Sexual morality Flashcards

Terms Definitions
2 Versions of Hayekian Argument
Extreme: No social tinkering is ever warranted.
Milder: (Time-honored conventions) Social Traditions "shouldn't be tampered with lightly"

A careful consideration of costs and benefits is necessary before tampering is warranted.
Rauch's Critique of Extreme Hayekian Argument
- What about slavery?
- Proponents of this version either have to reject efforts to abolish slavery or claim that it can be abolished because it violates fundamental ethical standards.
- Resisting efforts to abolish slavery seem unacceptable.
- However, to claim that slavery can be abolished because it violates fundamental ethical norms undermines an assumption of the H argument: We should not try to evaluate time-tested social conventions because they have their own inner logic.
Rauch's Critique of the Milder Version of the Hayekian Argument
- Advocates of change can argue that denying gays/lesbians the right to marry is "an extraordinary deprivation"
- Since this is a compelling reason for change, they can't be accused of advocating "frivolous change"
Hayekian Argument
named by who and why
Rauch named this argument after F,A, Haek, a famous libertarian economist
Conventionalism: the Hayekian Argument
Based on an analogy with prices in a free marked economy:
- Prices are set by impersonal forces and they may appear arbitrary.
- However, they have an internal logic and comprise the best measure of the value of various goods and services.

Similarly, the fact that marriage conventions have evolved and withstood the test of time suggests an underlying value or purpose to them.
- Tampering may destabilize marriage and other important social institutions, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Reasons for not legally recognizing same-sex marriage
1. Ethical: Homosexuality is unethical.
2. Conventionalism (the "Hayekian argument"): homosexual marriage is contrary to marriage conventions, and conventions generally should not be tampered with.
3. Conceptual analysis: marriage by definition is a union of a man and a woman
4, Consequentialist: Limiting marriage to heterosexuals is necessary to promote an important social objective ("what marriage is for")
Conceptual analysis
marriage by definition is a union of a man and a woman
Consequentialist
Limiting marriage to heterosexuals is necessary to promote an important social objective ("what marriage is for")
Conventionalism (the "Hayekian argument")
homosexual marriage is contrary to marriage conventions, and conventions generally should not be tampered with.
What is marriage for?
- it provides an optimal environment for raising children (the "child-centered" answer"
- it serves to "domesticate men" and "provide reliable caregivers"
- it is a means for individuals to publicly proclaim their love and commitment to each other and for society to publicly recognize that love and commitment
What are 2 versions of "Child-Centered" argument for marriage?
stronger: the only legitimate purpose of marriage as a social institution is to provide an optimal environment for raising children.

weaker: a legitimate purpose of marriage as a social institution is to provide an optimal environment for raising children.
Whose view of marriage is "Child-Centered" ?
Maggie Gallagher
Connection between "Child-Centered" argument and limiting marriage to heterosexual couples - as per Gallagher
Changing the law to permit same-sex marriage will undermine a legitimate purpose of marriage (i.e., providing an optimal environment for raising children)
What are some arguments to support Gallagher's "Child-Centered" argument?
- Children do better (psychologically, emotionally, developmentally, educationally, socially, etc.) if they are raised in a stable family consisting of 2 parents (mother and father) who are married to each other.
- Changes in the law weaken marriage if they result in an increase in the number of children who are not raised by 2 parents (mother and father) married to each other.
- Changes in the law that weak marriage are bad for children.
- Therefore, the law should not be changed in any way that weakens marriage.
- Changing the law to permit same-sex marriage will weaken marriage.
- Therefore the law should not be changed to permit same-sex marriage.
Rauch's analysis of what marriage is for
It serves to "domesticate men" and "provide reliable caregivers."
Definitions of marirage in Mirriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
- the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law
- the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage < same-sex marriage>
Objections to limiting marriage to heterosexuals
- limiting marriage to heterosexuals involves discrimination against gays and lesbians
- Limiting marriage to heterosexuals is similar to prohibiting interracial marriage
What at Gallagher's responses to objections to limiting marriage
- Discrimination: Gays and lesbians can marry individuals of the opposite sex.
- Comparison with interracial marriage prohibition: Negative (discriminatory) vs. positive (non-discriminatory) purpose
An Argument for Natural Law
Procreation is the natural purpose of sex.
Sex is ethically permissible if and only if the primary purpose for having sex is its natural purpose.
Consequently, sex is ethically permissible if and only if procreation is the primary purpose for having sex.
What are the 4 views of Sexual Morality?
- Natural law
- Conventional sexual morality
- The sex with love view
- The liberal view
Morality
Ethics vs. Personal Preference or Life Style Choice
Ethics: Premarital sex is ethically wrong. There is an ethical obligation to refrain from having sex before one is married. People who engage in premarital sex are acting immorally.

