Controlling Other People’s Bodies
I’ve had it up to here with people saying that the such and such people just want to control other people’s bodies. Not because such claims are false, but because they are trivially true.
Controlling what other people do is a huge part of morality. Why? because morality is prescriptive. When I say that you ought not to commit murder, I’m also telling you not to commit murder. Now, this may not necessarily implicate violations of bodily integrity, but if there are at least some things which it is morally problematic to do to one’s own body, uttering the moral statement in its imperatival form will be telling people what they can or cannot do to their own body. This includes innocent things like the Jewish injunction against tattoos and may plausibly cover dietary requirements too. What makes such statements different from mere orders is that mere orders invoke the personal authority of the person issuing the order while moral statements invoke the authority of morality. In principle, when we tell other people what to do under the aegis of morality, we imply that the other party has reasons to comply with order regardless of her acceptance of such reasons. That is precisely what is involved when we say that moral reasons are categorical. What this means is that the only way in which the fact that some act or rule counts as an effort to control what other people do with their own bodies is morally bad is if there is nothing a person can do to himself which is in any sense morally problematic. It is not an incoherent view, but I think about the only person who subscribes to this view in these parts is Jaybird, and even then I’m not entirely sure about that.
Let me repeat myself here. If you think that there are some things (X) people shouldn’t do to their own bodies, you prefer a world in which they didn’t do X. That is to say, you want what people do with their bodies to conform to your preferences. If you have ever publicly expressed your views about X, you have just told a whole bunch of people what to do with their bodies. The fact that those particular people were going to do it anyway is irrelevant. Congratulations, you too want to violate other people’s bodily integrity!