The Fight Against AIDS: Legal Moralism vs. Education
The article "Morality and the Health of the Body Politic," by Dan Beauchamp, deals with the issue of fighting the spread of AIDS. Different groups have very different ideas on how to fight the deadly disease, and in this article two groups are highlighted. One, the legal moralists, believes in implementing laws which restrict the autonomy of certain individuals in the name of preserving the majority. This group adopts the utilitarian point of view. Its opposition believes in education as the answer: "Education is our only hope for prevention, and here we confront the barrier of societal practices regarding homosexuality." These group members adhere to the political perspective and have a problem with the legal moralist's motives for wanting AIDS legislation. While a legal moralist "sees laws against homosexuality as ordained by God and tradition," those for education believe that, "by permitting the majority the right to enforce legally its traditional prejudices, particularly in the sexual realm, the health and safety of the public can be directly threatened."
The legal moralists believe in a utilitarian point of view-- the most good for the most people--illustrated by the belief that, "if a common morality is shared by a majority, this alone is sufficient justification to include it in the criminal law." They also see as ethical and correct what strengthens the social fiber of a community: "Moralists believe that certain forms of behavior must be observed if society's central orders - religion, work, family, and relations between the sexes - are to be upheld."
A Congressional Quarterly article by Julie Rovner, "Congress Faces Major Fight Over AIDS Testing," presents the utilitarian point of view, used by Rep. William Dannemeyer. Dannemeyer wants a law that would require mandatory AIDS testing for those seeking a marriage license, all patients between 25...