PHILOSOPHY OF SEX is an aspect of applied philosophy involved with
the study of sex and love . It includes both ethics of phenomena such
as prostitution , rape , sexual harassment , sexual identity , the age
of consent , homosexuality , and conceptual analysis of concepts such
as "what is sex?" It also includes questions of sexuality and sexual
identity and the ontological status of gender . Leading contemporary
philosophers of sex include
Alan Soble and
Judith Butler .
Contemporary philosophy of sex is sometimes informed by Western
feminism . Issues raised by feminists regarding gender differences,
sexual politics, and the nature of sexual identity are important
questions in the philosophy of sex.
* What is the function of sex?
* What is romantic love ?
* Is there an essential characteristic that makes an act sexual?
* Are some sexual acts good and others bad? According to what
criteria? Alternatively, can consensual sexual acts be immoral, or are
they outside the realm of ethics?
* What is the relationship between sex and biological reproduction?
Can one exist without the other?
* Are sexual identities rooted in some fundamental ontological
difference (such as biology)?
* Is sexuality a function of gender or biological sex?
* 1 History of the philosophy of sex
* 2 Sexual desire
* 3 Putative perversions
* 4 Consent
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Further reading
* 8 External links
HISTORY OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF SEX
Throughout much of the history of Western philosophy, questions of
sex and sexuality have been considered only within the general subject
of ethics. There have, however, been deviations from this pattern out
of which emerge a tradition of speaking of sexual issues in their own
Society for the
Philosophy of Sex and
Love is a professional
group within the membership of the American Philosophical Association
Moral evaluations of sexual activity are determined by judgments on
the nature of the sexual impulse. In this light, philosophies fall
into two camps:
A negative understanding of sexuality, such as from
Immanuel Kant ,
believes that sexuality undermines values, and challenges our moral
treatment of other persons. Sex, says Kant, "makes of the loved person
an Object of appetite". In this understanding, sex is often advised
only for the purpose of procreation. Sometimes sexual celibacy is
considered to lead to the best, or most moral life.
A positive understanding of sexuality – such as from Russell Vannoy
Irving Singer – sees sexual activity as pleasing the self and the
other at the same time.
Thomas Nagel proposes that only sexual interactions with mutual
sexual arousal are natural to human sexuality. Perverted sexual
encounters or events would be those in which this reciprocal arousal
is absent, and in which a person remains fully a subject of the sexual
experience or fully an object.
Religion and sexuality
* Sex positivism
Society and sexuality
* ^ Alan Soble. Internet encyclopedia of philosophy:
* ^ Kant, Immanuel. Lectures on Ethics, p. 163
* ^ St. Paul's praising, in 1 Corinthians 7, sexual celibacy as the
ideal spiritual state.
* ^ Nagel's "Sexual Perversion," pp. 15-17.
Aquinas , St. Thomas. Summa Theologiae. Cambridge, Eng.:
* Augustine , St. (Aurelius). On Marriage and Concupiscence, in The
Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, vol. 12, ed. Marcus
Dods. Edinburgh, Scot.: T. & T. Clark, 1874.
* Baker, Robert, Kathleen Wininger, and Frederick Elliston, eds.
Philosophy and Sex, 3rd edition. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1998.
* Baumrin, Bernard. "Sexual Immorality Delineated," in Robert Baker
and Frederick Elliston, eds.,
Philosophy and Sex, 2nd edition.
Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1984, pp. 300–11.
* Bloom, Allan.
Love and Friendship. New York: Simon and Schuster,
* Buckley Jr., William F.,
Camille Paglia ,
Betty Friedan , Arianna
Michael Kinsley , et al., "Has the Women's Movement Been
Disastrous?: A Firing Line Debate," in Sterling Harwood, ed., Business
as Ethical and Business as Usual (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing
* Butler, Judith (1990).
Feminism and the Subversion
of Identity. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-90043-3 .
* Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive
Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-90365-3 .
* Christensen, F. M., "A Defense of Pornography," in Sterling
Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual (Belmont, CA:
Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996).
* Christina, Greta. "Are We Having Sex Now or What?" in Alan Soble,
Philosophy of Sex, 3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and
Littlefield, 1997, pp. 3–8.
* Finnis, John . "Law, Morality, and 'Sexual Orientation'," Notre
Law Review 69:5 (1994), pp. 1049–76.
* Finnis, John and
Martha Nussbaum . "Is Homosexual Conduct Wrong? A
Philosophical Exchange," in Alan Soble, ed., The
Philosophy of Sex,
3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, pp. 89–94.
* Foucault, Michel . The History of Sexuality. Vols. 1-3. New York:
Vintage, 1990. (Original French publications of the three volumes in
1978, 1984, and 1984, respectively)
* Gray, Robert. "Sex and Sexual Perversion," in Alan Soble, ed., The
Philosophy of Sex, 3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield,
1997, pp. 57–66.
* Grisez, Germain. The Way of the Lord Jesus. Quincy, Ill.:
Franciscan Press, 1993.
* Gudorf, Christine. Body, Sex, and Pleasure: Reconstructing
Christian Sexual Ethics. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 1994.
* Hampton, Jean. "Defining Wrong and Defining Rape," in Keith
Burgess-Jackson, ed., A Most Detestable Crime: New Philosophical
Essays on Rape. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 118–56.
* Held, Virginia. "Coercion and Coercive Offers," in J. Roland
Pennock and John W. Chapman, eds., Coercion: Nomos VIX. Chicago, Ill.:
Aldine, 1972, pp. 49–62.
* Jung, Patricia, and Ralph Smith. Heterosexism: An Ethical
Challenge. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1993.
* Kant , Immanuel. Lectures on Ethics. Translated by Louis Infield.
New York: Harper and Row, 1963.
* Kant, Immanuel. The
Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by Mary
Gregor. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
* Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: On Feminine
Sexuality, The Limits of
Love and Knowledge,
Book XX, Encore,
1972–1973, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Bruce Fink (New York: W.
W. Norton New York : Routledge, 1999.
* Sanders, Stephanie, and June Reinisch. "Would You Say You 'Had
Sex' If . . . ?" Journal of the American Medical Association 281:3
(January 20, 1999), pp. 275–77.
* Scheer, Robert, "Bigger Breasts: The Great Implant Lie," in
Sterling Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual
(Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996).
Roger Scruton . Sexual Desire: A Moral
Philosophy of the Erotic.
New York: Free Press, 1986.
* Singer, Irving. The Nature of Love, vol. 2: Courtly and Romantic.
Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
* Soble, Alan. "Antioch's 'Sexual Offense Policy': A Philosophical