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Study Guide

PP233- Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 74 pages long!)


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PP233
Professor
Gary Foster
Study Guide
Midterm

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WLU
PP233
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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PP233 Class Notes
The Philosophy of Sex, Love, and Friendship
4 January 2017
Introduction
The relation between sex and our identity, or love and our identity is a strong point of interest.
There is an important relation between the two which comes out in many different articles
we’ll be reading.
What is sex? Is it a biological category? Physical interaction between two people?
What does it mean to be sexual? Can anything be an object of sexual desire, or must it be
another person? Are certain types of sex immoral? Why do we regard them as immoral? There
are particular moral concerns that come up—specifically, consent. We think that consent is
important in sexual interaction. What about inanimate objects that cannot consent? Is it
immoral to be sexual with them?
Are certain types of sex perverse? Or does the idea of perversion make no sense? Why might
some forms of sexuality be considered perverse? Is it because it deviates with some of society’s
standards? Perversion seems distinct from morality. We may think that perversions are okay.
Is there any way to distinguish between good sex and bad sex? Comfort with your partner
seems to be a good marker for the quality of sex. Good sex is often thought of as involving a
strong emotional connection, but is this always the case? Sometimes one night stands are
praised as good sex.
Should sex and love always be connected? Sex has always been seen as an expression of love,
but at certain times they have been kept separate, even within Christianity. Sex has been
viewed as instrumental, and love as intrinsic. Kant thought that sex for pleasure was using
someone as a means to an end, rather than as an end in themselves—violating his categorical
imperative. People have argued that they should and should not be connected.
What makes an act sexual? Intention seems like an important component. Can you
unintentionally engage in sexual activity? Is it possible for someone to have a sexual
experience, but not have intended to? For example, women operating a sewing machine
discover that they can masturbate while working using the machine. Are there any essential
characteristics to a sexual act?
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Are there any sexual acts that do not involve sexual pleasure? For instance, in rape, sex work, or
porn?
How are sexual desires related to other desires?
Is flirting a sexual act? It doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact. Is sexual desire a
necessary condition for flirting? Some people may use flirting, fake their intention, to get what
they want. Some people are simply flirtatious—it’s just their way of interacting with other
people.
What is the role of flirtation in sexual identity?
Sexual Identity = Sexual Persona.
What kind of desire is sexual desire? Is it an appetite? Other appetites (hunger and thirst) are
necessary conditions for life, but sex is not necessary for life. In one sense, we’d say sex,
hunger, and thirst are all desires. Sex may be construed as a need for a given species. Sexual
desire, like desire for certain foods, is socially constructed.
When we feel sexual desire, what is it that we desire? What do we want? It seems like we want
a release, to escape a state of tension. We desire another person, but not for the intention of
consumption, like with food or water.
There are different ways that we try to satisfy desires. Some of which we call perverse, some
we don’t. People think that our indirect ways of achieving sexual release (fetishes) still rely on
other people. What are we seeking when we are trying to satisfy sexual desire? One answer is
that we’re looking for another person, a sexual partner. This is where the analogy with hunger
or thirst breaks down. It seems like sexual desire requires another person to satisfy it.
When we have sexual desire, we engage in acts to satisfy it, but we don’t really want to get rid
of it. Unsatisfied sexual desire can be pleasurable also. When we have an itch, we seek release
from it, and would like it to go away forever. In this way, sexual desire is different from an itch.
Even sexual desire that doesn’t reach its conclusion is desirable.
What if we had an orgasm machine, that could deliver any kind of orgasm we would like. Would
it be a good replacement for sexual interaction with another human being? We tend to think
that it is not a good substitute for the real thing. Would we exchange bad sex with the orgasm
machine? What is it beyond the pleasure of a sexual experience that requires another person?
We can think of sexual desire in relation to other desires. One think that is characteristic of all
desires is a lack. For example, hunger comes from a lack of food. Sexual desire, like other
desires, indicates a certain lack. What is the lack? Once we have identified the lack, what will
satisfy it?
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