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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHL243H1
Professor
Ronniede Sousa
Semester
Winter

Description
1. What is special about philosophical questions as opposed to scientific or historical ones? - Philosophy wants to change our minds by argument rather than fact - Philosophy is always open to refutation and its attitude is skepticism - Philosophy has no methods for solving problems - Philosophy holds nothing sacred - Rational argument is crucial 2. When distinguished from sex, what does the term gender refer to? Is the distinction clear? Why might one want (as Roughgarden does) to speak only of gender? - Gender is social; gender roles based on biological sex 3. What is Roughgarden’s most important contention in the passage you read from her? - Evolution supports diversity because diverse species can survive changing environments - Asexual species are evolutionary dead ends because once the environment changes or once there is a bad mutation, the species can’t continue 4. What is the relation of reproduction to sex (necessary? sufficient? morally required)? - Many organisms reproduce asexually - There are drawbacks to reproduction, such as cost of meiosis (if you’re a gene, the chances of being transmitted are 50%, cost of mate search, twofold cost of sex (if you need two organisms to create one organism) - But sex is better for genes since they allow species to continue even if infected by a bad gene - Aquinas says reproduction is morally required for sex, since the natural function of sex (its purpose) is reproduction - Nagel says the connection between sex and reproduction is irrelevant to perversions, since reproduction is biological while sex is physiological - Even if something perverts the reproductive function, it isn’t a sexual perversion - He says the purpose of sex isn’t reproduction, but a reciprocal conversation; a feedback loop where Romeo senses Juliet who senses Romeo sensing her, etc. - Goldman says the ends of sexual acts aren’t essential to understanding sexuality, since sexual desire is simply the desire for certain pleasures and sexual activity fulfills these desires - Goldman says that even if we allow that nature’s purpose of sex is reproduction, it doesn’t logically follow that it should be ours - The desire for sex isn’t necessarily a desire to reproduce - The means-end analysis thatAquinas likes – there is a specific function of sex, and any sex that doesn’t fulfill this function is either wrong or incomplete - Goldman says this is inconsistent, since homosexual acts are condemned but kissing isn’t 5. What is the moral philosophy called Utilitarianism? How does it differ from Deontology, from Natural Law Theory, and from Virtue Theory? - Utilitarianism = do what maximizes utility (if pleasure is good and sex brings pleasure, then sex is good) - Deontology = you must or must not do this, period (categorical imperative – means not an end) - Teleology = do what best fulfills your goal (ex. if the natural function of sex is to reproduce, then we should have the kind of sex that begets reproduction; if we want pleasure, then we should have the kind of sex that begets pleasure) - Natural law is teleological because of means-ends (naturalness and functions) - Virtue ethics = cultivate good habits (Aristotle and golden mean) – acts exhibit virtue if they are rational and social - We should question whether sex is rational and social and whether it is being pursued in appropriate measure 6. In philosophy, what does it mean to “beg the question”? Give an example. - Circular reasoning is circular reasoning because the reasoning is circular 7. What are the main views expressed in the Symposium about the nature of erotic love? - Phaedrus: better to make love with someone who isn’t in love with you – love makes you act well because you will be ashamed if your lover sees you acting badly because you want to be the best possible person for them and sacrifice yourself for them – it’s better to love than be loved because loving changes us while being loved doesn’t - Pausanias: love is expressed in emotional responses, ex. being willing to kill for love, and the truest love is between man and boy - Eryximachus: love is expressed in the body through reconciling opposites to create harmony - Aristophanes: originally we were two, male dyads, female dyads, and hermaphrodites, and people long for the other half – when people found their other half, they starved to death because all they wanted to do was embrace, so Zeus put genitals in front so they could have sex while embracing - Agathon: praises love, saying love is the happiest god and the most beautiful and the best and the bravest, wisest, etc. - Socrates: in love you want what you lack; love longs for beauty so it much lack beauty - Diotima: love is neither ugly nor beautiful but something in between, and love is of the beautiful and love is a lover of wisdom and knowledge - No one does anything bad on purpose because everyone wants the good, so if you want the bad, you made a mistake about what is good - If you love an individual person, why do you love him? - If it’s because he’s beautiful, then you must love everyone else who is equally beautiful - So what you love must not really exist – you love forms – you love beauty itself - Alcibiades: love is really about the individual, since he loves Socrates and only Socrates 8. Define the Puritan, Lawrentian (or Inverted Puritan) and Pansexual models of the place of sex in the human person. - Puritan model = sex is of the animal body, and reason belongs to the higher soul and is often opposed to the body’s impulses, so lust is bad but is disinfected by love and marriage - The problem is that both love and lust our part of our lives and bodily functions - Lawrentian model = when we intellectualize our sex drives, we corrupt them, so only lust marks our authentic nature - Pansexual model = all motivation comes from eros, so we need to transform eros into something higher like art or literature 9. In the passage you read fromAquinas, what is the role of the idea of "natural function"? How does it relate to the ban on adultery, homosexuality, incest, and masturbation? - To live well, we must follow nature - We can derive a natural function by looking at what end a thing typically accomplishes or why it exists, ex. the heart exists to pump blood rather than to beat - The natural function of sex is procreation - Homosexuality is bad because it hinders the begetting of children - Incest is bad because it’s against right reason (procreation) and misuses a woman - Masturbation is bad because there is no begetting of children - Adultery is bad because it harms children and the institution of marriage 10. What does Kant see as the particular virtues of marriage in relation to sexual relations? - Marriage removes the issue of