Saturday, December 4, 2010

First Step Toward a Thesis

I won't be defending my thesis until Fall 2011 but for some reason I got a bug up my butt to start putting stuff down on paper (well -- in a word processor).

Just Sex: A Theory for the Moral Use of Sexuality

Obviously comes out of my Just War research. There were just too many similarities between war and sex to overlook. Of course, taking the analogy too far will go from clever comparison to false analogy so I gotta be careful how far I take it.

The question is basically: "When is it OK to have sex?"

The traditional rule of "No sex until marriage" is simple and easy to apply when it comes to judgement (not to mention how hard it is to apply in practice!), but views marriage as a state of being as opposed to a process. It also has other drawbacks. I wouldn't use "obsolete" because I don't even think it would have been a great rule for 2000 years ago, but it seems less applicable in the 21st century as we put off marriage longer and longer.

Rest assured I will not be arguing for wanton hedonism and multiple sexual partners.

I'm sure there will be more to come in future posts.


  1. Interesting thesis. From what little I know of it, I can't say I agree with Just War Theory. But it just might work for sex. If you ever need a devil's advocate point of view, feel free to send it my way :)

  2. Just curious what you don't agree with in Just War?

    I'll be doing the bulk of the work over summer. You might actually have time to read it then!

  3. Guess I should check back here more often to see your comments :)

    Like I said, I only know a little bit, but my take away is that, at least in part, war when fought should be done in a manner to minimize civilian causalities. This, I believe misplaces the goal of war, which is to defeat the enemy, and just as important, to prevent the conflict from rising up again. Often, support for a war is gained from civilians either explicitly or implicitly, through lack of resistance. I am certainly not advocating targeting citizens, but if strong support of the enemy is found within its civilian population, drastic measures must be considered. Further more, avoiding civilians may put one's own forces at greater risk, thereby reducing our forces from winning. That's my take in a nutshell.

  4. "avoiding civilians may put one's own forces at greater risk"

    That's exactly the point -- civilians are not combatants. Putting their lives at risk is inherent in being a combatant. It should not be in being a civilian. If avoiding civilian casualties puts combatants at greater risk, that's part of the point of "war." There is, of course, no set in stone line that says how many combatants lives = how many non combatant lives.

    I'm working backwards here, my bad: "war when fought should be done in a manner to minimize civilian causalities. This, I believe misplaces the goal of war, which is to defeat the enemy." But surely you don't believe in limitless war or reject proportionality or noncombatant immunity? I know you don't because you say you don't advocate for targeting civilians. So the question becomes what should the limits be?

    A lot of the authors I've read that are "anti-Just War" the majority of them seem to believe that its a sort of martial calculus based mainly on a computational model. It's not. There's a great deal of casuistry that goes into it -- at least where the best thinkers are concerned. And for that I highly recommend Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars. Hefty, but broad and deep.

  5. Thanks for the recommendation. My understanding is that Walzer's book is used in some military ethics classes. However, my current interest in the subject is very low, but that may change over time and when it does, I will be sure to read it.