From the assigned readings and film, I felt that I have gained a better understanding on one of the most controversial types of relationships, homosexuality. The topic of homosexuality isn’t easy to openly talk about but it is important as philosophy students, to have an open-mind about topics that we don’t partake in. Doing so allows us to promote new ways of thinking about the world around us and see them in a whole new light. In this personal response paper, I will discuss homosexuality in connection with the film Latter Days to determine why a homosexual relationship can meet Kant’s criteria for acceptable love as mentioned in Ruse’s essay, “Is Homosexuality Bad Sexuality?”, as well as why it qualifies as a complete and healthy relationship as described by Nagel in “Sexual Perversion.”
Michael Ruse’s essay revolves around the central question if homosexuality is an acceptable form of relationship. In order to help answer this question, Ruse examines this argument from multiple philosophical perspectives, mainly the categorical imperative and utilitarianism. The first ethical framework is Kant’s categorical imperative. According to this theory, a person should not use another for their own benefit or the benefit of others because “people must be treated as subjective worthy beings in their own right” (Ruse, 1995, pg.113). This means that in a relationship, one must not treat the other as a means to the fulfillment of their sexual desires (e.g. as a sexual object). Instead, there must be respect for the dignity of the other. “By giving oneself reciprocally – by yielding oneself, body and soul – one shows respect for the other as an end and not just as a means” (Ruse, 1995, pg. 113). In doing so, according to Kant, there would truly be acceptable love.
Utilitarianism (Bentham & Mills’ ethical theory) on the other hand, is very much opposite to Kant’s categorical imperative. According to the utilitarian approach, one is allowed to inflict harm on another for the sake of happiness or the benefit of others (Ruse, 1995, pg.114). Basically, there are no immoral acts to the utilitarian. Bentham believed that it is acceptable for anyone who wants to indulge – that it produces no harm but pleasure. Thus, homosexuality is not immoral. In the end, having the basic understanding of the different ethical frameworks helped explain the reasons for why these people thought the way they did and how it influenced and shaped their views on topics such as homosexuality but that is not the focus of this paper.
To put things into perspective, I will illustrate how the relationship that develops in the film Latter Days (Cox, 2003) can meet Kant’s criteria for acceptable love. The film revolves around the development of a homosexual relationship between Aaron, a closeted Mormon missionary, and his openly gay neighbor, Christian. After some initial resistance, Aaron slowly but surely begins to grow fond of Christian and discovers his homosexuality in the...