This essay is not about what love is. It is about what self-ascriptions of love do. People typically self-ascribe romantic love when a nexus of feelings, beliefs, attitudes, values, commitments, experiences, and personal histories matches their conception of romantic love. But what shapes this conception? And (how) can we adjudicate amongst conflicting conceptions? -/- Self-ascriptions of love do not merely describe the underlying nexus of attitudes and beliefs. They also change it. This essay describes how conceptions of love affect romantic (...) experience. I limn distinctions between love and obsessive infatuation and explore ways language can cultivate queer romantic preferences. Since conceptions of love are shaped, often implicitly, by terms available in one’s linguistic community, the resulting nexus of concepts and conceptions manifests linguistic luck. I suggest ways we might sculpt the language of love to better understand—and change—ourselves. Love can help us flourish and so can our “love” language. (shrink)
How ought we socially to categorize individuals with respect to sexual orientation? In this paper, I engage with philosophical work on the foundations of political solidarity as well as public health research on the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS in order to develop a categorization scheme conducive to the normatively important aims of LGBTQIA+ social movements.
In this essay, we aim to provide an overview of the political and philosophical issues pertaining to asexuality. The ﬁrst section, “What Is Asexuality?,” oﬀers an account of asexuality. The second section, “Asexuality as a Unique Sexual Orientation,” argues that asexuality should be understood as a unique sexual orientation. The third section, “Asexuality and Oppression,” discusses the various forms of oppression facing asexual persons today. The fourth section, “The Goods of Asexuality,” articulates some goods that asexuality brings to human lives, (...) and we do this with an eye toward conceiving of asexuality as something other than a mere deﬁcit. (shrink)
The Yogyakarta Principles for the application of human rights to sexual orientation and gender identity define gender identity as “each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, and mannerisms.” This definition and its acknowledgment within human rights politics is a key step in the fight of trans people for legal protection. Our (...) aim is to analyze this definition both historically and systematically to find out how the Western liberal conception of rights fosters specific trans politics and limits the options for others. Specifically, we claim that political liberalism and the form of subjective rights that it brings about influence concepts of identity and political strategies. While we analyze the limits of the liberal framework, our aim is to think about how it is possible that even within this framework, non-normative bodies and queer identities can be acknowledged and supported through law. (shrink)
There is a conflict between a strictly political approach to LGBT rights, in which the battle must never cease. and the less encountered notion that individuals can let the battle settle into the background and simply get on with unpolitical life. at least unpolitical at home. The article takes the example of India as a salient place to view this conflict. As a democratic nation, India has had some limited progress in protecting LGBT rights. How its massively differentiated and traditional (...) society has adopted and tolerated this moral enjoinder is another matter. Certainly, acceptance is as important as legal recognition. But how are the politics faring at the individual level? One of the best media for feeling a nation’s political pulse is not internet or television but literature. Two current Indian authors exemplify how, at the personal level, some sexual politicking has already succeeded, in some social realms, by almost disappearing from the narrative. (shrink)
Is there a choice in sexual orientation? [Wilkerson, William S. : “Is It a Choice? Sexual Orientation as Interpretation”. In: Journal of Social Philosophy 40. No. 1, p. 97–116] argues that sexual desires require interpretation in order to be fully constituted, and therefore sexual orientation is at least partially constituted by choice. [Díaz-León, Esa : “Sexual Orientation as Interpretation? Sexual Desires, Concepts, and Choice”; In: Journal of Social Ontology] critically assesses Wilkerson’s argument, concluding that we still lack a good argument (...) for the claim that choice plays a role in sexual orientation. Here I examine Díaz-León’s response to Wilkerson. I introduce what I call the conceptual act theory of sexual orientation, and argue that even if interpretation were not necessary to constitute sexual desires, it is a necessary element to constitute what we call sexual orientation. However, I conclude that even if we agree that interpretation is involved in sexual orientation, it does not follow that there is a choice involved. (shrink)
Are sexual orientations freely chosen? The idea that someone’s sexual orientation is not a choice is very influential in the mainstream LGBT political movement. But do we have good reasons to believe it is not a choice? Going against the orthodoxy, William Wilkerson has recently argued that sexual orientation is partly constituted by our interpretations of our own sexual desires, and we choose these interpretations, so sexual orientation is partly constituted by choice. In this paper I aim to examine the (...) question of whether our interpretations of our own sexual desires are constitutive of our sexual orientations. I will argue that whereas Wilkerson’s argument for the claim that sexual orientations are in part constituted by our chosen interpretations of our sexual desires is not sound, there are good reasons for endorsing a weaker claim, namely, that there are different but equally apt descriptions of the same sexual desires, depending on which concepts we have. (shrink)
This new book from Michael Hauskeller explores the currently marketed or projected sex/love products that exhibit some trait of so-called “posthumanistic” theory or design. These products are so designated because of their intention to fuse high technologies, including robotics and computing, with the human user. The author offers several arguments for why the theory behind these products leads to inconsistencies. The book uses a unique approach to philosophical argument by enmeshing the argument’s major points in a concomitant discussion of pieces (...) from world literature pertaining to posthumanism. The method is compelling, heightened by great world authorial insights that rarely find their way into philosophy and shores up some strong argumentative points. Yet some of the argument still needs more elucidating. (shrink)
