March 3, 2016 § 37 Comments
We are morally responsible for:
- Behaviors we choose.
- Behaviors we intend to choose.
- Behaviors of other people that we intend. (This is “formal cooperation”).
- Imprudent choices we make (material cooperation with evil, prudential judgment, and the principle of double effect all fall here).
A (temporarily or perpetually) continent person:
- Does not (while continent) choose any sexual behaviors.
- Does not intend to choose (while continent) any sexual behaviors.
- Does not intend (while continent) for anyone else to choose particular sexual behaviors or specific sexual acts.
- May or may not be acting prudently.
That brings us to our scenario:
Cut to Germany. Rapefugees are raging through the streets, global media cameras are all comprehensively and studiously pointed at a couple of gun toting white guys somewhere in the remote western United States.
Helga Homemaker has a diaphragm or other barrier contraceptive that she puts in as limited protection against roaming rapefugees. She takes it out when she engages in sexual activity with her husband.
If she has done moral wrong, it must be because she:
- Chose a contracepted sexual behavior. (nope)
- Intended to choose a contracepted sexual behavior. (nope)
- Intended for someone else to choose an immoral behavior. (nope)
- Acted imprudently.
Folks who believe that Helga does wrong cannot base that judgment on the intrinsic immorality of choosing (or intending to choose) contracepted sexual behaviors. They must argue that she acts imprudently.
And I think that argument is weak.