Social robots are marketed as human tools promising us a better life. This marketing strategy commodifies not only the labor of care but the caregiver as well, conjuring a fantasy of technoliberal futurism that echoes a colonial past. Against techno-utopian fantasies of a good life as one involving engineered domestic help, I draw here on the techno-dystopian television show Humans (stylized HUMⱯNS) to suggest that we should find our desires for such help unsettling. At the core of my argument is (...) a return of the “uncanny valley” problem, from its reformulation as an engineering/design problem to its origins as a psychosocial symptom of an unresolved, traumatic past. I conclude that our sense of the uncanny may be best understood as a moral capacity that should be honed rather than evaded. (shrink)
The ideological interface between Muslims and liberal educators undoubtedly is strained in the realm of sex education, and perhaps on no topic more so than homosexuality. Some argue that schools should not try to ‘undermine the faith’ of Muslims, who object to teaching homosexuality as an ‘acceptable alternative lifestyle’. In this article, I will argue against this monolithic presentation of Islam. Furthermore, I will argue that a narrow view of Islam is neglectful of gay and lesbian Muslims who are particularly (...) vulnerable to the unrepentant hostilities of their own communities. (shrink)
This paper engages in a critical examination of Michel Henry’s (1922-2002) phenomenological study of the erotic relation. I argue that while Henry’s analysis sheds light on the nature of eros and how it might be renewed from the obscene objectivism to which it has largely been reduced in Western society today, his analysis of eros undermines his account of the phenomenological life of the subject as a radically immanent mode of appearing and calls for revision. I contend that it is (...) by acknowledging life as a movement of transcendence toward the world that we can resolve this issue and further refine Henry’s insights into the nature of eros and how it might once again be renewed in contemporary Western civilization. I begin by laying out Henry’s account of how the forgetting of life results in a reduction of the erotic (i.e., inter-subjective) relation to a merely sexual (i.e., inter-objective) one, and how this lays the groundwork for what he regards as the destructive sadomasochistic practices of voyeurism and pornography. Following this, I outline Henry’s account of the nature and limits of the erotic relation, and I demonstrate how Henry’s work harbours the latent suggestion that the failure of eros can serve as a step toward a higher union with others in a love of God. In the closing section, I show how Henry’s analysis of the erotic relation calls for a re-conception of life as a movement of transcendence. I outline how this re-conception better accounts for the complex exchanges between the non-objectifying drives of life and the objectifying acts of consciousness, and I show how this allows us to retain some of Henry’s insights into eros and its renewal while forcing us to modify others. (shrink)
This essay discusses the moral costs and benefits of sexual technology. It starts with first-wave sexual technology, such as dating apps, messaging apps, and social networks, and then discusses second-wave sexual technology, which offers users more immersive experiences, such as virtual reality and sex robots. The paper argues that, overall, such technologies provide more benefits than they incur costs. Finally, the paper discusses the rise of a new identity—digisexuality, explaining that digisexuals are people who consider sexual technology an essential part (...) of who they are, and who might forego relationships with other people. The paper argues that the development of this new identity is a good thing, and that reasons against it are not convincing. (shrink)
Invited commentary on Nicole A. Vincent and Emma A. Jane, “Interrogating Incongruence: Conceptual and Normative Problems with ICD-11’s and DSM-5’s Diagnostic Categories for Transgender People” Australasian Philosophical Review, in press. -/- The core of Vincent and Jane’s Interrogating Incongruence is critical of the appeal to the concept of incongruence in DSM-5 and ICD-11 characterisations of trans people, a critique taken to be ground-clearing for more trans-positive, psychiatrically-infused medical interventions. I concur with Vincent and Jane’s ultimate goals but depart from the (...) view developed in the paper on two fronts. The first is that I remain sceptical about the overall prospects for truly trans-positive psychiatry. Trans should follow homosexuality and other categories of sexual orientation that have been abandoned rather than reformed as constituents of psychiatric diagnosis and categorisation. The second is that I think that the authors’ central criticisms of the appeal to incongruence are misplaced. (shrink)
In assessing ethical issues concerning the sex-industry, feminist liberalism ought to combine the concern for the worker that is central to its treatment of prostitution, with sensitivity to the social and cultural embeddedness of self that is central to its treatment of pornography. That would enable us to then look at live-actor pornography as a form of prostitution that raises additional questions about third party consumption — and analysis both more theoretically coherent and practically useful.