This book provides a philosophical analysis of adult-child sex and pedophilia. The sex intuitively strikes many people, including myself, as sick, disgusting, and wrong. The problem is that it is not clear whether these judgments are justified and whether they are aesthetic or moral. By analogy, many people find it disgusting to view images of obese people having sex, but it is hard to see what is morally undesirable about such sex. Here the judgment is aesthetic. This book looks at (...) the moral status of such adult-child sex. In particular, it explores whether those who engage in adult-child sex have a disease, act wrongly, or are vicious. In addition, it looks at how the law should respond to such sex given the above analyses. (shrink)
This paper draws on findings from qualitative interviews with queer and trans patients and with physicians providing care to queer and trans patients in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, to explore how routine practices of health care can perpetuate or challenge the marginalization of queers. One of the most common “measures” of improved cultural competence in health care practice is self-reported increases in confidence and comfort, though it seems unlikely that an increase in physician comfort levels with queer and trans patients (...) will necessarily mean better health care for queers. More attention to current felt discomfort in patient–provider encounters is required. Policies and practices that avoid discomfort at all costs are not always helpful for care, and experiences of shared discomfort in queer health contexts are not always harmful. (shrink)
Furthering the dialogue with J. Wentzel van Huyssteen over his way of reconciling Christianity and science while reflecting on human uniqueness, I offer a philosophical analysis of the phenomenon of transsexuality. The focus of my analysis is the implications of transsexuality for the metaphysics of reductive naturalism. Envisioning a pluralistic ontology of the sexed human body, I propose to account for human sexuality within the general framework of normative pragmatism. The context of my reflections is a theology of sexual diversity, (...) which I believe van Huyssteen has good reasons to endorse. (shrink)
When non-heterosexual spouses come out of the closet to their husbands or wives, attention is generally focused upon the non-heterosexual member of the relationship. He or she is often lauded for having the strength to openly acknowledge and pursue a central component of his or her personal identity.Although the attention is justified in many cases, left unexplained is how the heterosexual spouse was treated prior to the revelation. I argue that many heterosexual-non-heterosexual pairings involve spousal abuse. The maltreatment stems from (...) the deceived being treated as a mere means, and prevented from exercising her autonomy and receiving a nurturing marriage the heterosexual spouse expects and deserves. (shrink)
How do the ways we argue represent a practical philosophy or a way of life? Are concepts of character and ethos pertinent to our understanding of academic debate? In this book, Amanda Anderson analyzes arguments in literary, cultural, and political theory, with special attention to the ways in which theorists understand ideals of critical distance, forms of subjective experience, and the determinants of belief and practice. Drawing on the resources of the liberal and rationalist tradition, Anderson interrogates the limits of (...) identity politics and poststructuralism while holding to the importance of theory as a form of life. Considering high-profile trends as well as less noted patterns of argument, The Way We Argue Now addresses work in feminism, new historicism, queer theory, postcolonialism, cosmopolitanism, pragmatism, and proceduralism. The essays brought together here--lucid, precise, rigorously argued--combine pointed critique with an appreciative assessment of the productive internal contests and creative developments across these influential bodies of thought. Ultimately, The Way We Argue Now promotes a revitalized culture of argument through a richer understanding of the ways critical reason is practiced at the individual, collective, and institutional levels. Bringing to the fore the complexities of academic debate while shifting the terms by which we assess the continued influence of theory, it will appeal to readers interested in political theory, literary studies, cultural studies, gender studies, and the place of academic culture in society and politics. (shrink)
This book traces the genealogy of ideas of reason, self and sexuality in the West, opening the way to a richer and more diverse understanding of sexual experience. Western philosophy and religion have distorted and continue to distort our experience of sex and love through three far-reaching constellations of reason, self and sexuality. Thinkers like Plato, Aquinas and Kant helped to fashion an ascetic ideal of reason hostile to bodily pleasures and sexual diversity. By contrast, philosophical hedonism advocates a less (...) demanding conception of rationality and defends sexual pleasure. But this approach of thinkers like Hume, Bentham, La Mettrie and de Sade is still one-sided and limiting. A third constellation, Romanticism avoids the limitations of both forms of rationalism, but in the name of a religion of love and passion that ultimately threatens the integrity of the self. In Reason and Sexuality in Western Thought, a richer understanding of sexual experience is traced to a dissident philosophical tradition. In their different ways Montaigne, Spinoza, Hegel and Kierkegaard, Marcuse and Foucault contribute to a more holistic, multi-layered and open conception of reason, sexuality and the self. This book will be essential reading for all students of philosophy and gender studies. (shrink)
Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters is a provocative account of the importance of women and cross-gender identification in "gay" male culture. It offers a range of cultural readings from Tennessee William's classic A Streetcar Named Desire and Forster's 'gay' novel Maurice through Pulp Fiction, queer lifestyle magazines, Roseanne, slash fan fiction, and Jarman's Edward II to Almodovar's camp classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Theoretically sophisticated, yet passionate, accessible and opinionated, Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters takes issue (...) with many of the sacred cows of contemporary gay politics, and offers a number of new concepts in lesbian and gay theory. (shrink)
I argue that Monique Wittig's view that lesbians are not women neglects the complexities involved in the composition of the category "woman." I develop an articulation of the concept "woman" in the contemporary United States, with thirteen distinct defining characteristics, none of which are necessary nor sufficient. I argue that Wittig's emphasis on the material production of "woman" through the political regime of heterosexuality, however, is enormously fruitful for feminist and queer strategizing.