Natural Law Theory and Rightly Ordered Sexual Pleasure: Some Syllogisms
Does natural law ethics entail any sort of sexual pleasure is morally good? Traditionally nearly every major natural law theorist (and virtue theorist) held that a man enjoying sex with his wife is a good thing; and when a woman enjoys sex with her husband—that’s good too. What natural law theory condemns is someone who takes pleasure in acts of bestiality, or someone who engages in sexual acts with a catamite, or someone who engages in sexual actions with a plant. These actions are not the only ones seen to be evil on traditional natural law; contraceptive sexual activity as well as homosexual actions are also considered to be evil actions.
Johnathan Pearce has attempted to challenge the reasons given for the aforementioned conclusions of natural law theory, as well as in some cases the conclusions themselves. The difficulty is that he frequently misunderstands the natural law view. In his short piece “Natural Law Theory and Sexual Pleasure: A Proposed Syllogism” he endeavors to give a syllogism for the opposite conclusion, that is, for a conclusion opposed to the findings of traditional natural law sexual ethics. His proposed syllogism I have quoted below (but it can be found online here - https://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2017/06/15/natural-law-theory-sexual-pleasure-proposed-syllogism/):
1. “Certain body parts have no apparent function other than pleasure production.”
2. “Some body parts have more than one function.”
3. “We have no way of knowing which functions are designed in, and which are means to an end, or incidental.”
4. “C[onclusion]. Denying that humans (and many animals) are designed to masturbate is purely ad hoc speculation.”