Audrey Pollnow, a Catholic, who writes clearly, if foolishly, has tried to give a 'philosophic' defense of the Church's teaching on Contraception. Since there is a philosophic defense for Catholicism- God exists for a philosophic reason and gave the keys of St. Peter to the Pope for a philosophic reason- it follows that there is a philosophic reason to heed the Pope's admonition. It is not necessary to have a philosophic argument against Contraception any more than you need a philosophic reason to do what you are told when attending a Catholic religious ceremony.
Pollnow's 'basic argument goes something like this:
1) sexual misdeeds are a specific kind of misdeed,
This is not necessarily a Catholic doctrine. There could be a 'slingshot' misdeed. All we can say is that misdeeds can nominally be differentiated for a specific purpose
which shows that sex is a particular kind of thing.
Why have a word for sex if it weren't a particular kind of activity? However, sex is the kind of activity which it is difficult to demarcate. One may feel that the eyes of the other party, or their tone of voice, or something in oneself which began before any contact with the other, primed one for an act which might never take place. There is 'lust in the heart' and there is a type of consummation which is not physical but which yet renders one's marital or other vows a nullity.
What of the suggestion that an activity is a kind of thing? Surely that is merely a manner of speaking? What of deeds and misdeeds? Are they things? It may be that there is some subtle type of particle which is sin and another type of particle which is merit. Some ritual action may destroy one type of particle or create another type. Alternatively, some may be received as a gift or given away as an act of charity. In this case, misdeeds are a kind of thing and sexual misdeeds arise from sexual activity of a transgressive sort. The question then arises whether all actions are associated with sin and merit. If so, the question is whether it is the act itself which mechanically produces sin and merit or whether the consequences of the act do so. In the former case, should we maximize the meritorious action and minimize the sinful action? Is that the best way to spend our life? In the latter case, we would need to know how consequences are judged. If there is a God and if God has a plan, then are there consequences which he desires meritorious even if the action itself isn't?
These questions have engrossed the minds of casuists throughout the ages. There is little that contemporary philosophy can add to the discussion. Faith is founded on a mystery- the enigma of how God's economy- or administration- of the World actually operates.
Sexual misdeeds are not things. They are events or allegations regarding which judgments are made. But those judgments are defeasible. They are inconsistent. They may be corrupt. They may be hasty and impatient of testimony which features graphic depictions of self-abuse delivered by ugly people who are vigorously fisting themselves. Such, at any rate, is my experience.
2) if we want to get sexual ethics right, we need to understand what kind of thing sex is.
This does not follow. The Queen may want to get the etiquette right when paying a visit to some frightful foreign dignitary. We acquit of her of either desiring or needing to understand what kind of beastly wog she is visiting.
As a matter of fact, as adolescents, we are keen to get sexual etiquette right. But we don't want to understand how ovaries function or what exactly is the vas deferens and stuff of that sort. How do you kiss without your noses getting in the way? What noises are you supposed to make to indicate the ability and willingness to hump? What do you say to indicate that you feel the thing went off in a satisfactory manner? Also, is there a rule about tipping? I'm saving up for a new bike.
3) there is no “neutral,” minimal, provable, or universally self-evident account of what sex is.
Because you can get preggers off a toilet seat. On the other hand, for any specific purpose, good faith, if not 'Aumann agreement', is always possible provided there is 'transferable utility' or there are penalties for antaganomia or other types of nuisance.
4) even though we can’t prove what the meaning of sex is, we still need to try (otherwise we’re likely to get sexual ethics badly wrong)
There is no evidence for this view and plenty for the opposite. If a person starts talking about sexual ethics you suspect she has a very large strap-on and wants you to wear a fluffy bunny suit.
. 5) the strongest account of what sex is will take into account lived experience as well as more objective facts about what makes sex distinctive.
But it will still be boring, stupid, shit.
6) there are some good reasons for thinking sex essentially involves an erotic and procreative orientation
There are no good reasons for wasting a single moment having such stupid thoughts unless you are paid to do so- in which case you might want to investigate retraining as a Tax Accountant or Data Input manager for a regional distributor of Dog Food.
7) there are further good reasons to think that it’s unethical to intentionally act against the procreative orientation of sex; in other words, contraceptive sex is essentially—and unethically—dishonest.
So don't bang post menopausal chicks. Also no oral or anal or handies. The problem here is that we think anybody who claims to avoid all these things is a lying bastard. Also we worry about the rear-ends of any choir-boys in the vicinity.
My first claim is that sex has a particular ethical significance,
Ethics may have a sexual significance but the reverse is not the case. Sex is the precondition for ethics. Ethics is the precondition for being a twat or a tosser unless it is obviously linked to your getting paid, which tends to be linked to getting laid.
On the other hand God may reward you for not touching yourself and punish you for touching somebody else. But that's Gods business.
a significance that we can identify by thinking about the wrongness of rape.
Without that wrongness, our species wouldn't exist. There would be no Neanderthal and Denisovan and other such DNA in our genes.
Why not think about the wrongness of getting philosophical arguments wrong?
Obviously rape is wrong for a variety of reasons: it involves harming someone, and doing things to their body without their consent.
But killing them is cool if they are enemy combatants.
However, the wrongness of rape can’t just be reduced to the wrongs involved in “inflicting physical/psychological harm” and “doing something to someone’s body without their consent.”
Very true. Mrs. Thatcher raped me with her eyes back in 1982 when she suddenly appeared on the TV screen one night.
In other words, the wrongness of rape and other forms of sexual violation has a specifically sexual component.
