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7/19/2015 7:40 pm  #1


A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

"...it seems plausible that it would be acceptable to temporarily deprive an organ of its natural function. Thus, there would not appear to be anything morally wrong with performing a neurological experiment that “turned off” olfactory processing for a few minutes (and it would be strange if there was some cut-off, such as that it is acceptable to turn off olfactory processing for three hours but not for three days)."

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7/19/2015 7:48 pm  #2


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

Could you link the full article?

 

7/19/2015 7:56 pm  #3


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

It's from his book on sexual ethics, One Body. The section I quoted from discusses personalist, new natural law, and traditional natural law approaches to the question of contracepted nonmarital sex. 

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7/19/2015 8:26 pm  #4


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

Nature is not a toy. Nature has to be respected for real science and understanding to develop. What is the point of ceasing something's purpose when you already know what it is for? What could possibly be gained from this? The fact one knows the healthy use and purpose of the organ already condemns perverting it just to see what happens, for example. In this, science sins grievously and makes enemies especially when human beings begin to stand up for their dignity against the perverted curiosity of science geeks and, frankly at that point, geeks in the worst sense. Or maybe at that point they should be called science freaks, insofar as in making a freak of nature they prove they have become freaks of nature.

Last edited by Timocrates (7/19/2015 8:29 pm)


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7/20/2015 2:04 am  #5


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

Why can't scientists temporarily turn off a subject's sense of smell to study the interaction between this sense and other senses, or the subject's psychological state? There doesn't seem to be anything wrong or 'perverted' with doing so. 

Last edited by musiclover (7/20/2015 2:06 am)

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7/20/2015 5:03 am  #6


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

A point friends of Natural Law tend to stress is that the frustration of a faculty is not of itself enough to make an act immoral only irrational - the importance of the act to the common good and human flourishing as a whole (yes, this sounds too Utilitarian for my liking too).
 
So, to go with an example from another thread closing one’s eyes is not frustrating the end of a faculty - closing one’s eyes and then trying to read on the other hand would be, though this would not be immoral per se only silly.
 
(If one were to permanently impair one’s faculties in doing so then it would be immoral)
 
I think Pruss’ neurologist example follows the same logic. As long as there’s no permanent damage then it’s not immoral. If on the other hand the person undertook this experience fully intending to go about some task which required a keen sense of smell afterwards then it would at least be irrational, if not immoral. 

 

7/20/2015 6:37 am  #7


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

musiclover wrote:

Why can't scientists temporarily turn off a subject's sense of smell to study the interaction between this sense and other senses, or the subject's psychological state? There doesn't seem to be anything wrong or 'perverted' with doing so. 

When you close your nostrils because of the overpowering smell of fecies, for example, you are not acting against nature and the same effect results.

Anyone who has had the terribly unfortunate experience of losing hearing in even only one ear can tell you everything eccentric scientists only belatedly confirmed about the senses that Aristotle taught. You experience an unnatural pain just trying to do the most tedious tasks of life. Your sense of orientation and distance is thrown into utter chaos, which again makes the most ordinary things of life terribly painful; but the pain isn't strictly physical or, indeed, even physical at all. It's mental. The 'work' required to do the most basic things is exponentially multiplied because it's like you're a teenager trying to grow (again) into your own ever changing size and, as it were, skin. You wake up at 8 and by 9:15 you are totally exhausted.

The problem with destroying a thing's natural function to see what happens as a result is that we a presuming to have a right to contradict nature. We don't have any such right; in fact of law, our rights come from nature at least.

Now we all know that people who abuse animals will end up abusing people. Nothing less is true of nature. Those who raped nature ended up raping man; and now, tragically in modern society, civil and intelligent men are trapped like Lot in Soddom. However, we are not without help or hope. Many naturally feel and also feel attached to the goodness of the natural world and its necessity for our existence and happiness, hope and progress. The latter is a sign and cause for hope. It is truly reasonable and natural, which is all too lacking these days. Therefore we should ally ourselves with such. Yes, let us become environmentalists. Let us point to nature as she is. Let us focus our study in wonder at her. Such is better than despoiling her and despoiling each other in ever increasing depravity and degradation.
 

Last edited by Timocrates (7/20/2015 9:59 am)


"The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State."
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16 (3).

Defend your Family. Join the U.N. Family Rights Caucus.
 

7/21/2015 5:51 pm  #8


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't the quote in the OP just beg the question. He seems to start by saying that what he is doing is not immoral. If natural law were to show it was immoral (which I'm not saying it does), just assuming it was wouldn't refute that. He might be trying to appeal to some basic intuition that it can't be immoral, but he'd have to flesh that out or give us a little more to trust such intuitions if the natural law did seem to show this. After all, how many left-liberals are convinced fornication or homosexual acts just can't be immoral.

 

7/22/2015 11:44 pm  #9


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

Alexander - So would you say it's permissible to frustrate the function of an organ for the sake of a higher faculty?

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7/22/2015 11:50 pm  #10


Re: A Counterexample to Natural Law Theory from Pruss

DanielCC - I'm not sure about that, Feser writes: "To choose in line with the final causes or purposes that are ours by nature is morally good; to choose against them is morally bad." He speaks of moral goodness and badness, not rationality and irrationality. 

In any case, if frustrating an organ's function doesn't suffice for immorality, what does?

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