We propose an externalist understanding of sex that builds upon extended and distributed approaches to cognition, and contributes to building a more just, diversity-sensitive society. Current sex categorization practices according to the female/male dichotomy are not only inaccurate and incoherent, but they also ground moral and political pressures that harm and oppress people. We argue that a new understanding of sex is due, an understanding that would acknowledge the variability and, most important, the flexibility of sex properties, as well as (...) the moral and political meaning of sex categorization. We propose an externalist account of sex, elaborating on extended and distributed approaches to cognition that capitalize on the natural capacity of organisms to couple with environmental resources. We introduce the notion of extended sex, and argue that properties relevant for sex categorization are neither exclusively internal to the individual skin, nor fixed. Finally, we spell out the potential of extended sex to support an active defense of diversity and an intervention against sex-based discrimination. (shrink)
The role of Alfred Kinsey, America's most influential sexologist, in the cultural revolution of sex and gender during the past fifty years remains as unquestionable as it has been controversial. This admiring biography argues that Kinsey also qualifies as an authentic great man of science in the tradition of Darwin. Kinsey's expert authority was recently challenged by James Jones, who claimed in his 1997 biography that Kinsey's terrible personal secrets—homosexuality and masochism—plagued his life and ruined his science. Jonathan Gathorne‐Hardy sets (...) out to repair Kinsey's reputation by defending him against this “Kenneth Starr school of biography” . The author seeks to rescue Kinsey's achievement from the stigmatizing charge that it was flawed because it subordinated science to subjectivity.Gathorne‐Hardy emphasizes Kinsey's methodological creativity and his interviewing genius. During his early career, when he worked on gall wasps, Kinsey's science developed as a practice of scrupulous collection, observation, and documentation. Even in graduate school, he was dubbed “get a million Kinsey,” and his belief in sheer quantity—as well as quantification—was just as apparent when he turned his attention to human sexuality. In 1938 Kinsey taught a course on marriage at Indiana University, where he spent his entire working life. Limited to married or engaged students and faculty, the course covered reproductive physiology, contraception, and a host of other sexual topics in explicit detail. Kinsey also used the course to gather data about his students' sex lives. The thousands of sexual histories collected at the Institute for Sex Research in later years—7,985 by Kinsey alone—attest to his scientific commitment to behavior as the only legitimate basis for a science of sex.The behavioral unit of analysis chosen by Kinsey was the orgasm—or “outlet,” as Kinsey called it. Because it was countable, the theory went, it was objective. Kinsey's ethic of measurement resulted in interviews involving at least 350 standard questions, whose answers were recorded in a custom code designed to fit on a single sheet of paper divided into 287 squares. Among the ironies of Kinsey's method was the fact that his sex histories measured linguistic rather than sexual behavior. What Kinsey actually compiled was a huge cache of stories, not direct observations of sexual behavior. Kinsey, who gathered more sexual stories than any other person alive, systematically aimed to eradicate all quirks and complexities in order to produce a statistical portrait of population‐wide behavior. Meanings might be historically important, but numbers, not narratives, would yield truth. The easy use of “human males” and “human females” in the titles of Kinsey's famous reports suggests how universal his scientific claims were—and also how devoid of temporal and cultural particularity.The resulting conception of human sexual nature is probably best represented in Kinsey's six‐point scale, where behavioral possibilities ranged from exclusively homosexual at one pole to exclusively heterosexual at the other. Diversity emerged as the premier fact about sexual behavior. While this placed men and women uncomfortably close to their primate cousins on an evolutionary map, making human sexual exceptionalism objectively unsustainable, it also produced a reformist sensibility that rooted its demand for toleration in the powerful evidence of natural facts. It is difficult to overstate how shocking Kinsey's picture of polymorphous sexuality was in a culture devoted to either/or binaries and prone to harsh judgments about deviation from norms. Kinsey's contribution was to point out the gap between ideology and behavior . That lots of people did lots of things at odds with professed sexual morality was, for some, a welcome relief and call to revolution. For others, it was a reason to hate Kinsey and blame him for changes in the realm of gender and sexuality already well under way by midcentury.No biographies can save scientific heroes from the fatal charge that their methods and findings were bound up in their lives, or they would not be biographies worth reading. This attests to the stubborn endurance of the psychoanalytic paradigm. Kinsey