The concept of impurity is an elusive one, but I will give good reasons for accepting its existence.

An easy example is rape. A simple utilitarian would say the act is wrong because the rapist's pleasure is outweighed by their victim's suffering. But I find this answer unsatisfying, because it accepts that the rapist's pleasure has value, and thus leaves open the possibility that it could be justified if for some reason the victim's suffering is relatively small, or perhaps if there are many rapists who will all derive immense pleasure from the act. My answer, on the other hand, is that the rapist's pleasure is impure, and thus has negative value, so the act can't be justified no matter how much they enjoy it or how indifferent the victim might be.

I must dispense of the idea that all pleasure caused by injustice is impure, because that would lead us right back to strict deontologism - we must be able to justify punching Bob to save Charlie's life, even though Charlie's survival would be because of the unjust act of punching Bob. So it has to be more specific than that. Another example would be a bad person's schadenfreude at an innocent person's suffering - that would also be impure. Seemingly, pleasure that is psychologically triggered by something evil is impure, but not pleasure that is merely a causal result of evil.

I believe it also applies to pleasures derived from fantasizing about or eroticizing evil, for example at least some forms of (explicit images at this link) BDSM eroticize imprisonment and rape (even though the act of such eroticization itself can be consensual).

This page was last modified 2021-10-18 12:32 (UTC).

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