Contemporary sexual ethics, II

(An idea I’m mulling over in a field I have little academic training in. Read charitably)

So what principles are lying about in contemporary culture that might allow for sexual ethics? Isn’t there at least a widespread agreement that sexual activity is good if it is used for building up a healthy human relationship? But if this were true,  it’s difficult to see how we can avoid considering hook-up culture as immoral, given that causal sex is defined defined by its lack of intention to build up anything at all:

Casual, adj: (1): feeling or showing little concern nonchalant <a casual approach to cooking> (2): lacking a high degree of interest or devotion <casual sports fans> <casual readers>(3): done without serious intent or commitment <casual sex>

But how can one and the same thing both have and lack a normative order to relationship-building? Sexual normativity can apply to either relationship building or hook up culture, or perhaps to neither. But if we lose “relationship building” as a normative goal, it’s very difficult to see what this leaves us. Sexual activity becomes an activity that one simply cannot perform in a morally good or evil manner.


  1. Cale B.T. said,

    April 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    An interesting review pertinent to the topic:

  2. dixi said,

    May 1, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Why should there be anything in contemporary, or any other, culture that provide principles for sexual ethics ? It that really the first question ? To signify something when saying “sexual activity is good if it is used for building up a healthy human relationship” would presuppose one knew what a healthy human relationship consisted of. In understanding what this is, one would find the good of sex.

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