despised Freud for passing off philosophy as science. Yet because of the conventions of post‐Freudian biography, Gathorne‐Hardy must explore exactly those dimensions of Kinsey's life and character that Freud embraced but that Kinsey himself would never have admitted into the precincts of science. His childhood illnesses and struggles with an overbearing father, his rage against religion, fondness for music, charismatic yet autocratic style, and his own anguished sexuality are keys to puzzling out not only a life in science, but a life.Gathorne‐Hardy can hardly ignore evidence that Kinsey's own sexual appetites were diverse—“bisexual” is this author's preferred designation—or that his enterprise in sex research involved experimentation: the mostly married male members of Kinsey's team were expected to engage in sexual activities with one another and one another's wives. Kinsey's wife Clara was a confidant and supporter from the start. Their loving marriage was also an open marriage. Mac was a participant‐observer in the world of sex research. She had a series of affairs with Kinsey's colleagues and even changed the bedsheets during energetic sessions of sexual cinematography that took place in the attic of their home. Yet the Kinseys also shielded their children from their own unorthodox sexual practices.This biography concludes by suggesting that Kinsey died tragically in 1957, convinced that his enemies had the upper hand. Kinsey was wrong. The diversity he championed has become a theoretical staple in the human and life sciences as well as a practical goal in social policies related to gender, race, and sexuality. However unfinished it may be, it is difficult to imagine Kinsey's revolution being reversed in either science or society. (shrink)
The gray area of sexual violations generally refers to ambiguous sexual experiences that are not readily distinguishable from rape or sex. Such experiences are describable as ambiguous or complex in a way that, to some, seems to defy existent categories of sexual experiences. This leads some feminists to approach the gray area as a puzzle that must be resolved either by understanding it as a new category, or by upholding existing rape categorization. Rather than dispelling the gray-area ambiguity by resolving (...) conceptual puzzles, I assign the gray-area ambiguity a positive analytical role by attending to it in a historical and dialectical light. By tracing histories of feminist antirape discourse, I elaborate a way of understanding the “gray area” of sexual violations, articulating it as a historical condition affecting the interpretive possibilities of our sexual experiences. Such an approach underscores the potential of the gray area to inaugurate feminist critique in virtue of its status as a historically specific yet ambiguous horizon where our experiences can contradictorily seem not-like rape, but not-like sex. (shrink)
This article argues that access to meaningful sexual experience should be included within the set of the goods that are subject to principles of distributive justice. It argues that some people are currently unjustly excluded from meaningful sexual experience and it is not implausible to suggest that they might thereby have certain claim rights to sexual inclusion. This does not entail that anyone has a right to sex with another person, but it does entail that duties may be imposed on (...) society to foster greater sexual inclusion. This is a controversial thesis and this article addresses this controversy by engaging with four major objections to it: the misogyny objection; the impossibility objection; the stigmatisation objection; and the unjust social engineering objection. (shrink)
This was a public talk given in the spring of 2013 during sexual assault awareness week. I believe roughly 800 attended. The philosophy dept was NOT expecting that but at any rate, this is the gist: While there are many different motivations for raising questions about the Sexual Assault Awareness Movement, at least one motivation comes from feminist controversies about what counts as consensual sex. Historically, this controversy arose between those known as "anti-pornography feminists", and "sex positive feminists" whose proponents (...) had very different understandings of what counts as sexual autonomy for women. It is important to understand that questioning the current definitions of what counts as an instance of sexual assault does not entail an anti-feminist agenda. There is not a unified feminist front on this topic. To assume otherwise is to risk silencing victims of sexual assault even further by imposing a particular conception of sexual assault upon them that they might themselves reject. If we are to properly address sexual assault as feminists we must listen to victims of sexual assault and develop a theory of consent in tandem with victims' own understanding of that concept. (shrink)
This paper argues for the superiority of natural law theory over consent -based approaches to sexual morality. I begin by criticizing the “consenting adults” sexual ethic that is dominant in contemporary Western culture. I then argue that natural law theory provides a better account of sexual morality. In particular, I will defend the “perverted faculty argument”, according to which it is immoral to use one’s bodily faculties contrary to their proper end.
