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Sexual Ethics

Edited by Benjamin Smart (University of Birmingham, University of Johannesburg)
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  1. R. Barina & J. P. Bishop (2013). Maturing the Minor, Marginalizing the Family: On the Social Construction of the Mature Minor. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38 (3):300-314.
    The doctrine of the mature minor began as an emergency exception to the rule of parental consent. Over time, the doctrine crept into cases that were non-emergent. In this essay, we show how the doctrine also developed in the context of the latter part of the 20th century, at the same time that the sexual revolution, the pill, and sexual liberation came to be seen as important symbols of female liberation—liberation that required that female minors be granted the status of (...)
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  2. Raymond Belliotti (1979). A Philosophical Analysis of Sexual Ethics. Journal of Social Philosophy 10 (3):8-11.
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  3. Claudia Card (1992). Lesbian Ethics and the Journal Lesbian Ethics: A Review. Hypatia 7 (4):207 - 211.
    Lesbian Ethics, a U.S. journal of lesbian culture, has offered highly readable philosophical essays, reviews, discussions, and other nonfiction since late 1984 (twelve issues to date). It provides a forum in which the meaning of "lesbian" takes shape from self concepts formed in cooperative interaction and thus lays the ground-work for lesbians becoming publicly recognized as the foremost interpreters of lesbian identity and history.
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  4. Christopher Chan & Brenda Scott-Ladd (2014). The Judas Within: A Look at the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church. Ethics and Behavior 24 (4):326-339.
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  5. Cheryl H. Cohen (1986). The Feminist Sexuality Debate: Ethics and Politics. Hypatia 1 (2):71 - 86.
    The purpose of this paper is to offer a critical evaluation of representative positions in the feminst sexuality debate and to suggest that ethical considerations are essential to the complex task of political transformation which is the goal of both sides in the debate. This paper explores both a "rights view" of ethics and a "responsibilities view" and shows, through specific examples, how an appeal to ethics might take feminist sexual politics beyond the current debate.
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  6. P. Dearey (2002). Mark D. Jordan The Ethics of Sex. Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (3):305-305.
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  7. Russell Eisenman (2013). The Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal: Personal and Psychological Insights. Journal of Information Ethics 22 (1):8-10.
  8. Donald C. Hubin (2003). Daddy Dilemmas: Untangling the Puzzles of Paternity. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 13 (29):29-80.
    Though most children can easily answer the question, "Who's your daddy?", the concept of paternity is complex and multifaceted. Courts have stumbled in answering it. In order to ground paternal rights and obligations in a satisfactory way, we need to disaggregate the various elements of stereotypical paternity. It is not sufficient merely to separate social from biological paternity. The latter concept, itself, is complex. We need to separate the procreative element of paternity from the genetic relationship.
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  9. Kathleen Martindale & Martha Saunders (1992). Realizing Love and Justice: Lesbian Ethics in the Upper and Lower Case. Hypatia 7 (4):148 - 171.
    This essay examines two tendencies in lesbian ethics as differing visions of community, as well as contrasting views of the relationship between the erotic and the ethical. In addition to considering those authors who make explicit claims about lesbian ethics, this paper reflects on the works of some lesbians whose works are less frequently attended to in discussions about lesbian ethics, including lesbians writing from the perspectives of theology and of literature.
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  10. Christine Overall (1998). Monogamy, Nonmonogamy, and Identity. Hypatia 13 (4):1 - 17.
    After a brief discussion of the terms "monogamy" and "nonmonogamy," I evaluate explanations offered by different theorists for the pain that nonmonogamy can cause to the partner (especially a female partner) of a nonmonogamous person (of either sex). My suggestion is that the self, especially the female self, is conventionally defined in terms of sexual partners. I present and reply to a possible objection to this explanation, and then discuss my theory's normative implications.
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  11. Iris Marion Young (1993). Sexual Ethics in the Age of Epidemic. Hypatia 8 (3):184-193.
Ethical Theories and Sexual Ethics
  1. Derrick Sherwin Bailey (uuuu/1963). Sexual Ethics: A Christian View. New York, Macmillan.
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  2. Dirk Baltzly (2003). Peripatetic Perversions. The Monist 86 (1):3-29.
    I think that perversions, if there are any such things, are either sexual manifestations of various aspects of bad moral character or states that are psychologically inextricable from bad moral character. I am myself unsure whether there are any sexual perversions. In this paper, though, I have simply been concerned to argue that ordinary moral discourse has sufficient implicit teleology to allow talk of sexual perversions to be meaningful. It might yet turn out that there are none.
