The contemporary society has seen major shift in the debate about ethics of sex to gravitate around the same sex debate. Basically, the society seems to focus on the question as to whether it is morally acceptable to engage in sexual relationships with people of the same sex. In modern society, it can be observed that there are some people who have demonstrated a liking for sexual feelings and relationships with people of the same sex; however, at the same time there are some people who have vehemently objected to these types of relationships and have used all means available to them to express their objection. Indeed, those objecting these relationships view them to be distasteful and disgusting (Panza and Potthast, p. 303). But when evaluated, such an argument does not qualify as an ethical argument, for instance, disgust or distasteful may give one person a reason not to engage in an activity, but without providing further argument to other people, that reason is inadequate. In addition, why should one person’s subjective tastes dictate another person’s lifestyle and more so, why should taste have any ethical significance at all?
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Therefore, same sex relationships argued within the context of the Universal Ethical Egoism theories, individual’s actions can be viewed to be pursued with sole purpose of self interest and promotion of self pleasure hence adherence to personal freedom which has recognition in the constitution. What can be pursued and argued at this level is whether using the ethical theories, same sex relationship or marriage is justified and if so, what can be done to child adoption policies since such unions naturally do not have children but may be interested in adopting and bringing up their ‘own’ children.
Kant’s Concept of Duty
When microscopically viewed, duties can be seen to possess some role people usually play in a social institution, arrangement or relationship (Wood, p. 158). The duties may transcend in many social arrangements that involve people in behavior that sometimes may be morally questionable or even worse. Due to this, Wood is convinced that “appeals to duty are commonly used not only to override our temptations to avoid playing our part in some arrangement but also to put out of action any reservations or more principles we might have about playing that part” (Wood, p. 158). Kant views duty exclusively on the respect that individuals owe to humanity in them and also to others, as well as to the various forms of moral self-constraint that they must exercise when necessary in order to be rationally self-governing beings (Wood, p. 159; Frederick, p. 4). From this, Kant defines duty to be “the act of freely making yourself desire something and do it because you appreciate the objective moral reasons there for doing it” (Wood, p. 159). To him, to do something from duty basically means to obey reason and contribute to one’s happiness (Hill, p. 234); moreover, he expresses that duty can be regarded as “self-constraint not only in opposition to inclinations that oppose reason but also to the dictates of merely instrumental or prudential reason, which moral reasons override” (Woods, p. 159). It can thus be deduced that duty may represent what an individual knows and hence has reason to do it, and also what an individual may want to constrain because of the awareness of this. As a result, Kant get convinced that duty is a term that can be given to all actions that individuals have moral reasons to do even those actions that may seem not to be popular by many, and in such a case, what is needed is the awareness by individuals to exercise inner rational constraint if they have to perform the morally valuable actions.
The conviction that can be derived from Kant’s notion is that, acting from duty will always involve even the desire to do the action for its own sake; and because it creates an immediate desire to do the action, the motive of duty is inevitably expressed not merely as an objective reason for wanting something and doing something but also as a feeling (Sullivan, p. 60). Moreover, in Kant’s own perspective, he categorizes four types of feelings which include: 1) moral feelings which constitute the feelings of approval or disapproval directed at actions; 2) conscience which is moral feelings directed to oneself with regard to some action performed or contemplated; 3) love of human beings which is any form of benevolent caring or concern for the welfare of another as a person who is an end in itself; and lastly, respect which refers to the dignity of a person, or for the moral law as the basis of individual’s own rational to self-control. These feelings constitute the direct and natural acknowledgement of moral reasons (Wood, p. 160).
Kant expresses that the general duties individuals have as human beings are the foundation of all their duties and that it is within this framework that individuals acquire duties in consequence of social customs, institutions and relationships where some of the duties might be to themselves and in most cases to others. Writing on duties of respect and love, Kant promotes the idea that violation of these two concepts may appear in actions such as arrogance, defamation and ridicule. Kant is convinced that humans have a duty to respect others, avoid defaming others for personal pleasure, respect the privacy of others, refrain from ridiculing others (by exposing them in order to be laughed at) by making their ‘faults’ an immediate object of amusement and lastly, individuals should exercise acute judgment of others that should stick to respecting them.
