Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Why Sexual Morality Doesn't Exist

There is no such thing as sexual morality per se. Put less dramatically, there is no morality special to sex: no act is wrong simply because of its sexual nature. Sexual morality consists in moral considerations that are relevant elsewhere as well being applied to sexual activity or relations. This is because the proper concept of sexual activity is morally neutral. Sexual activity is that which fulfills sexual desire.  Sexual desire in its primary sense can be defined as desire for physical contact with another person’s body and for the pleasure that such contact brings. Masturbation or desire to view pornography are sexual activity and desire in a secondary sense, substitutes for normal sexual desire in its primary sense. Sex itself is not a moral category, although it places us in relations in which moral considerations apply. It gives us opportunity to do what is otherwise regarded as wrong: to harm, deceive, or manipulate others against their will. As other philosophers point [More]

2. Valent Representation

Yesterday I promised to give an account of valent representation. This is perhaps the core original idea of the book (though it has precedents in Ruth Millikan’s ‘pushmi-pullyu’ representations (1995) and Andy Clark’s ‘action oriented representations’ (1997)). Essentially, valent representation is representation in a valent (i.e. positive or negative) manner. [More]

The FDA: Patients or Companies First?

According to the FDA, it “is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.” Given this mission, it would seem to follow that the [More]

Locke on Personal Identity

[New Entry by Jessica Gordon-Roth on February 11, 2019.] John Locke (1632 - 1704) added the chapter in which he treats persons and their persistence conditions (Book 2, Chapter 27) to the second edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1694, only after being encouraged to do so by William Molyneux (1692 - 1693).[1] Nevertheless, Locke's treatment of personal identity is one of the most discussed and debated aspects of his corpus. Locke's discussion of persons received much attention from his [More]