Bringing the Body Back to Sexual Ethics
Article first published online: 3 NOV 2011
© by Hypatia, Inc.
Volume 28, Issue 1, pages 1–17, February 2013
How to Cite
Barnhill, A. (2013), Bringing the Body Back to Sexual Ethics. Hypatia, 28: 1–17. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2011.01243.x
- Issue published online: 31 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 3 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 MAR 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 11 MAR 2011
- Manuscript Received: 14 MAR 2010
The body and bodily experience make little appearance in analytic moral philosophy. This is true even of analytic sexual ethics—the one area of ethical inquiry we might have expected to give a starring role to bodily experience. I take a small step toward remedying that by identifying one way in which the bodily experience of sex is ethically significant: some of the physical actions of sex have a default expressive significance, conveying trust, affection, care, sensitivity, enjoyment, and pleasure. When people having sex don't in fact have these feelings, the sex can be misleading, even if they've antecedently communicated that they don't have these feelings. This account of how sex can mislead is inspired by a perhaps surprising source, Catholic sexual morality. Analytic sexual ethicists could benefit from emulating Catholic sexual morality's attentiveness to the bodily nature of sex and its ethical significance.