Ethical Egoism theories
The theories tend to promote principles aimed at telling people how they should live (Hinman, p. 113) by advancing the notion that individuals should always act in their own self-interest where they are the only people to determine what is right or wrong to them depending on the consequences. In promoting the idea of acting in self-interest, the theories postulate that nothing can prevent individuals from expressing their desires, thus anything to the contrary should be regarded as irrelevant where they have no obligation to tell others how they are going to act (Hinman, p. 113). Further, the theories promote the idea that individuals are free to seek pleasure and reflect on the future alternatives and choose those alternatives that will be most beneficial to them in the long run. In this case, the theories place no restrictions on what can count as legitimate or accepted self-interest and therefore individuals are allowed to pursue what they deem to be good for them. Gewirth (p. 79) advances the notion of ethical egoism theories by observing and outlining the necessary and sufficient conditions, which he terms ‘ought’ that individuals generally hold of others: First, individuals set forth a practical requirement for their behavior which they approve; second, they normally have a reason on which they ground this requirement; third, they holds that the requirement and reason they adopt justifies, in some way, and prevents or discourages the persons addressed from violating the requirement; and forth, they hold that the fulfillment of the requirement is due to themselves or to the persons in whose behalf they sets it forth (Gewirth, p. 79). In summing up the bedrock of the theories, Gewirth writes that individuals have rights to freedom and well-being and that individual’s freedom and wellbeing are necessary goods; and as a result, all other persons ought to refrain from interfering with the freedom and well-being of individuals Gewirth (p. 79).
Same Sex Marriage
From the Kant’s ethics of duty and the Ethical Egoism theories, it becomes evident that individuals have a duty towards themselves and others, they have a right to promote their pleasures, they are entitled to respect and love, their duty largely represent their desires and pleasure, individual’s privacy is necessary, actions done by individuals have moral obligation and acceptance by the individual themselves, individuals freedom and well-being is necessary and that others ought not to interfere with, and lastly individuals should act on conviction that whatever they are doing is aimed at maximizing their self-interest and freedom.
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Although same sex marriage may be frowned with people advancing the belief that any natural marriage is intended for procreation, what should be realized is that most same sex marriages are about more than just having sex and partners engage in other activities such as walking together, dining, going to theater and so on with just intention to enjoy each other’s company (Panza and Potthast, p. 304). Also, it can be argued that the function of any romantic love is not just procreation and if people think and believe so, what can be said of barren opposite sex partners with no child? Are they exercising immorality? What of those who just decide not to give birth but to adopt kids, are they again acting immoral? (Panza and Potthast, p. 304). Lastly, sex should not just be regarded as aimed at procreation. If this is so, what of those in opposite sex marriages who use condoms, contraceptives or decide to undergo vasectomy, are they immoral? (Panza and Potthast p.304).
The issue of same sex marriages has posed an ethical dilemma for many but most who believe in, and support such unions are convinced that it functions and operate like just other marriages. Hence, privileges and recognition accorded to other marriages need to be extended also to same sex marriages. Such debate has been whether the number of adoption children should be increased to incorporate the rising needs desires of same sex marriages to adopt children. Viewed in the perspectives of the Kant’s ethics of duty and Ethical Egoism theories where individuals have freedom, rights, duty to others and themselves and pleasures and desire, then such debate cannot or should not be wished away.
- Frederick, Robert. A companion to business ethics. MA, Willey-Blackwell. 2002. Web.
- Gewirth, Allan. Reason and Morality. IL, University of Chicago Press. 1981. Web.
- Hill, Thomas E. The Blackwell Guide to Kant’s Ethics. MA, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
- Hinman, Lawrence M. Ethics: a pluralistic approach to moral theory. CA, Cengage Learning. 2007. Web.
- Panza, Christopher and Adam, Potthast. Ethics for Dummies. NJ, Wiley Publishing Inc. 2010. Web.
- Sullivan, Roger J. An introduction to Kant’s ethics. NY, Cambridge University Press. 1994. Web.
- Wood, Allen, W. Kantian ethics. NY, Cambridge University Press. 2008. Web.