Sexual Morality: A Natural Law Approach to Intimate Relationships

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Oxford University Press, USA, Nov 3, 2011 - Philosophy - 299 pages
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Informal customs are the casual norms for most young adults in matters of sexual intimacy. Unfortunately, the sexual revolution has not proven to be as beneficial to women as was once thought and young men enjoy themselves without preparing themselves to be husbands and fathers. In this book, Piderit argues that a natural law approach to morality provides a grounded pathway toward marriage, and shows why these fairly traditional practices help young people find a partner to whom he or she can realistically promise love "until death do us part." Any effective culture consists of practices, which are accompanied by narratives, norms, and benefits. By offering theory but focusing on practices, this book helps young adults understand why sexual intimacy should be reserved to marriage. The first two thirds of the book develop the natural law approach; seeking common ground early in the volume makes it possible to understand a Christian approach to morality as grounded in nature, not primarily in religion. The goal is to highlight the reasonableness of this approach. The final third (Part III) of the book explores what religious practice and membership in a Christian denomination adds to the natural law approach. In addition to a morality based on natural law, Piderit also proposes a morality based on virtue ethics, which give precedence to positive goals over forbidden actions. The focus is on individual actions, explaining why any individual action falls into the category of exemplary, acceptable, or corrosive; these are terms developed, explained, and used in the book. Individual actions, of course, get repeated over time, and this leads to the formation of habits. And the reason for bracketing the formation of habits is to focus on individual actions and in this way make clear to young readers why certain actions lead to human fulfillment and why others actions undermine that fulfillment.

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About the author (2011)


Fr. Piderit served as president of Loyola University Chicago from 1993 to 2001. He is now the president of the Catholic Education Institute, a group which seeks new ways to educate Catholics, both at the secondary and the tertiary level.

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