Philosophy 330/RelSt 380



                    Class Outlines

                    Readings, Questions

                    Sample Mid-Term Exam
                    SAMPLE FINAL EXAM



Phil. 330:       Love, Sexuality, and Marriage: Fall, 2011


Instructor: Dr. Norman Lillegard   Office: H 216 . Hours: 10-11 a.m.TTH and by appointment.

Ph. 881 7384  

Email: Best contact – e-mail.


Texts: Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (Ethics of Everyday Life) by Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass

Marriage: The Dream That Refuses to Die (American Ideals and Institutions) [Hardcover] Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

The Philosophy of Sex and Love (2nd edition), Alan Soble


THE PURPOSES OF THIS COURSE; to help you engage thoughtfully with ancient and contemporary debates and discussions about the nature of love, the place of sexuality in life, and the nature of marriage. Readings are from a wide variety of sources, philosophical, literary, historical, sociological, psychological, religious, etc. 

        You will be tested on critical reading and critical thought, on your understanding of the issues raised by the sources you study, your ability to respond relevantly to arguments, and to identify salient historical/philosophical/religious facts.



·            Attend class and participate, do the readings, do all written assignments, pass the exams. Two exams (multiple choice, T/F.  See sample exams on the Instructor’s Web Site). Mid-term exam worth 120 pts. Final exam is comprehensive, 180 pts.

·            Attendance 40pts.  Regular attendance and informed participation in class are essential since (a) not everything covered in class is included in the texts (b) you will need help with this material, and that is what class sessions, and the instructor, are for.   Students who sleep in class are counted absent.

·             Quizzzes (ca. 280  pts) Quizzes will be given at least once a week. They will not be announced ahead of time. They CANNOT BE MADE UP. However, 1/3 of QUIZ POINTS ARE BONUS POINTS!!!. THUS,  if you skip classes you stand to lose not only attendance points but also the chance for bonus points. BE THERE!

·            One paper, no less than 3000 words, on a topic or author approved by the instructor. 200 pts.

·            Total BASIS points =ca. 720.  Normally %90 of total points gets you an 'A', %80 a 'B' and so forth, but significant adjustments for curve are made when necessary.                                             


ROLE OF THE INSTRUCTOR: The instructor is available for individual or group discussion when a need is expressed. His primary interest is in helping you to achieve mature thoughtfulness about the crucial sorts of matters indicated in the course title. Feel free to call on him as needed. E-mail is a good way to contact him.



1.Treat each other with respect.  

2.Treat the instructor with respect.

 3.Do not talk unless called on. 

4. Do not leave the room without permission except in extreme emergency. 

5. Be on time.

6. Be eager to learn.  The best indication of progress is engagement with the issues and ideas upon which we will focus.  

7. Do not be afraid to say "I don't understand." 

8. Expect the same of me as I expect of you (except #3!)  (You will find that I follow #7 a lot!)

 9.. Keep cell phones OFF.


Academic Integrity:  Any form of cheating, on the paper, quizzes, or exams, will result in an ‘F’for that assignment and possibly for the entire course. NO EXCEPTIONS.  Policies regarding academic integrity are further detailed in the student handbook. Cheating includes plagiarism. DO YOUR OWN WORK.

Why is plagiarism bad? A. because it's a form of stealing, B.because it's unfair to other students, and C. because it ultimately prevents you from acquiring the writing skills you're going to need—and be expected to have—as college graduates in the work force.


Cell Phones:  phones must be OFF during classes. You may not make ANY use of cell phones during any exam or quiz.. Use of cell phones in such circumstances counts as cheating and results in an F. 


Class format: Classes will consist of a mixture of lecture and discussion. Feel free to interrupt with questions. Always do so by raising your hand. Acknowledgment may not always be immediate but it will come. Try to keep your remarks relevant. Listen respectfully to other students even if you think they are “way off.”  They might be doing better than you think!


ON-LINE HELP  . If you use the internet on your own, understand that it contains an enormous amount of trash and may mislead as much as it may help.


[NOTE: "Any student eligible for and requesting academic accommodations due to a disability is requested to provide a letter of accommodation from P.A.C.E. or Student Academic Support Center within the first two weeks of the semester."]



Course Outline: (adjustments to this outline may be necessary).

Week I. Aug. 23: Regarding love, sex and marriage: where are we now?

Week II Aug 30:  Why marry?

Week III Sept. 6:    What about sex?   

Week IV Sept.13:             

Week V Sept.20:             

Week VI Sept. 27:  Is this Love?

Week VII : Oct 4:  MIDTERM EXAM, Th Oct 6

Week VIII Oct 11: 

Week IX  Oct 15-18 Fall Break: Oct. 20.

Week X Oct 25.

Week XI.Nov 1:     

Week XII Nov 8:

Week XIII Nov. 15. 

Week XIV Nov. 22    Nov 23-27 Thanksgiving Break:

Week XV Nov. 29:  Paper due (no exceptions). 

Week XVI Dec. 1, last class,   Final Exams Dec. 3-9.

        FINAL EXAM (see schedule).




1. I have read and understand the rules for class conduct and agree to abide by them.

2. I understand that quizzes will be unannounced,  and cannot be made up.

4. I am able to access the Phil. 330 web page, and will use it to keep track of assignments, and for study and review purposes.

5. I own my own textbooks and will bring them to every class.

6. I have read and understand the list of requirements for this course, consider them fair, and will do my best to fulfill them.


Signed ______________________________________________  


Print your name _________________________________________________




Assigned Readings and Questions


WW=Wing to Wing (Kass)    S=Philosophy of Sex (Soble)   M=Marriage, (Genovese)


Week I: By Aug. 25, Read WW 1-22.

                         Regarding love, sex and marriage: where are we now?


1.     Acccording to Kass, what are the dominant attitudes NOW to marriage and  ‘courting’2

2.     Do you agree with Kass about ‘wooing’ etc.?

3.                                                      ‘theories’ and sex/marriage etc.? 3

4.     How many of the questions (p. 3,4) are your questions? (All? Most? None?)

5.     Give several meanings of ‘marriage.’ 6

6.     What might  be some ‘non-constructed’ dimensions or aspects of marriage

7.     What are some features of the sublimation of lust?

8.    What are some of the meanings of ‘courtship’? 10

9.     What are some differences between courtship and pre-marital cohabitation.

10.                       List some recent cultural changes that may threaten or discourage marriage.12

11.                       What might be some PERMANENT obstacles to marriage?14

12.                       How important to marriage is pro-creation, according to Kass

13.                       How important to LIFE is marriage, according to Kass.


Week II   By Aug 30  Read WW 23-26, 41-79.

1.    What does Bloom mean when he speaks of the ‘public and private in one thought’?(p. 46)

2.    How might ‘individualism’ impact being a parent?

3.    America is the land of freedom and equality. What bearing might that have on sexual behavior/norms.

4.    Might the ideal of ‘independence’ imply a non-attachment to places/people/the past?

5.    Do you agree with Bloom that there has been a ‘phasing out’ of female modesty? If there has been, what might that imply for ‘sexual liberation?’

6.    Bloom suggests that ‘sexual freedom’ implies ‘passionless-ness.” What does that mean? Is it possible? 49

7.    What have we supposedly been liberated FROM? 

8.    “The July 14th of the sexual revolution was only a day . . .onset of the terror’(p. 51) What does Bloom mean by this?

9.    In what way do some modern feminists agree with Plato’s program in the Republic? 50

10.                       On p. 58 Bloom contrasts ancient political theory with ‘social contract’ ideas, and the bearing that has on human relationships generally, and between men and women in particular. What is that contrast?