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  3. Ann Bernsen, Barbara G. Tabachnick & Kenneth S. Pope (1994). National Survey of Social Workers' Sexual Attraction to Their Clients: Results, Implications, and Comparison to Psychologists. Ethics and Behavior 4 (4):369 – 388.
    A survey form sent to psychologists (Pope, Keith-Spiegel, & Tabachnick, 1986) was adapted and sent to 1,000 clinical social workers (return rate = 45%). Most participants reported sexual attraction to a client, causing (for most) guilt, anxiety, or confusion. Some reported having sexual fantasies about a client while engaging in sex with someone other than a client. Relatively few (3.6% men; 0.5% women) reported sex with a client; training was related to likelihood of offending, though the effect is small and (...)
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  4. Barbara J. Blodgett (2002). Constructing the Erotic: Sexual Ethics and Adolescent Girls. Pilgrim Press.
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  5. Sólveig Anna Bóasdóttir (1998). Violence, Power, and Justice: A Feminist Contribution to Christian Sexual Ethics. Academia Upsaliensis.
  6. Lara Denis (2006). Sex and the Virtuous Kantian Agent. In Raja Halwani (ed.), Sex and Ethics: Essays in Sexuality, Virtue, and the Good Life. Palgrave Macmillan.
    This paper explores how a virtuous Kantian agent would regard and express her sexuality. I argue both that Kant has a rich account of virtue, and that a virtuous Kantian agent should view her sexuality as a good thing–as an important aspect of her animal nature. On my view, the virtuous agent does not seek to suppress her sexuality, but rather to find modes and contexts for its expression that allow the agent to maintain her self-respect and to avoid degrading (...)
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  7. Ezio Di Nucci (2014). Fathers and Abortion. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (4):444-458.
    I argue that it is possible for prospective mothers to wrong prospective fathers by bearing their child; and that lifting paternal liability for child support does not correct the wrong inflicted to fathers. It is therefore sometimes wrong for prospective mothers to bear a child, or so I argue here. I show that my argument for considering the legitimate interests of prospective fathers is not a unique exception to an obvious right to procreate. It is, rather, part of a growing (...)
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  8. Brian D. Earp (2013). Criticising Religious Practices. The Philosophers' Magazine 63:15-17.
    In 2012, a German court ruled that religious circumcision of male minors constitutes criminal bodily assault. Muslim and Jewish groups responded with outrage, with some commentators pegging the ruling to Islamophobic and anti-Semitic motivations. In doing so, these commentators failed to engage with any of the legal and ethical arguments actually given by the court in its landmark decision. In this brief commentary, I argue that a firm distinction must be drawn between criticisms of religious practices that stem from irrational (...)
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  9. Brian D. Earp, Anders Sandberg & Julian Savulescu (2012). Natural Selection, Childrearing, and the Ethics of Marriage (and Divorce): Building a Case for the Neuroenhancement of Human Relationships. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):561-587.
    We argue that the fragility of contemporary marriages—and the corresponding high rates of divorce—can be explained (in large part) by a three-part mismatch: between our relationship values, our evolved psychobiological natures, and our modern social, physical, and technological environment. “Love drugs” could help address this mismatch by boosting our psychobiologies while keeping our values and our environment intact. While individual couples should be free to use pharmacological interventions to sustain and improve their romantic connection, we suggest that they may have (...)
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  10. Raja Halwani (2011). Temperance and Sexual Ethics. In Adrianne Leigh McEvoy (ed.), Sex, Love, and Friendship: Studies of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love: 1993-2003. Rodopi.
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  11. Jeffrey Hershfield (2009). The Ethics of Sexual Fantasy. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (1):27-49.
    I defend the thesis that a person’s sexual fantasies function autonomously from his desires, beliefs, and intentions, a fact I attributeto their different forms of intentionality: the contents of sexual fantasies, unlike those of the latter, lack a direction of fit and thus fail to express satisfaction conditions. I then show how the autonomy thesis helps to answer important questions about the ethics of sexual fantasy. I also argue that the autonomy thesis can claim empirical support from several areas, including (...)
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  12. Peter Higgins (2005). Sexual Disorientation: Moral Implications of Gender Norms. In Lisa Gurley, Claudia Leeb & Anna Aloisia Moser (eds.), Feminists Contest Politics and Philosophy. PIE - Peter Lang.
    This paper argues that participating exclusively or predominantly in heterosexual romantic or sexual relationships is prima facie morally impermissible. It holds that this conclusion follows from three premises: (1) gender norms are on-balance harmful; (2) conforming to harmful social norms is prima facie morally impermissible; and (3) participating exclusively or predominantly in heterosexual romantic or sexual relationships is a way of conforming to gender norms.
