RELG271 Lecture 4: Lecture 4 - Constructing Sexualities

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21 Oct 2015

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Sexual Ethics – Constructing Sexualities
-“If sexuality is, as I believe, about the choice rather than destiny, then the issue of what
we choose and how and why we do so becomes central to the debate” Jeffrey Weeks,
“Values, whose Values?”
1. Martha Nussbaum – Capabilities Approach
-Nussbaum’s philosophy greatly influenced by Aristotle
-Political liberalism as the solution to conflict in society
-We set an overlapping consensus – a set of norms unanimously agreed upon even if they
are preferred for different reasons (e.g. CCRF Christians and Buddhists agree)
-Concern for freedom of conscience – right to believe what one wishes in regard to
religion and sexuality
-Capabilities = opportunities to choose and act
-“What are people actually able to do and to be?”
-Striving to shape one’s own life
-Individual yet cooperative choice
-Active > passive balance necessary to achieve “really human living”
-Problems of groups
-Minimum threshold
-10 central human capabilities:
-Bodily health
-Bodily integrity
-Senses, imagination, thought
-Practical reason
-Other species
-Control over one’s (political & material) environment
2. Sexuality and the Cultivation of Humanity
-Education for democratic citizenship – problem of unreflective citizen, goal of informed
(not ignorant) choice
-Social Construction – learning is social shaped, emotions entail good deal of learning
-Addresses problematic suspicion of sex research
-5 Areas of social construction:
-Sexual behaviour – societies shape norms of behaviour
-Norms: A) Norms about sexuality itself that shape experience (good vs. evil/
balance of both). B) Norms about evaluations within the category (e.g. what is
desirable or undesirable)
-Categories – basic sexual categories undergo social shaping
-Placement of individuals within the categories – maleness and femaleness
(external markings); heterosexuality and homosexuality (no markers)
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