objectification - Instead of using another person as a means to an end, both of you are giving yourselves to the other person - You transfer your rights to another person, and when you marry that person, you gain your rights back; thus a mutual exchange - Sex without marriage is degrading because we want to use another person’s body for our pleasure 11. What is essentialism? What is essentialist feminism? - Essentialism = certain properties are shared universally by a group - Feminism is anti-essentialism 12. What are the three key factors in the process of evolution by natural selection? - We need a source of variability for progress - We need heritability so things are transmitted from generations - We need selection to occur 13. “The sexual process is in fact the precise opposite of reproduction”. What do Szathmáry and Maynard Smith mean by this? - In reproduction, one cell divides in two - In sex, two cells fuse to form one - Single cell organisms reproduce without sex 14. How does the existence of sexual reproduction seem to create difficulties for the theory of evolution by natural selection? List four disadvantages of sexual reproduction over parthenogenesis (= all-female, self-cloning). - Cost of meiosis - Twofold cost of sex - With parthenogenesis, we don’t need to find a partner to mate with and population can evolve more rapidly 15. Distinguish the “cost of meiosis” from the “two-fold cost of sex”. - Cost of meiosis = if you’re a gene, chances of getting reproduced are 50% - Twofold cost of sex = you have to feed two people and you need two people to have one, but two parents double child’s chance of survival – you take two people and create one instead of vice versa 16. The sexes according to Fausto-Sterling: how many sexes should we recognize? How are they defined? What is a true hermaphrodite?A“ferm”?A“merm”? - Five sexes - Herms have one testis and one ovary - Merms have testes and some female genitalia but no ovaries - Ferms have ovaries and some male genitalia but no testes 17. What is the significance of the fact that gametes come in two very different sizes? Does it necessarily entail that men will be aggressive and women coy? - Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that because women have very few eggs, they are more selective about who they mate with than men, who have many sperm and can thus produce many offspring - However, when you control for social and cultural norms, it turns out that men and women are actually equally monogamous/promiscuous - Also, in different species gametes are different sizes, and in some species men carry the babies and women don’t 18. What are the “twelve steps” (biological and social) that determine the various aspects of sex, gender, and sexual orientation? Do they always go together? - Gamete differentiation - Chromosomes - Fetal hormones - External anatomy - Gonadal sex - Physiological reproductive functions - Hormonal influences in adolescence and adulthood - Secondary sex characteristics - Social roles in partnership, child raising - Social roles in wider social/political sphere - Gender identity and style - Sexual orientation 19. How is gender identity related to other aspects of gender? - Gender identity impacts social role and generally correlates with sex designation 20. Explain the possibility, and discuss the pros and cons, of a sexual system in which gender was regarded as a continuum rather than a dichotomy. - This would allow for greater individual expression when people don’t conform to strict stereotypes 21. What is the difference, explained in Overall’s article Cisgender and Transgender persons, between “acquired identities” and “aspirational identities”? - Acquired identity = no work to maintain - Aspirational identity = requires performance to maintain 22. In the same article, what does Overall mean by a "system of compulsory gender"? Why do you suppose such a system exists? What might be its advantages and disadvantages? - Everyone has to choose a gender; they can’t be outside it - This allows people to “fit in” and have certain social roles but forces conformity 23. If a biological phenomenon or process is natural, what, if anything, does this imply about its frequency?About its normative status or value?About its moral status? About its desirability? - Just because something is doesn’t mean it should be - Except in a teleological model where what is natural is what is good 24. In his article on "Sexual Perversion", does Nagel actually designate some practices as perversions? Why? or Why not? - For there to be perversions, we have to assume that some sexual desires or practices are natural and some are unnatural - Certain practices are without question perversions, ex. shoe fetishism - But unnatural sexual thoughts can also be a perversion since they are unnatural - Perversion is a psychological rather than a physiological one - Perversion is when there is no reciprocity or interpersonality - Homosexuality isn’t a perversion because it’s simply a sexual preference in which people differ - We might be able to classify sadism and masochism as perversions since there’s no reciprocity - We need a certain definition of sexual ethics to establish what perversion might be - There is nothing to suggest non-perverse sex is better than perverse sex - If the question is about enjoyment, this might be more important than whether sex is perverted or not 25. What is the main critical contention—applying to both Aquinas and Nagel—in Goldman’s article “Plain Sex”? - Sex isn’t just the means to another end (ex. reproduction or communication) - Sexual desire is simply the desire for physical pleasure 26. What is Goldman’s central positive claim about the nature of erotic sex in the same article? - The emphasis is on sexual desire (the longing for physical contact) and sex is activity that tends to fulfill it - Sex is not intrinsically a moral category; immorality in sex only comes from immorality that could also be applied elsewhere, ex. rape is immoral because of force used (assault) - The only way to evaluate sex is by degrees of pleasure derived from it, not in moral terms - Perversions are statistical aberrations without moral content 27. Define the two positions (“reductionist” and “intentionalist”) contrasted in Morgan’s article “Sex in the Head”? - Reductionism = sex is simply the quelling of an appetite - Intentionalism = sex exists in the mental – the nature of sexual pleasure can be transformed by the significance the person or the situation has for us 28. What is Morgan’s core criticism of reductionism? Do you agree? Why, or why not? - The reductionist view must show that sexual pleasure is a uniform phenomenon that manifests the same way in all circumstances - The pleasure itself may be a different kind, in which case there would be different kinds of plea
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