.

: By your own logic, Bruce and Natasha (or even Michael and whoever might


: be unlucky enough to occupy the same bed) are acting "immorally" if Bruce
: ejaculates anywhere but in Natasha's vagina.

Correct -- though that would be Boris and Natasha, my culturally
challenged antipodean friend. But consider how much more depraved
it would have been to choose a partner in a way that denied one the
option of rectifying his erroneous choice of sexual venue.

: Care to explain why you contradicted yourself, Zeleny ?

What contradiction do you have in mind? You have just described the
standard Jewish account of what constitutes permissible sex between
man and wife -- it does not matter where you get started, as long as
you finish in the right place. What are you, some kind of Judeophobe?

: - Tony Q.


:
: (*) "Your" being a generic term derived from Michael's post as above. If
: used as a personal term, referring specifically to Michael, I confess that
: it may very well be possible that he results from anal sex.

I am getting confused -- are you suggesting that anal sex is not
essentially sterile after all? Have you been making yourself
available for experiments to that end?

quir...@ix.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Mar 6, 1995, 3:36:22 AM3/6/95
to
zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael Zeleny) writes:
> quir...@ix.wcc.govt.nz writes:

>: Is the action of growing food necessary to your existence, Zeleny ?

>Only in virtue of the selfsame social arrangement that directs me to
>buy food in the grocery store more often than hunt and farm for it.

I'm sorry, but you yourself have ruled out social arrangements as a means
of satisfying these moral requirements.

I quote:

"Life, volition, and ideas are wholly dissimilar from any material
possessions, in arising and attaching to their owners irrespectively of
any social conventions, and in being physically inalienable therefrom.

Furthermore, morality can and does arise before and independently of the
notion of material ownership, or any other social institution whatsoever,
though this fact may be difficult to grasp for someone happily inured to
the cupidity and rapaciousness of the Anglo-American tradition."

If morality arises before social institutions such as capitalist trade,
then you must consider the morality of not farming sans a capitalist society.

If this morality is to be altered by the fact of a capitalist society,
meaning that you no longer are obligated to provide food for yourself and
the next generation due to the existance of farmers, then you cannot hold
that the morality of unfertile sex cannot equally be altered due to the
existance of people willing and able to breed far in excess of replacement
numbers.

One or the other, Zeleny.

Are gays immoral for not having PiV sex in a world full of parents ?

Are you moral despite foisting the obligation to feed yourself onto
others ?

>: Are you a farmer, Zeleny ?

>No. But my occupation supports and sustains the farmers in virtue of
>playing a productive part in the economy.

Really ?

I thought you were a philosophy student.

Should we get a farmer's opinion as to the "support" and "sustainance"
they get from philosophy students ?

If all the philosophy students died tomorrow, what would the effect on
food production be ? If the answer is "none", then you do not participate
in providing food, as you are morally obligated to.

And if you're not a philosophy student, do *please* tell us what you
really are. We'd love to know how a janitor got net access.

>I see that you still have not bothered to read the book. Does it
>gratify you to proffer opinions on the subject you know nothing about?
>Last time it was evolution; before that it was constitutional law; now
>it is Kantian ethics. What do you do for an encore -- deliver a
>spontaneous lecture on cold fusion?

Done that already.

Commented on possible high explosive lenses triggering fusion reactions.
Somebody on sci.military did a thesis on it.

Better to know a little on many subjects, and be able to use it, than to
know a lot about one, and to use it only as a cover for bigotry, hmm ?

>: This does *not* mean that there is a moral requirement for any
>: *particular* person to breed or to farm, in the absence of any crisis
>: requiring this. The fact that your existence required *some* people to
>: breed in order that the human race survived does not mean that *everyone*
>: is obliged to breed.

>No one ever claimed otherwise.

Hold that thought...

>: It means that everyone is obliged to not prevent sufficent others from
>: breeding as to threaten extinction. In a similar vein, the fact that food
>: needed to be grown to feed the human race does not obligate *everyone* to
>: grow food. It obligates everyone to not take actions designed to prevent
>: sufficient food being grown.

>That is hardly sufficient to satisfy your duty.

You just agreed that *everyone* is not abliged to breed. In the absence
of a population crisis, you just agreed that there was no obligation for
a *particular* person to breed.

>The obligation is to act in a way conforming to a possible universal law
>consistent with the production of food -- or the production of the next
>generation.

Uh-huh. They're called "don't stop the farmers from growing food" and
"don't stop your neighbours from producing sufficient offspring".

Remember ? You agreed that there was no obligation that *everyone*
breed.