No. Wrongness has an ethical or legal or aesthetic or epistemic component. On the other hand, human life has a sexual component because our species reproduces through sex and sex alone. However, there is nothing stopping a particular jurisdiction from bringing inanimate objects under the rubric of rape. In particular, I urge you to stop using my books to anally pleasure yourself. The thing is rape in all but name! Maybe, if you bought your own copy of it on Amazon, rather than using mine, I would withdraw my objection. Sadly, there appears little prospect of any such happy outcome.
Having given you a fair specimen of Audrey's misology I turn to a recent post on 'First things' where she takes on the equally cretinous Amia Srinivasan.
Audrey's major malfunction is she thinks 'implicature' is a real thing. It isn't. It is obvious that anybody who uses the term scours the street eagerly devouring any dog turds they find. Thus, when low IQ psilophers start babbling in Gricean vein, the proper thing to do is to mention a pile of dog poo you saw earlier in the day and helpfully suggest your interlocutor go there quickly before one of her colleagues gobbles it up.
In recent years implicature has become an increasingly important part of rhetoric.
But rhetoric lost out to Trump's mean girl tweets. It has no importance.
It’s common to hear a statement denounced not as a falsehood but as a “dog whistle,”
because these guys are totes into doggies and what comes out of their rear ends.
something that, though perhaps true, is to be censured because it sends a secret, bad message to the wrong sort of person.
Fuck anybody cares about being censured by guys who devour dog turds?
Unsurprisingly, this dynamic has made it difficult to discuss a broad range of subjects in public.
Because the conversation tends to be cut short by your interlocutor racing off to devour a fresh pile of steaming dog poo.
In her study of sexual ethics, Amia Srinivasan, a professor of social and political theory
by reason of being brown and not having a dick
which wants to bring in more proles and needs some stupid shit to fob off on them while smart kids concentrate on STEM subjects
cleverly uses implicature to regain ground for discussion, rather than police it.
Amia is as thick as shit. Some Iyengar Mum's do 'ave 'em, you know. Not everybody can be Indra Nooyi.
To stick with the dog metaphor, I’ll call her technique the invisible fence collar. An invisible fence typically makes a faint beeping sound when the dog approaches the line; it’s a warning that a zap is soon to follow. And The Right to Sex is filled with warnings that are designed to keep out or distract the very sort whom the dog whistle is supposed to attract.
Coz Amia wants to feast on dog turds. She puts an invisible fence collar on her pooch so that she doesn't lose out to those of her colleagues who cunningly use dog whistles to get her dog to make on the pavement where they have a common law right to devour the turd in question.
To give just one example, before presenting a lot of arguments that suggest that false rape accusations can be a real problem,
Only if they are believed. Sadly, nobody really believes Mrs Thatcher had her wicked way with me back when I was 14.
Srinivasan writes that “false rape accusations are, today, a predominantly wealthy white male preoccupation.”
How would she know? The fact is very few people today are 'wealthy white males'. It is darker more working class peeps who have to worry about the thing. They can't afford good lawyers. Further, their livelihood may be destroyed even if no legal action is taken against them. The other thing is some dude might knife them.
Even as she presents arguments for positions that she suggests are sometimes or even characteristically held by the privileged, she claims to do so in spite of this alignment, not because of it.
Does she present arguments? No. She just shits on the page.
(Conveniently, the many wealthy white men who regard themselves as being decent human beings in spite of their privilege can now say they only worry about false rape accusations in the way Srinivasan does, not in the manner characteristic of so many others in their questionable class.)
Fuck does this mean? Is Audrey crazy enough to think 'wealthy white men' read Amia's shite? Why not say 'conveniently, the Planet Neptune can not rape Uranus for reasons supplied by some silly academic.'
If the dogs read Srinivasan’s book, she wants them to focus on the ways in which she offends them, instead of the many places where they might find common ground.
Very good of her I'm sure. If dogs start reading my books, I'd go see a shrink.
The rhetoric instills in her intended reader—a progressively minded person with the usual progressive views about sex—the feeling that dogs are unwelcome here.
Unless they shit all over the place thus providing Amia and her chums with tasty treats.
The effect is to make her book—and the discourse it generates—a safer space for those with dog allergies, a sort of Chestertonian playground
Chesterton was witty. Amia is shitty.
where Srinivasan and her readers can consider and defend propositions such as Porn is actually quite bad or False rape accusations can be a real problem without worrying that a dog might show up to agree. Srinivasan is therefore able even to ask whether there is a right to sex, a question that, on its own, sounds like one long dog whistle.
Srinivasan was born in Bahrain where a rapist escapes punishment by marrying his victim. Her parents come from India where, currently, married men have a right to demand sex from their wives. Germany was like India till 1997 as was Singapore till 2020.
The right to homosexual sex was only established in India in 2018 and 2022 in Singapore. Sadly, there is a danger that SCOTUS will reverse Lawrence v Texas. The Texas Attorney General says he will enforce the anti-sodomy laws still on the statute books if this happens.
However we might admire Srinivasan’s rhetorical cleverness,
what cleverness? She is a confused fool.
it often results in claims I’m not sure Srinivasan herself believes. Take, once again, her remark that false rape allegations are a “predominantly wealthy white male preoccupation.” It seems likely that, if any group is especially concerned about such allegations, it would be non-white men; as Srinivasan correctly notes, they are more likely to be falsely accused. Surely Srinivasan knows that there is a gap between her readers’ perception, which she exploits, and reality.
Why make this assumption? She is stupid and teaches stupid shit to credential craving cretins.
