Implementing a regulated system of voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS)

Implementing a regulated system of voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in jurisdictions that do not currently have one poses several significant regulatory challenges. Examining recent implementations in Australian states like Victoria and Western Australia sheds light on these challenges:

Establishing Legal Frameworks:

The primary challenge is creating comprehensive and clear legal frameworks that outline who is eligible for euthanasia or PAS, what the procedural requirements are, and the role of healthcare providers. These frameworks must navigate complex ethical and legal considerations.
Recent implementations in Victoria and Western Australia involved drafting and passing new legislation to address these issues, which required extensive debate and scrutiny.

Safeguarding Against Abuse:

Preventing abuse and coercion is a paramount concern. Regulations must include robust safeguards to ensure that vulnerable individuals, such as those with disabilities or mental health issues, are not coerced into requesting euthanasia or PAS.
Regulatory mechanisms must include rigorous assessments of the patient’s mental capacity, the voluntariness of their request, and the absence of external pressure.

Medical Professional Training and Involvement:

Integrating healthcare professionals into the system is essential. Training medical practitioners and pharmacists to understand the regulatory requirements and their roles is crucial.
Implementation challenges include recruiting healthcare providers willing to participate in euthanasia or PAS, particularly in regions with strong ethical or religious objections.

Access and Equity:

Ensuring equitable access to euthanasia or PAS is a regulatory challenge. Recent implementations have had to address issues related to geographic access, ensuring that individuals in rural or remote areas have the same access as those in urban centers.
There may also be disparities in access for marginalized or disadvantaged populations, requiring regulatory measures to address these inequities.

Monitoring and Reporting:

Regulatory frameworks should include mechanisms for ongoing monitoring, data collection, and reporting. This is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of the system, identifying potential issues or abuses, and making necessary adjustments.
Recent implementations in Victoria and Western Australia have established oversight bodies to monitor and review cases.

Conscientious Objection:

Accommodating healthcare professionals who have conscientious objections to euthanasia or PAS is a challenge. Balancing the rights of patients with the rights of providers to abstain from participating in these procedures requires careful regulation.
Striking a balance between individual healthcare professionals’ beliefs and patients’ right to access euthanasia or PAS is a complex issue.

Public Education and Awareness:

Regulatory bodies must also consider the need for public education and awareness campaigns. The public, as well as healthcare providers, need to understand the legal and ethical implications of euthanasia or PAS.
Recent implementations have involved public engagement initiatives to inform and educate the community about the new regulations.

End-of-Life Care Alternatives:

Ensuring that euthanasia or PAS is not considered the only option for those with terminal illnesses is crucial. Regulatory frameworks should emphasize the availability of palliative care and other end-of-life alternatives.
Encouraging a holistic approach to end-of-life care while implementing euthanasia or PAS regulations is challenging.
In summary, implementing regulated systems of voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide in jurisdictions that do not currently have them requires addressing a complex array of regulatory challenges. Recent implementations in Australian states like Victoria and Western Australia have grappled with these challenges through the development of comprehensive legal frameworks, safeguards against abuse, training for healthcare professionals, ensuring equitable access, monitoring mechanisms, accommodation of conscientious objections, public education, and emphasis on end-of-life care alternatives. Each jurisdiction must carefully tailor its regulations to address the unique needs and values of its community while adhering to ethical principles and protecting vulnerable individuals.

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Argument in Favor of Legalizing Voluntary Assisted Dying (Utilitarianism)

Utilitarianism, a consequentialist ethical theory, argues that actions should be evaluated based on their overall utility or ability to maximize happiness and minimize suffering for the greatest number of individuals. Applying utilitarian principles to the issue of legalizing voluntary assisted dying in Australia provides a compelling argument in favour of its legalization.

