In this paper, I will be analyzing the morality of pornography based off two ethical theories. The two ethical theories in which I will be analyzing is Kants Deontology and Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics. The viewpoints of pornography are on one side it is viewed as degrading to women and often considered obscene. On the other hand, the other viewpoint could be it is pleasurable to a viewer, does not cause harm to anyone, and is even protected under the law(s) of freedom of speech.
In this paper, I will analyze the two philosophers’ ethical theories and determine whether they would support or not support pornography as well as compare and contrast them and at the end give some of my own personal input of the topic based on the ethical theories.
To begin with, I will start with Kant and his ethical theory of Deontology. More specifically, I will be focusing on his ideas of Inherent Value of Persons and Objectivity.
Kant does not view pornography as pleasurable for the viewer and thinks there is not only direct harm but also indirect harm to account for. According to the Inherent Value of Persons: human beings should be treated always as an end and never as a means only. For Kant prostitution is the ultimate example of treating a human being as merely a means to an end. Being treated always as an end and never as a means only merely means that it is morally wrong to use a person as a mean to your end.
Pornography offers a service a particular service to a group of people that in a similar way is no different than another service industry one person is seeking the service and the other person is essentially providing the service. Kant compares the inherent value of persons to slavery and could even view pornography or compare pornography and its nature to slavery. Within Kant’s view on pornography he finds that they are often treated like slaves in slave like conditions in terms of being objectified and being told what to do which violates his idea of treating them as ends in themselves and unethical treatment. In pornography, they are shamed and discredited by others by their sexual attributes being the primary focus. The being treated like a means is in the end ultimately the sexual gratification. There are many factors direct harm to the participants an eve a direct and indirect harm to the society because people than are allowed to think it’s okay to treat someone as a commodity and people are at anyone’s disposal.
On the other hand, we have Aristotle and his Virtue Ethics. Virtue ethics is based off a person and even a person’s characteristics and how those characteristics affect their decisions rather than action based. Overall, a widespread consumption or even a widespread availability would have ferocious effects on sexual relations and social relations. When looking at different virtues the major virtues that come into play in this situation is bravery, temperance, and honesty. To begin with, bravery is a big one with pornography because not matter what to be subjected to the conditions you have to be brave. No matter the reason, why you partake in pornography whether it is a way to make ends meet or other reasons to have to put yourself in this position you have to be brave. On one hand, one could think to themselves well they put themselves into that position but then on the other hand it could be viewed that we do not know their backstory and the reason in why they put themselves in the position. For pornography it is important to remember it is very subjective and no matter the situation it is brave to even think of putting yourself in that position. As for honesty, we have a major issue with the law being over 18 to watch and partake in porn but there are many situations where underage kids of both sexes find themselves in the porn industry. Temperance, which includes sex and sexual activities. Just like Kant he believes nobody should be objectified because of their body but also like stated before the more widespread consumption or even a widespread availability would have ferocious effects on sexual relations and social relations in the future for a large number of people.
While both philosophers view pornography as bad, they both argue against it for different reasons. While Kant uses the arguments of his deontology including Inherent Value of Persons and Objectivity Aristotle uses Virtue ethics. While they both disagree with the usage of porn, they do believe it is subjective and harmful to society both within relationships sexually and socially. My personal opinions of pornography is it should not be made or even viewed. While that is my believe I do know it is watched and partaken upon by many people all over the world. A way to prevent underage children from viewing and to get the viewing down would be to make the video sites all where you have to pay for it. Not many people would want to pay for it when it is already free on the internet. Both philosophers have good reasoning but Kant is the one who stood out to me with his Inherent Value of Persons. I think more so being a girl I feel nobody should ever feel as an end and not as a mean.