11.                       Continuing, what contrast is there between the ideal of ‘free choice’ with respect to sex, and the ideal of sex/family?

12.                       Do you agree that attachment of mother to child is the only undeniable natural bond?(p. 60). Does “nature” weigh more heavily on women than on men?

13.                       What was Rousseau’s solution to the ‘individualism’ problem?

14.                       Is concern for self-development inimical to community? MUST it be?

15.                       What is ‘commitment’ according to Bloom (65)

16.                       Bloom is ‘struck dumb’ by what? (66)

17.                       Is Bloom right about ‘relationships vs. love?’ (67)

18.                       What might be good in ‘machismo’ and what might be bad?

Some notes on individualism and community

For various purposes we can contrast individualist(I) with communitarian(C) values and attitudes. For example

      I stresses freedom, C stresses responsibility

          I tends to believe that freedom=non-attachment, C thinks the opposite

          I tends to place individual gratification above the good of larger communities, C does the opposite.


There are individualist strains in some contemporary feminism (but not all who call themselves feminists incline towards such individualism).  This shows up in a tendency to downgrade the importance of family life (families are naturally understood as fundamental communities), a tendency to isolate sexual gratification from being a mother, etc. Does this have any bearing on the ‘pro-choice’

stance of many feminists?


There are individualist strains in contemporary life (esp. American) generally.  Fewer men than ever seem prepared to take on the responsibility of marriage and the raising of children. Many people do not vote in local or regional or national elections. To borrow a title from a recent best seller, many people seem to ‘bowl alone’ rather than engage in significantly communal activities (watching sports events, it can be argued, involves rather minimal joint activity). There is a cultural tendency to downgrade the importance of whatever does not depend upon individual CHOICE. (Examples of things that do not depend upon an individual’s choice at all: who your father, mother, brother, sister, grandmom etc. are; What city and country you were born in; what religion (or non-religion) dominated your early environment, etc.

          Generally, the view that self-fulfillment or ‘happiness’ depends mostly or entirely upon what the individual does for him or herself, appears to be very common.




 By Sept. 1, Read WW 81-85, 125-52

                         Why Marry? 


1.    What do you think of Darwin’s reasons for (not)marrying?84-5

2.    How are females the ‘limiting factor’ in reproduction? 127 . c f. seahorses.

3.    What might be good about polygamy (gyny)?  128-29

4.    Why is monogamy better for some species? 130-31

5.    What are some disadvantages of monogamy?132-33

6.    What are some features of polygamous societies?136-38

7.    Is it possible to combine eros and philia? What does Harry think? Aristotle? 141-42. What are supposed to be the obstacles? 142-46

8.     What about friendship and self knowledge? Character development? Why not in marriage? What about ‘floods of talk.?” Is that possible? 148-49

9.    What matters more to you, a pleasant life, or one in which you develop as a person (assuming they compete)? 150-51

10.  What is the ‘iron reign’ to which Muir refers? Must it be there for a true love relation?


                         Week III Sept. 6

By Sept 6

Read WW 155-166, 175-202


1. Does sexual desire have a natural goal? If so, what is it, if not, how come?155

2. In humans, can it serve other goals? Such as? Is that the case for any other animals?156

3. What are some features of the social significance of sex?

4. What are two explanations of the “soul-elevating power of sexuality’?157

5. War and sexual desire -  Ares, God of war and Aphrodite -  do they naturally go together? Always?

6. Is primal lust or sexual desire usually, or always, the enemy of marriage?

7. be prepared to answer ALL of the questions raised on p. 163-64

8. Are the ‘customs’ such as are revealed in the story of Candaules mere conventions, or is there, in your opinion, something deeper involved.?

9. What, according to Kant, transformed animal desire into love?

10. What is the distinction between the ‘attitude’ of shame and its ‘pudenda?’179

11. What do you think of the claim that shame requires the concealment of sexual acts?

12. How does shame protect love in sex against sex without love? 183

13. Explain: shame is solicitous for what is fragile and frail. 184. WHAT is fragile and frail? Love?

14. Distinguish pudeur and honte,  aidos and aischyne. 

15.  Think about the film ‘The Godfather.’ What pudenda do the mafia share with society at large? What veneranda do they imply? Are some veneranda lost to some of the characters in the course of the film?

16. Explain: shame and awe hold hands. 187

17. Be able to describe each of the following “theories” or views of sex: sex as demonic; sex as divine; sex as casual entertainment; sex as a nuisance.

18. How does May respond to each of the theories mentioned in #17?

19. There are, May claims, three tendencies in sexual acts that are more or less ‘natural’ and that are nonetheless in tension.  What are they? 201.


By Sept. 8

Read S, 19-43, 69-87.

1. what are the relations between ‘reason’ and physical eros, in Plato and e.g. Sappho.

2. what kind of eros is good, on Plato’s view, and how is it ‘free’?

3. how does Aristotle apply the ‘doctrine of the mean’ to sex?

4. contrast the views of Pelagius, Augustine, and Jerome on pre and post-lapsarian sex.

5. Discuss Aquinas’ view of the ‘natural’ in sex, and its bearings on pleasure in sex.

6. how does Descartes differ from Augustine on the relations between sexual desire and other desires, such as the desire for food.

7. Hume and Kant disagree on one basic point regarding sex. What is it?

8. What is the Marxist view on marriage? How does it relate to Marxist views on capitalist economics?

9. In what way does Freud depart radically from Aquinas and ‘natural law’?


On Perversion

1. What is the relation between what is ‘natural’ in sex and what is moral, in the Thomist tradition?

2What is the relation between what is ‘natural’ in sex and what is moral, in the Thomist tradition?

2. Are all immoral sexual acts unnatural, on the Thomist view? Explain.

3. What is problematic in the assumption that one can simply inspect nature and infer to ‘natural’ uses (of e.g. the penis).

4. How do broader considerations of ‘nature’ (as in Tucker e.g.) bear on the question of what sexual acts are natural?

5. How do Nagel’s criteria for perversion rule out sadomasochism and voyeurism as perverse, but do not rule out homosexual activity?

6. What is the APA (DSM) account of ‘mental disorder’?

7. Would necrophilia be a mental disorder, on the APA account? Explain.

8. Could pedophilia be ‘normal’ and still be immoral? How?


          WEEK IV  Sept. 13

Continue Week III.

Read S 89-108


1. what is it that makes contraception wrong, on the RC (Roman Catholic) view?

2. What are the most important examples of non-procreative sexual acts, and how, on the RC view, must they be viewed?

3. On the Thomist view, which is worse morally, masturbation, or rape? Why?

4. What is Kant’s basic view on the morality of sexual actions outside of monogamous marriage?

5. How, on Kant’s view, does monogamous marriage rescue sexual relations from being immoral?

6. How does Kant rule out homosexual relations as moral? Is he consistent?

7. How does Wojtyla modify the Kantian notion of the marital ‘contract’ ?

8. Finnis agrees with Kant and others that marriage produces a ‘unity’ out of two people. What kind of ‘unity’does Finnis think marriage is capable of? Would it apply to homosexual unions? Compare to Kant.

9. What criteria does Mill use for determining the morality of any sexual act? What are some problems with these criteria?

10. What problem do some feminists have with lesbian use of lesbian pornography?

11. If love is what makes sexual acts morally licit, would that put any limits on sexual activity, or would any sexual act done with ‘love’ be automatically licit.  Give examples, and THINK.


           WEEK V (Sept. 20)

Continue Week IV


           WEEK VI (Sept. 27)

Read S, p. 109-125

Sexual Politics

1. Does a prostitute give consent to being used?  How much, and what kinds of, pressure negate consent?

2. Why does Califia think that pedophilia need not involve violation of consent?p.110.  What else if anything might be wrong with it?

