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Lecture 7

Lecture 7.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHL243H1
Professor
Ronniede Sousa

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The specialness of erotic sex - Something is unique about sexuality in that it sets off intense and opposite responses (ex. Sex is conversation, communication – not actually related to sex itself!) - Everyone can find some sexual practices or situations that elicit intense disgust and others that elicit intense excitement - The negative responses tend to dominate Soble - Masturbation is “loving, adulterous, incestuous, same-sex, pederastic, involuntary, so it must be queer” - Since the penis or clitoris need not be involved, sex might be defined as the act in which the person who, by touching sexually sensitive areas of the body, causally produces the sensation is the same person who experiences the sensations - But then mutual masturbation would be conceptually impossible - So reflexivity can’t be necessary - Finally he says that sexual acts in which a person is concerned only with her own pleasure are masturbatory, but this is conceptual, not normative, meaning a paired sexual act can be masturbatory for one person and not the other Virtue ethics - Stems from Aristotle – moral education consists in giving people good habits and appropriate emotional responses so we will respond to other people spontaneously in good ways - But this has to exclude the things that are natural but harmful to the self or others - Acts have virtue if they promote thriving in accordance with human nature as rational and social - Aristotle came up with the golden mean - Good actions stem from good emotions - So if you want to know whether something is good sexually speaking, you have to ask if this thing is good in itself (ex. Making one happy, contributing to thriving) and if it can be pursued in a moderate way - Sex must be judged as worthwhile to be good, and as promoting rather than impeding our rational and social nature - How that works out in practice will be highly dependent on local customs, expectations, etc. - Polygyny, pre-marital sex, same-sex relations, etc. are all culturally dependent Deontology - As free beings, we are committed to reason by the mere fact that our every action is performed for a reason - By its very nature, reason is universal - It can’t be the case that R is a complete, sufficient reason for me to act but not a complete, sufficient reason for you to act - So in order to act rationally, you should be able to justify your action with a universalizable reason - You must always treat others as ends, not means, because by treating people merely as a means, you are denying the essential nature of an autonomous agent - As a deontologist, Kant is against philosophers who believe that except for the harm it does there would be nothing contemptible about casual sex - Kant makes some teleological arguments by coming up with crimes of the flesh which are against the ends of humanity - He distinguishes two types of crimes – ones that violate nature (homosexuality, bestiality) and acts that are according to nature only from the point of view of a natural instinct (adultery, incest) - He says if you do something the animals do, that’s bad because it puts you on the level of animals, but if you do something that even animals don’t do, this makes you worse than the animals – but only in the case of sex! - Kant says sex by itself is degrading because it’s using another person for their sexual parts - It means using the other person or oneself as a thing - A person is not their own property, so using myself as a thing, like unmarried sex, is bad - Sex is redeemed only by a grant of total reciprocal rights, i.e. marriage of complete equality - Except this doesn’t make sense because marriage is then turning yourself into a thing that can be owned by another person! - He also assumes “sexual desire” means an appetite for the sex of another person, so making that person a thing - A person can’t be a thing, and only persons can own things, so they can’t be owned - A person can’t be equal to an animal, so sex is contemptible unless it’s disinfected in some special way (marriage) - If you have an appetite for someone sexually, you only have an appetite for them insofar as they are a means to your end - But can’t there be an appetite for doing something with someone, rather than for someone as a thing? - There are lots of things you could want to do with someone which may have nothing to do with love (like playing chess), but other than sex, none of these desires are considered degrading - When Kant talks about an appetite purely from sexual desire, Kant is assuming you don’t care about the person you’re having sex with, but this doesn’t have to be th
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