Friday, April 17, 2009

Care and Union

I've just posted a paper on "Care and Union" I'm presenting today at a workshop at Baylor on Nicholas Wolterstorff. A brief summary: Love minus unitive tendencies isn't agape.

4 comments:

Alexander R Pruss said...

And Nick Wolterstorff agreed with almost everything I said, so I guess I wasn't criticizing him. :-)

graham veale said...

In the case of Artifical Insemination by Husband surely there is both "care" and "union". Why is this method off limits to Catholics?

Graham Veale
Armagh, Ireland

Alexander R Pruss said...

Distinctively marital union--sexual intercourse--is not present. What is present is a generic union through joint cooperative activity. However, children should be the fruit of dictinctively marital union. How to argue for this claim? I can't really do so briefly. If you email me, I can send you my book MS on Christian sexual ethics, where I have a chapter on non-coital reproduction (NCR). There are several arguments developed there. The following are just to whet your appetite--don't criticize them in the form below, because I am not here arguing for all the premises:
- In NCR, there is a serious danger that the child is being treated as a means to the ends of the couple.
- Sperm donation is clearly wrong, because the donor neglects the duty to ensure that one's children will be educated well (morally, scientifically and religiously) without sufficient justifying reason. In a diverse society, one can be quite sure that the couple raising the children will have significant value differences from the donor. (This differs from the case of adoption, where there is a sufficient justifying reason flowing from the biological parent's inability to give an already existing child what the child deserves.)
- Children should be the fruit of marriage. But there is nothing in NCR that is innately tied to what differentiates marriage (namely, sexual union) from other relationships.
- Children should be treated as gifts from God, but to engage in NCR is not to treat them as such.

Besides this, there is the simple argument that NCR is extremely costly, and places a lot of psychological wear and tear on the couple. If the point of the exercise is self-abnegating love, then one could just adopt, without an insistence on biological parenthood at all costs.

Alexander R Pruss said...

By the way, there is going to be a nice Catholic bioethics conference in Maynooth, about 150 km south of where you are, on "Fertility, Infertility and Gender", 16-18 June 2010. It's a while off, but you may want to put it on your calendar if you're deeply interested in the issue. It'll be run by the Linacre Centre. I am planning to attend and give a talk on contraception. And they will have some really smart and well-known people there like John Finnis, Roger Scruton and Luke Gormally.