3. What is the problem with deciding what desires are really ‘ones own’? How does answering this question lead back to the discussion of individualism and society?

4. How do our views on the significance or meaning of sexuality determine what we think about prostitution, marriage for money, and various other sexual activities p. 112

5. What, according to communists like Engels, would need to be done socially in order to make marriage ‘genuinely free?”

6. Why suppose that all women who engage in sex for pay do so without full consent? Why Soble does think it is implausible to claim that? 114. See also 120-21

7. How does this remark bear on the question of ‘marital rape;’ “The personal is the political.”  Do you think that is true? Why or why not?  Does Soble? Why?

8. Do women who use their charms and beauty to capture economic benefits without working for them exploit men? Do the feminist citations in S indicate any awareness of this question?  Does S?  Should he?

9. ‘extreme social engineering’ could only be recommended by a narrow minded ideologue. True, or false, and why?

10.  S discusses various feminists who claim that the only, or main, reason that most or many women are heterosexual is that they have been socialized into it by oppressive male-dominated structures.  Are there reasons given for thinking these claims are true? Does Soble give any?


Week VII (Oct 4)

Mid term exam.



Oct. 6

Read W 203-231


Call the woman in this story ‘W’.

1. Does W’s mother love her?  Does W’s boyfriend love her?  Give pros and cons in each case.

2. Do arranged marriages provide more opportunities for real love to grow than modern western marriages? Modern western ‘pre-marital cohabitation?’ Answer in relation to this story in particular.

3. Apply the following claim to this story: ‘love requires social structures that protect individuals against egoism.’

4. Evaluate and criticize the claim made in 3. Consider different concepts of love (eros, agape, philia, storge).



5. Is the A (Aristophanic) concept of ‘love’(eros) purely egotistical?

6. Is there anything enobling in the A conception? Does it matter?

7. Does the A conception connect in any way to the ‘unity’ views of marriage from Kant and others? How, or why not?

8. Does A think that erotic fulfillment, on his account, is likely?

9. Compare this myth with the Genesis account. How are they alike? How are they different?



10. Why, on S’s view, is eros not a god, and what then is it? Where did it (he/she) come from?

11. What does eros desire?

12. Is the desire for immortality ‘erotic’ and what is one way that desire shows up in human life?

13. How is the ‘eros’ for knowledge (science) like that for children? For honor?

14. Is there any place in the S account for human and non-fungible objects of desire? Explain.

15. Describe the ‘ladder of love’ up to heaven (the scala paradisi ), and evaluate this idea.

16. Compare eros in S to eros in A.



Oct 11

Read p. 232-54

Song of songs;

1. Is there anything explicitly sexual in this poem? Examples?

2. Think about 3:3-4 in relation to the idea of love in the Tristan story. The Genesis story.

3. Are any of the ‘mischievous concepts of sex’ (May) exemplified by this poem?

4. Any ‘monogamy’ here? Cf. 4:12


Tristan and Iseult

1. What is the culmination of the Tristan story? Isolde. Yseult.

2.  What is the real object of love in this story (what is it that the lovers love?).

3.  What are some of the obstructions to the uniting of the ‘lovers,’ and why are they so important?

4. Why is marriage to Iseult so unthinkable? (what would it be like to be ‘married’ to her, be a ‘husband’ to her?)

5. This story seems to suggest that great passions are incompatible with ‘ordinary’ life.  Is there a need in people to be ‘extraordinary’ and ‘unusual?’ 

6. Compare this from the Song of Songs with the Tristan/Iseult myth : ‘love is stronger than death.’

7.  Are any of the ‘mischievous concepts of love’ (May) exemplified by this story?



W 255-302



Oct. 20

Continue week VIII


1. What are some similarities between the Romeo/Juliet story and Tristan/Iseult?

2. Is the love or ‘romance’ in this play more ‘conventional’ (i.e. merely a convention or device) than in the Tristan myth?

3. Could Wagner do with this story what he did with Tristan?



1. On what does sex education depend, in Rousseau?

2. Rousseau thinks the answers to questions about sex from a young child ought to be ‘short and solemn.’?  Does sex education in public schools now fit that description? So what?

3. Rousseau imagines a way of educating children about sex that matches normal development and builds respect for marriage and chastity, and delight in love.  Compare to the present day.

4. Think about the questions in the intro.

5. what does this mean: ‘so long as he boasts he has not enjoyed.’

6. The social conformists that are derided by R. are ‘not in harmony with themselves.’(p.278). Is this still true? How does it bear on the question of casual sex now?



1.  Are there three different kinds of love expressed in these three sonnets? What are they?



1. Rilke summarizes Socrates: ‘eros is not beautiful.’  What does that mean, and what IS eros like?

2. Love is ‘day labor’ Rilke claims. Love in Tristan also ‘labors.’  Do these two workings have ANYTHING in common?

3. ‘For believe me, the more one is, the richer is all that one experiences. And whoever wants to have a deep love in his life must collect and save for it and gather honey.’  What does this quote imply about eros? About the role of natural impulses, conventional ideas, social conformity, apropos love?

4. What is Rilke’s response to the ‘merger’ idea of love (as found in much romantic literature, in Kant, Schopenhauer, etc. )

5. What appears to be Rilke’s attitude towards marriage?

6. Compare Rilke to Borowitz (150-51)



1. How does eros/lust line up with need pleasure/appreciation pleasure?

2. ‘We are under no obligation to sing love duets in the throbbing, world-without-end, heart-breaking manner of Tristan and Isolde.’ How then, according to Lewis, might we sing them?

3. Does Lewis view eros in a way that is at all like Rilke’s way? P.298

4. What is there is the demands of eros that is like the demands of religion? Fill in the blank in several ways: “it is for loves sake that I have ______________________ ‘

5. Evaluate the boyfriend in Divakaruni in the light of the last two full sentences on p. 301.



Study the article by Bolick, emailed to you.

1. The Danish thinker Soren Kierkegaard described people who constantly look for new experiences and want to keep the future open as ‘aesthetes.’  Is Bolick an aesthete.  Kierkegaard regarded even the most sophisticated aesthetes as fundamentally immature. Can you think of a reason why?  Do you agree?

2. coontz, cited by Bolick, says of the present transformation of marriage etc. that it is ‘immensely liberating.’ Liberating from what? Does this connect to the previous question?  Does either question pertain to the claims about individualism in Bloom and others?

3. Consider the following excerpt:

 Sure, my stance here could be read as a feint, or even self-deception. By blithely deeming biology a nonissue, I'm conveniently removing myself from arguably the most significant decision a woman has to make. But that's only if you regard motherhood as the defining feature of womanhood-and I happen not to.


a. do you suspect self deception here? If so, why?

b. could someone deny that the defining feature of womanhood is childbearing, and still think deciding to have a child is the, or one of the, most significant decisions a woman has to make?  Vice versa?


4. Does the ‘Pareto principle’actually apply to college dating and the ‘hooking up’ culture? If it does, what might explain that fact?  If it doesn’t what might explain THAT fact?

 5. Consider another excerpt:

Most of them said that though they'd had a lot of sex, none of it was particularly sensual or exciting. It appears that the erotic promises of the 1960s sexual revolution have run aground on the shoals of changing sex ratios, where young women and men come together in fumbling, drunken couplings fueled less by lust than by a vague sense of social conformity.

a. how does the second part of this sentence (following ‘ratios’) go with the first part, or doesn’t it?

b. is this author BLIND to something? If you think so, what is it?