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  13. Timothy Hsiao (2014). A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument Against Homosexual Sex. Heythrop Journal 55 (6).
  14. Kevin T. Kelly (1998). New Directions in Sexual Ethics: Moral Theology and the Challenge of Aids. G. Champman.
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  15. Alexander Lucie-Smith (2008). Just Love: A Framework for Sexual Ethics. By Margaret A. Farley. Heythrop Journal 49 (3):499–500.
  16. Alexander Lucie-Smith (2007). Sex and Virtue: An Introduction to Sexual Ethics. By John S. Grabowski. Heythrop Journal 48 (3):481–483.
  17. Donald MacKenzie MacKinnon (ed.) (1965). God, Sex and War. Philadelphia, Westminster Press.
    Ethical problems of nuclear warfare, by D. M. MacKinnon.-Ethical problems of sex, by H. Root.-Personal relations before marriage, by H. Montefiore.-Conduct and faith, by J. Burnaby.
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  18. Francesco Orsi (2012). Sidgwick and the Morality of Purity. Revue d'Etudes Benthamiennes 10 (10).
    The aim of this work is to bring analytically to light Sidgwick’s complex views on sexual morality. Sidgwick saw nothing intrinsically, self-evidently, and even derivatively wrong in getting sexual pleasure for its own sake. However, the overall consequences of attempting to modify common sense in matters of sexual ethics seemed to him to be worse, at his time, than retaining the moral category of purity. Sidgwick’s view is then contrasted with John Stuart Mill’s, whom he directly mentions in this connection. (...)
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  19. Catherine Osborne (2008). Sexual Ethics: The Meaning and Foundations of Sexual Morality – Aurel Kolnai. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 58 (231):377–379.
  20. Alexander Pruss (2000). Christian Sexual Ethics and Teleological Organicity. The Thomist 64 (1):71-100.
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  21. J. F. Risby (1973). The Moral Considerations Affecting Sex Education in the Primary School. Journal of Moral Education 3 (1):325-343.
  22. Jonathan Stoltz (2014). The Ethics (and Economics) of Tibetan Polyandry. Journal of Buddhist Ethics 21:601-622.
    Fraternal polyandry—one woman simultaneously being married to two or more brothers—has been a prominent practice within Tibetan agricultural societies for many generations. While the topic of Tibetan polyandry has been widely discussed in the field of anthropology, there are, to my knowledge, no contributions by philosophers on this topic. For this reason alone, my brief analysis of the ethics of Tibetan polyandry will serve to enhance scholars’ understanding of this practice. In this article I examine the factors that have sustained (...)
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  23. Robert S. Taylor (2014). Religious Conservatives and Safe Sex: Reconciliation by Nonpublic Reason. American Political Thought 3 (2):322-340.
    Religious conservatives in the U.S. have frequently opposed public-health measures designed to combat STDs among minors, such as sex education, condom distribution, and HPV vaccination. Using Rawls’s method of conjecture, I will clear up what I take to be a misunderstanding on the part of religious conservatives: even if we grant their premises regarding the nature and source of sexual norms, the wide-ranging authority of parents to enforce these norms against their minor children, and the potential sexual-disinhibition effects of the (...)
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  24. Jenny Teichman (2008). Reviews Sexual Ethics: The Meaning and Foundations of Sexual Morality. By Aurel Kolnai. Translated and Edited by Francis Dunlop. With a Preface by Roger Scruton. Ashgate, Aldershot, Hampshire 2005. [REVIEW] Philosophy 83 (3):407-412.
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  25. Jonathan Webber (2009). Sex. Philosophy 84 (2):233-250.
    The sexual domain is unified only by the phenomenal quality of the occurrence of the desires, activities, and pleasures classed as sexual. There is no conceptual restriction on the range of intentional objects those desires, activities, and pleasures can take. Neither is there good conceptual reason to privilege some sexual desires, activities, or pleasures as paradigmatic. Since the phenomenal quality unifying the sexual domain is not itself morally significant, the morality of sexuality is no different from morality in general. The (...)
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Natural Law and Sexual Ethics
  1. Dirk Baltzly (2003). Peripatetic Perversions. The Monist 86 (1):3-29.
    I think that perversions, if there are any such things, are either sexual manifestations of various aspects of bad moral character or states that are psychologically inextricable from bad moral character. I am myself unsure whether there are any sexual perversions. In this paper, though, I have simply been concerned to argue that ordinary moral discourse has sufficient implicit teleology to allow talk of sexual perversions to be meaningful. It might yet turn out that there are none.
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  2. Timothy Hsiao (2014). A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument Against Homosexual Sex. Heythrop Journal 55 (6).
