CatalystCon Day 1 and Revelations

by Jason Stotts

I’m at CatalystCon here in LA and so far it’s been interesting. I’ve met some interesting people and tomorrow the talks start.

A weird thing happened, though. Twice, people have asked me what I do, since most people (it seems) here are involved in some sort of activism or related fields like counseling, education, etc. I responded, both times, that I write a blog about sexual ethics and I’m working on editing my first book on the topic and that I’m getting my MA in clinical psychology. One of the women I talked to asked me what sexual ethics is and to explain it.

Now, this seems like it should be the easiest question in the world for a philosopher specializing in sexual ethics…but it wasn’t. I fumbled my answer pretty badly. This got me to thinking that I seriously needed to work out an “elevator pitch” for what I do and for Eros and Ethos. I mean, I should really be able to respond, and hopefully succinctly, about what I do in a way that anyone should be able to understand.

So, that’s what I’m going to try to do here. Let me know how it sounds.

What is sexual ethics?

Sexual ethics is the field of philosophy concerned with integrating sex into your life. It also covers things consent, rape, incest, bestiality, and anything related to sex about which you might use the words “good” and “evil”.

What is your book about?

My book is called Eros and Ethos and through it I’m attempting to create the first sexual ethic that integrates sex deeply into what it means to live a good human life.  I don’t think we can give an account of what it means to live a good human life if we omit sex.

Why are you writing it?

A lot of reasons. Primarily because I think that sex is too important a part of what it means to live a human life to be left out of ethics. Also, because we cannot hope to win the current debates around sex when we have ceded the moral high-ground to those who hate sex and the body. If we want to win the debates about gay-marriage and abortion, we need to argue for them from a position of moral certainty.

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