Body and Sexuality v/s Personal Identity

A consistent dualist, however, strongly separates body and sexuality from personal identity – and thus from the ethical commitments and norms associated with respect for persons as unique individuals. Such dualism has difficulty justifying serial monogamy. A dualist must regard sexual activity as simply one more activity of bodies as radically distinct from their “owners” as individuals. So how can sexuality have any connection with, for example, personal commitment to a romantic relationship with another as somehow unique, distinctive, and thus excluding sex with other bodies? Why should “sex,” if it’s simply a matter of actions between two more or less interchangeable bodies, be any more personal or exclusive than, say, shaking hands?

By contrast, many of my students find in Ruddick’s analysis a way of accurately describing, first of all, their own experiences of being a “body-subject” in at least their better experiences of sexuality in a (serially) monogamous relationship. This experientially oriented, phenomenological account further helps them make ethical sense of their moral intuitions that, as serial monogamists, there’s something ethically problematic about sex with someone else besides their current partner – but without having to appeal to religious frameworks they reject.

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