Advanced Search

When we say that porn is not appropriate for children aren't we implicitly or

When we say that porn is not appropriate for children aren't we implicitly or covertly saying that porn is not appropriate for anyone?

Not sure why one might think that. We often, easily, and legitimately (I think) distinguish what's appropriate for children v. for adults, so what would be out of place in this case? Obviously we'd have to define/explain what we mean by 'appropriate' here -- and that could vary case by case, context by context -- but it seems to me the burden of proof would be on the person who holds we shouldn't make such a distinction .... So why do you think so?

ap

Not sure why one might think that. We often, easily, and legitimately (I think) distinguish what's appropriate for children v. for adults, so what would be out of place in this case? Obviously we'd have to define/explain what we mean by 'appropriate' here -- and that could vary case by case, context by context -- but it seems to me the burden of proof would be on the person who holds we shouldn't make such a distinction .... So why do you think so? ap

Is it hypocritical for prostitution to be legal but pimping to be illegal?

Is it hypocritical for prostitution to be legal but pimping to be illegal?

Hm, I think you mean "inconsistent" rather than "hypocritical" here ... but anyway -- but one quick "no" answer might be generated by this line of thought: if by "non-pimping prostitution" you have in mind the idea of an adult individual freely choosing to sell himself/herself for sex, then basic libertarian principles seem to support it. That is, whatever your view of the morality of doing that is, if we accept the idea that adults should be free to make their own choices etc., one might see nothing wrong about prostitution and argue that it shouldn't be illegal. But if by "pimping" you have in mind the stereotypic situation of one person controlling or manipulating another - the pimp controls and compels the prostitute -- then that clearly would be objectionable on basic libertarian grounds, so one could argue for its illegality .... (A third case might be this: a prostitute and a pimp enter into some free business arrangement --- no compulsion etc. -- so in that case perhaps both should be legal .... But that is not the usual, stereotypic case of course ...)

hope that's a useful start!

ap

Hm, I think you mean "inconsistent" rather than "hypocritical" here ... but anyway -- but one quick "no" answer might be generated by this line of thought: if by "non-pimping prostitution" you have in mind the idea of an adult individual freely choosing to sell himself/herself for sex, then basic libertarian principles seem to support it. That is, whatever your view of the morality of doing that is, if we accept the idea that adults should be free to make their own choices etc., one might see nothing wrong about prostitution and argue that it shouldn't be illegal. But if by "pimping" you have in mind the stereotypic situation of one person controlling or manipulating another - the pimp controls and compels the prostitute -- then that clearly would be objectionable on basic libertarian grounds, so one could argue for its illegality .... (A third case might be this: a prostitute and a pimp enter into some free business arrangement --- no compulsion etc. -- so in that case perhaps both should be legal .......

Ethically, what is the difference between a sex object and a sex symbol when

Ethically, what is the difference between a sex object and a sex symbol when talking about a person? Why is the latter term considered less degrading and even beneficial? Is a symbol merely a representation of an object or actually an extension of one?

This is a great question I hadn't thought of. One response perhaps is to acknowledge how it reflects the fundamental ambiguity our society has toward ALL matters sexual. Sexuality is both good and bad, in various ways/senses, at least for many. Profoundly religious people of a certain sort might not agree, but then they would not be so likely to see the distinction you raise between object/symbol above -- both would be equivalent and equally bad. But for others, who DO see your distinction, we can admit that being sexually attractive is something we desire and thus, in a sense, approve of; a sex symbol is someone who represents an ideal of sexual attractiveness that we all would love to instantiate ourselves, so a "sex symbol" is good, all else equal. But of course human beings are MORE than physical, sexual animals -- there are other aspects to ourselves that we value -- and insofar as we treat or think of someone as MERELY a sexual 'object' we are failing to value those other features appropriately. So treating someone as a "sex object" is bad, all else equal. But then you're right: the very same person praised as a sexual symbol we condemn those who think of that person ONLY as a sexual object .... (Notice another distinction here: it's the attractive person who is the sexual symbol and who gets some praise thereby, but it is the viewer's ACT of treating that person as an 'object' that gets condemned ... So another aspect to the difference between the two is that the moral acts of praise/blame are attributed to different things ....)

hope that's a useful start -- great question!

ap

This is a great question I hadn't thought of. One response perhaps is to acknowledge how it reflects the fundamental ambiguity our society has toward ALL matters sexual. Sexuality is both good and bad, in various ways/senses, at least for many. Profoundly religious people of a certain sort might not agree, but then they would not be so likely to see the distinction you raise between object/symbol above -- both would be equivalent and equally bad. But for others, who DO see your distinction, we can admit that being sexually attractive is something we desire and thus, in a sense, approve of; a sex symbol is someone who represents an ideal of sexual attractiveness that we all would love to instantiate ourselves, so a "sex symbol" is good, all else equal. But of course human beings are MORE than physical, sexual animals -- there are other aspects to ourselves that we value -- and insofar as we treat or think of someone as MERELY a sexual 'object' we are failing to value those other features...