6. Does the following seem accurate to you?(from a review of Kate Bolick’s essay by Maggie Gallagher)

, everywhere I turn in Kate's essay I see women doing the best they can to celebrate the best they feel they can get, and it's unbearably sad.

The truth is celebrating singleness-i.e., celebrating "not doing something"-makes no sense. Loving is better than not loving. Choosing to love and commit to a husband or a child is a much higher ideal than choosing not to; that's why it needs to be celebrated and idealized.

Of course, not everyone marries or becomes a mother, and of course every human life has other possibilities for meaning, and other forms of love to give.

But all of these other loves-the aunt, the grandparent, the best friend-came into being because somewhere some woman gave herself to the independence-shattering act of making a family.

The decline of manhood and norms around sex, marriage, and family produces for young women what may in fact have to be endured-but celebrated? Not after reading Kate's essay.





By 10/27

Read W p 301-352

1.Does Miss Manners give good advice? Is it ‘common sense’ for the most part?

2.Is the claim that Issac ‘loved’ Rebekah surprising given the context?  Does the answer bear on how we think about the socially constructed vs. the ‘natural’ in marriage?

3. Likewise with respect to Jacob and Rachel.

4. Is there anything left in our culture of the idea that there is a special honor in being a mother, so crucial in these stories from an ancient and ‘alien’ culture?

5. Is  Rachel in “The Engagement” mature enough to get married on the basis of ‘love.’? If not on that basis, on the basis of ‘the system’ she has from her culture?

6. Assess the claim that love does (or can) come AFTER marriage, made by Elke.

7. Marriage is thought by some people to be constraining.  Elke thinks of it as liberating (p. 331).  Think about it.  Could both be right?



1. be able to define: cojones; manso; piropo; verguenza (be as comprehensive as possible).

2. How ‘natural’ is natural, as opposed to simulated, in PRs account?

3. Why is the greatest insult to a man directed towards his mother? Is this the case only in Alcala? (think about ‘MF’ and ‘bastard’)

4.Does the answer to #3 explain the ‘double standard’ for men vs women regarding adultery? Does it show that it is not necessarily sexist?

5. What is the illusion and deception built into the role of ‘camelar’ (p. 348), and what is its positive value?  Does this seem plausible to you? Cf. Don Juan vs. Cyrano de Bergerac.

6. Evaluate what you have learned about the people of the Sierra in relationship to the individualism/communitarianism discussed at the beginning of this course.


WEEK XI (11/1)


Read  W 353-64,  406-20, 454-500.

1. Two types of conventions are at work in Erasmus’ “Courtship.”  What are they? Does one win out over the other?

2. Is the kind of modesty exhibited here even possible now? How, or, if not, how come?

3. Is Maria’s strategy a good way to find “the right one?:  Will they be happy?


4. Some feminists have argued that marriage is a commercial arrangement in which women sell themselves to survive (or prosper?).  Does Franklin agree with ANY  of this? Does he include anything some feminists forget? How does he evaluate?

5. How does Franklin assess eros(love)? Is his view extreme? How does his view compare to the ideas of the people of the Sierra? Note especially what he says about ‘artifices.’

6. How do you think Franklin compares to Miss Manners?

7. Franklin uses strong language; wicked, stupid, shallow etc. Is it too strong?

8. Assess Franklin with respect to; the equality of the sexes; arranged marriages.

9. Discuss: Franklin’s attitude towards Mme. Helvetius shows that he has himself not gotten rid of eros as a motivation.


10. What is the tipping point in Pierre’s relationship to Helene? 457-58

11. Pierre knows he is making a mistake. What forces drive him to make it anyway (there are several).

12. Levin and Kitty have insight into each other’s minds that seems passion-driven. Does that seem possible? How does Kitty ‘correct’ Levin’s thoughts about women? Does the ability of each of them to ‘see through another’s eyes’ play a crucial role?


13. Pride and Prejudice (PP) explores in depth the psychological conditions that may be involved in finding, or losing, ‘the right one.’ Pride is one such condition. How important is it to this story? To life? Likewise for prejudice.

14. In contrast to some others (Franklin, the people of the Sierra, etc.) Austen stresses reason and social convention and passion (eros) all linked in complicated ways. It is not a matter of ‘reason OR feeling.’ Both are needed together. (cf. Aristotle). Comment on the details as revealed on, e.g. p. 482-83. Contrast to Franklin.

15. Despite the psychological detail, it might still seem that much of the transformation of attitudes, perceptions, understandings, that takes place in both Elizabeth and Darcy, is not quite psychologically realistic. Consider then the place of honest, ‘Socratic’ self assessment in those transformations, and ponder p. 495 et al.

16. This story, like others of Austen’s (and James’ etc.) depends upon an appreciation for virtues and vices. Name as many as you can think of that are crucial to this story.


WEEK XII (11/8)

Read Fox-Genovese, p.3-42.

  1. Explain the difference between bride price and dowry.

2. “In broad historical perspective” (p. 21) marriage has not been about what? Has been about what?

3. An irony: feminists have tended to focus their critical attacks on more recent forms of marriage. Where is the irony in that?

4. The social, economic and political significance of marriage in pre-modern societies is rooted in what sorts of problems faced by all humans? How much do these problems persist? Do non-marital solutions to them look problematic?

5. How does the old marriage/love conflict get treated in 19th cent literature?

6. How has the revolutionary (think France) ideal of freedom figured into the critique of companionate marriage? (What are the main features of that kind of marriage, and what does the critique claim about it?)


WEEK XIII (11/15)

Read Genovese (G), ch. 3.

Study the article emailed on 11/12.


1. According to G, contraception and easy divorce have increased women’s independence within marriage.  Who has benefited from these changes. (p. 48).  What are some disadvantages to women that have resulted? 

2. If individual happiness is the standard, then what right does anyone have to deny any person what they want? What is G’s ‘short’ answer to this question? P 50-51

3. The theme of ‘obsessive love that dates back to Tristan and Isolde’ has negatively impacted children, according to G. How? 54

4. According to G, when the ‘authority’ relations typical of traditional marriage are overcome, the resulting vacuum is filled by what?

5. Proponents of gay marriage are actually attacking marriage, according to G. What reasons does she give for this view?


Two orienting questions:

          I. What is marriage? (literally).

          II. What is the state’s interest in regulating marriage?


6. In the article by Timothy George et al (henceforth TG), there are two brief definitions of marriage; state the conjugal view; state the revisionist view. 

 The following questions are prefaced by ‘according to TG’.

7. Consider the following argument from analogy, offered by revisionists in defense of gay marriage:                                                                                                                                      

         Laws against interracial marriage were obviously unjust.

           Laws against same sex marriage are like laws against interracial marriage in relevant respects. 

          Therefore, laws against same sex marriage are obviously unjust.  


          In what respects are interracial marriage and gay marriage similar?

Answer; both are marriages.   (This is denied in the                     view).

          In what respects are LAWS against gay marriage similar to laws against interracial marriage?

Answer: both                           against                                .


Question: are laws that discriminate always unjust? Think of laws regulating who can drive, who can vote, who can run for the presidency,who can apply for jobs. All of them ‘discriminate.’  They are obviously not unjust. Why? Because they mark ‘relevant’ (to driving, voting etc. ) differences between groups of people.

Do laws prohibiting gay marriage rest upon marking differences between men/men or women/women vs men/women that are relevant to MARRIAGE?

Answer: that depends upon ‘                                                     .’ 


Answers to the question ‘what is marriage.’   See q. 6 above.


