Should Public Nudity Be Illegal?
It’s ridiculous that women are required to cover their breasts in public.
This is a Q1 violation if you think that there are standards of decency you would want respected and you cannot explain why they should be in a different category than keeping breasts covered. It is also a violation if there are some places you think women’s breasts should be covered but cannot define why those places should be exceptions.
This is not a Q2 violation unless it would bother you for someone else to use a similar argument to go against your standards of decency.
Some of the most difficult questions in ethics arise when two of your own beliefs are in conflict. In this case, you must balance personal freedom (the desire to go topless) and respect for other peoples’ standards of decency (which, by Q2, you must have if you would ask others to respect your standards).
For example, would you choose personal freedom or respecting other people’s standards in the case of:
- Getting a tattoo.
- Wearing clothing with political slogans.
- Buying a vanity license place with a religious meaning.
- Eating a food some people consider repulsive or unclean.
- A married couple holding hands or kissing in public.
- A teenage boy and girl holding hands or kissing in public.
- A same-sex couple holding hands or kissing in public.
- A couple seriously necking in public.
- A toddler running on the lawn naked.
- Using foul language when speaking (e.g., "damn," "God damned," "shit," "retard," "bastard," "nigger").
- Using foul language in a philosophy book.
- Using foul language in a novel.
- Using foul language in a newspaper or on television.
- What you read in public (e.g., a controversial book, a religious or anti-religious magazine, pornography).
- Listening to a political or religious talk radio station where others can hear.
- Singing a song with violent, sexist, or otherwise potentially offensive lyrics.
- Publishing a blasphemous political cartoon.
- Opening an adult bookstore.
- Not hiding an unattractive injury or blemish.
- Not hiding an unattractive disfigurement.
- A woman not shaving under her arms.
- A woman performing on stage in a Broadway show not shaving under her arms.
- A woman covering her hair in a synagogue.
- A woman covering her hair in public.
- A woman covering her hair in public in a Muslim nation.
- A woman covering her face in public in a Muslim nation.
You might argue that there is no rational reason for women’s breasts to be considered indecent. But if you do that, you run the risk of having to find a rational reason for conforming to any standards you have regarding public behavior (e.g., eating, passing gas, displaying affection, personal grooming, staring, or using certain words).
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.