The Ethics of Sex

Subject PHIL40016 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 2 hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: An average of 10 hours per week
Prerequisites: Admission to the Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Ethics or MA in Professional and Applied Ethics, or to fourth year honours or a postgraduate diploma in Philosophy or permission from the subject coordinator.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: Knowledge gained in a 3 year undergraduate degree
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website :


Ms Rekha Nath


Professor Igor Primoratz

Centre for Applied Philosophyand Public Ethics

School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry

Subject Overview: The subject explores the nature and moral significance of sex and the central issues in sexual morality. In the first part we look into the main conceptions of human sexuality: the traditional view of sex as meant for procreation, the 'romantic' view of sex as bound up with love, the understanding of sex as a body language, and the hedonist or 'plain sex' view. In the second part we discuss monogamy, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, sexual harassment, and rape

Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • have developed an understanding of the major philosophical theories of sexual morality
  • be able to apply this understanding in providing a critique of social norms and policy governing sexual behaviour
Assessment: One essay of 5,000 words due at the end of semester (100%).
Prescribed Texts: Ethics and Sex (Igor Primoratz) London and New York: Routledge, 1999
Recommended Texts:

Igor Primoratz (ed.), Human Sexuality, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 1997

Alan Soble (ed.), Sex from Plato to Paglia: A Philosophical Encyclopedia, Westport,

CN and London: Greenwood Press, 2006

Donald Phillip Verene (ed.), Sexual Love in Western Philosophy, 2 nd edn., Boston:

Jones & Bartlett, 1995

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • have improved their ability to integrate abstract moral and conceptual considerations with relevant empirical data
  • have refined the skills necessary for original research by developing the capacity to think rigorously, imaginatively and critically about abstract topics
  • have refined the skills required for written communication of research
  • havestrengthened their ability to comprehend and evaluate complex argumentative texts
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Master of Arts (Professional and Applied Ethics)
Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Ethics
Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Ethics
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Philosophy
Social Theory

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