Tommi Paalanen's lecture “Philosophical Sexual Ethics" 12th Oct
Tuesday, 12th of October at 16.00 in Domus Dorpatensises (Ülikooli 7, Tartu) Finnish philosopher and sexologist Tommi Paalanen will give a lecture “Philosophical Sexual Ethics".
Sexual ethics is a branch of applied ethics that concentrates on sexual behaviour and relationships. It can be either theoretical or applied, while theoretical approach aims to find universal principles and methods of solving ethical problems and applied approach deals with individual cases, professional ethics or sexual politics. Basic questions of sexual ethics include the following:
1. What acts are sexual?
2. What kinds of sexual acts are morally acceptable?
3. Are prevailing sexual norms and legislation justified?
4. What kinds of sexual acts the community may justifiably ban?
5. Which conditions may justify patronizing an individual in sexual matters?
Answering these questions should be based on a philosophically sound system of sexual ethics, which consist of coherent definitions, principles and methods that can be used to assess the ethical status of any sexual act. The system must be general enough to adapt to differing situations and circumstances, hence it must be derived from ethical theory concerning human interaction in general.
Philosophical sexual ethics can be divided into four different traditions, which are romantic-conservative, Kantian, liberal and feminist sexual ethics. My research is based on John Stuart Mill's ethical liberalism and uses other traditions as points of comparison and critique. Mill argues that there is only one plausible moral principle, which is that no one has the right to intervene into individual's affairs if they are not harmful to others.
In liberal thinking sexual activities are seen as inherently morally neutral, therefore there should be no restrictions concerning especially sexual activity in the society; ethical evaluation of sexual activity doesn't depend on the question, whether an act is sexual or not, instead it is based on assessing whether the act causes harm and violates someone's rights. This position leads consistently to appreciating human autonomy and sexual diversity.