Pornography has always caused many disputes in the society. Now, each person is able to decide by themselves, what the real impact of pornography on individuals psychology, sexual inclinations and behavior is. This question is among the most significant ones when it comes to the morality of society. Pornography has challenged many moral habits of society. The naked body and the process of sex are not forbidden in a society anymore. Such a change is met differently in the society. Meanwhile, governmental structures develop a number of laws that provide censorship as a warning sign for members of society. In addition, feminists have also fought for rights of women and their protection from such kind of humiliation as acting in pornography. From ethical point of view, there is no definite answer whether pornography is a positive or negative fact. Both advantages and disadvantages of pornography may be found. Pornography is a controversial question from the philosophic point of view as well. Pornography also deals with such issues as freedom of choice, morality of sex for money, influence of sexual films on persons outlook, and many others. The answer to this tricky question depends on the ethical theory or perspective that is chosen.
The main aim of this paper is to analyze pornography as an ethical issue from different sides. That is why there are two ethical theories used to discuss this question, which are deontological ethics and virtue ethics. Moreover, pornography will be analyzed according to the perspective of relativism.
Deontological Point of View on Pornography
Deontology is defined as science about duty. Such a definition tells much about the main objects of deontological studies. The main purpose of this theory is to identify what is right behavior and how to behave correctly. The point of deontology is that an individual has to follow moral laws and imperatives, which is an obligatory duty for every person. Mostly, the source of these laws and imperatives is Bible and commandments of God. It is rather understandable since the norms of Bible have long history. These norms were formed thousands years ago. Of course, modern intellectual development and understanding of normal and moral things differs greatly from how it was before. As a result, there are many norms and statements of Bible that are both against law and morality. Subsequently, such a conception raises a question as to what exactly laws must be followed by a person. From religious point of view, this is a question of what God tells one to do. This concept is focused on formation of the most necessary and important principles and rules for each person individually and groups of people generally (Aberdein, 2010). If to study pornography from deontological point of view, it is necessary to determine some key questions: Is pornography morally right? Does it exist in accordance with Gods norms or not? Is pornography the way to follow ones duties and obligations?
Place New Order
First of all, it is necessary to explain the issue connected with what are right and wrong things to do. There is no written and legally adopted definition of these terms. As this category refers to moral issues, it is mostly determined by social opinion or religion. The way it is determined relies on a number of factors. For instance, the specific circumstances of a definite situation are of significant importance. There is also another statement that considers right and wrong as equal to the level of profit and damage of the action. From this viewpoint, pornography seems to be right for some people, but wrong for the society as a whole. More than others, it touches those who act as the objects of pornography. It is especially offensive to those who are used as the objects. In this sense, pornography does more harm than good (Allen, 2001). The matter is that no one has a moral right to get pleasure, the cost of which is self-respect and dignity of another person. It is a bright example of how indifference and humiliation of others develops in a person unconsciously with the help of media and excessive freedom. In this case, the usual wish of pleasure turns into negligence and indifference to other people and their feelings.
Pornography consists of such elements as distortion and complication of both sexual relations and the feelings of people. Hence, this is not right (Adams, 2000). Laws and imperatives are created to support and control well-being of society. The principles that are adopted at the governmental level focus on extension of right behavior to all members of society. Laws and principles are somehow the guarantees of social welfare. The best description of the laws aim is benefit to everyone, damage to no one. Meanwhile, the impact of pornography is more harmful than beneficial. The individual who uses pornography gets pleasure and benefits. At the same time, he or she becomes shier in real sexual life. It becomes more and more difficult to talk about ones own sexual desires, and the person begins to prefer virtual sex and pornography as a way to escape from sexual problems. Its purpose is in contrast to original Biblical nature of sexuality. Sexuality in a person was created for a definite purpose. The divine nature of sexuality proclaims the preservation of decent sexual behavior, while pornography destroys this principle. This fact makes clear that pornography does not assist in fulfilling the duty, which God gave to people. Why do people create timeframes for themselves? If people do not create them, they fail to reach the goals when it is necessary. Why should a person be docile? It helps a person to follow established rules and prevents them from breaking these rules. The general sense of humans duty is to live in harmony with Gods rules. He gave people the best of all possible gifts life, which is a source of joy and harmony, but not sufferings, discomfort and humiliation. Well-balanced life is possible only when there is a list of certain rules, and these rules are obeyed (Armstrong, 2008). Nature is a bright example of being docile. It acts according to the stable system, created by God. It is easy to note that nothing can exist successfully without rules. There are two ways: either to follow rules and exist long, or be chaotic and unstable. Pornography has all signs of a chaotic thing. It is not in accordance with convenient sexual behavior, so it is wrong. If pornography is chaotic, then everyone who uses it is also be under its chaotic influence.
Deontology, which is based on principles of law and order, spreads traditional ideas of morality. It mostly consists of Gods laws. These arguments are created to prove non-divine origin of sexuality and stop sexual anarchy. The importance of this concept is in its preservation of the traditional outlook. Religious norms are still very important arguments for the majority of society. That is why this explanation of pornographys role is very significant for religious people. The matter is that these people are used to living not according to their own thoughts and wishes, but according to the will of God. However, nowadays, the world has a rushing pace of development. More and more new things become a part of peoples daily concerns, and religious people greatly need the guidelines for their proper behavior. In this sense, deontology is a safety belt for all members of society who prefer to follow definite rules in their lives.
