Philosophy of sex is an aspect of applied philosophy involved with the study of sex and love. It includes both ethics of phenomena such as prostitution, rape, sexual harassment, sexual identity, the age of consent, homosexuality, and conceptual analysis of concepts such as "what is sex?" It also includes questions of sexuality and sexual identity and the ontological status of gender. Leading contemporary philosophers of sex include Alan Soble and Judith Butler.
Contemporary philosophy of sex is sometimes informed by Western feminism. Issues raised by feminists regarding gender differences, sexual politics, and the nature of sexual identity are important questions in the philosophy of sex.
Throughout much of the history of Western philosophy, questions of sex and sexuality have been considered only within the general subject of ethics. There have, however, been deviations from this pattern out of which emerge a tradition of speaking of sexual issues in their own right.
The Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love is a professional group within the membership of the American Philosophical Association.
Moral evaluations of sexual activity are determined by judgments on the nature of the sexual impulse. In this light, philosophies fall into two camps:
A negative understanding of sexuality, such as from Immanuel Kant, believes that sexuality undermines values, and challenges our moral treatment of other persons. Sex, says Kant, "makes of the loved person an Object of appetite".In this understanding, sex is often advised only for the purpose of procreation. Sometimes sexual celibacy is considered to lead to the best, or most moral life.
A positive understanding of sexuality – such as from Russell Vannoy, Irving Singer – sees sexual activity as pleasing the self and the other at the same time.
Thomas Nagel proposes that only sexual interactions with mutual sexual arousal are natural to human sexuality. Perverted sexual encounters or events would be those in which this reciprocal arousal is absent, and in which a person remains fully a subject of the sexual experience or fully an object.
Immanuel Kant was an influential Prussian German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.
In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action. It is sometimes described as duty-, obligation- or rule-based ethics. Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted to consequentialism, virtue ethics, and pragmatic ethics. In this terminology, action is more important than the consequences.
Martha Craven Nussbaum is an American philosopher and the current Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, where she is jointly appointed in the law school and the philosophy department. She has a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy, feminism, and ethics, including animal rights. She also holds associate appointments in classics, divinity, and political science, is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a board member of the Human Rights Program. She previously taught at Harvard and Brown.
Sir Bernard Arthur Owen Williams, FBA was an English moral philosopher. His publications include Problems of the Self (1973), Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985), Shame and Necessity (1993), and Truth and Truthfulness (2002). He was knighted in 1999.
This is a bibliography for Ayn Rand and Objectivism. Objectivism is a philosophical system initially developed in the 20th century by Rand.
Laurence BonJour is an American philosopher and Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Washington.
Robert N. Audi is an American philosopher whose major work has focused on epistemology, ethics, and the theory of action. He is O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and previously held a Chair in the Business School there. His 2005 book, The Good in the Right, updates and strengthens Rossian intuitionism and develops the epistemology of ethics. He has also written important works of political philosophy, particularly on the relationship between church and state. He is a past president of the American Philosophical Association and the Society of Christian Philosophers.
Michael Levin is an American philosopher and writer. He is a professor of philosophy at City University of New York. He has published on metaphysics, epistemology, race, homosexuality, animal rights, the philosophy of archaeology, the philosophy of logic, philosophy of language, and the philosophy of science.
Kantian ethics refers to a deontological ethical theory ascribed to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. The theory, developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will; an action can only be good if its maxim—the principle behind it—is duty to the moral law. Central to Kant's construction of the moral law is the categorical imperative, which acts on all people, regardless of their interests or desires. Kant formulated the categorical imperative in various ways. His principle of universalizability requires that, for an action to be permissible, it must be possible to apply it to all people without a contradiction occurring. Kant's formulation of humanity, the second section of the Categorical Imperative, states that as an end in itself humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always, additionally, as ends in themselves. The formulation of autonomy concludes that rational agents are bound to the moral law by their own will, while Kant's concept of the Kingdom of Ends requires that people act as if the principles of their actions establish a law for a hypothetical kingdom. Kant also distinguished between perfect and imperfect duties. A perfect duty, such as the duty not to lie, always holds true; an imperfect duty, such as the duty to give to charity, can be made flexible and applied in particular time and place.
Gregory Pence is an American philosopher.
Abul-Qasim al-Hussein bin Mufaddal bin Muhammad, better known as Raghib Isfahani, was an eleventh-century Muslim scholar of Qur'anic exegesis and the Arabic language.
Kathleen Marie Higgins is an American Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin where she has been teaching for over thirty years. She specializes in aesthetics, philosophy of music, nineteenth and twentieth-century continental philosophy, and philosophy of emotion.
T. K. Seung is a Korean American philosopher and literary critic. His academic interests cut across diverse philosophical and literary subjects, including ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, cultural hermeneutics, and ancient Chinese philosophy.
Alan Gerald Soble is an American philosopher and author of several books on the philosophy of sex. He taught at the University of New Orleans from 1986 to 2006. He is currently Adjunct Professor of philosophy at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Jamie Lindemann Nelson is a philosophy professor and bioethicist currently teaching at Michigan State University. Nelson earned her doctorate in philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1980 and taught at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and St. John's University before moving to Michigan State University. In addition, Nelson was an Associate for Ethical Studies at The Hastings Center from 1990–95 and is both a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and a Fellow of the Hastings Center. Nelson currently teaches courses on biomedical ethics, ethical theory, moral psychology, feminist theory, and philosophy of language.
Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation, published as Sexual Desire: A Moral Philosophy of the Erotic in the United States, is a 1986 book about the philosophy of sex by the philosopher Roger Scruton, in which the author discusses sexual desire and erotic love, arguing against the idea that the former expresses the animal part of human nature while the latter is an expression of its rational side. The book was first published in the United Kingdom by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and in the United States by Free Press.
Diana Meyers is a philosopher working in the philosophy of action and in the philosophy of feminism. Meyers is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut.
Eva Feder Kittay is an American philosopher. She is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy (Emerita) at Stony Brook University. Her primary interests include feminist philosophy, ethics, social and political theory, metaphor, and the application of these disciplines to disability studies. Kittay has also attempted to bring philosophical concerns into the public spotlight, including leading The Women's Committee of One Hundred in 1995, an organization that opposed the perceived punitive nature of the social welfare reforms taking place in the United States at the time.
Cheshire Calhoun is Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University and research professor at the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona. She is best known for her work in feminist philosophy as well as writing on gay and lesbian philosophy and the morality of same-sex marriage.
Richard Kraut is the Charles and Emma Morrison Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University.