Since the early 2000s, zombies have increasingly swarmed the landscape of popular culture, with ever more diverse representations of the undead being imagined. A growing number of zombie narratives have introduced sexual themes, endowing the living dead with their own sexual identity. The unpleasant idea of the sexual zombie is itself provocative, triggering questions about the nature of desire, sex, sexuality, and the politics of our sexual behaviors. However, the notion of zombie sex has been largely unaddressed in scholarship. -/- (...) This collection addresses that unexamined aspect of zombiedom, with essays engaging a variety of media texts, including graphic novels, films, television, pornography, literature, and internet meme culture. The essayists are scholars from a variety of disciplines, including history, theology, film studies, and gender and queer studies. Covering The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies, and Bruce LaBruce’s zombie-porn movies, this work investigates the cultural, political and philosophical issues raised by undead sex and zombie sexuality. (shrink)
Since the early 2000s, zombies have become an increasingly significant presence in popular culture. Zombies are social monsters, epitomizing aspects of social horror. What is at once central and yet strangely absent from current debates about zombies is any detailed consideration of sex and sexuality. This oversight is startling, not least since sex is arguably the most intimate form of social engagement, and is a profound aspect of human social identity. What makes the omission even more remarkable is how appositely (...) the zombie reflects socio-sexual desires and fears. Sex and love play crucial roles in numerous zombie narratives. Moreover, the undead have sex with each other and with humans in many contemporary zombie narratives. The unpalatable combination of zombies and sex is provocative, triggering a multitude of questions about the nature of desire, sex, sexuality, and the politics of our sexual behaviors. This chapter outlines the zombie’s historical development towards sex/uality, setting the context for the various approaches to sex/uality – queer and straight, romantic and pornographic – explored in contemporary zombie media. (shrink)
This paper responds to arguments that polyamorous groups or care networks do not qualify for equal treatment with marriages. It refutes the points that polyamory is inherently hierarchical or unstable, that there are too few people in such arrangements to mount an argument for recognition, that polyamory harms children, and that there are insurmountable legal and practical hurdles to network marriage. Finally, it respond to the charge that extending recognition to polyamorists will devalue the recognition of same-sex marriage.
This book is an introduction to philosophy of sex. The history of philosophy of sex is depicted (from Plato to Herman Schmitz) to set up the background against which the philosophy of sex by Herman Schmitz is analyzed. This leads to the discussion of topics like masturbation, the ontology of the sexed human body, and same-sex marriage.