  3. Jonathan Stoltz (2014). The Ethics (and Economics) of Tibetan Polyandry. Journal of Buddhist Ethics 21:601-622.
    Fraternal polyandry—one woman simultaneously being married to two or more brothers—has been a prominent practice within Tibetan agricultural societies for many generations. While the topic of Tibetan polyandry has been widely discussed in the field of anthropology, there are, to my knowledge, no contributions by philosophers on this topic. For this reason alone, my brief analysis of the ethics of Tibetan polyandry will serve to enhance scholars’ understanding of this practice. In this article I examine the factors that have sustained (...)
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  4. Robert S. Taylor (2014). Religious Conservatives and Safe Sex: Reconciliation by Nonpublic Reason. American Political Thought 3 (2):322-340.
    Religious conservatives in the U.S. have frequently opposed public-health measures designed to combat STDs among minors, such as sex education, condom distribution, and HPV vaccination. Using Rawls’s method of conjecture, I will clear up what I take to be a misunderstanding on the part of religious conservatives: even if we grant their premises regarding the nature and source of sexual norms, the wide-ranging authority of parents to enforce these norms against their minor children, and the potential sexual-disinhibition effects of the (...)
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  5. Jonathan Webber (2009). Sex. Philosophy 84 (2):233-250.
    The sexual domain is unified only by the phenomenal quality of the occurrence of the desires, activities, and pleasures classed as sexual. There is no conceptual restriction on the range of intentional objects those desires, activities, and pleasures can take. Neither is there good conceptual reason to privilege some sexual desires, activities, or pleasures as paradigmatic. Since the phenomenal quality unifying the sexual domain is not itself morally significant, the morality of sexuality is no different from morality in general. The (...)
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Sexual Consent
  1. David Archard (2007). Is It Rape? On Acquaintance Rape and Taking Women's Consent Seriously - by Joan McGregor, Making Sense of Sexual Consent - by Mark Cowling & Paul Reynolds, the Logic of Consent, the Diversity and Deceptiveness of Consent as a Defence to Criminal Conduct - by Peter Westen, and Consent to Sexual Relations - by Lan Wertheimer. Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (2):209–221.
  2. David Archard (1999). [Book Review] Sexual Consent. [REVIEW] Ethics 109 (3):643-644.
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  3. Thom Brooks (2009). The Problem with Polygamy. Philosophical Topics 37 (2):109-22.
    Polygamy is a hotly contested practice and open to widespread misunderstandings. This practice is defined as a relationship between either one husband and multiple wives or one wife and multiple husbands. Today, 'polygamy' almost exclusively takes the form of one husband with multiple wives. In this article, my focus will centre on limited defences of polygamy offered recently by Chesire Calhoun and Martha Nussbaum. I will argue that these defences are unconvincing. The problem with polygamy is primarily that it is (...)
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  4. Brian D. Earp (2013). Criticising Religious Practices. The Philosophers' Magazine 63:15-17.
    In 2012, a German court ruled that religious circumcision of male minors constitutes criminal bodily assault. Muslim and Jewish groups responded with outrage, with some commentators pegging the ruling to Islamophobic and anti-Semitic motivations. In doing so, these commentators failed to engage with any of the legal and ethical arguments actually given by the court in its landmark decision. In this brief commentary, I argue that a firm distinction must be drawn between criticisms of religious practices that stem from irrational (...)
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  5. Renee Heberle (2002). Book Review: Edited by Sharon Lamb. Victimization and Consent and New Versions of Victims: Feminists Struggle with the Concept. New York: New York University Press, 1999. And Pamela Haag. Consent: Sexual Rights and the Transformation of American Liberalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999. [REVIEW] Hypatia 17 (3):257-264.
  6. Igor Primoratz (2001). Sexual Morality: Is Consent Enough? [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (3):201-218.
    The liberal view that valid consent is sufficient for a sex act to be morally legitimate is challenged by three major philosophies of sex: the Catholic view of sex as ordained for procreation and properly confined to marriage, the romantic view of sex as bound up with love, and the radical feminist analysis of sex in our society as part and parcel of the domination of women by men. I take a critical look at all three, focusing on Mary Geach''s (...)
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  7. Eric Reitan (2007). Alan Wertheimer, Consent to Sexual Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), Pp. XV + 293. Utilitas 19 (2):261-263.
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  8. Alan Soble (1997). Antioch's “Sexual Offense Policy”: A Philosophical Exploration. Journal of Social Philosophy 28 (1):22-36.
    An analytic investigation of Antioch's "Sexual Offense Policy.".
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  9. Rosemarie Putnam Tong (1999). David Archard, Sexual Consent:Sexual Consent. Ethics 109 (3):643-644.
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