PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, September 03, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Philosophy of Sex + 2 efl jobs + stolen bike

Essay + 2 English teaching jobs + Chris's stolen bike

Dear friends,

Those of you who come to the meetings would know that I have a sort of
veto on some subjects mainly because we would have discussed them before
and partly because they are not suitable for our meetings.

Sex is on that veto list but as you can see from past meetings you keep
proposing new and interesting topics for discussion. This Sunday we are
discussing the big topic: the philosophy of sex.

In the meantime Milton has sent me details of a new English teaching job
and I am also including the message from Patrician who would love to
receive your cv for possible English teaching jobs.

Finally I am including the message from Chris about her stolen bike. Can
you help?

===== from Milton ======

English Class alcobendas 7.30 am 4 days 1hr at 23 euro 4 teachers needed
interested? Can you post it? Milton
Great. If you want you can ask to send cv to matilde at

======message from Chris=======
Hola a Todos,

El sabado 22 a pleno sol me han robado mi querida bici en frente de la
Casa Encendida, y como era un modelo unico en madrid y tenia 17 años. La
policia tiene una foto- y ademas estoy avisando mis amigos de la zona.
Si por casualidad alguien la ve en la calle que llame al 091 y a mi por
favor .

Adjunto una foto de ella tambien tenia un claxon negro estilo antiguo
como una trompeta en el manillar que no sale en la foto.

Muchas gracias a todas por vuestra ayuda.


======message from Patricia=======

Dear Lawrence

It was nice to see you again the other day after such a long time. As I
told you the other day I have just started my new job as Head of Studies
for in-company courses at Tandem.

We need English Teachers, so if anyone of the Tertulia Group is
interested, please send me your CV

Thank you for passing on this message!


Patricia Jahncke
Key Account Manager
English, French, Portuguese
Tandem International School
Tel (34) 915 322 715
Fax (34) 915 224 539
C/Marqués de Cubas, 8
28014 Madrid
Skype: Jaytandem
"One should always be a little improbable" Oscar Wilde



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The philosophy of Sex

Of course, not everything is explained by biological evolution and
genes, but sex can only be explained by biological evolution and genes.
And therefore a philosophy of sex or sexuality has to start from the
biological point of view, anything else would just be romanticizing in
the style of a Hollywood fantasy. Nothing wrong with Hollywood fantasy
except it is not philosophy.

The traditional debate in the philosophy of sex centred on such topics
as the ethics and morality of sex (sex outside marriage, homosexuality,
certain sex acts etc), the legal implications (age of consent, consent,
minors, criminal acts), religion (why did god create sex?) and of
course, sex is a big subject in psychology. Outside philosophy, sex is
also a big industry if not the biggest industry ever created.

Alan Soble has written a detailed and excellent essay on the philosophy
of sexuality in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I will not,
therefore, go into the history of the philosophy of sex since Soble has
done this and you are already familiar with most of the issues.
(Philosophy of Sexuality, Alan Soble, The Internet Encyclopedia of

However, I do want to discuss two issues one of which ought to be the
central theme of the philosophy of sex.

The first issue, which is a minor issue really, but quite telling in
itself is that philosophy has nothing to tell us or teach us about how
to get any sex. This is not because philosophy is a useless discipline,
but rather because philosophers have focused on the side issues in my
opinion. And as such no one , as far as I know, has focused on the real
problem of sex and philosophy.

The second and main issue for the philosophy of sex is the challenge sex
presents to political philosophy in general and the devastating
challenge sex presents to left wing ideologies and feminism in particular.

If we accept that sex is somehow linked with evolution, and today no one
disputes this, then this is a real and direct challenge to right wing
political ideologies many of whom take their cue from some religion.
Religions and rightwing politics do not sit comfortably with evolution
as recent political trends have shown in many countries.

Of course, to argue that sex is only a legitimate and natural activity
if it is done within marriage is itself a non sequitur argument. Sex is
both pleasurable and a conduit to reproduction both within marriage and
outside marriage. What sex does within marriage, it does it just as well
outside marriage. Therefore, marriage is neither a necessary nor
sufficient condition for sex. In itself this fact ought to suggest to us
that we are dealing with a biological phenomenon. On the other hand,
having a tax deduction for being married is not a biological phenomenon.

