Contemporary philosophy of sex is sometimes informed by Western feminism. Issues raised by feminists regarding gender differences, sexual politics, and the nature of sexual identity are important questions in the philosophy of sex.
Throughout much of the history of Western philosophy, questions of sex and sexuality have been considered only within the general subject of ethics. There have, however, been deviations from this pattern out of which emerge a tradition of speaking of sexual issues in their own right.
Moral evaluations of sexual activity are determined by judgments on the nature of the sexual impulse. In this light, philosophies fall into two camps:
A negative understanding of sexuality, such as from Immanuel Kant, believes that sexuality undermines values, and challenges our moral treatment of other persons. Sex, says Kant, "makes of the loved person an Object of appetite" In this understanding, sex is often advised only for the purpose of procreation. Sometimes Sexual celibacy is considered to lead to the best, or most moral life.
A positive understanding of sexuality, (such as from Russell Vannoy, Irving Singer) understand sexual activity as pleasing the self and the other at the same time.
Thomas Nagel proposes that only sexual interactions with mutual sexual arousal are natural to human sexuality. Perverted sexual encounters or events would be those in which this reciprocal arousal is absent, and in which a person remains fully a subject of the sexual experience or fully an object.
Butler, Judith (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. ISBN0-415-90043-3.
Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge. ISBN0-415-90365-3.
Christensen, F. M., "A Defense of Pornography," in Sterling Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996).
Christina, Greta. "Are We Having Sex Now or What?" in Alan Soble, ed., The Philosophy of Sex, 3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, pp. 3–8.
Finnis, John. "Law, Morality, and 'Sexual Orientation'," Notre Dame Law Review 69:5 (1994), pp. 1049–76.
Finnis, John and Martha Nussbaum. "Is Homosexual Conduct Wrong? A Philosophical Exchange," in Alan Soble, ed., The Philosophy of Sex, 3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, pp. 89–94.
Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. Vols. 1-3. New York: Vintage, 1990. (Original French publications of the three volumes in 1978, 1984, and 1984, respectively)
Gray, Robert. "Sex and Sexual Perversion," in Alan Soble, ed., The Philosophy of Sex, 3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, pp. 57–66.
Grisez, Germain. The Way of the Lord Jesus. Quincy, Ill.: Franciscan Press, 1993.
Gudorf, Christine. Body, Sex, and Pleasure: Reconstructing Christian Sexual Ethics. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 1994.
Hampton, Jean. "Defining Wrong and Defining Rape," in Keith Burgess-Jackson, ed., A Most Detestable Crime: New Philosophical Essays on Rape. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 118–56.
Held, Virginia. "Coercion and Coercive Offers," in J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman, eds., Coercion: Nomos VIX. Chicago, Ill.: Aldine, 1972, pp. 49–62.
Jung, Patricia, and Ralph Smith. Heterosexism: An Ethical Challenge. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1993.
Kant, Immanuel. Lectures on Ethics. Translated by Louis Infield. New York: Harper and Row, 1963.
Kant, Immanuel. The Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by Mary Gregor. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge, Book XX, Encore, 1972–1973, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Bruce Fink (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998).
C. S. LewisThe Four Loves. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1960.
MacKinnon, Catherine A., "The Money of Playboy Magazine," in Sterling Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996).
Mappes, Thomas. "Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using Another Person," in Thomas Mappes and Jane Zembaty, eds., Social Ethics, 4th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992, pp. 203–26.
Mayo, David. "An Obligation to Warn of HIV Infection?" in Alan Soble, ed., Sex, Love and Friendship. Amsterdam. Hol.: Editions Rodopi, 1997, pp. 447–53.
McEvoy, Adrianne Leigh, Ed. Sex, Love, and Friendship. Studies of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love: 1993-2003. Amsterdam/New York, NY, Rodopi, 2011.
Muehlenhard, Charlene, and Jennifer Schrag. "Nonviolent Sexual Coercion," in A. Parrot and L. Bechhofer, eds, Acquaintance Rape. The Hidden Crime. New York: John Wiley, 1991, pp. 115–28.
Murphy, Jeffrie. "Some Ruminations on Women, Violence, and the Criminal Law," in Jules Coleman and Allen Buchanan, eds., In Harm's Way: Essays in Honor of Joel Feinberg. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 209–30.
Nagel, Thomas. "Sexual Perversion," in Alan Soble, ed., The Philosophy of Sex, 3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, pp. 9–20.
Nielson-Jones, Oliver. "Sex, Escaping The Rat Race" In G.Bennett and A.Robinson, eds., Sexual Philosophy, 2006, pp. 7–29
O'Neill, Onora. "Between Consenting Adults," Philosophy and Public Affairs 14:3 (1985), pp. 252–77.