Philosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An Introduction, Second Edition

Philosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An Introduction, Second Edition

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Raja Halwani

Praise for the First Edition

“ Raja Halwani tackles these important subjects with characteristic energy,
incisiveness, and wit. Even where you disagree with him, you learn from him.
This book deserves a wide audience. ”
— John Corvino, Wayne State University
“ Skillfully combines meticulous philosophical analysis of contemporary
romantic and sexual mores with vivid, earthy examples of the problems and
permutations of actually living them. ”
— Jane O’Grady, City University London, Times Higher Education
“ A provocative and immensely helpful introduction to this area . . . I recommend it. ”
— Christian Perring, Metapsychology Online Reviews

Praise for the Second Edition

“Halwani’s book is rigorously argued, admirably comprehensive, and unafraid
to explore the darker sides of love and sex. In this updated edition, he brings
his astute critical sense to bear on the last decade’s rich crop of new work on
sex, gender, polyamory, and marriage. The result is fi rst rate.”
—Ronald de Sousa, University of Toronto

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Book Details
 438 p
 File Size 
 1,635 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 978-1-138-28014-4 (hbk) 
 978-1-138-28020-5 (pbk)
 978-1-315-27239-9 (ebk)
 2018 Taylor & Francis 

About the Author
Raja Halwani is Professor of Philosophy at the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago. He is the lead editor of The Philosophy of Sex, Seventh Edition (2017),
a co-editor of Queer Philosophy (2012), co-author of The Israeli–Palestinian
Confl ict (2008), the editor of Sex and Ethics (2007), and the author of Virtuous Liaisons (2003).

is much improved from the fi rst. The style, for one thing, is less verbose
and more to the point. The part on love (Part I) now contains two chapters on
love and morality (as opposed to one in the fi rst edition), given the growing
literature on love as a moral emotion. The part on sex (Part II) contains fi ve
instead of four chapters, with a chapter devoted to the treatment of sex and
virtue ethics. In Part II, I also devote space at the end of each chapter to a specifi
c “applied” topic, such as pornography, BDSM, prostitution, racial sexual
desires, and adultery.

Part I, on love, has four chapters: the fi rst deals with issues surrounding
the nature of romantic love and the thorny issue of whether love is reasonresponsive.
I introduce a distinction between two forms of romantic love (what
I call RL1 and RL2) that play an important role throughout the discussion of
love, and I use the distinction to address the issue of whether love is reasonresponsive.
In the second chapter, I explain and evaluate those characteristics
of romantic love thought to be true of it, such as constancy, exclusivity, sexual
desire, union, and intimacy, with an eye as to whether they are indeed true of
it. I end the chapter by discussing what the object of love is and the bases on
which people love others. The third chapter deals with love and morality, specifi
cally, with how romantic love fares on the major moral theories, and what
moral restrictions there are on love. In the fourth chapter I discuss various
recent philosophical attempts to argue that romantic love is a moral emotion
(that it is inherently morally good) and fi nd them all defi cient. I end the chapter
by suggesting one way to think of romantic love as moral.

The fi rst chapter in Part II, on sex, is retained almost intact from the fi rst
edition; in it I discuss and evaluate attempts to defi ne central concepts such as
“sexual desire” and “sexual activity.” At the end of the chapter I use adultery,
prostitution, and casual sex as examples of sexual concepts that resist easy
defi nitions. Chapter 6 is about sexual pleasure and sex and morality, in which
I discuss sex and sexual pleasure in connection with the moral theory of consequentialism.
At the end of the chapter I use prostitution as an illustration of
applying consequentialist thinking to a particular sexual practice. Chapter 7
addresses sex and virtue ethics, another moral theory that has gained traction
in the last 30 years or so. I use the example of having or not having desires for
members of a racial or ethnic group to discuss whether such desires tell against
the virtue of the person who has them. Chapter 8 discusses sex and Kantian
ethics, with a focus on the concept of objectifi cation. I use pornography as a
type of sexual practice to illuminate further debates about sex and objectifi cation.
In the fi nal chapter on sex, I discuss sexual perversion and why attempts
to defi ne the concept have failed. I then turn to the ethics of fantasy and use the
desires of BDSM as an illustrative type of practice.

Part III, on marriage, consists of two chapters. The fi rst deals with what marriage
is, whether it has any essential characteristics, whether it has any shared
social meaning, and whether it should extend to include polyamorous groups.
The second chapter raises the question about the necessity of marriage given
that the state is a third party to it—given that marriage is a legal institution. I
removed a direct discussion of the arguments for same-sex marriage now that
same-sex marriage is the law of the land in the United States and now that it
has become either socially accepted or tolerated. I do refer to these arguments
every so often in service of the broader discussion of what marriage is.

