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Encyclopedia > Sexual ethics

Sexual ethics is a sub-category of ethics that pertain to acts falling within the broad spectrum of human sexual behavior, sexual intercourse in particular. Broadly speaking questions of sexual ethics can be organized into issues related to consent, issues related to the institution of marriage such as marital fidelity and premarital and non-marital sex, issues related to sexuality, questions about how gender and power are expressed through sexual behavior, questions about how individuals relate to society, and questions about how individual behavior impacts public health concerns. Ethics (from the Ancient Greek Ä“thikos, the adjective of Ä“thos custom, habit), a major branch of philosophy, including genetics is the study of values and customs of a person or group. ... This article is about sex acts and practices (i. ... It has been suggested that Duration of sexual intercourse be merged into this article or section. ...


Ethical dilemmas which involve sex can often appear in situations where there is a significant power difference or where there is a pre-existing professional relationship between the participants, or where consent is partial or uncertain.


Sexual ethics could also include the ethics of procreation: "is it ethical to create a child in an overpopulated world?", "Is it ethical to have children if they would be born into poverty?" etc.

Contents

Consent

Consent is one of the key elements to understanding sexual ethics. At minimum almost all systems of ethics require that all parties consent to the sexual activity. Where questions arise about sexual ethics have to do with who is capable of giving consent and what sorts of acts can be consented to. In the west, the legal idea of Informed consent often sets public standards on this question. Some groups which have been held as not capable to give informed consent are children, the mentally handicapped, the mentally ill, animals, and sometimes persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Informed consent is a legal condition whereby a person can be said to have given consent based upon an appreciation and understanding of the facts and implications of an action. ...


Some acts that are illegal or often considered unethical relating to the absence of consent are:

The title Date Rape is a very general term which has come to represent some very different situations. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Molestation is a commonly used synonym for general sexual abuse. ... Look up Bestiality in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Marriage

See also: Marriage

In some cultures, sexual intercourse is only acceptable within marriage. As the philosopher Michel Foucault has noted, such societies often create spaces or heterotopias outside of themselves where sex outside of marriage can be practiced. He reasoned that this was the reason for the often strange sexual ethics displayed by persons living in brothels, asylums, on board ship, or in prisons. Sexual expression was freed of social controls in such places whereas within society, sexuality has been controlled through the institution of marriage which socially sanctions the sex act. Many different types of marriage exist, but in most cultures that practice marriage, extra-marital sex is often considered to be unethical. There are a number of complex issues that fall under the category of marriage. “Matrimony” redirects here. ...


Infidelity, for example, is an act that occurs when one member of a marital union has sexual intercourse with another person. In some cultures this act may be considered ethical if the spouse consents, and others it may acceptable as long as the sexual partner is not married, while other cultures might look more darkly on such arrangements. In a religious context, infidelity is an absence of faith in the beliefs or teachings of a religion, such that one who lacks such faith is an infidel. ...


Further, the institution of marriage brings up the issue of premarital sex wherein young people who may choose to at some point in their lives marry, engage in sexual activity with partners who they may or may not marry. Different modern day cultures have different attitudes about the ethicality of such behavior, some condemning it while others understanding that their young people will engage in it.


Sexuality

Homosexuality

See also: Homosexuality

In ancient Athens, sexual attraction between men was the norm with such writers as Plato and Aristophanes writing extensive treatises on the benefits of homosexual love. Not a few hundred miles away in the Levant, persons who committed homosexual acts were stoned to death at the same period in history that Socrates dallied with young Alcibiades. Most modern secular ethicists since the heyday of Utilitarianism, e.g. T.M. Scanlon and Bernard Williams, have constructed systems of ethics whereby homosexuality is a matter of individual choice and where ethical questions have been answered by a appeal to not interfering in activities involving consenting adults. However, Scanlon's system, notably, goes in a slightly different direction from this, and requires that no person who meets certain criteria could rationally reject a principle that either sanctions or condemns a certain act. Under Scanlon's system it is difficult to see how one would construct a principle condemning homosexuality outright, although certain acts, such as rape, would still be fairly straightforward cases of unethical behavior. Homosexuality refers to sexual interaction and / or romantic attraction between individuals of the same sex. ... Thomas M. Tim Scanlon is Alford professor of natural religion, moral philosophy, and civil polity at Harvard Universitys Department of Philosophy. ... Bernard Arthur Owen Williams (September 21, 1929 – June 10, 2003) was a British philosopher, widely cited as the most important British moral philosopher of his time. ...

See also: Sodomy

François Elluin, Sodomites provoking the wrath of God, from Le pot pourri de Loth (1781). ...

Paraphilia

Main article: Paraphilia

This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Individuals and societies

Abuse of power

One relevant question is whether it is ethical for a person in a position of power, either socially or in the workplace, to engage in sexual activity with a subordinate. This is often considered unethical simply as a breach of trust, but also because subordinates are unable to fully give consent to the sexual act because they fear the repercussions. Child-parent incest can also be seen as an abuse of a positon of trust and power, in addition to the initial inability of the child to give consent. Incest between adults does not involve this lack of consent, and is therefore less clearcut for most observers. It is noteworthy that many professional organizations have rules forbidding sexual activity between members and their clients. Examples in many countries include psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, doctors, and lawyers. In addition, laws exist in many places against this kind of abuse of power by priests, preachers, teachers, religious counselors, and coaches.

