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Archive for August 4th, 2011

Sex is a tricky subject for the reason that any discussion of sex almost automatically involves relationships and it could likely involve moral arguments — in short: ripe ground for subjectivity. Subjectivity is not necessarily the enemy of critical thinking, in fact it is the battleground of critical thinkers since subjective arguments are rarely completely decided by scientific evidence but by (ideally) rational debate. And by that I mean–it’s usually easier said than done.

A relatively recent piece by Charlie Glickman illustrates how sex and subjectivity can be a tricky path for critical thinking. Glickman gives his interesting critique of a NY Times article by Ross Douthat that deals with monogamy:

He (Douthat) seems to think that there are only two paths worth mentioning. There’s sex that’s part of a path that takes you towards marriage and there’s sex that’s promiscuous. Now, he seems to try to soften that by saying that it might be promiscuous or it might be ill-considered, but given that the definition of promiscuous is indiscriminate, or lacking standards of selection, this is another case of someone projecting a false dichotomy onto sexuality.

This is a problem for at least three reasons. First, it not only continues to place “matrimony” on a pedestal (something which is especially fraught with challenges in a political climate that restricts marriage to heterosexuality in most jurisdictions), it also requires that any and all relationships need to be a trial run for marriage. There’s no room to have a relationship for any other purpose- if it’s not going to lead you down the path to marriage, it’s no good.

You can see how the piece heats up in the first few paragraphs (see the rest of the article here). Apart from subjectivity, the other tricky thing about discussing sex is that we are all as human beings seemingly wired to want to talk about it, occasionally at the expense of reason.

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