In Raja Halwani, Jacob M. Held, Natasha McKeever & Alan Soble (eds.), The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, 8th edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 507-524 (2022)
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This essay explains some basic concepts about BDSM, and it responds to two important objections to it. The first is the psychological objection—that BDSM practitioners suffer from mental disorders—and the second is the ethical objection—that BDSM practitioners have morally compromised desires because of the kinds of activities they desire to participate in, especially ones that involve roles that dip into tortured oppressive histories (e.g., "rape" scenes, "master-and-slave" scenes). The paper argues that both objections fail, and, more specifically focusing on the ethical objection, argues that BDSM desires are psychologically, conceptually, and phenomenologically different from their seeming counterpart real-life desires that are truly ethically defective. Finally, the paper argues that BDSM practitioners, in having to always understand, explore, and justify their desires (especially to a majority that is hostile to them), have an interesting chance to lead rich, flourishing lives.

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Shaun Miller
Salt Lake City Community College


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