PHIL 2170 Lecture Notes - Greta Christina, Gynaecology, Voyeurism
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Wednesday, February 15, 2011
Greta Christina Cont’d
•Greta Christina – Thinking of someone who acts, not the acts themselves. The
way she judges herself affects the way she judges her actions. She’s not the kind
of person who acts in a cheating way (ex. Jean). Why do we judge sex acts as
good, bad, moral, perverted?
Goldman – change the way we think about sex acts
In order to understand why the effects affect us the way they do, we need to understand
what a sex act is.
Sex acts are a kind of behavior
•“The same behaviour is sometimes sexual, sometimes not.” (124)
oDoesn’t work with all behaviour. Sex is necessarily sexual (intercourse is
the clear case, oral sex)
oWhile there are some behaviours that are sexual, some are sometimes
sexual, sometimes not (ex. Wet willy – you can imagine both extremes)
•Some behaviour is necessarily sexual (124/5)
Sex acts require contact between sexual body parts
•Not sufficient; other reasons make contact sexual (125) [ex. When a woman goes
to a gynecologist] context that makes the act sexual, not the act itself
•Not necessary; there are non-contact sexual activities; voyeurism. Excludes things
we would want to call sexual. Lots of things we call sexual that don’t fit this
definition – it’s too narrow
•“Whether a body part is sexual depends on what it is doing or what it being done
to it” (125) – sex act that makes body parts sexual (ex. Inner thigh, ear lobe can be
sexual or non-sexual, in a certain context) – circular attempt to define sex act
Sex acts involve or produce sexual pleasure. (125)
•Pleasure isn’t necessary for it to be sexual (126) – can derive pleasure from many
things. It might be sexual but not a sex act that produces pleasure.
•Pleasure isn’t sufficient to make it an action (126/7)
•“All sexual acts are sexual experiences, but not all sexual experiences are sexual
acts, and this is where the trouble beings.” (127) ex. Sleeping – Greta Christina –
consent is necessary. Goes against will. Can be counted as an action – something
we do willingly – something we do consciously. If we count experiences as
actions, we count the things done to us as actions as well – seems unfair (ex.
Something unconsentual) – takes away the element of choice. Actions require a
certain amount of conscious deliberation
•Too broad – sexual experience with sexual acts. Every thought, action, etc. which
causes pleasure means a sex act – means you’re acting all the time. Way too broad
of a definition.
Sex acts are intended to be sex acts. (127)
•Can’t be the intention to commit a sex act [circular] (127) “a sex act is when I
intend to commit a sex act” – can’t just be intention that gives sexuality of the act
•Can’t be the intention to physically interact [too inclusive] Plan to physically
interact all the time (ex. Hug, ass-slapping after a football game)
•Can’t be the intention to produce pleasure [not necessary] – If the sex act only
requires the intention to produce pleasure, takes things we normally consider sex
acts (ex. Sadism, angry sex)
•Also, some acts produce pleasure but are not sexual [not sufficient] (128) Body
can do things would otherwise be pleasurable, but not (sexual abuse) – you may
not react with your body. Produce pleasure but not be sexual (prostate exam). Not
meaning to be sexual but someone gets pleasure from what you’re doing (ex.
Getting brushed on the bus) action isn’t willed to produce that pleasure
Sex acts are the goal of sexual desire. (128)
•Not all sex acts fulfill or satisfy sexual desires (129) desire is not satisfied by
the act, not always committing the act you desire
•Some acts ‘satisfy’ sexual desire but are not sex acts (129) Halwani ex. Pills.
Women on birth control lose sex drive. We may desire something and stop
desiring it, but doesn’t mean the desire is gone. Can’t conflate.
•What makes a desire sexual can’t be that it is satisfied by sex acts [circular] (129).
Have to define a sex act.
•What do we mean by sexual desire? (Goldman)
Alan Goldman (Epistemology)
•We all might be expected to know what sex is and to be able to identify at least
paradigm sexual desires and activities without much difficulty (267).
oA lot less complex than we think
oLooking at paradigm sexual activity – not looking at stupid exceptions
What we require here, as elsewhere, is ‘reflective equilibrium’, a goal not achieved by
traditional and recent analyses together with their moral implications (267)
•These other analyses wrap themselves up in moral implications. Why do we make
the moral judgments we do? Why do they have the social and cultural effects they
do? These other definitions build in. This is a mistake. Never get to understand
where the meaning comes from because we keep building it. Wants to separate
the act from the way we think about the act.
•‘reflective equilibrium’ – take intuitions and principles about why things are right
and wrong – intuitions and principles don’t match up – excludes certain things,
doesn’t count things that should. Act of reflecting until we reach an equilibrium.
Taking other arguments and putting them against the actual sex act vs. moral
theories. What can we adjust to make them come together.
‘Means-end analysis’. Such conceptions attribute a necessary external goal or purpose to
sexual activity, whether it be reproduction the expression of love, simple communication,
or interpersonal awareness. (268)
•Means-end analysis – sex is not an end in itself – but a means to the end itself.
Never going to get to the point where we have the basic understanding of sex act
The alternative, simpler analysis with which I will being is that sexual desire is desire for
contact with another person’s body and for the pleasure which such contact produces;
sexual activity is activity which tends to fulfill such desire of the agent. (268)
•This is simpler. Simple is what we want.
•At the end is the sex itself – sexual desires are for physical contact – eliminates
certain things (sex shows, voyeurism)
•We do not desire pleasure and contact, but the pleasure that is caused by contact
•It’s not just any body we want to be with – but a particular body and there are
reason. What makes the act sexual is that body to body relationship