Further development of q. 6


8. What is meant by a ‘comprehensive union’?

          A union of the type that inherently is fulfilled in the bearing of children. i.e. a bodily organic union which is a necessary condition for reproduction. Cf. the fact that ún-consummated ‘marriages’ are NOT marriages under the law.  In the law, to consummate is to engage in coitus , but not anal etc.

          (So why, on the conjugal view, is it not possible for two men or two women to achieve a bodily, organic, union? What is missing in same sex sex?)

9. Explain; “The procreativetype act distinctively seals or completes a procreativetype union.”

10. Are the sexual acts of heterosexuals who are infertile ‘generative acts’ whereas same sex sexual acts are not? If so, how come? If not, why not? (consider the digestion analogy, or the team analogy). What value might infertile marriages have for the state?

11.  How does the conjugal view make sense of marital norms (permanence, fidelity)?

12.Children of ‘intact’ (monogamous heterosexual enduring) marriages tend to fare better, on average, then other children, in four respects (at least); what are they?

13. How would legal recognition of Gay unions                                                                          

          a.Weaken Marriage ..............................260

          b. Obscure the Value of OppositeSex

          Parenting As an Ideal .............................262

          c. Threaten Moral and Religious

          Freedom ?

14. What is the state’s interest in regulating marriages, and why would it not have that interest in the case of same sex couples?

(should the state regulate ordinary friendships, or non-sexual cohabiting by ANY couple, group, etc. of any age and circumstance? The gay marriage advocate typically says ‘no’ but can he/she give a principled account of WHY?)

15. TG claims that 226 billion was spent on welfare related to breakdown of marriage between ’70 and’96.  Does the evidence he cites give absolutely convincing support for this claim?

16. consider the ‘Joe – Jim’ scenario. Would it be unjust to discriminate by refusing them a marriage license just because they were not romantically or sexually involved? If not why not? What about Joe – Jim –Bob (throw in the cat if you like).

17. Supporters of gay marriage sometime accuse those who raise the question in #16 of a slippery slope fallacy. Is that a valid criticism? If not why not (at least two reasons)?

18. ‘Constructivists’ cannot reasonably exclude ANY  relationship from legal status.  How come?

19.                           who argue that state policies should reflect prudential concerns only should support the conjugal view. How come?

20. Spreading the norms of heterosexual marriage to gays would not lead to more widespread adherence to those norms, but would tend to destroy them altogether.  Why?  (think about norms that don’t make sense. Do they tend to persist?). see 276-77

21. ‘Conservative’ friends of gay marriage (David Cameron) must not have seen the comments recorded on 277-79. Do statistics on gay ‘fidelity’ back up the claim that gay marriage would tend to destroy, rather than spread, the norms of normal marriage? Same for gay men as for lesbians?

22. Do the ‘concrete needs’ (what are they?) of gays require a redefinition of marriage? Once again,  shouldn’t nearly any association of people with similar ‘needs’ get counted as a marriage on the gay marriage proposal? Or could most of those needs be met in other ways?

23. Denying marriage status to gays deprives them of a kind of fulfillment and happiness available to non gays. How can that be justified? These questions involve four dubitable  assumptions; what are they? p. 282

 24. Whether same sex desire is ‘natural’ or not has nothing to do with whether there should be ‘same sex marriage.’ Why not?

25. Opponents of same sex marriage are sometimes thought to be trying to impose their own particular religious beliefs on the whole population.  Does ANY of the discussion so far support such a notion?



Continue week XIII



Read G ch. 4.

1. G cites possible causes of what she sees as social disintegration. What are they? Is she on target?

2. Individualism in religion shows up even in that high percentage of women who indicate that religion is important to them. How?

3. Should there be ‘family privacy’ or is the only kind of privacy worth protecting ‘individual privacy?’cf. p. 85

4. G tries to show that improvement in the individual rights of women has brought with it some unsettling consequences. Such as?

5. Must increased independence for women require the ‘sexual revolution?’ What are the two main answers and what do they tend to ignore? Cf. p.88-89








































































Aug. 23.             Miscellaneous

Texts. Sources –



Where are we, individually and collectively?

  Questions: how many have a divorce in the family, how many etc.. . .?


Possible ‘positions’ on sex, marriage, children, love:

Marriage   >  Sex       >       Children

                 <             >         

                 <                         X

          X                       >         

          X                                  X

          X                X                “ (?)

                           X                X (?)



Culture Wars.  Left, Right, liberated, reactionary etc. etc.


Ideology and abstraction

IDEOLOGUES  negative connotations >


Practical impact of ideologies/ideologues / e.g msnbc news item.




“Culture.” The womb(s) we live in.  How we are “made to think/act” by 

·       Films

·       TV

·       Peers

·       Classes

·       Religious teachings, Church

·       Civic institutions

·       Home

·       Hormones

·       Etc.


“Deep” culture and history.

Thinking ‘on your own’ (the free thinkers society??)


Thinking ‘outside the box’

Can anyone do it?


Thinking inside the box

In a tradition




“SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION” (convention vs nature)

What it could sensibly mean – concepts reflect/shape “interests.” Examples: health, beauty, marriage, child, feminine/masculine, (female/male??)


What it could not sensibly mean – a concept can mean anything. Alice in wonderland.

                                                          There is no reality independent of our concepts that constrains them. (Idealism)


Aug. 25  Where are we NOW?

Dominant attitudes NOW to marriage and  ‘courting’? (Almost) no cultural ‘scripts’ providing guidance into marriage. Lots of skepticism   about marriage. People still get married but

          Less often

          More hesitantly

          Less successfully

Discontent with our situation?


  ‘Theories’ and sex/marriage etc.? Lots of books, lots of ‘ideology’


Questions (p. 3,4)  (All? Most? None?)


Meanings of ‘marriage.’

          Contract (legally sanctioned?)



Based in?



 ‘Non-constructed’ dimensions or aspects of marriage? Connection to sex (and children).

Sex, the sublimation of lust, marriage, and human ‘institutions.’ Unavoidability of distinctively human handling of sex (unlike other animals). But there IS the ‘sex.’


 ‘Courtship’> discipline of sexual desire (more broadly, love as eros) aimed at marriage. Early practice in being married. (Contrast to Byron – love is heaven etc.)

Courtship and pre-marital cohabitation.


Recent cultural changes that may threaten or discourage marriage.


PERMANENT obstacles to marriage?


Marriage and pro-creation.



Aug. 30  Where are we now? (how did we get there?)(cont)

Individualism and the public good. American culture discourages the ‘public and private in one thought’(p. 46).  So MY satisfactions become criterial for thinking and acting. No ‘us.’

Obvious implications for marriage, parenthood.

·        America is the land of freedom (of choice) = freedom to choose whom I shall be (married/single, gay/straight, xtian/Buddhist etc.).  No sense of obligation to the past, my people, my community (contrast Socrates), my place; no place in a continuity; what is mine, and who I am, a function of MY choice only. (contrast Kierkegaard; choosing oneself and the ‘givens of life’).  ‘Freedom’ VS tradition, loyalty to place, people, religion. 

·        America is the land of equality=no natural hierarchies, no racial, economic, gender distinctions.

‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ as buzzwords. The ideology of pop Americanism.

What bearing might that have on sexual behavior/norms.

The sexual ‘revolution’ and ‘freedom’ (cf. the French revolution). Sexual liberation. Freedom from taboos. Freedom from female modesty (what a boon for men!!)  Freedom from the ‘repression’ of the past,  (Freudian idea there).

The sex revolution and FEMINISM (more or less radical kind).  Women are ‘captive’ to the home, childbearing, and thus to MEN. Dependent and powerless, barefoot in the kitchen. Therefore, separate sex from those things. Maybe even get rid of sex altogether. (!) Deny man-woman distinctions. Eliminate connection between sex and raising children (Plato).