  1. Reducing Suffering: Voluntary assisted dying offers a compassionate choice to individuals suffering from unbearable and incurable illnesses. Legalization would allow individuals to end their lives peacefully and on their terms, reducing their physical and emotional pain.
  2. Autonomy and Personal Choice: Utilitarianism strongly emphasises autonomy, and legalizing voluntary assisted dying respects individuals’ autonomy by allowing them to make deeply personal decisions about the timing and manner of their death. This aligns with the principle that individuals should be free to pursue their own happiness.
  3. Minimizing Harm: Keeping voluntary assisted dying illegal can lead to clandestine and unregulated practices, potentially causing more harm. Legalization allows for proper oversight, ensuring that the procedure is conducted safely and with appropriate safeguards in place.
  4. Empirical Evidence: In jurisdictions where voluntary assisted dying is legal, empirical evidence suggests that the safeguards put in place have been effective in protecting vulnerable individuals and preventing abuse of the system. This evidence supports the utilitarian argument that legalization can lead to a net increase in overall happiness.
  5. Alleviating the Burden on Families: Terminal illnesses can place immense emotional, financial, and practical burdens on families. Legalizing voluntary assisted dying can provide relief to both patients and their loved ones, minimizing the suffering experienced by the broader community.
  6. Efficient Resource Allocation: Utilitarianism also considers the efficient allocation of resources. Legalizing voluntary assisted dying can redirect medical resources towards patients who can benefit from life-extending treatments rather than futilely prolonging the suffering of terminally ill patients who have chosen a peaceful death.
  7. Mitigating Moral Distress: For healthcare professionals who often witness patients endure immense suffering, legalizing voluntary assisted dying can mitigate their moral distress. This, in turn, can contribute to the overall well-being of the healthcare workforce.

In conclusion, utilitarianism argues strongly in favor of legalizing voluntary assisted dying in Australia. By prioritizing the reduction of suffering, respecting autonomy, minimizing harm, and considering empirical evidence, this ethical theory supports the notion that legalization can lead to greater overall happiness and well-being for individuals facing the most challenging circumstances of terminal illness. It is essential to implement robust safeguards to ensure ethical practice and prevent misuse, but the principle of providing a choice for those suffering intolerably aligns with the utilitarian pursuit of maximizing overall utility.

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Ethical Considerations in Research During Public Health Emergencies: A Comparative Analysis of Ebola and COVID-19 Outbreaks

Public health emergencies, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (2014-2016) and the COVID-19 pandemic, present unique ethical challenges when conducting research. Balancing the urgency of obtaining critical data with the ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice is paramount. This essay will explore whether and how research should be undertaken in public health emergencies, drawing from ethical theories and comparing the responses to the Ebola and COVID-19 outbreaks.

I. Ethical Theories and Principles:

Utilitarianism: Utilitarianism, which seeks to maximize overall happiness, often supports conducting research in public health emergencies. Research can lead to the development of effective treatments, vaccines, and strategies to control the outbreak, ultimately benefiting the greatest number of people.

Deontology: Deontological ethics emphasizes the moral duty to act in certain ways regardless of outcomes. In public health emergencies, respecting the autonomy of research participants and ensuring informed consent is a fundamental deontological principle.

Principlism: Principlism incorporates key ethical principles, including autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. Balancing these principles is crucial during research in public health emergencies, as outlined below:

Autonomy: Informed consent should be sought whenever possible, respecting individuals’ right to make decisions about their participation in research.

Beneficence: Researchers should prioritize the well-being of participants and aim to produce socially valuable knowledge.

Non-Maleficence: Researchers must minimize harm to participants and the broader community. The potential risks of research should be carefully considered and mitigated.

Justice: Fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of research is essential. Vulnerable populations should not bear disproportionate risks.

II. Comparing Ebola and COVID-19 Outbreaks:

Ebola Outbreak (2014-2016):

During the Ebola outbreak, limited research was conducted on treatments and vaccines due to the high mortality rate and lack of established protocols. Ethical concerns centred on providing standard care, infection control, and respecting cultural norms and traditions.
While research was minimal, efforts were made to conduct clinical trials for experimental treatments with a focus on transparency and informed consent.

COVID-19 Pandemic:

The COVID-19 pandemic witnessed an unprecedented global research response. Numerous clinical trials, vaccine development, and epidemiological studies were initiated to understand the virus, develop treatments, and create vaccines.
Ethical concerns revolved around the rapid pace of research and ensuring that safety and efficacy standards were upheld. Additionally, equitable access to vaccines and treatments became a key ethical issue.

III. Whether and How Research Should Be Undertaken:

Informed Consent and Autonomy: Ethical research during public health emergencies should prioritize informed consent, respecting individuals’ autonomy. In both Ebola and COVID-19, informed consent procedures were vital, although challenges arose in the urgency of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Researchers should adopt strategies to ensure meaningful consent, such as simplified language, community engagement, and transparency.

