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Sex and Reason / Edition 1

Sex and Reason / Edition 1

by Richard A. PosnerRichard A. Posner
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Sexual drives are rooted in biology, but we don’t act on them blindly. Indeed, as the eminently readable judge and legal scholar Richard Posner shows, we make quite rational choices about sex, based on the costs and benefits perceived.

Drawing on the fields of biology, law, history, religion, and economics, this sweeping study examines societies from ancient Greece to today’s Sweden and issues from masturbation, incest taboos, date rape, and gay marriage to Baby M. The first comprehensive approach to sexuality and its social controls, Posner’s rational choice theory surprises, explains, predicts, and totally absorbs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674802803
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/01/1994
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 468
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Richard A. Posner retired as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017. He is a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

Table of Contents


PART ONE: The History of Sexuality

1. Theoretical Sexology

The Development of the Field

Social Constructionism (with a Glance at Gender Disorders)

Other Threads in the Multidisciplinary Tapestry

2. Autres Temps, Autres Moeurs

The History of Western Sexual Mores

The Sexual Mores of Non-Western Cultures

3. Sexuality and Law

PART TWO: A Theory of Sexuality

4. The Biology of Sex

The Biological Basis and Character of "Normal" Sex

The Biology of "Deviant" Sex

Conclusion and Critique

5. Sex and Rationality

The Benefits of Sex

The Costs of Sex

Complementarity of Sexual Practices

6. The History of Sexuality from the Perspective of Economics

Greek Love and the Institutionalization of Pederasty

Monasticism, Puritanism, and Christian Sex Ethics

Swedish Permissiveness

Three Stages in the Evolution of Sexual Morality

7. Optimal Regulation of Sexuality

The Model of Morally Indifferent Sex Elaborated

The Externalities of Sex

Incest and Revulsion

The Efficacy of Sexual Regulations

Designing an Optimal Punishment Scheme for Sex Crimes

The Political Economy of Sexual Regulation

8. Moral Theories of Sexuality

Are Moral Theories Falsifiable?

Christian and Liberal Theories of Sex

Sexual Radicals

PART THREE: The Regulation of Sexuality

9. Marriage and the Channeling of Sex

Restrictions on Marrying

Regulating Nonmarital Sex

10. The Control of Pregnancy



11. Homosexuality: The Policy Questions

The Phenomenon Reconsidered

Relations between Consenting Adults: Sodomy Laws and Homosexual Marriage

Discrimination against Homosexuals, with Particular Reference to Military Service

12. The Sexual Revolution in the Courts

From Griswold v. Connecticut to Roe v. Wade

Bowers v. Hardwick and Beyond

13. Erotic Art, Pornography, and Nudity

The Economy of Erotic Representation

The Social Consequences of Pornography

Deciding What-If Anything-to Punish

14. Coercive Sex

Sexual Abuse of Adults

Sexual Abuse of Children

15. Separating Reproduction from Sex


Artificial Insemination and the Issue of Surrogate Motherhood

Eugenics and Population




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