The sexual revolution and (paradoxically) the demise of ‘passion.’  Passion, emotion, and what we CARE about. (who cares about a one night (hour) stand?)  Philosophical analysis of ‘passion.’ Cf. ‘its no big deal.’

And then; the feminist critique of the new sexual freedom, (because it allows more, or new forms, of male domination, exploitation). Feminists against pornography, against work-place manipulation/exploitation, against sexist language. (cf. the revision of liturgical materials, all published work)

Liberation leading to tyranny of censorship.  (July 14th etc.)

Two ways of thinking about community (family etc)


1.     Earlier (Aristotle) thinking about sex, family, community. Natural ties that bind. I do not get to CHOOSE who is my father, my grandmother, my country of ‘origin.’ Nor do I, in a significant sense, choose my children. Loyalties to these are basic to a good life, since family/community make life of any kind possible. The ‘state’ as a ship or a hive. These statuses have a hierarchy.

2.     Modern thinking (mostly since about the 16th century); state is result of a contract between



                                      unsituated individuals who

          CHOOSE what the terms of their relationships may be, with a view to self-interest. There are no natural hierarchies.

          e.g. there is no natural connection between state and family

           between sex – family.  The relation must be chosen/constructed.


Human beings (unlike other animals) exist in a TENSION between 


                   Longing for freedom from constraints of family, community, tradition etc. attachments


                   Longing for unconditional attachments (cf. p.58)


Are familial attachments NATURAL in any clear sense? What about mother to child (are women who murder their children not only wicked or immoral or vicious, but also UNNATURAL?).  Compare murdering your own to murdering someone else’s.


does “nature” weigh more heavily on women than on men? Are women more likely to DESIRE children?


The modern resolution of the tension in favor of choice has led to familial disintegration. Perhaps reintegration would be possible through a culture of passionate romantic love. THAT, rather than natural instincts, old loyalties etc. might solve the problem. Rousseau.


That evidently does not work.  Where there is a possibility of separation, there is separation (62)

Separation through death is quite different from separation through choice.  Children must view the latter as abandonment.


The elevation of choice and a particular ideal of self-development.  In order for me to be ME¸rather than what you (a community) want me to be, in order for me to flourish as an individual, I must minimize un-chosen, un-willed ties to others, the past, traditions, etc.


IS THAT TRUE? Think about it.   What is the place of a ‘common good’ in the best life for humans? How can there be a common good?  Hobbes vs. Aristotle. Cf. Bloom on the real source of the war of all against all (63)


          The culture of divorce and the elevation of the individual over the common good. How children must view it (63).

All relationships as conditional.

          Compare to a revolt against unconditional claims (Stephen – Joyce’s portrait)


          Psychologists and the culture of divorce.  Kramer vs. Kramer.


‘Commitment’ as a shallow expression of will, vs. eros as longing for a deeper unity.  Commitment and the ‘absence in the soul of real motives for moral dedication’ (65)


 Commitments, relationships, bonding.  Passionless replacements for  love or friendships.


The ‘twinship of love and death’ and the handshake after 5 years.



Eros (romantic love)  Being in love not necc. the same as erotic love. Not per se closest to animals. Can have eros without sex. Obviously can have sex without eros (probably a lot of sex, including much married sex, is eros-less). Marriage without eros but with affection and or friendship. Danger of using eros to legitimate a relationship. “It has not pleased God that the difference between a sin and a duty should turn on fine feelings.”(p. 92)

Eros “reorganizes” sex.  Plain sex wants “it.”  Eros with sex wants the beloved.  Lustful person does not want a woman or man. Wants rather a bodily experience.  Lucretius: love impairs sexual pleasure.  Eros can transform a need pleasure into an appreciative pleasure.  Pleasure as a byproduct of eros. Eros can postpone gratification.

Lewis on taking eros or Venus too seriously.  Dark, serious  looking lovers. The “grandeur” of Eros. Wagner. Tristan and Iseult. Natural things start looking divine. Some good jokes about it help. Bring out the ridiculous aspects of sex. Fumbling around, bad timing etc.  The (good or bad) transcendence of eros. “Made for each other before the world began.”  Cosmic forces, the élan vital, in eros. Compare that to the facts.

“Love made me do it” ( a murder, e.g.). Never “sex made me do it”   Idolized eros does not last. Needs help. Love and death. La belle dame sans merci.


Pre Raphelites  (Rossetti, Burn-Jones)


‘relationships’ and love


Now, what should a woman expect from a man, or a man from a woman?  The old ‘roles’ have been put in question, but what replaces them? Were they ever any good? (cf. Shakespeare)  Changed economic conditions and traditional roles. Competing careers (your job is in NYC, mine in Chicago, what do we do?)


Machismo; the spirited, protecting, loyal element. Now viewed almost entirely negatively.



Sexual desire – what is it?  Suppose we say ‘desire for sexual coupling.’ Or ‘desire for sexual release.’  Do these always  have a natural goal? What is natural?  Is desire for homosexual coupling natural? (for whom?).  Sexual desire may be unique in that its purpose can be ‘hidden.’  Not knowing it leads to children.  Deep connection of sex to identity, formation of self.

 In humans, can serve the goals of personal union, cementing of a relation.   Not the case with any other animal?

The social significance of sex- the need for care of children > prohibitions against adultery, sex with no procreative structure.


The “soul-elevating power of sexuality’ > rooted in connection to mortality – sexual reproduction between two who will die, but who reach beyond themselves, their own immediate interests.

          Or, rooted in love of beauty, carrying us beyond the mundane

          Or, rooted in a sense that it is pointing beyond this frail life, since what it actually brings when fulfilled never seems enough.


Ares, God of war and Aphrodite -  cf. Brecht  -  what a good soldier does.  Machismo, aggression etc. and sex. The film ‘Strike Back.’

This in relation to marriage. How could they get along?


Questions about Genesis 1-3.


Candaules is prepared to violate a custom – one relating to aidos (shame, awe, reverence).  Gyges is shocked at this. What might be shocking in it?  Is this mere ‘nomos?’ 


Reason, desire, love (Kant). What distinguishes people from other animals? Reason.


          Choosing to control impulse (do not eat)

          Choosing to render an inclination more inward (refusal of immediacy leads to spiritual attractions, to love).


In order to observe that different people feel shame at different objects, one must have a concept of shame as attitude. What is it?  Shame, embarrassment¸ fear.  Shame is always self- directed, assumes self-consciousness. Can’t arise from what YOUR country does.  Has to do with my image of myself. 


So, what IS my image of myself when it comes to sex?

          Connection between how I appear to myself and how I appear to others.  Shame a ‘social emotion.’ Adjustment of norms to others, of others to (our preferred) norms. Gay pride parades. Slut pride parades.  There are no straight pride parades. Not yet.

Shame and sex: being observed by a third or more (orgies), or just by the partner.  Some people feel no shame, shameless people. (Candaules again)

Love can banish shame.  Clearly.

A child’s shame, only partly socially induced.  Could be due to a sense of something that needs to be protected from observation, from rude and invasive gazes.  What something?  That which relates to my origin, my future, the trajectory of my life in intimacy. My ‘privates.’ Love and shame. Contra Darwin, not found in other animals. (Flagrant anthropomorphizing in Darwin).


What does the veritable non-existence of shame on many TV shows, in films etc. indicate?

Hollywood a perdu son sens de la pudeur il y a longtemps (sense of modesty, propriety). 


Hollywood has lost a sense of the sacred in human life?