Beneficence and Non-Maleficence: The ethical principle of beneficence requires that research produces benefits while minimizing harm. In the COVID-19 pandemic, the rapid development of vaccines and treatments demonstrated the potential benefits of research. However, the rush also raised concerns about safety. Researchers must maintain rigorous safety standards and consider potential harms, especially in novel therapies.

Justice: Justice requires equitable distribution of research benefits and burdens. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted disparities in access to vaccines and treatments, both within and between countries. Ethical frameworks, such as COVAX, were established to address these disparities. Research efforts should prioritize equitable access, especially for marginalized populations.

Transparency and Accountability: Ensuring transparency in research processes and results is essential for ethical research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the open sharing of data and collaboration among scientists and organizations played a critical role. Transparency fosters trust and allows for ethical oversight.

Community Engagement: Engaging with affected communities is crucial in public health emergencies. Researchers should involve communities in study design, implementation, and dissemination. Community engagement enhances the relevance of research and ensures that it aligns with cultural norms and values.

Flexibility and Adaptation: Public health emergencies often require rapid research responses. Ethical research should balance the need for speed with ethical considerations. Flexibility in research protocols and adaptation to changing circumstances are essential.

IV. Conclusion:

In conclusion, conducting research in public health emergencies is ethically justified when it adheres to key principles and frameworks. The comparative analysis of the Ebola and COVID-19 outbreaks demonstrates the evolving ethical landscape of research in such emergencies. Respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice should guide research efforts. Transparency, community engagement, and equity are paramount to ethical research during crises. Ultimately, the ethical conduct of research not only contributes to our understanding of the disease but also ensures that the benefits of research are distributed fairly and that the welfare of individuals and communities is safeguarded.

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Analyze the scenario of the surgeon being asked to amputate the lecturer’s healthy leg.

Analyze the scenario of the surgeon being asked to amputate the lecturer’s healthy leg from the perspective of various ethical frameworks:


Utilitarianism evaluates actions based on the principle of maximizing overall happiness or minimizing overall suffering.
In this scenario, the surgeon should consider whether amputating the lecturer’s leg would lead to greater overall happiness or well-being. This includes assessing the lecturer’s intense suffering due to his desire to be an amputee and the potential negative consequences of denying the surgery, such as suicide or self-harm.
If the surgeon believes that the surgery would significantly reduce the lecturer’s suffering and improve his overall quality of life, then a utilitarian perspective might support performing the amputation.


Deontological ethics focuses on the inherent rightness or wrongness of actions, regardless of their consequences.
From a deontological perspective, the surgeon should consider whether amputating a healthy leg is morally permissible based on universal principles or duties.
Some deontological principles, like the principle of not causing harm, might argue against the surgery, as it involves intentionally causing harm to a healthy person.
However, the lecturer’s autonomy and the fact that he is deemed competent to make the decision may lead to a deontological argument in favor of respecting his wishes.


This category encompasses various ethical principles such as autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.
Autonomy suggests that individuals have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives. In this case, the lecturer has expressed a strong desire for amputation.
Beneficence involves promoting the well-being of others. The surgeon may consider whether amputation would genuinely benefit the lecturer by alleviating his psychological suffering.
Non-maleficence obligates the surgeon not to cause harm. This principle may raise concerns about the potential harm caused by the surgery.
Justice considerations involve fairness and equal treatment. The surgeon may need to assess whether offering amputation to the lecturer would set a precedent for similar requests from others.

Virtue Ethics:

Virtue ethics emphasizes the character of the moral agent rather than specific rules or outcomes.
The surgeon should consider virtues like compassion, empathy, and integrity in their decision-making process.
Virtue ethics may support the surgeon’s choice to consider the lecturer’s well-being and autonomy while being cautious about causing harm.

Justice-Based Approaches:

Justice-based approaches, such as Rawlsian justice, focus on fairness in societal distributions.
The surgeon should assess whether amputating the lecturer’s leg would lead to a just or fair societal outcome.
It raises questions about the allocation of medical resources, potential discrimination, and the impact on the wider community.

