Ethical Theories Responses to Sexual Ethics

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  • Utilitarianism: 
  • pleasure/pain. Bentham's hedonic calculus. Something can be justified in a situation if it brings the greatest happiness to greatest number. Things like masturbation would not be wrong. Homosexuality not wrong if everyone in and around the relationship are happy with it. 
  • Would want to maximise pleasure which could mean sexual but that does not mean 'free love' as that could involve stds, unwanted pregancies etc. which would lead to pain. 
  • Hedonic Calculus impractical regarding matters of sex? not really something you will consider before an act of sex. 
  • Pre marital sex and cohabitation - would seem Bentham would support but we must consider that there has been research by Philippa Taylor who shows that breakdown in relationship in cohabitation is 6 times more likely than in marriage. but arguably more pain would come from a divorce than just a break up so cohabitation probably supported. 
  • Mill may consider psychological pressures of women cohabiting e.g. if they got pregnant compared to in marriage. less stable environment etc. 

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