PHIL 2170 Lecture Notes - Pedophilia, Zoophilia, Voyeurism
Friday, February 18, 2011
The alternative, simpler analysis with which I will begin 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 desires of the agent. (268)
•Definition backwards – trying to define desire but needs to start with activity
•In Goldman, he defines perversion as statistical normality – what normal people
•Emphasis on the bodily aspect; a physical activity – very little mental going on
•Can’t separate pleasure of contact from contact itself – a particular kind of
physical contact (one which creates pleasure)
Pleasure and contact are interconnected because you can’t have one from the other.
Technically distinct things, but sexual desire comes specifically from that contact. Raises
the question, has he defined pleasure specifically
enough? (Loophole: friendly hug?) Only thing separating that physical desire from
sexual physical desire is pleasure. Maybe too broad?
Refined: “It is not a desire for a particular sensation detachable from its causal context, a
sensation that can be derived in other ways. (268)
•We know things if the knowledge is caused by the truth of that thing
Our definition of sex in terms of the desire for physical contact may appear too narrow in
that a person’s personality, not merely her or his body, may be sexually attractive to
another, and in that looking or conversing in a certain way can be sexual in a given
context without bodily contact (270).
•Body aspect – more ways to be attracted to someone than their body (i.e.
personality). By being too narrow in activity aspect he’s arguing against letting in
personality (ex. Sexy mind, personality); restricts it to only bodies
•Need to include personality in desire
•An arbitrary definition by excluding things?
What’s wrong with sex as a reproductive activity?
“What this may be ‘nature’s’ purpose, it certainly need not be ours…the development of
contraception rendered the connection weak.” (271)
•Theory came out when every sex act was a moral decision – used to be a moral
act. Theory is outdated. Contains a moral aspect because we couldn’t change the
context in which it was happening
•Excludes too much (i.e. kisses). Also have to exclude homosexuality,
One common position views sex as essentially an expression of love or affection between
the partners (272)
•Love and sex are not the same thing – love is a long term slow experience.
Requires constancy, level of trust, know each other – things sex does not require
•Love and sex sometimes conflict – sometimes have to sacrifice sex desires to
keep love desires alive
•Defining sex as love has negative consequences – sexual desires don’t always
correspond to love.
All the analyses examined seems to seek a distance from sexual desire itself in attempting
to extend it conceptually beyond the physical.
Solomon explicitly argues that sex cannot be a ‘mere’ appetite…This fails to recognize
that sexual desire can be focused or selective at the same time as being physical (279)
•Sexual desire may be only physical; problem – keep adding in more morals.
Wants to get to ‘plain sex’
There is no morality intrinsic to sex, although general moral rules apply to the treatment
of others in sex acts as they apply to all human relations. (280)
•Sex act itself is not moral or immoral – just an act based on physical desires
•Not just any body – even animals are selective in choosing a partner
•Just because it’s all about the body, doesn’t mean our body takes over ourselves
in our sexual desires. We’re still who we are, still have standards and things we
like. These things are specific. Not just any body, but this body. Not personalities
– but specificities.
•Moral element that applies to all human behaviour. Shouldn’t harm them or use
them – nothing to do with sex.
•Not the act itself but what the act does (ex. Pedophilia)
Monday, February 28, 2011
…False conceptual analyses of the means-end form cause confusion about the value of
sex to the individual. My account recognizes the satisfaction of desire and the pleasure
this brings as the central psychological function of the sex act for the individual.
•Wants to takes principles/values/morality out of sex acts
•We need to define the sex act as the intended physical contact that comes out of a
particular desire – not just any pleasure or contact – connects to sexuality and
sexual desire (ex. Not just a desire for affection)
•“Means-end” – people who theorize about sex acts but build morals into the
oFails to get the barebones of what a sex act is
oBecause it builds values into the concept of sex (i.e. love, sex to express
love). Causes confusion to those who value sex
oWhen I desire to have sex but I don’t love the person – sex-love equation
•If we think sex is only to express love, things get included/excluded, and in the
end instead of defining sex, we only get what we use it for
•Taking us away from culture (morals, values) and into the realm of the individual.
Get rid of content, culture and society which give us morals, values, etc.
Sexual desire, by contrast, is desire for another which is nevertheless essentially self-
regarding,.. it bears little relation to those other values… (Goldman 284)
•Morals don’t come into the picture until we have more than one person involved.
Talking about feeling/function at the level of the individual
•Not moral in itself because it was unlike other morals – no moral principle we can
apply to the act itself, but the context. Morality determined by context, not by
Since the concept of perversion is itself a sexual concept, it will always be defined
relative to some definition of normal sex; and any conception of the norm will imply a
contrary notion of perverse norms. (284)
•Questioning our concept of perversion. Needs to take away morality from
perversion if it allows sex to be moral or immoral
•Normality vs. perversion when it comes to sex acts
•“Statistically normal” – if lots of people do it, it’s normal, and vice versa
•Immoral = abnormal, moral = normal. Correlation is not causation.
I do deny that we can find a norm, other than that of statistically usual desire, against
which all only activities that count as sexual perversions can be contrasted.
The connotations of the concept of perversion beyond those connected with abnormality
or statistical deviation derive more from the attitudes of those likely to call certain acts
perverted than from specifiable features of the acts themselves.
•Not the acts, but the people who call them perverted. People who do the judging
•Because concepts change so much it must not lie in the act but the agents
•Perversion doesn’t lie on morality, level of measurement – act only get judged in
comparison with other acts that take place. Taking perversion out of the act – no
perversion, no morality
oVoyeurism is only a sex act if it has the final goal of physical contact –
something amiss. Tries to reconcile by saying the voyeur really does
desire physical contact – hedging his bets
No perversion = no ‘dirty’ things
Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean everyone likes it
Good Sex of Bad Sex (Halwani 227)