Linda LeMoncheck introduces a new way of thinking and talking about women's sexual pleasures, preferences, and desires. Using the tools of contemporary analytic philosophy, she discusses methods for mediating the tensions among apparently irreconcilable feminist perspectives on women's sexuality and shows how a feminist epistemology and ethic can advance the dialogue in women's sexuality across a broad political spectrum. She argues that in order to capture the diversity and complexity of women's sexual experience, women's sexuality must be examined from two (...) equally compelling perspectives: that of women's sexual oppression under conditions of individual and institutional male dominance; and that of women's sexual liberation, both in terms of each woman's pursuit of sexual agency and self-definition, and in terms of women's sexual liberation as a class. Loose Women, Lecherous Men sheds crucial new light on such much-debated topics as promiscuity, adultery, sexual deviance, prostitution, pornography, sexual harassment, and sexual violence against women. Her book supports a dialogue that encourages both women and men to take up a feminist perspective in exploring the meaning and value of sexuality in their lives. (shrink)
This encyclopedia article on the philosophy of sexuality discusses the main themes, concepts, and debates in the field, including the metaphysics (or philosophical anthropology) of sex, the morality of sexual behavior, pragmatic and utilitarian evaluations of sexuality, and sexual perversion.
Sexuality has captured the imagination of thinkers since antiquity. It has inspired numerous creative works and posed myriad ethical, legal, and social challenges. Unlike other references which discuss the biology of sex, this encyclopedia explores sexuality as the subject of philosophy. Through more than 150 alphabetically arranged entries on thinkers, topics, movements, religions, and concepts, the encyclopedia locates sexuality in its humanistic and social contexts.
This best-selling volume examines the nature, morality, and social meanings of contemporary sexual phenomena. Updated and new discussion questions offer students starting points for debate in both the classroom and the bedroom.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) lists 1571 as the year of the first recorded use of the English word ‘masculinity’; the Ancient Greek ανδρεια (andreia), usually translated as ‘courage’, was also used to refer to manliness. The notion of manliness or masculinity is undoubtedly older still. Yet, despite this seeming familiarity, not only is the notion proving to be highly elusive, its understanding by the society being in a constant flux, but also one which is at the root of bitter (...) division and confrontation, and which has tangible and far-reaching real-world effects. At the same time, while masculinity has been attracting an increasing amount of attention in academia, the large body of published work seldom goes to the very foundations of the issue, failing to explicitly and with clarity reach a consensus as to how masculinity ought to be understood. Herein I critique the leading contemporary thought, showing it to be poorly conceived and confounded, and often lacking in substance which would raise it to the level of the actionable and constructive. Hence, I propose an alternative view which is void of the observed deficiencies, and discuss how its adoption would facilitate a conciliation between the currently warring factions, focusing everybody’s efforts on addressing the actual ethical, deconfounded of specious distractions. (shrink)
The Palgrave Handbook of Sexual Ethics is a comprehensive collection of recent research on the ethics of sexual behavior, representing a wide range of perspectives. It addresses a number of traditional subjects in the area, including questions about pre-marital, extra-marital, non-heterosexual, and non-procreative sex, and about the nature and significance of sexual consent, sexual desire, and sexual activity, as well as a variety of more recent topics, including sexual racism, sexual ableism, sex robots, and the #metoo response to sexual harassment. (...) Each chapter defends a substantive thesis about the topic it addresses and the handbook as a whole thereby provides a strong foundation for future research in this important and growing field of inquiry. (shrink)
Using a case-study involving bioethics and LGBTQ+ family-making, I demonstrate the appeal of a pragmatist ethics approach to bioethics. On the specific pragmatist view I offer, ethical progress is a matter of overcoming ethical problems. Ethical problems are here understood as conflicts that arise as we attempt to live out our values in the natural and social world and which prompt us to reflect upon and sometimes reinterpret or revise our values or practices. Pragmatism is inherently nonideal in its theoretical (...) approach, since it holds that the relevant conflicts that prompt moral inquiry are not conflicts among abstract ideals, but practical conflicts that arise from our interaction with the world. Ideals alone, then, cannot be a proper guide to bioethical progress. After laying out this approach to moral theorizing in more detail, I take up a case study, focusing on the value of genetic relations within families and the use of reproductive technologies to allow LGBTQ+ people to produce biologically related children. I use this case to show the value of nonideal approaches to bioethics. More specifically, I argue that pragmatism—as a nonideal theory—instructs us to evaluate these issues and family-making practices by considering the situatedness of LGBTQ+ people in a heteronormative society, and the ways in which that particular context produces practical conflicts as LGBTQ+ people and families attempt to live out their values in the social world. (shrink)
This essay addresses various moral objections to polyamory and argues that none succeeds. Brake also argues that in some respects polyamory can be superior to monogamy given that polyamorists often endorse ideals such as radical honesty, non-possessiveness, and rejection of jealousy. Moreover, Brake argues that the effects of polyamory in a society in which it is widespread can be very beneficial.
