SEX From Moral Issues that Divide Us James Fieser Revised: 9/1/2017 CONTENTS Introduction Background Animal Sexual Behavior Human Sexual Behavior Homosexual Activity What People Think Ethical Issues Aquinas: Natural Law Kant: Respect for Humanity Bentham and Paley: Utilitarian Cost-Benefit De Sade: Unlimited Sexual Freedom Goldman: Personal Freedom with Responsibility Public Policy Issues Contraception Pornography Homosexuality and Gay Marriage Common Arguments Pro and Contra The Conservative Position The Liberal Position A Middle Ground Reading 1: Sex Only for Reproduction (from Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles) Reading 2: The Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry (from Obergefell v.Hodges, 2015) Study Questions INTRODUCTION Jane, a sophomore in college, was raised in a conservative family and actively attended a Baptist church.
BACKGROUND When we consider non-traditional sexual behaviors such as premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality, we invariably make moral judgments about them, much as we do any other morally controversial issue.
What is unique about the issue of sexual morality, though, is that there is an underlying biological drive towards sexual activity.
We do not, by contrast, have a biological inclination to take recreational drugs, abort fetuses, damage the environment, harm animals, or engage in most other morally controversial actions.
While understanding the biological factors of human sexuality will not by itself resolve the moral issues, it does reveal the kind of sexual creatures that we are by nature.
Thus, genetic monogamy in animals is even rarer than social monogamy.
Monogamy in general may be a useful survival mechanism when the offspring are especially at risk and may benefit by having two parents.
What she became in college was exactly what she was hoping to avoid in high school.
Janes story represents a range of sexual activities that raises moral questions: is it OK to have premarital sex, group sex, homosexual sex, casual sex, and one night stands?
They took digital pictures of their activities, blotting out their faces, and posted them on the internet.