Search This Blog

Friday, August 24, 2012


Irrational social media commentary. You know what I’m talking about right? Those serial posters that actually make you squirm and sigh aloud “STFU!” Here’s an example of what I am talking about:

“He was raised in a flawed system of Kantian based method that produced his gay world view to begin with. We need to understand the relationship between what this man does and the gay world view. They both like the same sex and there comes the usual perversions to like in the real world. Some men like little girls and so on, but when a man likes little boys, well, that's another reality all together”
I mean seriously, WTF? Abusing little boys is worse than abusing little girls? Implying that homosexual men are somehow synonymous with paedophiles? You have got to be kidding. I’m not even sure how this person is relating Immanuel Kant’s philosophy to somehow producing pedophiles.

Kant was a universalist which meant that for any moral principle to be valid it must apply to all people irrespective of gender, race and so on. This is because for Kant, humans are fundamentally rational and autonomous beings. Unless a moral principle has universal application it will not be morally permissible. To make this clear, Kant distinguishes between what he calls the hypothetical imperative and the categorical imperative. The former relates to actions caused by desire, while the latter relates to actions caused by duty. Kant thinks that when we act on desire we are not acting freely, because we cannot control desire, that is the will of nature. However, when we act according to duty our action is guided by rationality and we are therefore acting autonomously. Kant is most well known for his statement that we must not treat people as a means to an end but must treat them as an end in themselves. This is how he differs to utilitarianism (greatest good for the greatest number) perspectives.

For example: Imagine a situation where there was a tyrant ruler and he was accusing the town of stealing food from his pantry. Now, say he declared that unless someone stepped forward and admitted stealing the food from his pantry, in which case the punishment was death, he would punish the whole town by withholding all the food in the town until the people starved. The truth is that no one stole any food, but the tyrant just wanted to exert his will over the people in his town.

For the utilitarian, the only option is to make someone take it for the team (so to speak), as this would be of the greatest benefit to the greatest number. However, for Kant, this would be morally impermissible because it would be treating the person as a sacrifice, or as a means to an end. It relies on a hypothetical imperative whereby the action is caused by a desire not to be starved.

Kant’s theory is by no means foolproof, but there is no way in which a connection can be drawn between Kantian philosophy giving rise to pedophilia. Since pedophilia would be a hypothetical imperative, whereby the perpetrator acts on a desire, Kant would say he is not acting rationally and autonomously so this action could never be universal and is therefore morally impermissible. Additionally, Kant was a product of his time and was adverse to homosexuality and believed people should only have sex in the missionary position, so still failing to see how the connection was drawn. Idiot. 

I should probably make the disclaimer here that while I am sympathetic to Kantian philosophy in a general sense, I do not share the same social views. Probably, because I am a product of my time and I am unequivocally in favour of equality.  

Anyhow, this is by no means a full picture of Kantian philosophy, but it really winds me up when people are just off the wall with their understanding, or lack thereof when making bold statements that amount to no more sense than you would get from a wood chip.