But rejecting right wing politics on the basis of biology and evolution
is neither interesting nor spectacular. To use an analogy from naval sea
warfare, using evolution to reject right wing politics is like sinking a
"patera" with a salvo of torpedoes.

Having just lost my right wing friends I am about to lose my left wing
friends because the challenge sex presents to left wing politics and
feminism is both interesting and spectacular. This is going to be like
sinking the RMS Lusitania with a hundred torpedo salvos; there are
serious implications and unintended consequences. Implications that
might mean we have to take politics more seriously and to consider
seriously the "real" ethical implications of sex.

But let me make it clear at the outset, I am not arguing, nor trying to
imply in this essay that sex is either good or bad, nor that we should
restrict in any way any sexual activity if not by consent between
consenting adults. My take on the subject is that sex is a matter of
consent between consenting adults, and anyone who is not party to that
consent is none of their business.

Therefore, the real issue for philosophy of sex and politics is that sex
is the only human activity that only functions on discrimination and to
some extent racism. And moreover, that this discrimination and racism is
seen as a normal part of life. For example, no one will be ostracized
from their community if they prefer one person for another simply
because of the colour of their eyes; even if such an act is based purely
on discrimination. Nor will we be hauled in front of the race relations
commission if we choose not to have sex with a person whose racial
background is different from ours.

Now this is a challenge to left wing politics because left wing politics
has championed both sex as a normal activity (homosexuality and
contraception) and also equality of genders and races.

And this is what makes all this spectacular, if we follow the logic of
equality, sex ought to be a taboo to left wing politics and not its
champion. As l have just said, sex is the only activity we can
discriminate against people, and even be racists with impunity, without
any social disapproval and consequence.

Now, before you kindly point out and suggest that some women do get
married to short men and that your two best friends are a mixed race
couple, we have to understand something about nature and especially
evolution and genetic. Everything in nature is based on probability and
distribution of probabilities. It is not that certain things never
happen (short men marrying tall women), but that certain things tend to
happen much more often than others (women marrying taller men).

Of course, Taleb's challenge to the standard deviation model (bell
curve) is not that natural events do not follow a probability
distribution. But rather that by using the SD curve to represent nature
we might miss big and serious events that happen rarely or maybe we fail
to appreciate their importance and seriousness. A mega big earthquake
that happens every ten thousand years is no less natural and serious
even if no such earthquake happened these past one thousand years.
However, a SD curve that looked at earthquakes these past one thousand
years would miss the mega big one if this did not happen within the time
frame of a thousand years.

My point, to use and Italian saying, is that one swallow doesn't make a
spring (Una rondine non fa primavera; from
Discrimination, and maybe even racism, are more entrenched in our
biology than we have cared to discuss: you prefer blonds, and my tribe
is better than yours.

And in discussing these two issues here I am breaking a serious taboo
and implied understanding in Western society of never to discuss these
issues in public. But the issue for us is not which bus to jump in front
of because we're about to be taken over by racist Nazis again.

The issue for us today is to clearly identify cases of discrimination
and racism since we have evolved and adopted (trying to at least)
rational strategies for our coexistence. If we didn't adopt rational
strategies we'd still be paddling snake oil to cure diseases and not
create a huge structure based on knowledge to form the basis of medicine
and pharmacology. Of course, this does not mean that there is no room
for improvement in these sciences or in what is rational.

If sex, and who we have sex with, is a matter of subjective choice, and
therefore discriminatory choice, we are going to pass on those
discriminatory genes every time a sex act results into a reproductive
act. This was clearly explained by Dawkins and other geneticists even if
the details are complex and in some cases controversial.

The very act that is supposed to liberate us from the clutches of
conservatism -remember the liberating power of the pill, free love, and
the burning of bras- is itself based on pure discrimination and maybe

It turns out that the two evils of the twentieth century (discrimination
and racism) form the basis of human existence. But although the
situation in the first decade of the 21st century has not changed much
we accept that political policies based on discrimination and racism are
untenable. And we know this because we have adopted (tried to adopt)
rationality as the basis of our motivation to deal with the law of the
jungle, as I have already just said.