With the exception of Chapter 5 , every chapter is signifi cantly different
from—and an improvement upon—its counterpart (if it has a counterpart)
in the fi rst edition. Some of the chapters retain some of the same paragraphs
from the fi rst edition, but they are integrated in the chapter differently and are
likely to have been edited to some extent. Some explanations of moral theories
appear both in Part I and Part II in case the reader decides to only read Part II or
to read it fi rst. I apologize for the repetition, but the explanations are also somewhat
different in that each stresses different points relevant to the discussion.

The field of the philosophy of sex and love is vast, containing many topics
and branching into related ones, such as the family, friendship, procreation,
commitments, faithfulness, and practical rationality. Sexual practices are also
numerous, and my use of certain examples (adultery, BDSM, pornography,
prostitution, for instance) only scratches the surface. Indeed, a comprehensive
treatment of the conceptual and moral aspects of many sexual practices, especially
the lesser-discussed ones (e.g., pedophilia, zoophilia, and necrophilia) is
long overdue—perhaps this will be a future project.

At the end of each chapter there is a section of “Further Reading,” containing
suggestions of additional essays and books on some of the topics discussed
in the chapter. These sections, revised from the fi rst edition, are meant
to include additional readings to the ones in the endnotes (only on occasion
do I repeat in the “Further Reading” sections the essays and books cited in
the endnotes). At the beginning of the bibliography, there is a list of anthologies,
to many of whose essays I refer in the book. These anthologies constitute
further additional (and crucial) readings for anyone interested in pursuing the
themes of this book. At the end of each chapter, there is also a list of study
questions (thoroughly revised from the fi rst edition) meant to encourage the
reader to think more about topics discussed in the chapter or merely touched
upon. Some of the questions embody implicit criticisms of what I have written
or point to gaps in my discussion, thereby enabling the reader to evaluate the points I make.

There are many reasons for the deep changes in the chapters, some owing to
a different style of writing, and some owing to the need to discuss new philosophical
views, but most owing to the change in my own views of these topics.

My views on the issues of this book have changed over the years. This is
due to the change in my own thinking about them, of course, which itself has
been partially shaped by the numerous discussions I have had about them with
colleagues and students who have impressed upon me how different from each
other sex, love, and marriage are (changing social attitudes seem to refl ect this
view), and how all three are morally problematic in many ways. My personal
observations of the numerous personal relationships around me have in their
own way confi rmed all this. Although I do not see romantic love as a bad thing,
I do see it as being in need of serious moral scrutiny and nowhere as good as
some other philosophers think. I continue to think that friendships and other
deeply caring relationships deserve the kind of cultural, social, and possibly,
in the guise of marriage, legal recognition that romantic love often receives.
I have no illusions anymore about the objectifying nature of sexual desire, no
matter how much philosophers try to make it seem benign. I have come to
realize that we cannot do without state regulation, to some extent or in some
ways, of some types of intimate relationships. Whether this means that marriage
should not be abolished is an open question, though for sure it is in need
of serious reform. The issue then is which relationships require the support of
the state and how this support should manifest itself.

I strove in this book to strike the proper balance between raising in a clear
and fair way the important themes of each topic while also clearly and plausibly
defending my own views on them. To be sure, I do not have views on
every issue I discuss in this book, but I do have views on some, and I hope that
in those cases I was able to defend them moderately well while also fairly and
clearly explaining the opposed views. It goes without saying that the literature
on all these issues is vast, and I hope that I have not neglected to treat an important work or view.

A note on the use of terminology: I use “lover” to refer to the agent or the
active party in a relationship and “beloved” to refer to the receiving party, the
object or the recipient of love. I do not use these terms to refer to a specifi c gender,
whether cis or trans. And I do not mean to imply that a beloved is not also
a lover or that a lover is also not a beloved. But using them in a unidirectional
way makes for a simpler discussion. I apologize to the readers for my use of the
pronouns “he” and “she” and not “they” (in the singular). No discrimination of
any sort is meant on my part, and the use is purely stylistic.

Almost 95% of this book was written at Peet’s coffee shop, at the corner of
Halsted and Cornelia in Chicago. I spent almost every weekday of the summer
of 2017 there, from morning to evening, writing and sucking down soy lattes. I
have come to know the baristas on a fi rst-name basis, and I want to thank them
all for their sunny natures, their cheerfulness, their helpfulness, and, every so
often, their rambunctiousness. So thank you, Amber, Becky, Corina, Hayes,
Jerrad, Maggie, Nick, Nicole, Nina, Sam, Shane, and Wes.

