Friday, February 1, 2019

Beyond Consent

In the recent conversations surrounding sexual harassment and sexual assault, there's one word I've noticed keep coming up:


Now I'm glad that culturally we haven't completely lost our moral compass. And there are some things we universally condemn as wrong. But I think what the conversation has demonstrated is that our moral thinking has become so thin and we've drifted so far away from any language of goodness that we simply don't know how to talk about ethics in robust and coherent ways.

And so we're left to reducing our language surrounding sexual ethics to some thing like consent.

To be clear, a person should not act in ways sexually involving another person that violates his or her will. The ethics of sexual practice is not less than that. But it is more than that.

To put in philosophical terms, Consent is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition.

A daughter could consent to sleeping with her father.

A man could consent to be tortured and killed by another man. 

I'm glad that these conversations have been shedding light on what evils have been going on. But if we are going to get anywhere in our practices surrounding sexual ethics, we have to get beyond consent.

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