Sexual harassment is harassment or unwelcome attention of a sexual nature. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Pedophilia, paedophilia or pædophilia (see spelling differences) is the paraphilia of being sexually attracted primarily or exclusively to prepubescent or peripubescent children. ...

Manipulation and personal gain

Sex is 'valuable' (in the sense that it is a basic human drive - though it is not economically, socially or technologically productive in its own right), and because of this it can be used toward unethical ends. It can also be used as a means of direct economic exchange such as in various forms of sex work and pornography where sex is exchanged directly for currency in various marketplaces. The ethics of such markets existing have been questioned by many, particularly Feminists such as Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer, and Naomi Wolf. Other sex positive feminists support the commercialization of sex as a means of empowering women. It is also the case that several religions within South Asian and the Middle East have their own viewpoints on pornography, even that type of pornography which would be viewed with triviality within most Western Nations. A sex worker is anyone who earns their living by providing sexual services. ... Pornographic movies Pornography (Porn) (from Greek πόρνη (porne) prostitute and γραφή (grafe) writing), more informally referred to as porn or porno, is the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal. ... Feminism is a collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies largely motivated by or concerned with the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. ... Gloria Steinem at news conference, Womens Action Alliance, January 12, 1972 Gloria Marie Steinem (born March 25, 1934) is an American feminist icon, journalist, former Playboy bunny and womens rights advocate. ... Germaine Greer (born January 29, 1939) is a writer, broadcaster and retired academic, who is widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the 20th century. ... Naomi Wolf (born 1962) is a bestselling American writer. ... The sex-positive movement is a loosely defined term that applies to a wide variety of elements that embrace social and philosophical attitudes promoting open sexuality with few limits. ...


Religious sexual ethics

Many cultures consider ethics to be intertwined with religious faith and the problem of being ethical as a matter of following various religious dogma established by some religious authority. Along with all those activities listed above, some acts that might be considered unethical from a religious standpoint:

Mulher sentada de coxas abertas, 1916 drawing by Gustav Klimt Masturbation refers to sexual stimulation, particularly of ones own genitals and often to the point of orgasm, which is performed manually, by other types of bodily contact (except for sexual intercourse), by use of objects or tools, or by... For the Nelly Furtado song, see Promiscuous (song). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

See also

Sexual morality varies greatly over time and between cultures. ... Philosophy of sex is the part of applied philosophy studying sex and love. ... A sign outside an Adult store. ...

Public health

In countries where Public health is considered a public concern, there is also the issue of how sex impacts the health of individuals. In such circumstances, where there are health impacts resulting from certain sexual activities, there is the question of whether individuals have an ethical responsibility to the public at large for their behavior. Such concerns might involve the disclosure of infection with Sexually Transmitted Diseases, whether promiscuous casual sex, leading to an increased level of unplanned pregnancies and unwanted children, is ethical, and just what amount of personal care an individual needs to take in order to meet his or her requisite contribution to the general health of a nations citizens. Casual sex refers to sexual activity outside the context of a romantic relationship, consisting of a range of informal sexual encounters. ...


Public Decency

It should be noted that there are laws within many nations, including the UK, concerning what dress codes and forms of wear constitute indecent codes of dress. The following link outlines those forms of behaviour that are either legal or illegal within the UK :


http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section12/chapter_d.html


However, it is unlikely that the policeman charging for the arrest under these offences is not already guilty of several of them (especially the numberous rounds with prostitutes).


External references


  Results from FactBites:
 
Article - The Black Church and Sexual Ethics, by Victor Anderson (3797 words)
In their attitudes toward sexuality, Dyson traces the lack of moral leadership by fl churches and clergy on sexual ethics to white sexual distortions which the fl churches inherited from the homophobic practices of slavery.
Therefore, in their legitimate, characteristic attempts to resist "myths of super fl sexuality" in which fl sexual appetites were regarded by the slave holding society as unquenchable, Dyson argues that fls bought into "the split between mind and body that leads them to confusion about a fl Christian theology of incarnation".
DysonÂ’s suggestion that the conservative sexual attitudes and homophobic activities of the fl churches can be understood or explained in reference to African AmericansÂ’ acquiring a self-hating theological body/soul dualism is far too narrow a site for understanding their sexual ethics.
DignityUSA - Sexual Ethics, Section 2 (2052 words)
ETHICS is the analysis of decisions as to their rightness or wrongness; it is also the assessment of the values upon which those decisions are based.
Sexuality and its genital expression are indeed multifaceted.
This ethic increasingly is regarded as irrelevant and unacceptable by heterosexuals, both those who are married in the Church and those, like the divorced, the widowed, the handicapped, and the single, who are sexually disenfranchised.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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