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Rules about sexuality, written and unwritten, have existed in every culture as have disagreements over what is and isn't acceptable. Must morally permissible sex have only one function? Must it be heterosexual? Must it occur within the confines of the institution of marriage? Must it be accompanied by requisite emotions such as love and intimacy?
Addressing questions of sexuality that philosophers have pondered for centuries, Raymond Belliotti covers a myriad of issues, including the origin of gender and reproductive roles , the function of morally permissible sex, heterosexuality and homosexuality, mutual consent, and extramarital sex. Looking at sexual morality in both a historical and a contemporary context, he provides a critical survey of various philosophies, from ancient Greek dualism to feminism, and distinguishes morally permissible sex from morally ideal sex, maximally fulfilling sex, and prudentially sound sex.
In addition, Belliotti advances and defends a new and provocative five-tier framework for sexual ethics. This framework requires examination of the presence of libertarian agreement; a contextual attentiveness to general moral precepts; an analysis of economic and sexual exploitation; consideration of third party effects; and an understanding of the effects of sexual activity on wider social contexts. By applying it to heterosexuality, homosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, incest, and prostitution, Belliotti connects sexual ethics to sociopolitical theory and certain core philosophical concerns. In addition, he develops a new theory of sexual ethics that aspires to mediate the tensions between mainstream Western moralities and their leftist and feminist critics.
Sexual activity is unquestionably one of the most powerfully animating human drives. By examining the ethics of sexuality, Belliotti reveals much about the people we are and the people we might become.
Introduction: Sex and Moral Theory—The Terms of the Debate
Part I: The Western Tradition—Theology, Philosophy, and Passion
1. Transcending the Flesh: Dualism and Asceticism
2. The Natural Law: Judeo-Christianity
3. The Primacy of Emotion: Love and Intimacy
4. The Sanctity of Contract and the Horror of Exploitation: Libertarianism and Kantianism
Part 2: The Leftist Critique—Politics, Economics, and Depravity of Conventional Wisdom
5. The Prostitution in Capitalist Marriage: Marxism
6. The Poverty of Contract: Feminist Rejoinders to the Status Quo
Part 3: In Search of Understanding—Mediating Tensions between Leftist and Mainstream Theories
7. Toward Synthesis: Sexuality Morality in Five Tiers
8. A Walk on the Wild Side: Bestiality, Necrophilia, Incest, and Prostitution
9. Moral Reasoning: Science or Sham?