Her job as a philosopher is to correct this gap, rather than affirm her readers’ error, all the better to convince them regarding some point she considers more important.
The job of a philosopher is to convince kids at Uni that becoming a Don will cause your brains to turn to shit. Quit Collidge and make money in the real world.
the book offers some convincing arguments, especially Srinivasan’s defense of a radical
rabid not radical
(rather than liberal) feminism.
Sadly radical feminism is on the back foot because of trans rights. There is little point in whining about patriarchy if patriarchs can use your toilets and compete with you in sports.
Liberal feminism is the sexual analogue to laissez-faire economics.
So, a liberal feminist will give me a b.j if the price is right. Good to know.
The liberal feminist’s interest in sexual justice is chiefly procedural:
So is the serial killer's interest in sexual injustice to the corpse of his victim. If her daddy and mummy, bound are gagged, are not looking on in horror, he sulks and won't go through with his ritual.
Consent must be respected and coercion must be avoided.
No. The fact that I consent to sex with pretty women does not mean they should respect me. The should coercively kick me in the balls again and again till I limp away from them as fast as I can.
The liberal feminist believes that sexual justice will be achieved if we adopt the correct rules of personal conduct and everybody follows them.
Nonsense! Sexual justice will be achieved if the person you deserve to have sex with has sex with you instead of your sister who is totes a basic bitch.
Sexual justice may have an economic dimension. Organizations may discriminate against sexually active women of reproductive age or else refuse to hire them because of the need for added security or vigilance in the work place.
Radical feminists, by contrast, recognize that this procedural approach to sexual justice is insufficient.
Either radical feminism is organized and ideological- in which case it is itself procedural and aims at altering specific mechanisms in society- or else it consists of screaming loudly and shitting itself.
Our culture shapes us, and our choices shape the culture.
Through mechanisms which can be described as a list of procedures. The alternative is to believe that if you scream loudly enough and shit yourself copiously enough, then the Universe will mend its ways and everything will become very nice.
If our culture is unjust—for instance, if it is misogynistic—the injustice can warp us and our sexual desires.
But we know there are biological reasons why our sexual desires can get very very fucking warped. Somebody hits you on the head and this causes neurological damage and suddenly the only thing you want to hump is the tailpipe of a Honda Civic. I'm not saying that's what happened to me. It's the sort of thing which could happen to anybody.
When we are warped, the sex we have cannot be completely free.
Very true. Some Honda Civics demand payment in crypto currency upfront- or so I've been told.
Radical feminists also recognize that a society and its sexual marketplaces can be coercive.
Yup. You could be trafficked to a brothel in Bangkok by a fucking Honda Civic which was pretending it really wanted to hear about your divorce but which actually roofied you even though it was you who had bought the drinks.
If the society has ways of systematically penalizing people—for instance, through stigma and its associated social, romantic, and professional penalties—and one of the things it regularly penalizes is saying no to sex we don’t want, it’s hard to characterize the sex we’re having as free.
Which is why so many marriages end in divorce and the husband getting trafficked to Bangkok by a Honda Civic which roofied him. Or so I've been told.
To show the limits of liberal feminism, Srinivasan considers a real example, which I will simplify: Two college students were smoking weed and fooling around; the female student initiated a sex act and then stopped because she didn’t feel right; the male student asked her to resume; a few minutes later she re-initiated and completed the sex act. She did it reluctantly, and afterward realized that she had felt pressured by objectionable campus norms, norms that say women need to finish what they start.
Which is why you must eat up all the dog poop you find in the streets. Think of the millions of starving Amartya Sens in Bangladesh.
The liberal feminist may respond by suggesting that the man is chiefly at fault.
Coz Lesbians never get mad if you stop eating them out half way.
He should have asked for affirmative verbal consent.
No. He should have asked for money. Don't cheapen yourself dude. You can sell your jizz for big bucks to a Sperm Bank.
But, as Srinivasan notes, it’s not clear that the affirmative consent standard would have made a difference: The same norms that pressured the student into nonverbal consent could have pressured her into verbal consent as well.
But 'norms' might pressure her into not having sex or eating dog turds. The problem with making everything about norms is that you are conceding that only people who have some extra charisma or a reputation for moral greatness can do anything for Society. They can establish Tardean mimetic targets of a normative kind. Look at Gandhi. All sorts of people started dressing down and spinning cotton because of him- much to the delight of Viceroys who had previously feared assassination.
The primary problem is not that the man knowingly forced her to do something she didn’t want to do, but that external social forces limited her freedom to tell him she didn’t want to do it.
But then the man too was a victim of 'external social forces' which can only be changed by moral exemplars like Mahatma Gandhi or else by the Secret Police who spy on you when you sit on the toilet.
It’s simply not clear that the man in question was the real source of the coercion, and yet the act may have been genuinely non-consensual.
Or it may have been genuinely consensual while also being genuinely non-consensual and like totes please don't make me jizz. I have an appointment at the Sperm Bank tomorrow.
As Srinivasan writes:A woman going on with a sex act she no longer wants to perform,
like a guy going through the motions when he'd rather be watching Netflix and actually chilling- not getting all hot and bothered and ending up not getting paid by the Sperm Bank
knowing she can get up and walk away
coz the dude keeps demanding money for his jizz
but knowing at the same time that this will make her a blue-balling tease, an object of male contempt:
Really? Most dudes want to marry virgins.
there is more going on here than mere ambivalence, unpleasantness and regret. There is also a kind of coercion: not directly by [the man in question], perhaps, but by the informal regulatory system of gendered sexual expectations.