Virtue Ethics and Pornography
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If deontology tries to identify the duties of a person, virtue ethics claims that there is no need to do it. The main point of virtue ethics is that an individual should develop virtues in themselves. The person from their birth is a white sheet of paper. There are no automatically given virtues or vices. Every mental or behavioral feature is a result of persons acts and attempts. That is why the main task of life is to develop positive sides of a character and improve ones personality by all available means. If a person succeeds in doing it, there will not be necessity to follow duties in the future as persons virtue will tell them how to act correctly and avoid mistakes. It means that behavior of a virtuous person is not just blind conformity of unclear rules, but a conscious choice. It is not difficult for such a person to decide how to act in different situations as their virtues are their behavioral peculiarity. Virtue ethics see each aspect and area of life as a possibility to act virtuously, even in sexual relations. There are no alternatives to or guidelines on how to act virtuously in sexual life. Instead, virtue ethics concerns the way of human beings behave during a long period of time, and how they act in different situations. According to virtue ethics, sexual actions may be divided into peoples wishes and real acts, which means that there are also right and wrong things. So, sexual behavior is not just a question of private decision. Virtue ethics pay attention to three main aspects of pornography:
1) Do these sexual practices help to make a person more virtuous?
2) Is sex a way of commitment between people?
3) Does it harm or benefit both individuals?
Such a concept of pornography is a very useful tool for explanation of its positive moments to radical critics of pornography. As all things in the world, pornography also has both advantages and disadvantages. Virtue ethics provides the possibility to look at pornography more objectively. It is said that even in the situation when a person uses pornography or is a creator of it, he or she may remain virtuous and not lose his or her dignity. It depends on motives of the action, individual attitude of a person to the thing he or she does and social outcomes of this action. Another interesting aspect is that there are no wrong actions. The matter is that person may not know how to behave correctly. If an individual behaves in not appropriate way, it just means that he or she is mot acquainted with a form of virtuous behavior and needs help. Subsequently, from the point of view of this person, he or she behaves morally and correctly. The problem is that their understanding of virtuous behavior is wrongful. This statement of virtue ethics is of great importance in solving some social disputes. On the one hand, the negative attitude to pornography and its actors may be reduced (as they still may remain virtuous people despite such a work). On the other hand, society may begin to spread different educational or other supportive programs to let people know about all pros and cons of pornography. That may be a key to dealing with this ethical issue.
Relativism and Pornography
The point of relativism may be easily understood from the word relativism itself, which shows the relation of one thing to another. It means that moral and ethical traditions and outlook of each nation differ from another one as they were formed under the influence of various national cultures and traditions. The attitude to pornography and sex differs from country to country. This is why there cannot be only one view of the ethical side of pornography. Each of the following details influences the formation of national outlook: geographical position, economic situation, religion, social relations, political situation and so on. Of course, in European countries where freedom is one of the highest values pornography is treated much better than, for example, in Muslim countries (Bartel, 2010). In general, relativism is such a perspective that is the most suitable for modern ethical imagination. The matter is that spreading freedom of speech and different points of view caused creation of countless world concepts, ethical positions and so on. If supporters of different theories began to argue, there would be no end of disputes. Followers of different theories would become rivals to one another. Constructive and tolerant dispute would transform into heated opposition. However, the concepts of relativism are such, that its representatives provide an appropriate solution. Relativists are sure that each thought and each theory has a right to existence, unless it contains absolute categories. By this, relativists emphasize that there is not only black and white. Each point of view has not only some advantages, but also drawbacks. That is why each of theories may exist, but only equally to others theories. It means that two opposite views may exist simultaneously: pornography as a positive ethical issue and pornography as a negative ethical issue. However, there is no place for theory that pornography is absolutely good or bad in the world of relativism. Among all the mentioned theories, relativism gives the fullest picture of pornography from ethical point of view. It covers both advantages and disadvantages of this factor for society. On the one hand, pornography gives freedom. On the other, it destroys important moral values and causes even mental illness among population. Still, there is no doubts left that relative attitude to pornography has a great value for social well-being. There often occur situations when an outlook of one person is against an outlook of another one, which may lead to a serious conflict and even social threat. With the help of relativism, it is easy to avoid these acute angles. It is impossible to get into the trap of debating as relativism accepts each point of view and respects it. For the issue of pornography, it means that relativists agree with both advantages and disadvantages of it. There can be different points of view, and it is only up to the person, what side to choose (Stryker & Pennington, 2014).
The reason why pornography is one of the main ethical issues lies in its influence on a persons outlook. In fact, the thing that threats society so much and raises so many questions is already available, and people have not become inadequate. However, basic ethical theories could not omit the question of pornography and without explaining it according to their principles. Deontology insists on understanding of morality as an aspect following from duties. Duties are determined by God and should be properly performed in order to reach joy and piece in life. According to this theory, pornography does not help to follow any of Gods guidelines.
Virtue ethics offers absolutely another concept. The supporters of this theory try to prove that there is no need to think about instructions, regulations, duties or principles. According to the concept of virtue ethics, the main purpose of each person is to develop virtues. The more virtues a person has, the better he or she becomes. As a result, the questions about what is ones duty and what should one do in a particular situation do not appear as person acts automatically correctly, relying on their virtues. So, it is necessary to develop understanding of right behavior instead of blindly obeying the rules.
Relativism as a perspective would not be in contrast either to the concept of deontology or to the virtue ethics. The point of this concept is acceptance of unique features of every person and every nation, and denying those who claim to be right without any alternatives.
However, each point of view has a right to existence. Such a diversity of conceptions is great for exchanging of cultural experience. There are different interpretations of pornography and its problems, but it can be stated for sure that both advantages and disadvantages of pornography development are significant. From the ethical point of view, pornography is just a tool, and only a person decides whether to use it or not and if yes, how to do it.