Personal preference (or life style choice): I will not engage in premarital sex. I’m just not that type of person. Premarital sex is not for me.
Reasons for the Conventional View of Morality
- It is supported by the natural law view.
- It is essential for stable family units (i.e., stable heterosexual marriages), which in turn are necessary for the proper upbringing of children (social utility).
- It reduces the risk of acquiring STDs.
Reasons for Sex with Love View
- Sex with love is a “higher order,” more meaningful activity than sex without love.
- Sex without love destroys the capacity for genuine loving relationships.
- Sex with love is better, more pleasurable.
- Sex without love causes “psychological disintegration.”
- Sex with love is unique to humans, and sex without love is animal-like.
What is the basis of the claim that sex without love causes “psychological disintegration?”
: “…sex without love reduces a humanly significant activity to a merely mechanical performance”
The Moral Principle on which Thomas Mappes Focuses
The principle that it is ethically wrong to use others.
Liberal View of Sexual Morality
- Sex is ethically permissible if and only if it does not violate a general moral rule or principle.
- The liberal view denies that there are special ethical rules and principles that apply to sexual activity.
As Mappes recognizes, there is a general sense of “using” in which it is morally innocuous to use others.

How does he explain this?
Getting others to act in ways that promote our ends or benefit us.

We commonly “use” others in this sense.
Mappes view of using others in a morally significant sense
1. Violation of the informed requirement
Lies
Deception
Withholding information
2. Violation of the voluntary requirement
Occurrent coercion
Dispositional coercion
Occurent coercion
Occurrent coercion involves the use of physical force to get what we want from others.
Dispositional coercion
coercion involves a threat of harm.
Lying Vs. Deception
- A deceptive statement generally is technically true.
- The person who utters a deceptive statement intends for the listener to draw an inference that is false.
- Drawing that inference is reasonable and most people would do so.
Two of Mappes’ Examples of Violations of the Informed Requirement
Mr. A is aware that Ms. B will consent to sexual involvement only on the understanding that in time the two will be married. Mr. A has no intention of marrying Ms. B but says that he will (SE, p. 173).
Ms. C has herpes and is well aware that Mr. D will never consent to sex if he knows of her condition. When asked by Mr. D, Ms. C denies that she has herpes (SE, p. 173).
An Example of Deception
Ms. C knows that Mr. D will not consent to have sex with her if he finds out that she has herpes.
Mr. D asks Ms. C, “Do you have herpes?”
Ms. C replies, “My ob/gyn examined me yesterday, and she found no medical problems.”
Ms. C visited her ob/gyn because she thought she detected a lump in her right breast. The ob/gyn’s examination revealed nothing abnormal. She did not test for STDs.
Mappes’ Example of Withholding Information
Mr. A meets Ms. B in a singles bar. Mr. A realizes immediately that Ms. B is the sister of Ms. C, a woman that Mr. A has been sexually involved with for a long time. Mr. A, knowing that it is very unlikely that Ms. B will consent to sexual interaction if she becomes aware of Mr. A’s involvement with her sister, decides not to disclose this information (SE, pp. 173-4).
Another Example of Withholding Information
Ms. C and Mr. D Revisited
Ms. C knows that Mr. D will not consent to have sex with her if he finds out that she has herpes.
Mr. D does not explicitly ask Ms. C whether she has herpes.
Ms. C does not tell Mr. D that she has herpes, and they have sex.
What are 2 types of proposals?
Threats and Offers

- a threat is coercive, an offer is not.
Mappes solution on distinguishing a threat from an offer
“Does the proposal in question have the effect of making a person worse off upon noncompliance?” (SE, p. 176)
If the answer is “yes,” the proposal is a threat.

If the answer is “no,” the proposal is an offer.

If you fail to comply with the mugger, you will be worse off (i.e., dead).
Threat
“If you do not do what I am proposing you do, I will bring about an undesirable consequence for you” (SE, p. 175).
Offer
“If you do what I am proposing you do, I will bring about a desirable consequence for you” (SE, p. 175).
Threats can be rephrased so as to sound like offers.

Example?
A mugger says to you: “If you don’t give me your wallet, I’ll kill you.”

A mugger says to you: “If you give me your wallet, you will be alive tomorrow.”
Case 5: Professor Highstatus tells Ms. Student that, though her work is such as to entitle her to a grade of B in the class, she will be assigned a D unless she consents to sexual interaction (SE, p. 177).

THREAT OR OFFER?
THREAT OR OFFER?
Ms. Debtor borrowed a substantial sum of money from Mr. Creditor, on the understanding that she would pay it back within one year. In the meantime, Ms. Debtor has become sexually attracted to Mr. Creditor, but he does not share her interest. At the end of
THREAT OR OFFER?
Case 6: Professor Highstatus tells Ms. Student that, though her work is such as to entitle her to a grade of B, she will be assigned an A if she consents to sexual interaction (SE, p. 178).
THREAT OR OFFER?
Mr. Supervisor makes a series of increasingly less subtle sexual overtures to Ms. Employee. These advances are consistently and firmly rejected by Ms. Employee. Eventually, Mr. Supervisor makes it clear that the granting of ‘sexual favors’ is a condit
THREAT OR OFFER?
Conclusion
The principle that we should not use others (in a morally significant sense of that concept) serves to identify unethical behavior involving sex without appealing to any special moral rules pertaining only to sex.