Very true. Men are being coerced to get it on with Honda Civics which, however, roofie them and sell to a brothel in Bangkok- except it turns out it wasn't really Bangkok, it was a bedsit in Belsize Park above a Thai takeaway. I'm not saying this happened to me. It was this other dude I know. We were in the SAS together which is why I can't tell you his name.
When people have sex because they fear a punishment—for instance, because they fear being socially shamed and sexually rejected—this is not consensual sex.
This is symmetrical to people having sex because they expect a reward. Presumably, people who appear to be sexually available gain by doing so. Thus, my wife used to cook me dinner because she thought this was the night I'd finally come through and get her preggers. This reward was withdrawn. I was punished by being turned out of the house and forced to feed and clothe myself. Ultimately, I even had to get a job. Nobody sympathized with me though there was this Honda Civic which kept darting come-hither looks at me. But that's a story for another day.
But the problem cannot be entirely solved by the involved parties’ being more conscientious about consent. As Srinivasan correctly argues, structural problems require structural solutions.
Imaginary structural problems require imaginary structural solutions but won't get them because people only tasked to do so end up scamping their work so as to gobble up doggie doodoo wherever they can find it.
Given this insistence, it is disappointing that Srinivasan devotes no serious attention to structural solutions. She rejects the restoration of conservative sexual morality, for a combination of liberal and philosophically unimaginative reasons. After asserting that to “liberate sex from the distortions of oppression is . . . [not a liberal but] a radical demand,” she reverts to the very liberal framework she has just discredited, by proposing that in lieu of structural solutions, we should engage in “experiments in living” and make individual attempts to retrain our attention so that we can grow in sexual freedom.
But nobody will take any notice of our doing so unless we do it in the streets and get arrested. On the other hand, if you have a smokin' bod, you could probably get rich with a subscriber only cam-show.
It is difficult to imagine Srinivasan, a socialist, thinking
because Socialism is an economic theory which had become ultra mathsy by the early Seventies when Kantorovich got the Nobel. Meanwhile Philosophy Departments had become more and more adversely selective. Amia represents a generation of cretins taught by cretins who are now seeking more brain damaged cretins yet so as to keep up their credentialist Ponzi scheme
that we can overcome capitalism by, say, taking a more intentional approach to our work and consumption or deciding to live in a commune with our friends.
It is enough to allocate capital other than through the market for capitalism to have been overcome.
In the economic realm, Srinivasan advocates structural changes. But when it comes to sexual ethics, she thinks liberal and moralistic responses suffice. The closest she comes to a structural response is to advocate economic socialism—but she doesn’t spell out how it will solve the sorts of structural sexual problems she describes, perhaps because it won’t.
Socialism can greatly reduce evils like prostitution because dudes who are queueing up for turnips don't have spare cash or , if they do, prossies can't buy shit with it.
Srinivasan should have given conservative sexual morality a hearing, even if were to end up rejecting it. A conservative approach to sex would address many of the structural problems she describes. To give an obvious example: Norms against nonmarital sex would void the campus norms that coerced the student Srinivasan described into engaging in a nonconsensual sex act.
Liability issues may force some campuses down that road.
Instead of engaging seriously with it, Srinivasan dismisses the conservative proposal as coercive, homophobic, and patriarchal. But the task of a philosopher is to criticize not the weakest or even the most popular version of a proposal, but the strongest and most compelling one.
But philosophers aren't smart enough to do that because they were taught by cretins and teach cretins crazier yet.
For instance, Srinivasan might assess an arrangement in which gay marriage is allowed, in which divorce—but not remarriage—is allowed, and in which there are norms against nonmarital sex.
The only way to assess this arrangement is through economics. Gay marriage may boost tax revenue and reduce the cost of medical or elderly care. Banning remarriage would have the reverse effect. Norms may produce hypocrisy in which case you have wasteful screening and signalling. Thus incentive compatibility or Utility must rule over all service provision- that of Justice, that of Education, that by which mimetic effects are encouraged or penalized.
(These norms can be enforced in whatever way Srinivasan thinks we should enforce other norms against problematic consensual sex, such as the norms against student–professor sex that she defends.) We can also imagine that divorce terms will be as favorable to women as Srinivasan wants, as a safeguard against situations in which women are reluctant to leave abusive relationships.
Economics teaches us to look at unintended consequences. In this case, if marriage involves a more onerous type of contingent liability for one party, there will be less of it than is Pareto optimal more especially when Knightian uncertainty increases.
In the end, Srinivasan’s objection to conservative sexual morality is simply the liberal one: that it is wrong to restrict individual choices, even when doing so is the only way to address structural injustice.
This is not the Liberal view. It is right to restrict individual choice where people will be badly hurt by taking the wrong option.
Despite her critique of liberal feminism, her argument appears to be: “Liberalism is bad; conservative sexual morality is illiberal; therefore conservative sexual morality is bad.”
So this is not a critique. It is simply a type of signaling.
The illogic is a bit puzzling until one reads Srinivasan’s discussion of the rhetoric surrounding LGBT rights. Proponents of same-sex marriage and transgender recognition, Srinivasan writes, have rested their arguments on dubious claims—for instance, that gay people are “born this way” or that trans people are “trapped in the wrong body.”
These are not 'dubious claims'. They are what the correct Scientific 'Structural Causal Model' predict.
Although such claims are philosophically implausible and don’t square well with lived experience, Srinivasan believes that it has been right to use them—because they have been effective.
It only became right to use them once the Science was there to back it up. Previously, there were Doctors who could charge money for 'conversion therapy'. The thing was a racket.