Some philosophical accounts imply that masturbation is inferior sexual activity. Against this, Soble argues that masturbation is central. Relying on the physical-anatomical indistinguishability of sexual act-types, he derives a Zeno-style paradox about sexual activity: either all sexual activity (even ordinary coitus) is masturbatory or none of it is (not even solitary masturbation). Soble argues for the first horn of the dilemma, thus ensuring that solitary masturbation is a member of the continuum of sexual activities. Going beyond anatomy, Soble also argues (...) that the central psychological features of paired sexual activity are normally exhibited also by solitary masturbation, which further establishes that solitary masturbation is on the continuum of sexual activity. Altogether, Soble's arguments support a "unary" model of sexuality, compelling us to take seriously the genuine sexual nature of solitary masturbation, a result that is important for the philosophy of sex, the scientific study of sexuality, and the politics of human sexuality. (shrink)
This is the 8th edition of the book, with eight new essays to the volume. Table of contents: Are We Having Sex Now or What? (Greta Christina); Sexual Perversion (Thomas Nagel); Plain Sex (Alan Goldman); Sex and Sexual Perversion (Robert Gray); Masturbation and the Continuum of Sexual Activities (Alan Soble); Love: What’s Sex Got to Do with It? (Natasha McKeever); Is “Loving More” Better? The Values of Polyamory (Elizabeth Brake); What Is Sexual Orientation? (Robin Dembroff); Sexual Orientation: What Is It? (...) (Kathleen Stock); Asexuality (Luke Brunning and Natasha McKeever); LGBTQ ... Z? (Kathy Rudy); How to Be a Pluralist About Gender Categories (Katharine Jenkins); The Negotiative Theory of Gender Identity and the Limits of First-Person Authority (Burkay Ozturk); Racial Sexual Desires (Raja Halwani); Sex and Technology: The Ethics of Virtual Connection (Neil McArthur); A Realist Sexual Ethics (Micah Newman); Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using Another Person (Thomas Mappes); Sexual Use (Alan Soble); Dark Desires (Seiriol Morgan); The Harms of Consensual Sex (Robin West); Casual Sex, Promiscuity, and Objectification (Raja Halwani); Is Prostitution Harmful? (Ole Martin Moen); BDSM (Shaun Miller); Two Views of Sexual Ethics: Promiscuity, Pedophilia, and Rape (David Benatar); Sexual Gifts and Sexual Duties (Alan Soble); A Bibliography of the Philosophy of Sex . (shrink)
Philosophers have rightly condemned lookism—that is, discrimination in favor of attractive people or against unattractive people—in education, the justice system, the workplace and elsewhere. Surprisingly, however, the almost universal preference for attractive romantic and sexual partners has rarely received serious ethical scrutiny. On its face, it’s unclear whether this is a form of discrimination we should reject or tolerate. I consider arguments for both views. On the one hand, a strong case can be made that preferring attractive partners is bad. (...) The idea is that choosing partners based on looks seems essentially similar to other objectionable forms of discrimination. (In particular, the preference for attractive partners is arguably both unfair and harmful to a significant degree.) One can try to resist this conclusion in several ways. I consider three possible replies. The first has to do with the possibility of controlling our partner preferences. The second pertains to attractiveness and “good genes”. The last attempts to link certain aspects of attractiveness to a prospective partner’s personality and values. I argue that the first two replies fail conclusively, while the third only amounts to a limited defense of a particular kind of attractiveness preference. So the idea that we should often avoid preferring attractive partners is compelling. (shrink)
This is a collection of nineteen essays in the tradition of critical rationalism (as advocated by Karl Popper). All but one of the essays is previously unpublished and the one previously published paper has undergone significant revisions. The first four essays tackle topics in the philosophy of science, the first being an exposition of Popper's views, the others discussing falsifiability, truth, the aim of science, and ceteris-paribus law-statements. Five essays follow concerned with Reason, reasoning and reasons, in which faulty conceptions (...) of theoretical and practical reason are criticised, the nature and uses of argument are discussed, and the rationality of debate, agreement and disagreement are explained. Next, there are two papers on economics, one of which is a substantial critique of the so-called subjective theory of value, the other a brief discussion of entrepreneurial insight. The last section of the book contains a miscellany of eight critical essays in which some errors of contemporary philosophers are exposed regarding issues including the interpretation of Popper’s work, the Gettier problem, no-platforming, open-mindedness, homosexual equality, tolerance, philosophical heuristics and the conduct of debate. (shrink)
