email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAlways Forever MaybeAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond SpeechBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting OffGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot My ShameNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An IntroductionPin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRelax, It's Just SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Dangerous Art of Blending InThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Evolution of BeautyThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe PervertThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebUntrue VirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex
This second edition is a perfect companion when delving into the philosophy of sex, love, and marriage. In many ways, this second edition is more concise with new additions that are insightful. What makes this book succinct is Halwani summarizing his somewhat verbose example. While I may personally miss his first edition examples, as they helped the reader gain a clearer understanding of the material, this book still very clearly engages the reader and delivers the points across fully. This review will mainly focus on the big ideas that Halwani addresses and not focus too much on what I consider objectionable.
The book is made up of three parts as the title of the book suggests. The first part is on the philosophy of love. One main question philosophers of love ask is: "do we love someone because they are valuable or are they valuable because we love them?" In other words, do we love someone because of various reasons (e.g., because she is beautiful, smart, funny, the way she dances, etc.), or is love not based on reasons? Halwani argues that romantic love can be split into two types: romantic love 1 (RL1) and romantic love 2 (RL2). RL1 is the passionate, typically sexual form of love that is usually at the beginning of romantic relationships. It is not infatuation since infatuation is short-lived and may consist of having mistaken beliefs about whether you can be with your beloved. RL1, however, is successful and suggests we love someone because of reasons: they already see the values that the lovers have. RL2 is the committed, companionship that we often feel after the frenzied passionate form has settled down. RL2 can outlast the initial reasons why the lovers loved each other in the first place, or even create new reasons (e.g., "I never noticed that she cringed her nose when she smiled. But now that I love her, I find that cringe valuable").
This solution also helps resolve which characteristics are essential to love. Philosophers have pondered what is the essential ingredient in love. Is it exclusivity, forming a union, constancy, robust concern? By splitting romantic love into RL1 and RL2, Halwani can demarcate which characteristics of love fit into each category of romantic love. For example, is it the nature of love to be constant? Under RL1, not so. But for RL2, yes.
Halwani also considers love and morality. Here, he looks at various ethical theories as to when it is morally proper to love someone and whether there are moral restrictions to love someone. He argues that the arguments to show why love is a moral emotion all fail. Instead, Halwani makes the argument that love is robust concern for the moral well-being of the other, that the beloved fare morally well.
In part II, Halwani philosophizes about sex. After looking at various concepts and definitions, the issues are mainly ethical. Considering that sex is pleasurable and it can contribute to well-being, both consequentialism and virtue ethics would say that sex is positive. In the applications issue, Halwani considers prostitution and having racial desires.
What about a Kantian angle? Halwani investigates sexual objectification. Regarding sexual objectification, Halwani argues for the Kantian line that sexual objectification is inescapable. However, we can still live with it if certain conditions are met: consent is in play, the well-being of the participants is enhanced or at least not diminished, and the many good things can outweigh the badness of objectification. From here, the discussion naturally leads to pornography and whether it is moral or not. Halwani looks at classic arguments against pornography and responds to them suggesting that the arguments are either making hasty generalizations, or that the problems of pornography is symptomatic of our social situation—sexism, heteronormativity, hegemonic masculinity—rather than pornography as itself the problem. I found Halwani's discussion of pornography incongruent with the rest of the book. In most of the applied issues, Halwani stays up to date and talks about the latest arguments that philosophers argue. In the pornography section, however, he mainly discusses arguments philosophers have made in the 1980s-1990s. Surely there have been updated arguments since then? Or maybe Halwani uses these old arguments because they are the most well-known ones and updated arguments are simply derivatives of them. Needless to say, this section could use some updates or at least an explanation why there were no updates.
Next, Halwani discusses issues regarding sexual perversions and sexual fantasies, including BDSM. After investigating various accounts of perversions, Halwani leans toward an Aristotelian type to give the best account. Here, Halwani does not shy away from areas that philosophers of sex do not dare to discuss, but it is necessary for his criticisms of previous philosophers. For example, Halwani discusses different philosopher's theories of perversion (e.g. Nagel, Ruddick, Solomon, Scruton) and what make either acts or desires perverted. And while these philosophers offer intriguing ideas, Halwani shows the flaws in each of them. But in particular, the major flaw is that their theories of perversion would endorse incest, but surely that is considered a perversion. Therefore, Nagel's, Ruddick's, Solomon's, and Scruton's theories of perversion are inadequate.
Finally, in part III, Halwani discusses marriage: both its purpose and whether it is necessary. Here, Halwani does not shy away where philosophers (and our culture at large) do not want to go. With same-sex marriage, opponents argue that this is a slippery slope for other types of marriages such as polygamy, marrying our pets, marrying our children, or marrying inanimate objects. Halwani makes consent—which entails that the people involved must understand the contracts of marriage—as the limiting point. As Halwani puts it, "We should not stop [the slippery slope] for same-sex marriages, for trans-marriages, for bi-marriages, or for polyamorous marriages, but we should stop it for marrying our pets, our siblings, our children, and our inanimate possessions" (p. 360).
Is marriage necessary? Halwani argues that having the state involved in marriage is a good thing, and agrees broadly with a type of "minimal marriage" (taken from the philosopher Elizabeth Brake) in that the state should should support some sort of caring relationships that the citizens want. However, he admits that marriage includes some sort of romantic intimacy and perhaps marriage ought to at least include that feature, though he admits he has no argument for that idea.
I consider this book a great contribution to the philosophy of love, sex, and marriage. Halwani considers the topics from the latest research and adds his own argument to each of the topics. His writing is clear and straight to the point, which is what philosophy should do. An added benefit is that he incorporates virtue ethics in each of the topics. Considering that virtue ethics is starting to become more acknowledged, applying virtue ethics to these hefty topics is both necessary and helpful to give readers different perspectives to see how virtue ethics can contribute to our personal and intimate lives. One thing I would have liked to have seen is the discussion concerning the ethics of technology in our romantic and sexual lives. For example, sex with robots is starting to become a major topic among thinkers. Other forms of technology such as sexting, dating apps, and buying pornography rather than seeing it for free would make the discussions current. However, my criticism is merely miniscule to the vast topics that Halwani has already discussed here. Perhaps in a later edition he will do so, but in the meantime, I will constantly refer to this book to help me think deeper about our intimate lives.
© 2018 Shaun D Miller
Shaun D Miller, Marquette University