Scientific objectivity and absence of shame – taken as an indication of sophistication.  Scientific objectivity and absence of a sense of awe. Aidos, natural shame in sexual matters, rooted in awe. The ‘spirit reverence’ in Euripides (185). Some things must be concealed out of reverence, awe.  Which things?


 What pudenda do the mafia share with society at large? Shame over violation of dignity of family. That is at the root. The family is venerated.  Parents are respected.  Extension of this idea to wider social units. Venerating the father as source of authority. Consider how various characters shame themselves.  Consider how this system of self and society is unstable. The veneranda lose meaning and grip. 


“Theories” or views of sex: as demonic (romanticist versions included); as divine (romantic versions included); as casual entertainment (the college ‘hooking up’ scene?); 4. sex as a nuisance.


1. Manichean > antinomian.

Ascetic version; also anti children.  Despair of this world.

Romanticist version:Sex slips its contact with real people, transposes to the imaginary (the princess, etc.)  Love stories that are all about the obstacles to love (Tristan, Love Story ), and thus contain little, or no, sex.

On the antinomian side>obsession with sex. Cut off from affection, it becomes boring; therefore, try anything to reinvigorate .  Strangle yourself.


2. The Sacred Grove; Lawrence as typical. Opposing powers struggle to dominate life. Tenderhearted sex is one of them.  When it dominates, a kind of religious salvation ensues.  Sex mysticism (found internationally in poetry etc.)


3. Chauvinists and egalitarians; 

Male Chauvinist pigs treat sex as casual encounter with ‘bunnies.’ (film, The Apartment (1958?) pre ‘revolution’)

Newer version: all are equal, none need be overly involved. Easy access, easy departure.  ‘Cool’ on sex.  (self deception in this? We are not REALLY so cool)


4. The Landers crowd.  A burden, a bore. Perhaps especially for women. Ergo, ‘Desperate Houswives’ may be desperately bored. But not just women may find it a nuisance. If ‘it’ includes anything more than plumbing, there may be quite a few men who find it tedious. Henry Miller.


Another alternative: concede a grain of truth in each of the above.

It can become demonic, destructive of the soul (of self and others).

It can raise a person to a higher, even more spiritual level.

It often is ‘casual’ in the sense that not a great deal depends on it in a particular case (but the significance of sex is not exhausted by the particular cases).

It can become a nuisance, particularly if too much is demanded of it. The nuisance view may grow out of the divinizing view. 


The biblical tradition says sex IS important, important enough to discipline it (in the sense in which education always requires discipline).


Elevating it to the divine leads to misery.

What to do?

Sex as expressive, gestural.  A deep gesture. Trying to keep it casual requires effort, risks ‘pomposity’. (Don’t get me wrong babe, I don’t really mean anything by this.’ Compare ‘don’t get me wrong, I don’t really mean anything by this handshake, smile etc.)  Nonetheless, this gesture cannot be quite fulfilled – gets its full significance from time, therefore, need for an enduring covenant.

Expression of love



These can and do come apart in various ways.  One can pursue pleasure without love. Etc.


Soble: A bit of history.

Eros and irrationality (e.g.Sappho); being ‘madly’ in love. Connection to beauty (physical, but more; consider how it can disappear).

Plato: heavenly eros, free from lust, violence.  Rejection of sex in love; the best lovers avoid it altogether.

A certain amount (how much?) of Platonic rejection of sex in Christianity.

Spiritual things are FREE; physical desire is slavish. Physical eros is a beggar, a child of poverty.

Aristotle: sexual desire comparable to desire for food and drink.  All desires must be governed by reason. Which does not mean ‘eliminated.’ Excess of any kind is bad, even excessive denial of the ‘flesh.’ But better to err by too much denial.


Augustine: extreme sex negativity? (v p.7)

Did Adam and Eve have sex before the fall? (or, if they had not fallen, would they have?) 3 views; Jerome, Pelagius, Augustine

Jerome; NO. gen 1:28 refers to ‘spiritual’ fecundity.

Augustine: YES “ “                                                    AND physical.  (note tendentious remarks on Paul VI). But post-lapsarian sex has been corrupted by concupiscence, even married sex. (fact?).  Pre-lapsarian would have been passionless, controlled by will, in obedience to command to multiply.

General ascetic tendencies in Augustine.  (One sided account in Soble).


Pelagius: YES, and with pleasure, and post-lapsarian sex could be pleasurable without concupiscence.


Aquinas. The ‘natural’ as governing concept.  Pleasure in sex is natural, therefore . . . Procreation is natural. Aristotelian ideas about moderation continue.  But there IS such a thing as ‘too little sex’ in a marriage.  The marriage ‘debt,’ “Burning” and   St. Paul.(I Cor 7).  

Any sex act which of its nature is not procreative is sinful since unnatural. These are the worst. Sex acts which involve violation of another person are not as bad. Masturbation is worse than rape??



Montaigne;  ‘unity’

Descartes ; desire for food is fungible, desire for another person is not. No ‘incompatibility’ p.31


Hobbes: sexual desire includes desire to be pleased AND desire to please. Power issues here?


Hume: three impressions or passions; pleasing sensation vis a vis beauty; appetite (bodily!!) for generation; kindness. Hume thinks kindness or benevolence can join sexual passion or appetitie.


Kant: thinks they can’t be joined.    Sexual desire, appetite, is intrinsically selfish, manipulative. (contrast to de Sade). Involves treating others as means, rather than as ends.


Kierkegaard: misconstrued by Soble (really ignorant).


Mill: ‘liberal’ (in political sense) views on sexual equality, prostitution, etc.


Marx and Engels; critique of bourgeoise marriage joined to critique of capitalism.  Power of MONEY in sexual relations.


Freud. The aim and the object of libido. Not locked together as with, e.g. instinctual desire for food and its object. Polymorphous perversity. Which objects come to dominate is result of environment. Nothing in the sexual domain is particularly natural.


Russell; takes up the Marxist theme, approves of adultery.


Sartre; a particular view of consciousness generates the idea that sex is sado/masochistic.
Post-freudian marxists. Liberate sexuality from ‘repressive’ regimes.
 Scruton. Rehabilitating conservative views.
 MacKinnon (radical and reactionary at the same time?)




Homosexuality > perversion?

RC view; since it is intrinsically non-reproductive, it is unnatural(not in accord with God’s design or plan), and since unnatural, morally wrong (natural ‘law’ > morality).  Some sexual acts that ARE reproductive can also be immoral, e.g. adultery, incest, rape, but because they violate proper (reasonable) relations between persons.

Well what is ‘natural?’  Is any interference in the course of ‘nature’ unnatural? Lightning rods? Antibiotics?



Problems with inspecting nature and making inferences regarding what is natural.  ‘What is X (the hand, the rectum, the penis, the big toe, the clitoris, etc) for?’ seems to imply that each, or most, items in nature have a discrete function. But a hand, for example, is FOR an enormous number of things (is it ‘for’ masturbating?)


Why not argue that since stimulation of genitals ‘naturally’ produces pleasure, that the genitals are ‘for’ pleasure and using them for just that purpose is thus not unnatural, therefore not immoral?

Notice the dubitable reasoning, middle of p. 76. Recall Tucker on the advantages of monogamy.


Sociobiology and natural law.


Nagel’s psychological criteria for perversion;

Natural sexual interactions are ‘intersubjective’ (involve e.g. my awareness of your awareness etc.) In natural relations persons are aware of being BOTH subject and object.

On this criteria, voyeurism


But NOT (obviously) homosexual behavior

                              Are perverted.


