PHIL 2170 Lecture Notes - Voyeurism, Zoophilia, Dennis Amiss
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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