We are different from animals not because of our psychology, as Nagel
suggests, but precisely because we have adopted rationality as the
raison d'être of our brain functioning structure. This is what Soble
says about Nagel (but see the whole article); For it is human psychology
that makes us quite different from other animals, and hence an account
of natural human sexuality must acknowledge the uniqueness of human

I do not mean, however, that we all behave rationally and reasonably;
it's just that we all appreciate that a win-win situation is much better
than a win-lose situation; even if we are doing all the winning. And
those who do not understand this basic fact are probably philosophically

I also dare to postulate that this is why sex is such a controversial
and complex subject for human beings. The most important biological
function of our existence is governed by pure subjective discrimination,
and yet the most important functions of social existence, cohabitation
and general social relationships, are based on the principles of sharing
and cooperation. The pre-Socratic world of opposites is revisited, yet

The challenge for leftwing politics, therefore, is to be on guard for
discrimination creep in any policies and ideology. For example, fair
wages are more sustainable and certainly more rational than minimum wages.

However, fair wages not only mean that others have opportunities as we
do to earn a reasonable living, but also no one has an unfair advantage
over others. This does not mean that there won't be people who are
wealthier than others, but it does mean that no one has an advantage
over us because we cannot afford health care, or nutritious food or
adequate housing. Minimum wages just mean that we're better off now from
the time when we had no wages at all.

But what does all this have to do with sex. Of course, being healthy is
itself a must for sex. Healthy in the sense of fit and/or free from some
sexually related diseases, or any debilitating disease. Being obese
because we cannot afford healthy food or having unstable dwellings,
which is extremely stressful, does not lead to too much sex in anyone's
life. See for example Wikipedia on Sexual selection for a more detailed
discussion on how health plays a big part in selecting partners. (Sexual
selection (2009, September 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Retrieved 14:09, September 2, 2009, from )

And as for physical attraction see: Physical attractiveness. ((2009,
September 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:29,
September 2, 2009, from
This article has a discussion, amongst other topics, on the influence of
height in partner selection. Income itself is sometimes considered to be
a sexual attraction, but I do not wish to elaborate on this point any
further; I have already made my point.

If sex, and who we have sex with, is a matter of subjective choice, and
therefore discriminatory choice, then at the biological level we are
going to pass on those discriminatory genes every time a sex act results
into a reproductive act. What I mean here is what Dawkins explained many
times before, genes with certain successful traits would tend to be
passed on the next generation.

And we already know that discrimination in sex is a successful trait
(most of us are the result of such a decision) and hence it had to be
passed on because most of us do discriminate when it comes to sex.

The reasons why we choose a specific person to have sex with, which
sometimes leads to a reproductive act, can themselves lead to these
reasons being passed on to the next generation. Maybe what we should be
concerned with is not whether future generation will inherit a clean
environment, but whether they will inherit the "fair" gene, if there is
any left.

Again, I repeat, this is a complex issue outside the scope of this
essay, and that probability is the key to explain what is going on.

And the serious challenge for many feminists, and other females alike,
is that it is not a question of being equal to men, but rather to
consider equally all men when deliberating on sexual matters. Or as the
saying goes, give every man you meet a fair crack of the whip.

And now that I have lost all my female friends, and to keep with the
nautical theme I used above, I want to share this joke with my remaining
few male friends; I think none of them are sailors. So here goes:

From: Daily Joke - Contributed by:Anon.
An old retired sailor puts on his old uniform and heads for the docks
once more for old times sake.
He engages a prostitute and takes her up to a room.
He's soon going at it as well as he can for a guy his age, but needing
some reassurance, he asks "How am I doing?"
The prostitute replies, "Well old sailor, you're doing about three knots."
"Three knots?" he asks, "What's that supposed to mean?"
She says, "You're knot hard, you're knot in, and you're knot getting
your money back".

Take care

==================end essay===========

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Tertulia with Ignacio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at
Moore's Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
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from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Philosophy of
Sex + 2 efl jobs + stolen bike

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