You are a single male, a highly attractive female asks you to engage in a sexual

You are a single male, a highly attractive female asks you to engage in a sexual relationship with her. However, they are already in a long-term, albeit unstable relationship. Do you accept or decline the offer? I have declined on the basis that should I accept there is a likelihood that the pleasure I would gain is less than the suffering I would cause to their partner (who I do not know) and there is a possibility I am being used to hurt their partner. From canvasing the opinion of my friends I am almost unique in my decision. Am I wrong or do I just need better friends?

I have a somewhat different take than my co-panelist.

Yes: we can tag the sorts of reasons you're offering as Utilitarian, though I'm not sure that adds a lot. I'd ask a different question: are they the sorts of considerations a morally conscientious person might care about? Seems to me they are, and that seems even clearer when we put them in a plain-spoken way: you're worried that you'll hurt someone else. And you're not sure that whatever pleasure you get out of the arrangement makes up for the hurt. Whether that settles the matter or not, if your friends don't think that's relevant than maybe you do need better friends!

We could ask whether you have an obligation to the woman's partner, but I worry that the retreat to polysyllaby hides the more basic point: how your behavior affects this man is morally relevant. The old-fashioned question "How would you feel if you were in his shoes?" is a perfectly good way to see that.

I'm not about to offer concrete advice about this case; there's way too much I don't know. But the question you're asking suggests to me that you're a decent guy.

However, I do agree with my colleague that, moral questions aside, this smells like a mess. That might be enough to settle the question by itself.

Curious whether your friends accept the empirical part of your reasoning, about the likelihood of gained pleasure/suffering. Assuming that they do then this issue nicely seems to come down to the classic debate between utilitarian and deontological ethics, it seems. Others are much more expert than I on these matters, but you seem to be using basic utilitarian reasoning -- see what maximizes happiness/pleasure (or minimizes unhappiness etc), and then that's the right thing. But of course the other way to look at hte situation is this: the female in question (one presumes) is adult, mature, etc., and capable of making her own autonomous decisions. To respect her as such is to recognize that, in effect, if it's okay with her then it could be okay with you. What you are considering is the harm you're doing to her pre-existing partner -- but then a separate argument needs to be made perhaps that YOU have any obligation to that partner if she does not. (By the way: is or was her view that the partner was...

What constitutes "consent" in sexual matters? Is a person who allows themselves

Sex
What constitutes "consent" in sexual matters? Is a person who allows themselves to be tortured and humiliated for an extreme pornographic production consenting if that consent comes from a pressing need such as a payment for a surgery or obtainment of drugs?

This not my particular area, but I suppose one could define the word "consent" however one pleases -- but if you define it such that it stops applying whenever there are 'pressing needs' then you will probably find that very few actions count as consensual ... And anyway 'needs' only constitute some of the conditions which might take away 'consent' (eg what if physical detemrinism is true, that every action we perform we are necessitated to perform by virtue of the laws of nature -- do these count as consensual actions in any sense that matters?) .... You probably couldn't begin to define 'consent' in the absence of further concepts such as 'freedom' and 'responsibility' too -- so probably one useful way to proceed might be to begin making a list of all those factors which 'constrain' or 'limit' our autonomy in our actions, and then seeing if it's even meaningful to determine a 'cut off point' such that once certain factors are present, 'consent' is lost .......

AP

This not my particular area, but I suppose one could define the word "consent" however one pleases -- but if you define it such that it stops applying whenever there are 'pressing needs' then you will probably find that very few actions count as consensual ... And anyway 'needs' only constitute some of the conditions which might take away 'consent' (eg what if physical detemrinism is true, that every action we perform we are necessitated to perform by virtue of the laws of nature -- do these count as consensual actions in any sense that matters?) .... You probably couldn't begin to define 'consent' in the absence of further concepts such as 'freedom' and 'responsibility' too -- so probably one useful way to proceed might be to begin making a list of all those factors which 'constrain' or 'limit' our autonomy in our actions, and then seeing if it's even meaningful to determine a 'cut off point' such that once certain factors are present, 'consent' is lost ....... AP