As she puts it, such claims are “politically vital in a world in which blame is associated with choice but not with natural endowment.
but blame is easily defeated by the assertion that it is only the incessant guzzling of dog turds which causes such claims. You blame me for your shitty life and I blame you for not giving your colleagues a share of all the dog turds you collect and greedily devour. The result is that many Amartya Sens are starving in Bangladesh.
"Political claims are often dialectical,
No. They arise out of a sequent calculus- i.e. a string of conditional tautologies. Political philosophy may be dialectical. But claims are not. The Communist Manifesto is not dialectical. Das Kapital is dialectical. Indeed, Marx- as a Classical Economist- was much more conservative than an Marginalist like Marshall. The problem with Amia's generation is that they don't have a solid grounding in Marxist thought which Lawvere even gave a category theoretical interpretation.
best understood as responses to the normative terrain as it stands in the moment they are made, not in some hoped-for future.”
in which case they are not dialectical at all. One may say they are tactical not strategic or categorical.
In other words, our political claims do not need to be true; they just have to help us win battles.
You are more likely to lose battles if you make 'political claims'. Stick to economic demands which can 'pay for themselves' with a bit of mechanism design and you will prevail.
Knowing that Srinivasan takes this hard-boiled approach to political claims, one wonders how deep her rejection of sexual conservatism goes. Perhaps she is already a fully convinced social conservative, and her rejection—more by implicature than argument—of social conservatism is merely a response to the “normative terrain” of the present moment.
This is the problem with babbling stupid shit. Your enemies insinuate that you are actually on their side.
Srinivasan may think that her critique of liberal feminism will be accepted only if her argument’s real implications—clearing the ground for real structural change, which comes with conservative views of sex—are hidden!
Amia is brown. She has been hired for only one reason- viz. to make the life of white feminists a living hell. Also, she is as stupid as shit. So she won't object to continually declining academic standards such that soon she will be teaching people who haven't been potty-trained. After all, handing out PhD's for dissertations which consist solely of collated turds is a good Business Model for Oxford more especially if Overseas Students from oil-rich kleptocracies are involved.
But the philosopher ought to show the whole picture, rather than obscuring the truth for political ends.
Sez who? Philosophers are and always have been as stupid as shit. They have provided material for comedians since the time of Aristophanes.
If Srinivasan doesn’t think there are good arguments against the conservative approach, she should say so. If she thinks there are good arguments against it, she should make them. It’s true this might involve talking to the dogs, but even the dogs deserve their scraps.
This is nonsense. Dogs or deplorables don't want to hear about the heavy duty mathematical logic used to evaluate genuine arguments involving 'open problems' in STEM subjects. But that, and that alone, as Collingwood observed, is the realm of philosophy's 'distinctions without a difference'.
We know that sexual behavior is game theoretic and involves co-evolved processes on an uncertain fitness landscape. We can predict what proportion of the population will be 'pure' Gay or suffer gender dysphoria. True there are epigenetic and other 'co-evolved' processes which add noise to signal. But, precisely because there is money to be made or money to be saved or utility to be gained or disutility to be avoided by improving our Structural Causal Model, smart peeps will do so. Cretins will teach psilosophy.
In the spirit of showing the whole picture, I will say a few things in defense of the full-blown conservative sexual ethic, the one Srinivasan calls misogynistic, homophobic, and coercive.
I take it that any satisfactory account of sex must meet the following conditions: First, it must explain what is special about sex.
Why? We know Sex is how we reproduce. We know there must be both a strong genetic and a strong 'social' component to sexual behavior. But we also know that having the right SCM of sex has improved the lives of millions while also helping the Economy.
Otherwise, it cannot explain why consent is more important in the sexual sphere than when it comes to other violations of a person’s strongly held preferences.
But this simply isn't true. We more strongly prefer not to be killed than we prefer wifey not to pester us for sex.
And it clearly is more important. There are contexts in which I can intentionally touch someone who I know doesn’t want to be touched. To give a rather far-fetched example, imagine I’m crossing the street and immediately in front of me is someone who has a strongly held religious objection to being touched, and immediately in front of him are two children. I see that a car has run the red light and is speeding toward the group of pedestrians, and so I push the man with the religious objection very hard, in an attempt to knock everybody out of the way of the oncoming car. This is an action that could be morally justified, even if I know that the man doesn’t want to be touched.
Because you assume the guy would rather be touched than that he and a couple of kids get run over by a car. Suppose the guy is the head of a Religious Sect which will blow up the world if he is touched because of some crazy eschatological belief they have. In that case you won't touch him though you may shout out a warning.
By contrast, it would never be right to set aside another person’s consent in a sexual context, even for the sake of a real good from which the person might benefit.
Nonsense. My Mummy didn't intervene to prevent my wife having her wicked way with me- though at a later point my wife did consult an Indian lawyer about 'restitution of conjugal rights'. But, on balance, Mum acted correctly. Millions of Hindu men are coerced into marriage by Society. Amia's own dad must have gone through the ritual of Kashi yatra where the groom pretends he is heading to Benares to become a monk and his future father-in-law harangues him and pleads with him and bribes him to come back and take up the horrible burden represented by his daughter. To be clear, us Tambrams have 'conservative sexual norms' coz boys get paid for their future output of jizz. Sadly, the Government has outlawed the dowry system so the transaction has to be more or less clandestine.
(You cannot allow a stranger to spy voyeuristically on your teenaged children, even if the stranger agrees in exchange to pay for their expensive and much-needed medical procedures.)
