Utilitarianism and Sexual Ethics

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  • Utilitarianism and Sexual Ethics
    • Many people believe that a utilitarian approach would provide a good and straightforward way to look at sexual ethics
    • Reasons for having sex
      • The value of pleasure
      • The contribution which shared pleasure makes to the value of a relationship
      • Consensual sex creates much good, and, if harm to another person is avoided, provides the greatest happiness
    • Allows consenting adults to do what they want and protects their freedom to do so
    • Utilitarians argue that many of the ethical theories forget the emotional aspect of suffering caused by unfaithfulness and deceit
    • Very libertarian outlook on sexual issues
    • Tolerant approach to homosexuality unless it was to become the norm in society- greatest happiness would not be possible as human race could not continue
    • Bentham (ACT) argued that mutual consent for pleasure cannot make any sexual act wrong if both partners are willing
      • BUT, he does consider the possible harm to society: undermining marriage, disrupting family life, issues with law
    • John Stuart Mill (RULE) also emphasises quality and not just quantity
    • Would approve of birth control as it allows pleasure without consequence and helps population


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