One Body but Many Kinds of Sex and Procreation: A Liberal Response

  • David Archard International Studies and Philosophy, Queen’s University, Belfast
Keywords: sexual ethics; sex; procreation; Alexander R. Pruss


I contrast a liberal and a conservative approach to the morality of sex, endorsing the former with a concession as to the special nature of sex, and note Pruss’ philosophical and theological endorsement of the latter. I criticize his argumentative strategy in three regards: first, he defends Christian love as equivalent to benevolence; second, he allows for only a moral evaluation of sex; third, he moves too quickly from some factual claims to others, and thence to normative conclusions. His account of the moral impermissibility of non-veridical pleasures trades on ambiguities in ‘real’ pleasure.

I respond to three arguments Pruss offers against IVF: gamete donors can discharge their parental obligations; reproduction need not only be by coitus; and those who use fertility treatment need not thereby do wrong in treating any resultant child as an ‘artefact’.

I conclude with critical observations about the distance between Pruss’ views and those commonly held by most people, including increasing numbers of Catholics.


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