That may be the Law but many parents would have jumped at the chance of hitting the jackpot by sending sonny boy over to Neverland for a sleepover with Michael Jackson.
Second, a satisfactory account must explain why sex can be morally justifiable even under conditions of patriarchy or other structural injustices.
Is Holy Scripture not 'satisfactory'? But anything else would just be the warmed sick of crazy ideologues with an inferior literary style.
To do so, it must identify what is morally good about sex.
But if must first identify what is morally good about the morally good, not to mention why the morally good of the morally good is morally good &c.
Under conditions of structural injustice, individual sex acts can be morally compromised.
Or they can attain a heroic or spiritually elevated stature.
Consent can be compromised when, due to power asymmetries or objectionable socialization, a person fears being penalized for sexual refusal.
Very true. Kasturba was constantly beating up the Mahatma for refusing to put out. That's why the dude was so keen on getting sent to jail.
This problem cannot always be solved by individual conscientiousness. Moreover, the sex we have can be personally compromising when it involves submission to misogynistic or other dehumanizing ideals.
Also wifey should get a smaller strap-on. Having your rectum wrecked is totes dehumanizing.
But whether or not a given sex act involves this submission can be very difficult to determine.
Or it can be very easy to determine. I feel that no man under the age of 59 should degrade himself by having sex with hot women. Instead, they may kindly form an orderly line outside my bed-room door. I won't let them in but I'd feel better about myself.
Good sex involves the interaction of the lovers’ desires,
No. For men, it involves staying hard and doing mental arithmetic to keep from coming too quickly. Lovers may desire an amazing dick but, sadly, they must make do with what is available.
but our desires are often shaped by our culture.
What we desire is a function of our endowments and opportunities. We now desire many things undreamed off by our ancestors.
And pretty much everything that we might find desirable has been presented to us in warped ways.
Speak for yourself. What I desire tends to be pizza and cake which are realistically depicted. Things may be different down Audrey's neck of the woods. Pizzas may be represented as having unnatural sex with cakes. That's just wrong.
Even if we don’t watch misogynistic porn, we know what people find hot
If they tell us- maybe, but the guy who keeps wolf-whistling stacked chicks is likely to be gay. Indeed, all the men my ex-wife sleeps with are secretly gay. That's why they are so generous with their jizz.
(which in turn is often shaped by misogynistic forms of media),
she means misogynistic material on various types of media. Truthfully, I find feminist writing misogynistic in the sense that it makes me want to steer well clear of vaginas.
and even if we have different tastes and desires than do the people around us, our tastes and desires did not arise in a vacuum. Is adorning yourself in a way that your lover finds attractive an act of submission to misogyny, when your lover’s imagination is affected by our culture?
Yes. That's why I won't get my nipples pierced.
What about engaging in a sexual activity that you find directly appealing, but that was popularized by misogynistic pornography?
In which case it wasn't misogynistic. It reflected something people like you found 'directly appealing'.
To have sex under these conditions is to risk submitting to injustice, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
But so is not having sex under these conditions. Also, when you blow your nose, you may be knowingly or unknowingly submitting to injustice. We may be being watched by an alien race which gains voyeuristic pleasure when we blow our nose. This way lies paranoia.
It isn’t right to do something so morally dangerous—the sort of thing that can easily become a serious injustice—unless this risk is justified by a real good that is sought.
It isn't right to talk stupid shite.
To take Srinivasan’s radical critique of sexual injustices seriously without turning it into an argument for universal celibacy,
and for blowing your nose
we need more than a plan for mitigating the dangers of injustice involved in having sex.
What good would having such a plan do? Why not have a plan for mitigating the dangers of injustice involved in blowing your nose?
We must have a specific account of what is good about sex.
Stupid philosophers have been saying this for the last thirty or forty years. The thing simply isn't true. We need a Structural Causal Model of natural and social phenomena so as to improve outcomes by tinkering with mechanisms. We don't need a specific account from a fucking cretin.
Third, any satisfactory account must acknowledge that the meaning of sex isn’t infinitely flexible. If it were, we could redefine the various bad forms of sex that we have as good sex, and thereby make them fine.
But we could equally redefine 'satisfactory account' to fit stupid shite like the above. Audrey may be satisfied with what she writes. We think her a cretin.
A student and professor who want to have sex could agree to do so in a way that signifies a casual high-five, rather than anything erotically charged.
Equally they could do so in a way which signifies they think Audrey is a cretin.
Similarly, instead of feeling violated, the college student could have interpreted the unwanted sex act as just “doing the done thing,”
She could have interpreted being run over by a bus in the same way.
her submission to campus sexual norms being no more problematic than, say, deciding to dress differently to fit in with the latest campus fashion.
But that might be more, not less problematic, coz nice clothes cost money. Also, once you weigh much more than 30 stone, the only thing in your size at the GAP is a mumu.
But her sense that what happened was objectionable and serious was absolutely right,
as was his sense that it wasn't
because sexual acts always have a specific moral significance.
No. Either it has a general moral significance in which case it will have several distinct moral significances. It can't have a stand-alone moral significance though bigotry or paranoia may conclude otherwise.
We cannot make nonconsensual sex less of a violation by pretending that the acts in question simply aren’t meaningful.
Nor can we do so by pretending that they are.
Anyone who believes properly in the importance of sexual consent is, in some sense, an essentialist about the significance of sex.
but only in the same sense that they are alligators
So what is sex’s significance?
And what is Significance's gender? Does it have sex with Insignificance? If not, why not? Fuck you, Significance, for being such an elitist dick.
And how do we determine what it is?
