Sexual Ethics

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Natural Law Theory

Sex and Relationships

  • Aquinas' view was based on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Developed the idea of the moral importance of sexual intercourse only within the maritual state.
  • Aquinas' concept of sexuality was intrinsically connected to procreation and not about sexual pleasure.
  • The function, purpose and end of sexual intercourse is the procreation of children. And any act that prevents the posibility of children is immoral since it runs contrary to nature.
  • Therefore, anal sex, beastiality and masturbation are all equally wrong as they prevent human life being concieved. **** and incest are unnatural, not because they prevent the potentiality of children, but rather they conflict with the good of society and respect for the other person involved.
  • The key to Aquinas' understanding of Natural Law and sexual ethics is the creation of a harmonious and therefore virtuous society.


  • The use of contraception prevents the potential life being formed; this would run contrary to the primary precept of reproduction.
  • Some Catholics use the principle of double effect to argue that it is morally acceptable to use condoms to prevent HIV and AIDS, even though it also prevents the birth of a child.


  • God created male and female to become one flesh, as Genesis puts it, and to reproduce. The act of sexual intercourse has as its telos the birth of a child. Homosexual acts can never reproduce and therefore ******* can never conform to the intention of procreation. Homosexual intercourse is therefore morally wrong. Acts such as these are always in violations of divine and Natural Law.

Kantian Ethics

Sex and Relationships

  • Kant believed that you should never treat people as a means to an end by only as an end in themselves. Kant used this aspect of the Categorical Imperative to assert that sexual intercourse is morally unsound. He does this by arguing that any person who desires sex is not fundamentally interested in the welfare of the partner. What interests those having sex is not the other person but the fulfilment of a strong sex drive.
  • Kant sees it important to emphasise the need for human beings to preserve life yet at the same time Kant regarded sex as morally degrading. Marriage is another problem that he had difficulty resolving.
  • He sees prositution and the way the rich have mistresses as being precisely the opposite of what he wants for human beings. Kant believed in the autonomy of every person; This is the opposite of what Kant wanted as prostitutes have contracts with their clients which destroys human autonomy; it makes the prostitutes a thing to be used.
  • Kant saw that marriage was the best method of regulating sexual intercourse and the creation of offspring. He saw that sex was necessary for the human race to survive, but imperfect.


  • Kant can be seen to argue that procreation is an intrinsic duty of the human race. Human beings must preserve life; therefore contraception would seem to be morally wrong. But Kant


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