The Ethics of Sex & Love


This course examines sex & love from a moral perspective.

Our topic brings us into dialogue with a number of events and issues. We look at debates surrounding the morality and legality of sex work in Canada, the role of objectification in casual sex and pornography, debates surrounding government favouritism of certain kinds of relationships (marriages that are heterosexual and monogamous), the problems that arise from prevailing legal conceptions of consent and feminist criticisms thereof, and the way in which these latter critiques led to the Sexual Assault Prevention Policy at Antioch College in the early 1990s, as well as to the push for the Sexual Assault Policy (SAP) at McGill in recent years.

I have taught this course many times. Each semester I bring in policy-makers to class to help run workshops based on the (limitations) of the McGill Sexual Assault Policy. I also enlisted the help of a number of other guest lecturers from varying backgrounds to speak to the class. Some of the speakers’ topics included the legalities of sex work in Canada, feminist pornography, and the #metoo movement. The addition of these guests facilitated concrete thinking about the course themes and likewise allowed for a diversity of approaches and of voices not often found within academic philosophy. Lastly, for their final project, students are tasked either with writing a new Sexual Assault Policy, or developing a PR campaign for a consent-related issue. Students have been excited about how easy it is to apply the themes explored in this course to their lives and to current events, especially in contrast to more ‘traditional’ philosophy classes.

Taught at

  • McGill University in Montreal, QC (2016, 2017)
  • Vanier College in Montreal, QC (2016, 2017)