I wish to thank Andrew Beck at Routledge for encouraging me to write a
second edition of the book, and Vera Lochtefeld, also at Routledge, for her
support and assistance during the last stages of the book. I also wish to thank
all my friends and colleagues with whom I have discussed these topics over
the years. Thanks to Lisa Wainwright, the Dean of Faculty at the School of the
Art Institute of Chicago, for a research grant that helped me write this book.
Thanks to Elizabeth Brake and Shaun Miller for discussion of specifi c points
in the text. Thanks to Alan Soble for his care, wisdom, generosity, honesty, and
experience. He has been the teacher in my life. Thanks to Elliot Layda for discussing
many of these issues, especially love, with me over the years. Thanks
to all my other close friends, with whom I include my brothers, my cousins, my
nieces, and my one nephew: thank you for easing the burdens of life and even
making it enjoyable. And thanks to Helkin Rafael Gonzalez Tovar for loving
me (which includes putting up with me), and for showing me on a daily basis
what moral goodness looks like.

Table of Contents
Preface xi
Introduction 1
Love 7
1 What Is Romantic Love? 9
Outline of the Chapter 9
Preliminaries 9
What Is the Nature of Romantic Love? 10
RL1 and RL2 20
Is RL1 Infatuation? 23
Love and Reasons 26
Summary and Conclusion 43
Study Questions 43
Further Reading 44

2 The Characteristics and the Object of Love 47
Outline of the Chapter 47
The Characteristics of Romantic Love 47
The Characteristics of Romantic Love and Other Forms
of Love 77
The Object of Love 81
The Different Bases of Love 86
Summary and Conclusion 89
Study Questions 89
Further Reading 91

3 Love and Morality 93
Outline of the Chapter 93
Love and Morality 93
Love and Moral Theories 97
Moral Restrictions on Love 107
Summary and Conclusion 115
Study Questions 115
Further Reading 116

4 Is Love a Moral Emotion? 118
Outline of the Chapter 118
Preliminaries 118
Romantic Love as a Moral Emotion 119
Love as Robust Concern for Moral Well-Being 138
The Prudence of Love 143
Summary and Conclusion 151
Study Questions 152
Further Reading 153

Sex 155
5 What Is Sex? 157
Outline of the Chapter 157
Some Sexual Defi nitions 157
Defi ning Casual Sex, Adultery, and Prostitution 175
Summary and Conclusion 188
Study Questions 188
Further Reading 189

6 Sex, Pleasure, and Consequentialism 191
Outline of the Chapter 191
Sexual Pleasure and Other Values of Sex Acts 191
Sex and Morality 199
Consequentialism 200
Summary and Conclusion 217
Study Questions 217
Further Reading 218

7 Sex and Virtue 220
Outline of the Chapter 220
Virtue Ethics and Sex 220
Racial Desires and Virtue 232
Summary and Conclusion 237
Study Questions 237
Further Reading 239

8 Sexual Objectifi cation 241
Outline of the Chapter 241
What Is Sexual Objectifi cation? 241
What Is Morally Wrong With Sexual Objectifi cation? 243
Kant and Objectifi cation 245
Pornography and Degradation 259
Summary and Conclusion 274
Study Questions 275
Further Reading 276

9 Sexual Perversion and Sexual Fantasy 280
Outline of the Chapter 280
Sexual Perversion 280
Sexual Fantasy 303
Sexual Desire, Sexual Fantasy, and BDSM 308
Summary and Conclusion 318
Study Questions 318
Further Reading 320

Marriage 323
10 What Is Marriage? 325
Outline of the Chapter 325
Preliminaries 325
Defi ning Marriage 326
New Natural Law 330
Marriage’s Purposes and the Slippery Slope Argument 339
Forms of Marriage and Monogamy 350
Summary and Conclusion 359
Study Questions 360
Further Reading 361

11 Is Marriage Necessary? 364
Outline of the Chapter 364
Preliminaries 364
Arguments Against Marriage 367
Reforming Marriage 375
Summary and Conclusion 389
Study Questions 389
Further Reading 390
Concluding Remarks 392
Bibliography 397
Index 413

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Philosophy is a refl ective, higher-level fi eld: it seeks to answer questions
about other fi elds and human practices. Moral philosophy, for example, raises
questions about ethical human conduct, seeking to fi nd out what are right and
wrong actions, good and bad people, and good and bad policies and institutions.
Philosophy of art raises questions about the practice, evaluation, and
defi nition of art. The same is true of the philosophy of love, sex, and marriage.