We must begin by determining who we iz. If we iz smart we mustn't do any stupid determining just coz some cretin said we must.
Notably, this significance cannot be determined by an airtight proof, the sort of thing that will convince any person with any possible set of priors.
Why not? Show me documentary footage of wankers being tortured by devils in Hell and maybe I'll take to tossing only salads.
(There is, after all, no way to prove even the very basic moral fact “Consent is necessary” to a person whose one and only moral principle is “Raping and pillaging are good.”)
Yes there is. If God is watching you and will send you to hell for all eternity then you leave raping and pillaging to the Episcopalians the way Henry VIII intended.
At the same time, blind submission to the values of our culture is not a satisfactory way to determine sex’s significance.
Why? That might be the highest value in our culture. Arguably, the West overvalues romantic love as the foundation for the nuclear family. In less affluent eras, it is unlikely that people spent much time thinking about 'sex's significance'. They tend to concentrate on the significance of not fucking starving to death.
Instead, we must use logic in a more limited way
or, like this lady, not at all
—to test whether our views are internally consistent, to see whether they have ugly implications—and to listen sympathetically to other people’s perspectives
Audrey will listen very sympathetically to my perspective on the sexual perfidy of Honda Civics- I don't think.
to consider what it would be like to approach things in a different way. Although there is no guarantee that we will thereby arrive at the correct view, it is worth doing,
only in the sense that it is worth filling your ears with porridge.
given the importance of this question, and given how easily a society can get it wrong.
And end up in a brothel in Bangkok after being roofied by a Honda Civiv
If we want to understand why sexual consent is so important,
in all probability, we aint getting any.
we can state that sex has mysterious ethical properties that are particular to it, but that the reasons for these special properties are entirely unknowable.
Why not just say that invisible elves pervade the universe? Don't blow your nose. Elves get off on that. They are totes perverted.
I think it is more satisfying, however, to link the importance of consent to what we know about sex. Specifically, I believe the importance of consent is related to the reciprocal and reproductive nature of sex.
But where there is reciprocity consent can be assumed. On the other hand if wifey hasn't reamed you with a strap-on don't assume that she would welcome some similar attention.
When I say that good sex is reciprocal, I do not mean only that it is mutual. If I desire you and you desire me, this isn’t simply a convenient pairing as when, for instance, I want to buy a pair of shoes and you want to sell a pair. What each of us desires isn’t a preexisting thing, which the other person can give us access to or withhold (such as our bodies, or permission to do certain things to them). Instead, our desire for one another has a reciprocal quality. Part of my desire for you includes a desire for you to want me. My desire for you also entails wanting you to delight in my desire for you, and for your experience of my desire to increase your desire for me.
But the same thing is true of a transaction involving shoes if both parties are crazy about shoes and only want to buy shoes from shoe-nuts and sell shoes to shoe-nuts. Indeed, no money may change hands. I accept your pair of Manolo Blahniks precisely because you looked gorgeous in them. You give them to me for the same reason. You delight in my delight in your delighting in my delighting in how these Manolo Blahniks have blessed our equally delightful feet and have, in turn, been blessed by them.
If reciprocity is both a good and a morally necessary component of sex,
It isn't. On the other hand Manolo Blahniks should only be worn by fat men like me with surprisingly dainty hooves.
then the importance of consent is rooted in something specific and positive about the nature of sex.
Though the thing would be otiose in such cases. It would be a bit of a mood-killer if both parties had to give detailed consent to various more or less ridiculous bodily postures.
But notably, the standard of reciprocity is higher than the standard of mere consent.
Why stop there? Why not have a guarantee that both will simultaneously achieve ultimate bliss during copulation?
It explains the correct moral intuition that we cannot pre-consent to a sex act and later be bound by that agreement, because reciprocity requires an interaction of desires that may turn out to be absent in one or both parties.
In which case the correct moral intuition is that we can't consent to any transaction unless the outcome is wholly predictable in advance and will cause us a maximal benefit.
The standard of reciprocity also illuminates why it is wrong to view pornography that was created—even consensually—by a stranger, because this is by definition a nonreciprocal sexual encounter.
In which case it would also be wrong to eat food prepared by a stranger or to wear clothes stitched by a stranger or to live in a house built by a guy who has since died.
It also suggests that it is wrong to engage in solitary acts of masturbation, because this sex is likewise nonreciprocal.
It is wrong to eat food cooked by yourself because that food turns to shit inside your body. You got food and returned shit! Fuck you very much!
The problem with masturbation is not chiefly that it victimizes someone else, but that it involves using your own sexual faculties—faculties that are for communicating reciprocally with another person—as a tool for creating a physical sensation of reciprocity where no reciprocity exists.
This is also the problem with breathing. You are using a faculty which was meant for communicating reciprocally with heavy breathers on the phone for the selfish act of respiration which merely keeps you alive. Shame on you!
If we could, by hugging ourselves in a particular way or taking a drug, create the experience of being forgiven by a loved one for a betrayal or some other harm, it would be wrong to take that drug recreationally.
It would also be wrong to think anything is wrong because you are not being forgiven by a loved one- yourself, in this instance- for turning the food they lovingly prepared into stinky shit that you callously flushed down the toilet.
How eerie would it be to forgive someone for something he'd done, and then to hear him thank you, saying that he felt so good, almost as good as the time he took that drug?
That is the voice of experience. Did some guy shit on her tits and when she forgave him said he felt almost as good at that time he ingested baby laxatives thinking it was cocaine?
To be forgiven is an objective fact involving another person,
no it isn't. We can't be sure there was genuine forgiveness. There is no Momus window into the soul.
and the relief and joy upon being forgiven is a proper response to this fact and to that person.