Psychiatry and perversion:

General account of ‘mental disorder’ = associated with distress, disability, ‘functional impairment’ (e.g. inability to hold a job) important loss of freedom. Origin must be ‘endogenous.’ There must be a more or less consistent pattern.


‘Paraphilias’ and mental disorders; sex compulsively or consistently confined to interactions with clothing and other fetishes, exhibitionism, ‘zoophilia’, necrophilia, voyeurism, sadism, etc. is a mental disorder ‘when endogenous.’  Otherwise not!!  So for example, if you like to fondle corpses, and doing so does not have any painful side-effects for you (it is not socially condemned, not productive of physical disease, does not make you feel bad about yourself in any way), then is it NOT a mental disorder. You, the necrophiliac, are NORMAL.


Apply this to homosexuality: there might be some homosexuals who cannot feel comfortable with being gay; they are mentally disordered. Those who are comfortable (and thus presumably not subject to beatings etc.) are NOT mentally disordered. 


What about pedophilia? Same reasoning SHOULD apply there. !!!  But notice that nothing follows respecting the MORALITY, or the LEGALITY, of pedophiliac activity.



(note on Soble: there are many rhetorical questions where the answer implied is not the only, or even the best, one.  There are many completely unsupported assertions, where support is needed. E.g. look at p. 108.)

Natural law and sexual ethics: contraception interferes with a natural process, therefore is wrong. Contraception = intentional avoidance of conception.  Does not apply to those contingently infertile.

Doesn’t the ‘rhythm method’ involve intentional avoidance of conception? (Paul VI: it makes legitimate use of a natural process¸ therefore is not ‘unnatural.’ But, doesn’t it still involve getting rid of the thought ‘I may become a mother/father’ (cf. John Paul, p. 91)?

What about sexual acts that could not be procreative: all are morally wrong (debased) and violate natural law. Homosexual acts, masturbation, etc. etc.



Liberal (western) views: the basic idea is that mutual consent is necessary and usually sufficient for the morality of any sexual act. Treating others as ‘autonomous’ and as énds’ (cf. Kant). (Problems with ‘consent’ treated later).


Kant opposes any behavior that involves using a person as a means. Sexual acts always involve that, except in heterosexual monogamy, in which the two give up their rights over their own bodies (cf. Paul in I Cor 7)


Do they always involve that?


Wouldn’t same sex unions (monogamous) be moral on his view? He excludes them by an appeal to nature, which does not fit with his approach to ethics. 98.


Where does love fit into Kant’s contractual view? It doesn’t.


Various interpretations/extensions of Kantian ideas.  Wojtyla: not a contract – a mutual gift. And the gift can’t be time limited. Gift of the WHOLE PERSON  implies all future selves. By definition.


Contract view sounds like a business deal. Makes people into property.


Finnis: only marital sex is licit since only there do two people become a ‘unit.’ Biologically men and women complement each other, form a teleological union unavailable to same sex couples and ignored by all other sexual acts. It is not the contract that makes these unions moral, it is the specific content of the ‘mutual gift.’


MILL (Utilitarianism).

Utilitarian Liberal ethics; mutual consent and non-harm are necessary and, (subject to utility calculations) sufficient for interpersonal acts to be moral.

Pleasure is a good, enhanced intimacy is a good, so maximize them. The fact that some people, or many people, find certain acts disgusting is irrelevant; if it feels good, do it, no matter what ‘it’ is, so long as no one is harmed.


Problem with the ‘harm’ principle; what is to count as harm? If x is so disgusting to me that I puke, have I been harmed by someone who does X?

General problem with calculating or weighing up benefits and harms. Societal benefits/harms.


    Sadomasochism: so long as no one is ‘harmed’ why should it be considered immoral? The ‘bottom’ makes a gift of self to the top!!

What about lesbian use of sadomasochist pornography?  Some feminists condemn it on grounds that is supports/encourages the ‘eroticization of violence’ which may tend to legitimate rape.  As with pornography generally, it may be argued that the ‘right’ to ‘enjoy’ it is overridden by social considerations.


Love and sexual ethics:  Goldman – sexual relations are morally legitimated when mutual, even if objectifying (contra Kant). I can objectify you (make you an object to use for sexual pleasure) provided I make myself available to you for similar use, and not just as a tit for tat, but out of desire to please you. My concern for you, benevolence towards you, love of you, does away what is bad in ‘using’ a person; mutual loving ‘using.’ I treat what YOU want as intrinsically valuable. Ergo not using you merely as a means.


Love as the ingredient, in addition to consent, that guarantees the morality of sexual acts. Love as eros, agape, philia, Humean benevolence, or what?

This use of love opens the way to gay marriage and much else (e.g. loving adultery?).




What sort of  ‘pressure’ negates consent?  Does Sonja (Doestoevski) consent?

           Absence of external pressure.

           Absence of internal pressure (?)


Children can consent to many things (obviously).  Can they consent to sex with an adult?  Even if they, in some sense, could, would it follow that that should be legal?  Could it be ‘moral’  p.110. 


 ‘Ones own’ desires.  Can ANYTHING about a person (including desires) be decided/determined entirely ‘on his/her own’ ??   

                    A negative answer does NOT entail social determinism.

                                                   DOES entail that typical ‘individualist’ construals of selfhood are seriously flawed.


Even if a prostitute acts with full consent, and on her/his own desires, it does not follow that nothing is problematic (individual, socially) about prostitution.  Many feminists decry it on grounds that real consent does not exist. Likewise for many/all marriages!! (Mackinnon, etc.).   What is the human significance of sexuality? 

           Look at all societies, existence of marriage, etc.

           What about marriage ‘for money.’ (Is MARRIAGE for money intrinsically degrading? In such cases, who if anyone degrades whom?) p. 112 Why is that question not raised in S or the writers he cites?


The feminist critique and left wing political ideology (Marx, Engels). Genuine freedom in marriage requires drastic revision of social order.

           Ideologues and tyranny.  Is the present ‘tyranny’ (in, say, France in 1789) worse than what results from ideological reform (say in France in 1793?)

           Recall Bloom on the repressive side of feminist ideology. Social reformers and ideologues. *


           One consequence (arguably) of the politicization of life – Loss of sense of the personal. The personal becomes the political.

                    What that means:


           Ideology, politics, and epistemology.  The irrelevance of evidence for an ideologue. The obvious dangers of that.


           For example, consider the extreme claims advanced by various feminists regarding women and heterosexuality.



Many campus codes and policies, as we

learned, were deeply problematical and

troubling. In January 1993, we set out our

concerns in a formal statement, Sexual

Harassment and Academic Freedom. We

noted there that “sexual harassment” was

often defined in a mischievously vague,

open-ended manner that extended far

beyond conduct, and aggressively intruded

into the realm of ideas and classroom

discourse. A new and impossibly subjective

standard—the “hostile environment”—

became the driving force behind an

avalanche of complaints, usually having no

obvious connection to sexual impropriety.

Thus—believe it or not—“callous insensitivity

to the experience of women” or

arguing that distinct social roles between

men and women resulted more from nature

than nurture were standard issue in the

ever-expanding lexicon of apparent thought

offenses that now constituted “harassment.”

A local cadre of enforcers in the faculty and

administration were commonly the most

aggressive movers and shakers: drafting

their school’s code, monitoring faculty

members and students, “planting” student

observers in ideologically suspect courses,

encouraging complaints, and staffing the

administrative bodies charged with adjudicating


It didn’t take much to rev this bureaucratic

juggernaut into high gear, either.

Inspector Clouseau-style “investigations,”

however farcical they might appear to nonacademic

observers, were often commenced

(from an NAS report on the recent DOE office of civil rights requirements for defining, handling, etc. ‘sexual harrassment’