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Love must be safeguarded in the stability of marriage in order for sexual intercourse to respond to the requirements of its own finality and to those of human dignity. No pastoral method can give moral justification to homosexual acts on the grounds that they are consonant with the condition of definitive homosexuality, because according to the moral order, homosexual relations lack an essential and indispensable finality.

The teaching of the Church holds that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act because the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the sexual act, namely "the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love". Mortal sins may be found in deliberate transgressions of the moral laws, including sexual sin.

Indeed the reverse is definitely the case with regard to bonobos, as has been seen above. Rising to the standards of this proposed alternative is not a necessary condition of ethical child—adult sexual relations, because it is offered as the vision of a social context in which ethical sexual relations will be able to flourish more easily, rather than a bar set high for individuals to surmount. I have already argued that virtue ethics do not give an adequate basis for condemning or forbidding sexual activity.

First of all, I would point out that Brave New World is a dystopian novel describing a totalitarian society in which, although sexual pleasure is encouraged, reproduction is fully controlled by the state and most women face compulsory sterilisation. My sense of the ideal, by contrast, puts a high value on personal freedom, a valuation which may in some circumstances find itself in competition with sensual pleasure as a moral good Huxley But some of us who stand accused of hedonism in this pejorative sense see our position holistically, as part of a wider vision, albeit one that has also been seen, with some justice, as ranging from sentimental to hypocritical.


Among these demonisers has been Scruton, warning against the pursuit of empty ideals unsupported by tradition and community: That search for a meaning outside society — or in a society of the future which we neither understand concretely nor know how to bring about — is but another expression of the alienation that it condemns, and an attempt to dress up the outlook of the alienated individual in the attributes of virtue. Community is indeed surely vital.

So what might be plausible candidates as inspiring twenty-first century sexual virtues? Neither of these terms would usually be interpreted in a sexual way within a parent—child context, although a sexual response cannot be ruled out of normal parental feelings. It would not be surprising if brain-imaging studies were to reveal at least a subliminal sexual response when most ordinary parents stroke and hug their children—a response, in terms of brain activity that is the precursor to conscious arousal.

Humans are also cooperative animals, with the capacity to work together, using our brains and our nobler sentiments to ensure that competition does not get out of hand. As environmentalist George Monbiot has noted, humans are the supreme co-operators among mammals.

Without an impressive level of altruism and trust we would not have developed social units beyond the family, never mind great civilisations. But something has gone horribly wrong, says Monbiot, writing in the context of fears over such potential disasters as global warming and nuclear war: Our good nature has been thwarted by several forces, but perhaps the most powerful is the dominant political narrative of our times.

Monbiot wants to tell instead the story of cooperative man. So, I suggest, should we all: it will be character-building to tell it to ourselves, as well as to others. We would do well to internalise, and make habitual as a source of our behaviour, the thought that we can and should cooperate peacefully. A prudential argument against child—adult sex remains to be considered. From a consequentialist perspective, it is one that can be seen as an assessment of long-term harm to the child involved, and indeed the adult, arising from social stigma against the activity.

It may also be seen from a virtue ethics perspective. As philosopher Stephen Kershnar put it: …on an Aristotelian theory, a virtuous individual has those emotions and acts that allow an individual to flourish in some range of societies perhaps including his own and sexually desiring individuals with whom he is not allowed to have sex or who cannot sexually reciprocate might hinder flourishing.

This conflict is indeed profound, and affects far more than just sexuality. Even Socrates, that great exemplar of the virtuous man, was unable in ordinary terms to flourish when he was weighed in the balance by his community and found wanting. In another sense, of course, the dignified manner in which he accepted this judgement and took the hemlock constituted his finest hour, the greatest flourishing of his resolute rationality and wisdom.

Unjustified distaste, I suggest, is precisely what would be reinforced by reviving the concepts of perversion and obscenity as weapons against child—adult sex. Compliance with Ethical Standards Conflict of interest The author declares that he has no conflict of interest. Ethical Approval This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author. Angelides, S. Feminism, child sexual abuse, and the erasure of child sexuality.

Natural Law and the Unity and Truth of Sexual Ethics: A Reply to Gary Gutting - Public Discourse

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The Ethics of Sex & Sterility

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