Center for Ethics
Although sexual activity is a central part of socialization and identity formation, sexual behavior is generally considered a private matter, and is seldom examined critically in the public sphere. Universities are no exception; college students - regardless of whether they choose to have sex - are immersed in a campus culture in which ‘private’ sexual beliefs and behaviors shape the ‘public’ undergraduate social experience, and yet the uncritical attitudes that shape these beliefs and behaviors are rarely interrogated or considered within an ethical frame. The 2013-2014 Center for Ethics theme, “Sex, Ethics, and Pleasure Politics” aims to develop a comprehensive sexual ethics for the campus community: How do differing moral, political, and sociological attitudes toward sexuality shape our ethics? How do these attitudes enrich or inhibit the possibility of sexual pleasure? How do attitudes about pleasure, the body, identity, and individuality define what sorts of sexual activity will be considered permissible or impermissible? Is pleasure something that we ought to pursue and promote? What is our ethical responsibility to the pleasure of others? How might a comprehensive sexual ethics cause us to rethink our understanding of justice and interpersonal responsibility?
Through public talks and discussions, this theme will build an ethical conversation centered on interpersonal sexual behavior as well as the political, scientific, religious, aesthetic, and legal forces that shape the permissibility and impermissibility of sexual acts. Our understanding of sexuality reflects how our society at any given period is organized, how it represents and ‘naturalizes’ sex, and how it comes to define the boundary of public and private space, the moral underpinnings of intimate and/or reproductive behavior, and the essential categories of sexual identity. Therefore, the ways in which we practice sex raise deep ethical questions about how we will regulate the economic reach of sexual industries, define normative sexual ethics, respond to sexual violence, and identify and pathologize sexual deviance. This programming theme will explore how culture, race, gender, class, technology, and language can simultaneously both constrain and create greater opportunities for sexual acts, interpersonal intimacy, and pleasure-seeking.
Monday January 27, 2014
7:30 PM Place TBA
"Sex is Too Important To Be Left to the Pornographers"
Linda Williams, Professor of Film, University of California - Berkeley
Most recent publication: Screening Sex, a history of the representation and concealment of sex in the movies
Scholarly foci: history and critical analysis of melodrama, horror, and pornography in film; psychoanalysis and Surrealist cinema; race and film
Co-sponsored by Film Stuides.
The Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 schedule of program events can be found on the Current Program page.
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- Director of the Center for Ethics
Professor of Biology
2400 Chew Street
Allentown, PA 18104
Muhlenberg College gratefully acknowledges
the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation's support
of the Center for Ethics.