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Augustine: "A man turns to good use the evil of concupiscence, and is not overcome by it, when he bridles and restrains its rage . Hence the pursuit of sexual pleasure does not require much intricate justification; sexual activity surely need not be confined to marriage or directed at procreation. More specifically, we evaluate, or judge, sexual acts to be morally obligatory, morally permissible, morally supererogatory, or morally wrong.The good and virtuous life, while including much else, can also include a wide variety and extent of sexual relations. For example: a spouse might have a for married couples to employ contraception while engaging in coitus; one person's agreeing to have sexual relations with another person when the former has no sexual desire of his or her own but does want to please the latter might be an act of .Augustine, Immanuel Kant, and, sometimes, Sigmund Freud, perceive the sexual impulse and acting on it to be something nearly always, if not necessarily, unbefitting the dignity of the human person; they see the essence and the results of the drive to be incompatible with more significant and lofty goals and aspirations of human existence; they fear that the power and demands of the sexual impulse make it a danger to harmonious civilized life; and they find in sexuality a severe threat not only to our proper relations with, and our moral treatment of, other persons, but also equally a threat to our own humanity.

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Conceptual analysis (for example: what are the distinctive features of a desire that make it sexual desire instead of something else?

In what ways does seduction differ from nonviolent rape?

Sexual pleasure at most has instrumental value, in inducing us to engage in an act that has procreation as its primary purpose. , not to the subjection of the spirit to the flesh in a sordid servitude" (, bk. Sexual activity involves pleasing the self and the other at the same time, and these exchanges of pleasure generate both gratitude and affection, which in turn are bound to deepen human relationships and make them more emotionally substantial. By awakening us to the living presence of someone else, sexuality can enable us to treat this other being as just the person he or she happens to be. A similar distinction between sexuality per se and eros is described by C. Lewis in his (chapter 5), and it is perhaps what Allan Bloom has in mind when he writes, "Animals have sex and human beings have eros, and no accurate science [or philosophy] is possible without making this distinction" (, p. The divide between metaphysical optimists and metaphysical pessimists might, then, be put this way: metaphysical pessimists think that sexuality, unless it is rigorously constrained by social norms that have become internalized, will tend to be governed by vulgar eros, while metaphysical optimists think that sexuality, by itself, does not lead to or become vulgar, that by its nature it can easily be and often is heavenly.

Such views are common among Christian thinkers, for example, St. and never relaxes his hold upon it except when intent on offspring, and then controls and applies it to the carnal generation of children . Further, and this is the most important point, sexual pleasure is, for a metaphysical optimist, a valuable thing in its own right, something to be cherished and promoted because it has intrinsic and not merely instrumental value. (See the entry, Philosophy of Love.) Of course, we can and often do evaluate sexual activity : we inquire whether a sexual act—either a particular occurrence of a sexual act (the act we are doing or want to do right now) or a type of sexual act (say, all instances of homosexual fellatio)—is morally good or morally bad.

Conceptual analysis is carried out in the philosophy of sexuality in order to clarify the fundamental notions of sexual desire and sexual activity.

Conceptual analysis is also carried out in attempting to arrive at satisfactory definitions of adultery, prostitution, rape, pornography, and so forth.

The one who desires depends on the whims of another person to gain satisfaction, and becomes as a result a jellyfish, susceptible to the demands and manipulations of the other: "In desire you are compromised in the eyes of the object of desire, since you have displayed that you have designs which are vulnerable to his intentions" (Roger Scruton, , p. A person who proposes an irresistible sexual offer to another person may be exploiting someone made weak by sexual desire (see Virginia Held, "Coercion and Coercive Offers," p. Moreover, a person who gives in to another's sexual desire makes a tool of himself or herself. a man wishes to satisfy his desire, and a woman hers, they stimulate each other's desire; their inclinations meet, but their object is not human nature but sex, and each of them dishonours the human nature of the other.

"For the natural use that one sex makes of the other's sexual organs is , p. Those engaged in sexual activity make themselves willingly into objects for each other merely for the sake of sexual pleasure. They make of humanity an instrument for the satisfaction of their lusts and inclinations, and dishonour it by placing it on a level with animal nature" (Kant, , p. Finally, due to the insistent nature of the sexual impulse, once things get going it is often hard to stop them in their tracks, and as a result we often end up doing things sexually that we had never planned or wanted to do. See also Jean Hampton, "Defining Wrong and Defining Rape").

Thus the philosophy of sexuality is concerned with the perennial questions of sexual morality and constitutes a large branch of applied ethics.

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