PHIL 2170 Lecture Notes - Immanuel Kant, Sexual Attraction, Rationality

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Published on 15 Nov 2011
Dalhousie University
PHIL 2170
of 2
Monday, March 14, 2011 (Meredith Schwartz)
Immanuel Kant: Sex & Moral Agency
“Duties Towards the Body in Respect of the Sexual Impulse”
Thesis: Do we have any moral duties regarding sex? Can sex be good of bad?
Context: History of inequality, enlightenment’s equality
Kant’s Argument: Sexual impulse is unique – objectification
Discussion: Do you agree with Kant’s view?
Context: Pre-Enlightenment – Royalty chosen by God; Honour only upwards; Divine
Enlightenment: All men are equal; Equal respect; Human rights
Equal Value: Dignity (rational self – persons)
Moral Agency: Free will; Rationality; Autonomy
Relation of Others: Interactive; Treat other as a person
Unequal Value: Price (animal self – humans)
Mind and Body: Determined; Psychological Laws; Physical Laws
Relation of Others: Objective; Treat other as a thing
Kant’s Argument:
Sexual impulse is unique: Turns one person into an object for another’s
Sexual Desire is Objectifying: Treats other as a thing
Aims at Sex not at Person
Needs to be controlled: Modesty & Marriage
Kant’s Argument: Objects:
Sexual desire is objectifying
oNot love – directed at person
oOnly appetite: directed at things
oOnce satisfied, cast other aside
Degrades human nature
oTreats other as a thing; doesn’t engage free will or rationality
Kant’s Argument: Aims at Sex
Love: an inclination: No distinction between types of persons
Sex: an appetite
oNot directed at person
oDirected at their sex
oProof: Sexual attraction only to opposite sex – emphasis on body
oTo be alluring: make sex attractive; not our human nature
oSex is not love; love doesn’t distinguish between persons (i.e.
male/female, young/old) – instead love engages with free will that is
divinely given
oSex does distinguish between people (young/old, men/women)
oTo Kant, love is moral (generalizable and universal)
Kant’s Argument: Control – continue the species without demoralization
Prohibited (Crimina Carnis)
Contra Naturam (Against Nature)
oSam-Sex Relations
oAnal Sex
oIncest (also against reason)
Secundum Naturam (Against Reason)
oProstitution – one person doesn’t enjoy the sex
oConcubinatus – “Free Love” – each person is using the other to satisfy
their sexual desires. Each of them is making themselves into an object, not
engaging with their subjectivity
oPolyamory – One man with more than one wife. The wife will be giving
herself to the man, but the man won’t be giving himself wholly to the
Sex within monogamous marriage – intellectual and physical – the man and the
woman give themselves to each other
Arranged marriages are okay – generalized love – “Christian love”
Kant’s Argument: Influence:
Modern influence of Kantian Sexual Ethics
Feminist discussions of objectification (ex. Pornography)
Importance of consent (ex. Rape)
Human sexuality different from animal sexuality (reciprocity, respect)
Abortion (foetus as Person, foetus as Human)

Document Summary

Duties towards the body in respect of the sexual impulse . Kant"s argument: sexual impulse is unique objectification. Context: pre-enlightenment royalty chosen by god; honour only upwards; divine rights. Enlightenment: all men are equal; equal respect; human rights. Relation of others: interactive; treat other as a person. Mind and body: determined; psychological laws; physical laws. Relation of others: objective; treat other as a thing. Overview: enjoyment: sexual impulse is unique: turns one person into an object for another"s, sexual desire is objectifying: treats other as a thing, aims at sex not at person, needs to be controlled: modesty & marriage. Kant"s argument: objects: sexual desire is objectifying, not love directed at person, only appetite: directed at things, once satisfied, cast other aside, treats other as a thing; doesn"t engage free will or rationality, degrades human nature. Kant"s argument: control continue the species without demoralization.