Under current UK legislation, only a man can commit rape. This paper argues that this is an unjustified double standard that reinforces problematic gendered stereotypes about male and female sexuality. I first reject three potential justifications for making penile penetration a condition of rape: it is physically impossible for a woman to rape a man; it is a more serious offence to forcibly penetrate someone than to force them to penetrate you; rape is a gendered crime. I argue that, as (...) these justifications fail, a woman having sex with a man without his consent ought to be considered rape. I then explain some further reasons that this matters. I argue that, not only is it unjust, it is also both a cause and a consequence of harmful stereotypes and prejudices about male and female sexuality: men are ‘always up for sex’; women’s sexual purity is more important than men’s; sex is something men do to women. Therefore, I suggest that, if rape law were made gender neutral, these stereotypes would be undermined and this might make some difference to the problematic ways that sexual relations are sometimes viewed between men and women more generally. (shrink)
In response to three papers about sex and disability published in this journal, I offer a critique of existing arguments and a suggestion about how the debate should be reframed going forward. Jacob M. Appel argues that disabled individuals have a right to sex and should receive a special exemption to the general prohibition of prostitution. Ezio Di Nucci and Frej Klem Thomsen separately argue contra Appel that an appeal to sex rights cannot justify such an exemption. I argue that (...) Appel’s argument fails, but not for the reasons Di Nucci and Thomsen propose, as they have missed the most pressing objection to Appel’s argument: Appel falsely presumes that we never have good reasons to restrict someone’s sexual liberty rights. More importantly, there is a major flaw in the way that all three authors frame their positive accounts. They focus on disability as a proxy for sexual exclusion, when these categories should be pulled apart: some are sexually excluded who are not disabled, while some who are disabled are not sexually excluded. I conclude that it would be less socially harmful and more productive to focus directly on sexual exclusion per se rather than on disability as a proxy for sexual exclusion. (shrink)
How are patriarchal regimes perpetuated and reproduced? Kate Manne’s recent work on misogyny aims to provide an answer to this central question. According to her, misogyny is a property of social environments where women perceived as violating patriarchal norms are ‘kept down’ through hostile reactions coming from men, other women and social structures. In this paper, I argue that Manne’s approach is problematically incomplete. I do so by examining a recent puzzling social phenomenon which I call (post-)feminist backlash: the rise (...) of women-led movements reinstating patriarchal practices in the name of feminism. I focus on the example of ‘raunch feminist’ CAKE parties and argue that their pro-patriarchal dimension cannot be adequately explained by misogyny. I propose instead a different story that emphasizes the continued centrality of gender distinctions in our social normative life, even as gendered social meanings become increasingly contested. This triggers meaning vertigo, a distinct form of social anxiety and the reactionary impulse at the heart of (post)-feminist backlash. Meaning vertigo both complicates the answer to Manne’s main question—“why is misogyny still a thing?”—and suggests the need and opportunity for a different kind of feminist political intervention. (shrink)
This book provides an introduction to philosophical treatments of pornography. It considers relevant debates in ethics, aesthetics, feminist philosophy, political philosophy, epistemology, and social ontology thus offering a comprehensive examination of the topic. While offering an introduction, the book also puts forward substantive philosophical views on pornography.
