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4 Pages

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PHIL 2170
Letitia Meynell

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1. Fausto-Sterling maintains that “European and American culture is deeply devoted to the idea that there are only two sexes” (31). However, she also maintains that historically people in these cultures recognized that not all people fit neatly into either category. Rehearse her account of the way that modern science constructed this idea that there are only two sexes and what this has meant for intersexuals. ANSWER: Modern science constructed the idea that there are only two sexes because of language: he/she/it; the opposite sex. Also legal significance (though not in Canada anymore, thanks to the Charter). The making of the Modern Intersexual, as biology grew as a discipline, acknowledgement of variation, decisions to understand intersexual births through understanding “normal” development first (and vice versa). The intersexed become defined as pathological and something to be treated as medical technology. Science replaced law and “common sense” as the classifier of human bodies. Early 1800’s – true vs. spurious hermaphrodites. Late 1800’s – age of gonads – true hermaphrodites have mixed gonads; the true sex of pseudohmaphrodites is in the gonads, other sexual characteristics are irrelevant to determining true sex. Medical intervention is thus required to determine sex. Intersexuals (hermaphrodites) are defined out of existence. 2. Stein claims that the case for lesbian and gay rights should be made independent of any claims about the causes of homosexuality. In his account he describes and rejects several arguments, all with the same basic structure, which defend gay and lesbian rights on the grounds that homosexuality has a biological basis. Rehearse what you judge to be the best of these arguments (choose only one), explain why you think it is so good, and rehearse Stein’s response. Do you agree with Stein’s assessment of this particular argument or do you think it survives his criticism? ANSWER: Stein’s most powerful argument I believe is when he expresses how if homosexuality has a biological basis, then sexual orientation is not a choice. And if sexual orientation is not a choice then lesbians and gay men deserve rights, protection against discrimination. He then proceeds to elaborate that this implies that things in life, actions specifically are matters of choice and this leaves room for blaming and discrimination of their choices to portray their sexuality (i.e. being seen holding hands with a partner) in public. He relates this to alcoholism in stating that maybe alcoholism is genetic. However, though it is genetic, and therefore not a choice, someone who is actively drunk would still be discriminated against. They would be chosen last to be hired for a job, their behavior would be seen as unacceptable. I think this argument is solid because though Stein justifies why he thinks the argument is valid he is able to show that it is not bullet proof and fails to prove as to why gay rights and protection cannot be linked back to biology this way. I agree with his argument, he makes a valid point and if you put up protection laws even on the basis of this argument it would be flawed and people would still have means to discriminate on the way gay men or lesbians portrayed themselves in public. 3. Nagel draws an analogy between sexual desire and hunger. Explain how he uses this analogy to explain his account of the psychology of sex and sexual perversion. Do you think this analogy offers useful insight into the character of sexual desire? ANSWER: Take the idea of appetite seriously and see if we can find a plausible account of gastronomical perversion. Simply eating non-nourishing objects is not enough; it needs to be psychologically complex. Hunger is an attitude toward edible portions the world, a desire to related to them in a special way. Displacements or serious restrictions of the desire to eat could then be described as perversions, if they undermined the direct relation between man and food that is the natural expression of hunger. Sexual desire is an attitude toward persons. Sexual attraction is toward a particular individual not just the properties that make them attractive. Another person with the same attractive features might provoke desire but it would be a new desire. Different from food – omelets are fungible; persons are not. Just as hunger leads to spontaneous physical interactions with food, sexual desire leads to spontaneous physical interactions with persons who also feel desire. Bad sex is better than none at all, like food. 4. What are the most serious problems with Nagel’s account of sex, according to Solomon and Moulton? Do you agree with their criticisms? ANSWER: Many arguments are brought up on Nagel’s view of liberal sexual mythology. Solomon argues that Nagel’s view is focused solely on the ‘form’ of sexual behavior when it should also encompass the content of it, as he believes that sexual behavior is expressive rather than factive. Solomon also mentions he also disagrees with Nagel’s outlook that orgasm and pleasure is the ultimate goal of sexual behaviors. Moulton, though disagreeing with some of Solomon’s arguments
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