Feminist Bioethics:

Feminist bioethics emphasizes empathy, care, and the recognition of diverse perspectives.
The surgeon should consider the lecturer’s emotional suffering and the impact on his life.
Feminist bioethics may support the surgeon’s exploration of alternative solutions, prioritising the lecturer’s well-being.


Casuistry involves making moral judgments based on analogies to similar cases.
The surgeon may compare this case to similar situations, considering factors such as the autonomy of the individual and the balance between harm and benefit.

Rights-Based Approaches:

Rights-based ethics emphasize the protection of individual rights.
The lecturer’s right to bodily autonomy and self-determination may be central in this context.
The surgeon should weigh these rights against potential harm.

Indigenous Ethics:

Indigenous ethics often centre on the interconnectedness of all beings and the importance of respecting nature.
The surgeon could consider whether the request aligns with indigenous ethical principles, considering the lecturer’s relationship with his own body and nature.
In summary, each ethical theory and framework presents a different perspective on whether the surgeon should or should not operate. The decision would depend on the weight given to various principles, values, and perspectives, as well as the specific circumstances and cultural context. Balancing the lecturer’s autonomy, well-being, potential harm, and societal implications would be crucial in making an ethically informed decision.

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Ethical Dilemma in Health Care: Balancing Patient Autonomy and Beneficence

Introduction: Ethical dilemmas are common in health care, where professionals often face complex situations that require balancing competing ethical principles. This paper addresses a specific ethical dilemma healthcare professionals face, focusing on the conflict between patient autonomy and beneficence. The issues surrounding this dilemma will be discussed, followed by a proposed solution utilizing ethical principles to guide decision-making.

Ethical Dilemma in Health Care

I. Background and Description of the Ethical Dilemma: Provide an overview of the ethical dilemma, including the specific context and stakeholders involved. Clearly outline the conflicting ethical principles of patient autonomy and beneficence.

II. Analysis of the Ethical Dilemma: a. Patient Autonomy: Discuss the principle of patient autonomy and its importance in health care ethics. Explain how it promotes individual rights, informed decision-making and respects patients’ values and preferences.

b. Beneficence: Explain the principle of beneficence and its significance in health care. Explore how healthcare professionals have a duty to act in the patient’s best interest, promoting their well-being and ensuring positive outcomes.

c. Conflict and Challenges: Examine the conflict between patient autonomy and beneficence in the specific ethical dilemma. Highlight the challenges faced by healthcare professionals in balancing these principles. Discuss how competing interests may arise due to cultural, religious, or personal beliefs and the complexities of medical decision-making.

III. Application of Ethical Principles: a. Principle-Based Approach: Utilize a principle-based ethical framework, such as the four principles approach (autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice), to analyze the ethical dilemma. Evaluate how each principle applies to the situation and discuss potential conflicts or overlaps.

b. Ethical Theories: Apply relevant ethical theories, such as utilitarianism or deontology, to further explore the ethical dilemma. Analyze how these theories provide guidance and potential resolutions to the conflict between patient autonomy and beneficence.

IV. Proposed Solution: Present a solution to the ethical dilemma that balances patient autonomy and beneficence. Discuss the rationale behind the proposed solution and its potential implications. Emphasize how the solution aligns with ethical principles and theories discussed earlier.

V. Implementation and Considerations: Outline the steps required to implement the proposed solution. Address any challenges or considerations that healthcare professionals may face during implementation. Highlight the importance of effective communication, collaboration, and ongoing ethical reflection.

VI. Conclusion: Summarize the ethical dilemma, the conflicts between patient autonomy and beneficence, and the proposed solution. Emphasize the significance of ethical decision-making in health care and the importance of considering multiple perspectives to reach a morally justifiable outcome.

Note: The structure and content of the paper may vary based on specific ethical dilemmas. It’s essential to conduct thorough research, consider relevant case studies or examples, and consult ethical guidelines or codes of conduct specific to the healthcare field.

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What are the ethical implications associated with each model?

For medical professionals and institutions, the importance of reimbursement in healthcare cannot be overstated: this is how they are paid, of course, and how they can continue providing services to consumers. But, as folks on both sides of the equation know, healthcare is far from simple, and neither medical decision-making nor healthcare reimbursement rates are simple—they are continually being reformed.

What are the ethical implications associated with each model?