The work of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze frequently gave rise to a practice of philosophy as a form of critical problematization. Critical problematization both resonates between their thought and is also generative for contemporary philosophy in their wake. To examine critical problematization in each, a shared theme of inquiry provides a useful focal point. Foucault and Deleuze each deployed critical problematization in the context of studies of sexuality, a site of excited contestation that remains as crucial for us today (...) as it was for them four decades ago. Foucault’s well-known History of Sexuality, Volume 1 and Deleuze’s little-discussed text Coldness and Cruelty thus provide us with exemplary instances of the critical problematization of sexuality. An examination of these two texts, and their broader resonance, illuminates the potential of Foucauldian genealogy and Deleuzian symptomatology as methods for critical problematization today. It is argued that they provide compelling alternatives to modern critical moods that would want to interpret sexuality through a series of oppositions. (shrink)
The paper addresses the issue of whether there is something morally defective with someone who sexually prefers members of a particular race or ethnic group (or someone who does not sexually desire or prefer members of a particular race or ethnic group). People with such “racial desires” are often viewed as racists, but virtually no sustained arguments have been given in support of this view. The paper reconstructs three possible arguments—those based in discrimination, exclusion, and stereotypes—that might support the charge (...) of racism. It argues that none is convincing. It further argues that only in some cases are people with racial desires racist, but that in those cases their racism is not because of their sexual desires. (shrink)
[Excerpt]: In the nonideal world against which philosophical ideas and ideals are tried, suffering is distributed unequally. A central, if not defining, question for many late-twentieth-century feminist ethicists is how and why so many forms of suffering are distributed by virtue of bodily difference. For over four decades, disability studies, a multidisciplinary field spanning the humanities and social sciences, has principally revolved around a basic question: is the concept of "disability" constructed like "race," "gender," or "sexuality"? In other words, is (...) it as much a construct as any category historically deployed to justify socially produced sufferings, inequities, and hierarchies and to disenfranchise, stigmatize, and... (shrink)
The permissibility of actions depends upon facts about the flourishing and separateness of persons. Persons differ from other creatures in having the task of discovering for themselves, by conjecture and refutation, what sort of life will fulfil them. Compulsory slavery impermissibly prevents some persons from pursuing this task. However, many people may conjecture that they are natural slaves. Some of these conjectures may turn out to be correct. In consequence, voluntary slavery, in which one person welcomes the duty to fulfil (...) all the commands of another, is permissible. Life-long voluntary slavery contracts are impermissible because of human fallibility; but fixed-term slavery contracts should be legally enforceable. Each person has the temporarily alienable moral right to direct her own life. (shrink)
In a recent essay, Donald Dripps advanced what he calls a “commodification theory” of rape, offered as an alternative to understanding rape in terms of lack of consent. Under the “commodification theory,” rape is understood as the expropriation of sexual services, i.e., obtaining sex through “illegitimate” means. One aim of Dripps's effort was to show the inadequacy of consent approaches to understanding rape. Robin West, while accepting Dripps's critique of consent theories, criticizes Dripps's commodification approach. In its place, West suggests (...) a more phenomenological approach. The author argues that neither Dripps nor West offers convincing critiques of consent-based theories; the alternatives they offer presuppose the vitality of a consent-based approach to understanding rape; and that both Dripps and West consistently conflate more general moral and political issues with that of the nature of rape. (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)
ROGER SCRUTON’s An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy takes a personal and provocative look at the subject—those abstract, but nevertheless practical, problems that concern anyone who has reflected on his or her life. Of special delight is his discussion of sex and music. I make some brief critical comments on this based on new economic approaches.