I forgive Audrey for writing shite. Does this really cause her 'relief and joy'? I don't think so. I've forgiven numerous people of higher IQ than her and they evince little pleasure at my assurances in this regard.
By creating the sensation apart from the reality, we distance ourselves from reality and abuse our faculties of perception.
This also happens when we use our imagination or engage in abstract mathematical thought. Audrey is against us using our brain. But then she has also provided a moral argument against respiration.
The role sex plays in reproduction also tells us something about why consent is especially important. The reciprocity involved in sex involves, at least characteristically, doing the act by which babies are made.
This is an argument against artificial insemination or whatever it is that IVF involves.
Part of the experience—the pleasure, as well as the excitement—has to do with the possibility of conception, even when that possibility isn’t a live one.
So older couples shouldn't have sex coz conception is no longer possible.
And so for the same reason that solitary masturbation involves a sort of illusion, sex acts apart from coitus are illusory, sentimental, and warping: They involve the experience of doing the babymaking act without actually doing it.
Heterosexual sex for the purpose of conception is wrong because one party doesn't have a womb. This violates reciprocity.
There is much more that could be said in defense of this view,
by cretins- sure.
including an account of why coitus is the same act whether done by a fertile or an infertile couple, and why it is a different act from intercourse that is intentionally altered to make it infertile and from non-intercourse forms of sex.
The problem here is that all such accounts are equally dependent on arbitrary assumptions of a meta-metaphoric type- i.e. they take a metaphor for reality and build another metaphor, taken to be equally real, upon it. The term 'reciprocal' is a metaphor arising from the physical reality that things can move backwards and forwards between agents. It isn't the case that hetero-sex is reciprocal in the sense that both are jizzing inside each other. Metaphorically, however, there is give and take. But such give and take arises in the same metaphorical manner in wanking or sodomy or getting it on with a Honda Civic.
The view of sex I propose has obvious implications, including the necessity of monogamy and permanence.
But it could equally obviously imply, to some equally cretinous nutter, the necessity going down on a Honda Civic while wifey plays the harmonica.
It is also a basis for solidarity.
Honda Civics of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your warranties!
There will always be people who long to have a fulfilling sexual relationship yet do not.
Just as there will always be people who wish their fulfilling sexual relationship would replenish their Bank balance.
This is a real hardship,
Not as real as having no cash.
but it is one that has been exacerbated by the widespread use of contraception.
Which is why we are well fed whereas our ancestors spent most of their time staving off starvation.
Sex is good, but also potentially very demanding—so demanding that there can be good reasons to forgo it, whether permanently or for a period of time.
The same may be said of Netflix.
But contraception tempts us to view sex as costless,
Men my age have to spend a pretty penny on dinner and nightcaps and taxis to get our end away. Costless- ha!
and in this view the only reason to forgo it is because you are asexual or unwanted.
Or are stony broke and anyway you need to binge-watch yet another Scandi-noir to be able to have something to talk about at work tomorrow.
This perception creates a stark hierarchy.
Starker than that facing a lot of middle class peeps in this country who have to choose between 'eating and heating'? Starker than that facing people in Ukrain? Fuck fucking. The thing really isn't that important when the chips are down.
By contrast, within the conservative sexual ethic the “sexually fortunate” are constrained in what they can do, and with whom. Their private sexual happiness will not be something to hoard, but will often lead to responsibilities outside themselves. If you start having sex at twenty-two, you might end up with ten kids.
Which is what Popes used to want. Procreate faster than the fucking Proddies! Ten kids is nothing. Try for a score.
If you have the leisure associated with fewer children, it will be because you started having sex later, had fertility difficulties, or avoided having sex with your spouse—or because you haven’t had sex at all. Instead of dividing winners and losers, all the available arrangements—whether chosen or unchosen—will have both goods and associated hardships.
Catholicism makes the world a better place by making sure everybody is miserable. At least that was its appeal in the old days. Then it turned out that it would leave no little boy's behind alone. This was funny.
Srinivasan claims that sexual desire should not be “regulated by the demands of justice,”
Yama and Yami were twins. Since nobody else was available, Yami demanded sex from Yama. He refused and was sent to Hell to be the Judge of the Dead. Yami is Yamuna the sacred river of life. It turns out God has regulated both Yama- dispassionate Justice, that is Death- and Yami- sexual desire as the well spring of Life. Themis, Divine Justice personified, holds Yama and Yami in balance or equipoise.
but should rather be “set free from the binds of injustice.”
Very true. Injustice League of America have been holding Sexual Desire prisoner in their dungeon. Ms Marvel- Kamala Khan- will defeat those villains. Sexual Desire will be free but it will contract nikah with Imran Khan and go become the First Lady of Pakistan. Kamala will cry her little eyes out. Say what you like, 'Im the dim' is still dishier than Shahrukh.
On this point she is absolutely right. But to see what constitutes the binds of injustice we need something Srinivasan doesn’t provide: an account of what sex actually is.
Audrey thinks sex is 'reciprocity'. Wives jizz into their hubby's manginas and vice versa. This is bizarre enough to be a genuine Catholic teaching. Admittedly, I flunked out of Pope Skool, but my memory is that back in the Seventies, the Pope was telling everybody that you could get pregnant if the Holy Ghost jizzed in your ear. I think this is what led to the Japanese invention of the 'walkman' which was the ancestor to our noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. I'm not saying Popes are infallible but why risk pregnancy when you can so easily protect yourself and listen to some nice pop-music at the same time?