Sexual Ethics and Applied Ethical theories

This resource offers a summary of each ethical theory and the ethical theories applied to the issues surrounding sex and relationships. I have missed out Religious Ethics because I have no intention of answering that question if it comes up.

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Sexual Ethics

as approached by:

Virtue Ethics
Kantian Ethics
Religious Ethics
Natural Law Theory

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Religious Studies
Sexual Ethics
Kantian Ethics

Sex is an enormously wide term covering a range of issues from
homosexuality to marriage, from pornography to prostitution, to
the relational dimensions which are expressions of love and
pleasure. It is a basic and fundamental part of being human and
involves above all…

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accordance with the juridical laws of pure reason."

- Kant believed that in having sex, we were allowing someone to
use us to fulfil their desires (as a means to and end). We can only
do so if we first get married, giving ourselves to the other person
in law,…

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to only participate in sexual acts when we are married because a
child that is born out of marriage is born outside of the laws and
considering the fact that we cannot use contraception in the eyes
of a kantian ethicists it holds that we ought to marry before we…

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Religious Studies
Sexual Ethics


Utilitarianism was devised in the 18th Century by Jeremy Bentham
and was later developed by John Stuart Mill and Peter Singer.
Bentham originally created utilitarianism in order to support the
notion of democracy. Bentham recognised that humans were
motivated by the attainment of…

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Mill continued to states that a moral action creates the greatest
amount of good for the greatest number of people.

However, Mill's definition of good/pleasure entailed a distinction
between lower and higher pleasures.

Lower pleasures: are those that satisfy our immediate base urges -
e.g. sex, sleeping, eating and drinking…

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Sexual Ethical Issues and the Different Utilitarian approaches to

Sex before marriage: Utilitarians would have no issue with it.
Benthamites would aim to maximise pleasure where it is possible.
Utilitarians may advocate or demand the use of condoms in order to
minimise pain in the form of STDs or…

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would have no issue with group rape because the pleasure of the
rapists would outweigh the pain of their victim.
Rule utilitarians would only have sex within the rules of society,
so they would adhere to age of consent laws.
Preference utilitarians would be concerned with the parties


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Religious Studies
Sexual Ethics
Virtue Ethics

Virtue Ethics is an agent-centres relative ethical theory
devised by Aristotle (5th Century BCE) in his book Nicomachean
Ethics. When we say it is agent-centred we mean that it does
not prescribe rules on should follow in order to be moral (as do

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E refers to behvaiours that fall under the vice of deficiency,
and RASHNESS refers to behaviours that fall under the vice of
excess. Another example of the golden mean is PROPER SELF-LOVE,
where the vice of deficiency is SERVILITY, and the vice of
excess is ARROGANCE.

Virtue Ethics stands apart…


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