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Ethical Theories are of no help when discussing matters of sex and relationships

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Ethical theories are of no help when discussing matters of sex and relationships Discuss In order to frame any relevant discussion on the helpfulness of ethical theories when considering matters of sex and relationships, it will be necessary for us to have established a clear understanding of our key terms which in this instance will be taken to be help and ethical theories. We will also need to recognise a clear distinction between the moral position which academics adopt in terms of specific sexual acts or practices and the quite separate area of sexual relationships. Against this background the essay will explore the ethical theories of Aquinas and Kant with regards to the act of sex itself and then consider the moral implications of these bodies of thought for human relationships. I hope to demonstrate that these ethical theories are not helpful as the boundaries they impose on sexual practice are essentially artificial, outdated and patriarchal. Furthermore, I propose to maintain that these systems fail to adequately sustain the view that marriage is the only valid moral agency for sexual practice. Having discussed this view, I intend to support the alternative, liberal ethical theory of Utilitarianism as a sound approach to considering matters of sex and relationships. ...read more.


Aquinas rejects animal's natural instinct (suas prudentias) to provide solely for themselves as a reasonable basis for morality, and maintains that man as a rational being must support his mate as 'the female is clearly insufficient of herself for the rearing of the offspring'. Hence, Aquinas held that, "it is natural for man to be tied to the society of one fixed woman for a long period... this social tie we call marriage... marriage then is natural to man, and an irregular connexion outside of marriage is contrary to the good of man... which is the conservation of the species". Put modern stuff in? The Natural law perspective has come under sustained critism. Paul Taylor Smith queried Aquinas' reading of Aristotle: in 'Politics' procreation is regarded as somewhat subsidiary to social interaction, love and friendship. Leiser highlights the discrepancies in Aquinas' assumption that normative ethics can be derived from the apparent order in the universe. Leiser discusses the essential difference between the 'laws' of nature and the 'laws' that apparently govern social interaction, maintaining that the latter are purely descriptive, whereas the latter are prescriptive'. Wherefore, when a scientist declares that such a rule is evident in nature, that is to say that this is the manner in which physical bodies behave- not how they should. ...read more.


Singer explains; 'it is false to say that by its nature sexuality is necessarily appetitive, if in saying this we imply- as Kant does- that on all occasions, inevitably and uniformly, it seeks to appropriate other persons for the benefits of one's own organic needs'. Singer also raises the valid the objection that sexual attraction can not be debased to the level of organa sexualia, 'our sexual feelings are ordinarily directed towards more than just their genitals, or any other portion of their body... we enjoy people across a vast gamut of affective experiences.' Kant's recommendation of marriage as the sole moral agency of sex is also suspect. Is it not possible that two adults can grant each other reciprocal rights to dispose over their persons for an indefinite period of time? (PUT IN SOURCE) Kant's assumption that a 'union of wills' necessarily results from a heterosexual marriage, and that any sexual relationship outside this frame is entirely divorced from correct moral conduct. One can easily imagine a situation in which one bullying spouse uses another as a means to his/her ends in a heterosexual marriage. (something about consent is contract and coercion) Is this abusive marriage superior to a homosexual marriage based on reciprocal respect? Does marriage cleanse any heterosexual relationship of all aspects of exploitation, and are all other relationships outside this structure by definition instrumental? Many would be inclined to answer 'no'. ...read more.

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