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Sexual Morality - Alan Goldman's Plain Sex

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Chase Wade

on 22 July 2013

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Transcript of Sexual Morality - Alan Goldman's Plain Sex

Sexual Morality
Alan Goldman
Plain Sex
Overview
Goldman’s Plain Sex


-Disagrees with many of the publications regarding sexual activity/morality, and defends the "liberal" position (the opposite of Roger Scrunton).

-According to Goldman, sexual desire is just the desire for contact with another person’s body, and the goal of sex is the pleasure that the contact gives.
-He realizes that sex can also be a means of reproduction or expressing love, but those aspects are extraneous purposes to the act of sex itself.

-The publication consists of several sections/theories.

Section I:
The concept of sex
-The ”Means-end” analysis of sex produces a false view.
-These views separate the act from the goal.
-In turn, the act of sex is diminished in importance.

-Goldman rejects and scrutinizes the “means-ends” analysis that treat sex essentially as a means to some further end such as love, reproduction, simple communication, or inter-personal awareness.

-They analyze sexual activity as a means to one of the ends mentioned above, and if they do not meet that criteria they are immediately perceived as being deviant or perverse.


Section VI:
Sex as a desire for physical contact
-There are no moral intrinsic implications.
-Like other moral behaviors, sex draws a moral judgement when its motives are immoral (example - to harm another)
-Kantian ethics.
-Therefore, the rules of sex, like any other rules governing any activity, must conform to a general moral code, but overall there is no morality to sex itself according to Goldman.
-Example: Rape
-Derives from it’s being an extreme violation to someone’s body and doing something against their will (not from sexual perversion)
-The pleasures of sex are repetitive, and not cumulative.
-Love is cumulative and develops over a long period of time typically (marriage/partnerships).


Section VII & VIII:
Summary

“My account recognizes the satisfaction of desire and the pleasure this brings as the central psychological function of the sex act for the individual. Sex affords us a paradigm of pleasure, but not a cornerstone of value. For most of us it is not only a needed outlet for desire but also the most enjoyable form of recreation we know.”

-Sex does not have to produce a certain goal (i.e. reproduction or love) to cause satisfaction, but instead can just be plain sex.

Goldman's Analysis
-Sexual desire is the desire for contact with another’s body.
-Such contact brings pleasure.
-The desire is context dependent.
-The act of kissing, embracing, or holding hands may or may not be sexual. This is contingent on the purpose, needs, and desires into which these activities fit.
-The desire of physical contact, even without feelings of affection, is enough to qualify as sex.

-Goldman feels that traditional accounts were right to emphasize the physical aspect of sex, but wrong to condemn it (Is this because it was pleasurable?).

Section II:
What sex is not
-Sex is not for reproduction. Although this may be nature’s purpose, it is not ours.

-Modern contraception greatly reduces the likelihood of unwanted pregnancy.

-Marriage represents society’s interest in the care of children, not in the regulation of sex.
-There are many other behaviors with a biological basis that are also done just for pleasure.
-For example: eating. It is natural for us to eat and maintain a healthy diet, but we still eat excess because it is often pleasurable to do so - you don’t need to eat a bowl of ice-cream after dinner, you want to because it is enjoyable.


Section III
Continuation of false means-end analysis

-Sex is described as an expression of affection for love (means-end view). There are many flaws to this view according to Goldman.
-Other kinds of love aside from erotic.
-Other kinds of sex aside from romantic.
-The internal tension between the long-term, monogamous goals of love can lead to repression of sexual desire.
-There is an unequal distribution of sexual restriction between the sexes.

Section IV and V:
Summarized the first three sections
-This is a funny video that shows how mainstream the discussion of sex has become in our culture in a tasteful manner.
-It's a TED talk on sex. Let’s get serious. If sex cannot just be sex, things like this video would not exist.
-Overall, this video emphasizes that sex can just be sex. There is no discussion of reproduction being a vital aspect of sex (means-end analysis).

Sex can be just sex.
Full transcript