I have recently been posting quite a bit on Natural Law Theory due to the fact I am presently editing a book on the subject by another author.
Natural Law Theory, in a nutshell:
NLT states that behaviours that are rationally chosen by an agent that do not fit the remit of the final cause of the agent or part of the agent (i.e., a body part) are morally bad. In the same way a kettle that doesn’t work well to boil water is a bad kettle, if the supposed final cause or purpose of a penis is to urinate and procreate, then any behaviour that falls outside of the remit of excretion or reproduction (procreation) is morally bad.
The term that Edward Feser, natural law theorist, uses is “frustrate” such that if the activity frustrates the final cause, then it is morally bad. In the case of sex, where the final cause is reproduction, wearing a condom “frustrates” reproduction. Having sex exclusively for enjoyment (i.e., wearing a condom) is therefore morally wrong. This is different to saying enjoying sex is morally wrong, since it is actually at least neutral if having sex for the primary purpose of reproducing.
Sheila C. made some great, succinct comments on the topic on the various pieces:
I brought up gastric bypasses the other day. Isn’t that deliberately making digestion work less well- frustrating the end of nutrition while continuing to eat?
The Catholics responded that the negative side effects would adequately punish anyone who used the surgery to be gluttonous.
But doesn’t that reveal that natural law has nothing to do with anything? The gut sense Catholics have is that it’s all okay *provided you aren’t having any fun.*
Here’s another one: why do Catholics get their pets neutered? Natural law is supposed to be for everyone
None of these arguments seem to address homosexuality. When a woman has sex with her wife, they may both foresee that conception won’t result, but they’re not deliberately frustrating anything. Through no fault of their own, neither of them produce any sperm.
- Natural Law Theory and Frustrating Sexual Ends
- Natural Law, Essentialism and Nominalism
- Natural Law Theory, Morality and Rational Beings
- Natural Law Theory and Sexual Pleasure: A Proposed Syllogism
- Natural Law Theory: Sexual Organs, Beards and Food
- Sex and Sexuality: Criticising Natural Law Theory
- Some Early Natural Law Arguments: Faculties, Functions and Organs
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