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Philosophical Sexual Ethics

Philosophical Sexual Ethics

Sexual ethics is a branch of applied ethics that concentrates on sexual behaviour and relationships. It can be either theoretical or applied, while theoretical approach aims to find universal principles and methods of solving ethical problems, and applied approach deals with individual cases, professional ethics or sexual politics.

Basic questions of sexual ethics are
1) what kinds of sexual acts are morally acceptable, and
2) what are justified grounds for banning certain acts?
Answering these questions should be based on a philosophically sound system of sexual ethics, which consist of coherent definitions, principles and methods that can be used to assess the ethical status of any sexual act.

The system must be general enough to adapt to differing situations and circumstances, hence it must be derived from ethical theory concerning human interaction in general. My research is based on John Stuart Mill’s ethical liberalism, which argues that there is only one plausible moral principle: no one has the right to intervene into individual’s affairs if they are not harmful to others.
In this framework sexual activities are seen as morally neutral, therefore ethical evaluation doesn’t depend on the question, whether an act is sexual or not. Instead, it is based on assessing whether the act causes harm or violates someone’s rights. This position leads consistently to appreciating human autonomy, freedom, rights and sexual diversity.

Speakers: Tommi Paalanen
Conference: WAS Glasgow 2011
Areas of Interest / Categories: Mental Health, Sexual Behaviour, Sexual Ethics

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Women's bodyrights and christian sexual ethics

For at least twenty years, Western feminist theologians working in the field of sexual ethics have been wrestling with question about human sexuality. Critical of oppressive, androcentric perspective in traditional Christian sexual ethics, feminist scholars have argued for a comprehensive revision of Christian thought in sexuality issues, - a revision that would, instead of denying women the moral right to control their own bodies, affirm and respect women’s bodyself and bodyright. 

Sexual ethics: Healthy sexuality ? Discussing normative affiliations of the concept

My research of philosophical sexual ethics aims at morally neutral and transparent conceptions in the field of sexuality. The concept of “healthy sexuality” is nowadays widely used in context of sexual well-being. Unfortunately the concept also carries normative potential that can be used to control and confine both personal expressions of sexuality and sexual culture in general. I analyse the concept using philosopher Alan Soble's work as a basis.

Is There a Future for Christian Sexual Ethics?

During its lifespan the church has struggled with questions concerning right and wrong. Sexuality has always been a fundamental part of its ethical teaching in theory and in practice. For centuries the church has told people what is permitted and prohibited in their sexual life. The Reformation in the 16th century brought a radical change: Martin Luther divided earthly and spiritual regime and stated that ethics belongs to earthly matters.