Ideally, healthcare providers could make course-of-treatment decisions for their patients through patient symptoms, diagnosis, open discussions, and insight gleaned from their medical history. In other words, in an ideal world, consideration of how providers will be paid would not hinder physicians from making the soundest medical directives for the patient. However, we do not live in an ideal world, and complications in healthcare reimbursement often interfere with what may be the best course of treatment for particular patients. This is an important consideration for medical professionals, administrators, and lawmakers. However, a new trend is emerging: doctors who don’t take health insurance. These providers have opted to take cash payments, set up payment plans, or offer a monthly subscription. A growing number of doctors are not taking contracts with insurance companies, although the concentration varies by region and specialty. That leaves patients to pay the doctor’s market rate and then submit a receipt to get reimbursement for out-of-network coverage if they have it (1).

  • What are the ethical implications associated with each model? If you were the business office manager of a small practice, which payment model would you prefer and why?

Sources: No date. What Does a Medical Biller Do?Links to an external site. No date. What Does a Medical Coding Specialist Do?Links to an external site.

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Discussion: Messages, Strategies & Tactics

Now that you know how to resolve your problem and who to reach to accomplish that, you are ready to design and deliver the messages to motivate your key public to do what you want them to do.  

Discussion Post Assignment – TEAM ASSIGNMENT

  • Read Chapter 8 in its entirety before you start your discussion post assignment.
  • A strategy is an approach, not a list of tasks. Strategies are public-specific and identify a channel or group of related channels you will use to reach a target public to accomplish an objective by appealing to the public’s self-interests.
  • Based on the work you have completed thus far for your final project, you have a general idea of who your potential channels or groups are.
  • Using the formula on page 144, Figure 8.1write FOUR different strategy statements for THREE potential channels/groups that are applicable to your final project organization/company. 

Discussion Post Submission Format – Please follow! 

  1. This is a team assignment but each partner must submit the same identical assignment
  2. Include your name, your partner names, your final project company/organization name at the top of your discussion post.
  3. Use headers for each section. 
  4. No citations are required for this assignment.

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Does this audience have technical expertise? If so, what is their level of expertise?

In a business environment, there are many different internal audiences with whom you may communicate, including various departments, different levels of management, and groups with different levels of technical expertise. There are also external audiences, including customers and contractors. Within these audiences, you must also consider differences in group dynamics, such as culture.

Does this audience have technical expertise? If so, what is their level of expertise?

In your initial post, identify one audience you may communicate with for business purposes. Then discuss the following questions about this audience:

Part A:

  • Does this audience have technical expertise? If so, what is their level of expertise?
  • How diverse is this audience? Note at least one common difference in the dynamics of this group.
  • Are there any language considerations that need to be made when communicating with this audience?
  • What are the audience’s expectations?
  • Imagine that you are writing an email to a member of this audience. How would you go about crafting that communication? What would you include and exclude? What communications decisions would you make?

Part B: Offer additional analysis or insight into the expertise, diversity, language, and expectations of your peers’ audiences. Consider whether the considerations detailed would lead to an effective email communication with the noted audience.


Textbook: Technical Communication: Process and Product, Chapter 5
As you read, pay particular attention to the differences in audiences, and the key components of an audience to keep in mind when crafting communications to them.

Article: Purdue OWL: Rhetorical Awareness and User-Centered Design opens in new window
The Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) is an excellent source of information and guidelines concerning all forms of writing, including professional technical writing. In this article, pay particular attention to the concepts of user-centered design.

Reading: What Is Plain Language? opens in new window
The Plain Language Action and Information Network provides a description of plain language and explains why a communicator might consider using plain language in a communication.

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What symptoms should an auditor look for to determine if fraud is occurring within the retention department?

Case Study 3 ABC satellite, a satellite television company, sells satellite television service contracts to customers, usually for a 24-month period. ABC satellite is a fast-growing, high-paced company created by aggressive salesmen. The company’s success has made its owners very wealthy; many of them live a lavish lifestyle and drive luxury cars to work. The retention division of this company is responsible for contacting customers nearing the end of his/her contract and convincing them customer to renew his/her contract. Retention agents are paid a commission for each account that agrees to a new contract. Many employees consider the commission rate to be below the industry standard. Over the past year, the retention division has undergone significant supervisor and manager turnover. The current manager has insufficient time or understanding to implement controls properly.