>In an economy characterized by a division of labor, any productive
>occupation satisfies this criterion.

I note the word "economy", the result of human economic choices. Hold
that thought...

>However the human nature does not admit of a sexual division of labor.

Pardon me, but we are not discussing "human nature" in the comparison
of these analogues. The correct thing to address is "the result of human
reproductive choices".

The result of current human economic choices is a society in which
sufficient food is grown to continue the human race. You have said, as I
understand it, that the mere participation in this is sufficient to
satisfy the moral obligation to provide food.

The result of current human reproductive choices is a society in which
sufficient children are produced to continue the human race. Therefore, the
mere participation in these choices, such as deciding not to produce one's
own but equally not to prevent others from producing children, is sufficient
to satisfy the moral obligation to provide children.

>: Homosexuality and homosexuals, as with all non-fertile sex acts and
>: members of the human race, threaten the existence of mankind not at all.

>The same could be said about self-mutilators, zoophiles, and drug addicts.

That is correct. So ?

>: He commented that there were academics that were not masters of their
>: subject, and that they were deadly boring at parties.

>It is ever so telling that you should be concerned about performance at
>parties more than about performance in the workplace.

I don't have to worry about performance in the workplace.

The head of the Ministry I'm on contract to, one of the ten senior civil
servants in the entire country, has complimented me on my performance, is
willing to put this in writing, wants to meet with me on Thursday so I can
recommend a course of action on the current project, and has received a
recommendation from my boss that the Ministry attempt to retain me permanently.

What *do* you do for a living, Zeleny ?

>The best teacher I ever knew has taught me that no knowledge can be
>imparted unto a pupil who has no humility. You are nearly as arrogant
>and obstreperous as I was in my day. I would be a fool to try teaching
>you philosophy before you have been thoroughly humiliated.

I'd be a fool to pay for a self-deceitful liar as a teacher.

>: That includes oral sex. Ever had a blow-job, Zeleny ?

>Foreplay has no bearing on the productive potential of intercourse.

"Blow-job" usually refers to a sexual act in and of itself, one
continued to orgasm.

Those of us who have had sex are aware that males tend to have problems
retaining erections immediately after ejaculation.

>: That includes contraception. Ever worn a condom or had sex with someone
>: on the Pill, Zeleny ?

>Contraceptives do not exclude pregnancy. They merely lessen its likelihood.

Are you trying to tell us that sex under contraceptives is not an
"essentially infertile sexual act" ?

One also points out that if everyone had sex under contraception, it is
highly unlikely that the human race would survive. You are therefore
failing to accept your duty to reproduce the species by foisting the burden
off on those couples not using contraception.

How immoral !

>: That includes masturbation. Ever jacked off, Zeleny ?

>Masturbation can degenerate into a form of deleterious self-abuse. But
>it is never a sex act in the relevant sense, since it does not involve
>any choice of partners outside of your imagination.

Ever been jacked off, Zeleny ?

>: That includes wet dreams due to prolonged celibacy. Ever had a wet dream,
>: Zeleny ?

>Nocturnal emissions are hardly exemplary of deliberate action.

Prolonged celibacy is a conscious choice. You could, for example, rape
whenever you get the urge. I can testify from experience that the rate of
nocturnal emissions varies considerably depending on one's sex life.

Ever had a wet dream while celibate, Zeleny ?

>: Ever had sex at all, Zeleny ?

>Funny you should mention -- I am told that I never will have sex again
>unless I come to bed in fifteen minutes. I better cut this short.

Remember, wanking's probably a no-no. Tell yourself to get lost.

>: Universal legislation of the maxim of full-time study is incompatible
>: with the existence of men, and therefore incompatible with human agency.
>: Does this imply that being a university student is immoral ?

>Students participate in the economy, just as Keynesian ditch-diggers.

Sorry. In your own words, "Furthermore, morality can and does arise

before and independently of the notion of material ownership, or any other

social institution whatsoever [...]".

If you are now claiming that your moral obligation to produce food is
altered to supporting others who produce food because of existing social
circumstances, the capitalist economy, equally a homosexual's moral
obligation to produce and raise children is altered to supporting others
who produce and raise children because of existing social circumstances,
a sufficient birth rate.

Homosexuals who pay taxes, babysit, or work at a productive job support
the raising of children at least as much as students support farmers.

>: Your arguments, as shown above, fall to pieces under their own idiocy.

>Better luck next time.

*Crash* <tinkle tinkle tinkle>

- Tony Q.

Erin Y. Zhu

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Mar 6, 1995, 4:00:13 AM3/6/95