A Critical Analysis Of Soble’s Account Of Masturbation

Philosophical Writings 36 (3) (2007)
This paper argues that we ought to give more consideration to the ethics of sexual fantasy than previous writers on sex have done so. Alan Soble’s paper on masturbation is a great example of this. Soble begins and closes his paper on masturbation with a quote from Rousseau which states that sexual fantasy is little different from rape. This is confusing, since Soble’s definition of masturbation requires a physical cause, and so it is not clear that Rousseau’s quote implies masturbation as Soble understands it. This leads to Soble misusing Rousseau to argue that masturbation when constructed through pornography may be wrong, when detailed reading of Rousseau’s comment implies the opposite. This paper further takes up part of Rousseau’s neglected quote and develops it to suggest that sexual fantasy itself is sufficient as a definition of masturbation, provided there exists an intention to cause corresponding sexual pleasure
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