11. Sexual ethics: Virtue Ethics

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 25-06-17 13:28
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  • 11. Sexual ethics: Virtue Ethics
    • Marriage and sex
      • The focus is on the moral development of the individual
        • So if by having sex virtues such as compassion, love, commitment/loyalty, trust and honour are being developed, then sex can only be good
          • If sex before marriage still leads to the same levels of commitment and love in marriage then it is fine
            • If it doesn't lead to these things, then it is bad
      • If sex before marriage is solely for pleasure rather than an act in a loving relationship then it is bad
      • If contraception enables the development of virtues then it is good
      • Most people with virtues others should emulate advocate the use of contraception, especially in LEDCs such as places in Africa where risk of aids is high
    • Divorce/adultery
      • Virtue ethics can allow any sexual act as long as it morality develops the individual to reach eudaimonia
        • This could lead to premising acts that may harm others such as polygamy/adultery
          • However, if it is hurting others then virtues such as love and trust are not being developed
      • Aristotle argued that adultery was wrong:
        • "For husband or wife to be detected in the commission of adultery...[the act] must be made a matter of disgrace" - Politics
        • This is because it subverts and attacks the political foundations of society (the family makes society)
      • If divorce develops virtues it is good
    • Homosexuality
      • The same virtues that can be developed in a heterosexual relationship (e.g. love, commitment, etc) can be developed in a homosexual one
        • therefore, it is alright as long as the person is in a committed relationship
      • Rosalind Hurthouse
        • A virtuous person is one that exercises virtues
        • A virtue is a character trait that will lead to eudaimonia
        • Four ends that virtues should follow to enable flourishing:
          • Desire  for own survival
          • Continuation of the human race
          • Seeking enjoyment and avoidance of pain
          • The desire to live a full life in a well-functioning society
        • She seems to imply that homosexuality is wrong because it does not enable the continuation of the human race
          • Roger Scruton
            • Homosexual people cannot produce children, therefore they have no interest in society
              • Therefore, they are simply indulging their carnal desires
                • Means that it is not virtuous. It is  best to redirect their sexuality and energies towards useful work that will benefit society
            • Hurthouse rejects this:
              • Homosexuality is not a character trait, instead the virtue of temperance should be discussed  in the place of homo/heterosexuality
              • Homosexuality is only un-virtuous if there is no moderation
              • The fact that it does not lead to children is irrelevant
    • Aristotle argued a point similar to Scruton
      • Homosexual conduct is intrinsically immoral, contra naturam
      • In 'Politics', he argues that "the state is composed of households", a household being a united man and woman practicing chastity and have children to continue society
      • Without household, there would be no state and eudaimonia could not be achievable
      • Homosexuality would therefore be absurd and immoral to Aristotle as in a homosexual relationship the family would dissipate and society would be harmed


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