Examples: lying, deception, w
Can An Offer Be Coercive?

What about “offers we can’t refuse?”

Case 7: Ms. Starlet receives an offer she can’t refuse from Mr. Moviemogul: He will make her a star if she sleeps with him.

An Indecent Proposal: A man offers $1 million to a married woman (Demi Moore) if she will have sex with him.

Threat or offer?
Example of Deception
Ms. C knows that Mr. D will not consent to have sex with her if he finds out that she has herpes.
Mr. D asks Ms. C, “Do you have herpes?”
Ms. C replies, “My ob/gyn examined me yesterday, and she found no medical problems.”
Ms. C visited her ob/gyn because she thought she detected a lump in her right breast. The ob/gyn’s examination revealed nothing abnormal. She did not test for STDs.
Mappes’ Examples of Violations of the Informed Requirement
Mr. A is aware that Ms. B will consent to sexual involvement only on the understanding that in time the two will be married. Mr. A has no intention of marrying Ms. B but says that he will (SE, p. 173).
Ms. C has herpes and is well aware that Mr. D will never consent to sex if he knows of her condition. When asked by Mr. D, Ms. C denies that she has herpes (SE, p. 173).
An Example of Deception
President Bill Clinton (BC) in an interview with Jim Lehrer (JL) of PBS about Monica Lewinsky (italics added):
BC: “There is no improper relationship...”
JL: “‘No improper relationship’—define what you mean by that.”
BC: “Well, I think you know what it means. It means that there is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship, or any other kind of improper relationship.”
JL: “You had no sexual relationship with this young woman?”
BC: “There is not a sexual relationship; that is accurate.”
Other Examples of Deception
The claim by several members of “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” to have “served with John Kerry.”
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts “did not pay dues to the Federalist Society.”
**Was he a member of the Federalist Society?
Mappes solution to further define morally significant sense of using
- He identifies a “morally significant” sense of “using.”
- Moral principle: It is ethically wrong to use others in a morally significant sense.
- A uses B in a morally significant sense if and only if:
“A intentionally acts in a way that violates the requirement that B’s involvement with A’s ends be based on B’s voluntary informed consent” (SE, p. 171).
CONCLUSION
There appear to be no convincing reasons for natural law, the conventional view, or the sex with love view.
Therefore, it seems reasonable to accept the liberal view as the “default” position.
Reminder: ethics vs. personal preference or personal life style choices
The “Unnaturalness Argument”
for homosexuality
- Homosexuality is unnatural.
- Everything unnatural is immoral.

Therefore, homosexuality is immoral.
What Does It Mean to Say That Something Is “Unnatural”?
Senses of “unnatural:”
- Unusual or abnormal
- Not practiced by other animals
- Doesn’t proceed from innate desires
- Violates an organ’s principal purpose
- Disgusting or offensive
Unusual or Abnormal
Premise #1: Is homosexuality unusual or (statistically) abnormal?


Premise #2: Is everything uncommon or unusual immoral?
Norms Other Than Statistical Norms
- Social norms

- Psychological norms (abnormal from a psychological perspective: mental illness)
Social Norms
Premise #1: Is homosexuality contrary to social norms?


Premise #2: Is everything that is contrary to social norms immoral?
Psychological Norms
Premise #1: Is homosexuality contrary to psychological norms? Is it a “mental illness?”


Premise #2: Is everything that is contrary to psychological norms immoral?
Not Practiced by Other Animals
Premise #1: Is homosexuality not practiced by any other animals?


Premise #2: Is everything that is not practiced by other animals immoral?
Doesn’t Proceed From Innate Desires
Premise #1: Is it true that homosexuality does not proceed from innate desires?
Is it a “life style choice” or a result of nurture rather than nature?


Premise #2: Are all behaviors and practices that don’t result from innate tendencies immoral?
Violates an Organ’s Principal Purpose
Premise #1: Is there a principal purpose of the sex organs that is violated by homosexuality?


Premise #2: If certain organs have a principal purpose, is it always immoral to use them for other purposes?
Disgusting or Offensive
Premise #1: Is homosexuality disgusting or offensive?



Premise #2: Is everything that is disgusting or offensive immoral?
Another Argument: The Argument From Harm
- Harm to self
HIV
Depression and suicide
Promiscuity
- Harm to others/society
If everyone were gay/lesbian, society would cease to exist
If we don’t condemn homosexuality, we harm children by not discouraging them from becoming homosexuals.
Harm to Self
Are these harms a result of homosexuality or the response of others to homosexuals?


Is it unethical to expose oneself to an increased risk of harm?
Harm to Others/Society
If everyone were to decide not to have children, society would cease to exist. Is it therefore unethical for a person to decide not to have children?


Assuming that children are harmed by becoming homosexuals begs the question.
CONCLUSION
None of the arguments considered provides a good reason for concluding that homosexuality is immoral.
Whose arguments against homosexuality did we discuss?
John Corvino
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