What symptoms should an auditor look for to determine if fraud is occurring within the retention department?

Additionally, the new manager has been so busy playing catch-up that he has yet to hold a training or orientation meeting for his department. The current process for paying commissions to retention agents on renewed accounts is as follows: The phone system records the verbal contract extension commitment. The retention agent attaches the audio recording to the customer’s account in the ABC customer contract system (CCS); this acts a legal proof of contract. The retention agent then updates the customer contract date information in CCS. Each retention agent has a spreadsheet he or she uses to keep track of the account renewals for the month. The retention agent records the customer #, date of contract extension, and length of contract extension in his/her spreadsheet. At the end of each month the retention supervisor receives each agent’s spreadsheet and multiplies the total retention renewals submitted by the agent by his/her commission rate to calculate the total monthly commission. The supervisors do not maintain the spreadsheets. To get the payments processed quickly, the supervisors have less than 4 hours to receive all agents’ spreadsheets (usually each supervisor is responsible for 20+ agents) and submit the summary file to payroll. The supervisor records the total commission earned by each agent on a summarized spreadsheet, which is sent directly to payroll for payment.

Questions 1. Part of avoiding fraud is to create a positive work environment. Describe a few conditions mentioned within the case that could contribute to a poor work environment.

2. What symptoms should an auditor look for to determine if fraud is occurring within the retention department?

3. There are five primary control procedures or activities. List and explain which two procedures you feel would be most effective in improving the control system of the retention department. Include in your explanation specific examples of controls that should be implemented.

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Virtue Ethics, Casual Sex, and Objectification

Write a short, objective summary of 250-500 words that summarizes the author’s main ideas in this selection.


Virtue Ethics, Casual Sex, and Objectification

Little has been written philosophically about casual sex. In any case, casual sex is not usually considered morally good, even if there is agreement that its practitioners tend to find it pleasurable. I shall discuss the ethics of casual sex, arguing that from the point of view of virtue whether casual sex is immoral depends on the case, but that in general it is not morally wrong in itself. I also discuss objectification, a phenomenon that is thought to find a natural home in casual sex, concluding that it does not deserve a sweeping negative moral judgment; it, too, requires case-sensitive judgments.


It is difficult to define “casual sex” if we understand it to mean providing necessary and sufficient conditions (Halwani 2006).

Casual sex is sexual activity that occurs outside the context of a love relationship. Usually, but not invariably, the parties who engage in it do so solely intend to derive sexual pleasure from the act.

Typical examples include two people picking each other up in a bar for the purpose of sex, people meeting through the Internet for sex, and anonymous encounters in gay bath houses and straight swingers’ clubs (“Plato’s Retreat” in New York City). Note some departures.

First, the parties to a casual sexual encounter may not be motivated solely by sexual pleasure. Some do it for the money, as in sex between a prostitute and client and sex between pornography actors.

Second, people sometimes engage in casual sex without intending to do so. Two people might pick each other up in a bar, proceed to have sex, yet they intended (or hoped) that it would lead to a relationship As it happens, the sex does not lead to a relationship, so they end up having casual sex despite their intentions.

Note also that casual sex is not promiscuity.’ Promiscuity has a built-in temporal and quantitative requirement lacking in the former, namely, that a person engages in sex (which might not be casual in the usual sense) multiple times over a particular period of time. (Specifying the number and the duration of the period is difficult.) Casual sex is not like that; one can do it even only once in one’s life (or a lot). Second, some sexual practices fit the above characterization of casual sex, but calling them “casual’ seems bizarre: rape, bestiality, and necrophilia. If it is incorrect to label these “casual sex,” then more needs to be done to fix the definition. I leave these issues open, focusing on paradigmatic instances of casual sex.



Virtue ethics is often construed as a moral theory independent of, and perhaps rivaling, other theories, such as consequentialism and Kantian ethics. Most virtue ethicists mine the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle, to develop a plausible version.

Virtues and vices are character traits that dispose their possessor, the agent, to act according to their dictates (so to speak). On an Aristotelian view, the virtues are infused with wisdom, a form of practical intelligence that allows the agent to differentiate between what is right or proper to do, and what is wrong or improper to do.

The virtues incline their agents not only to behave rightly, thereby judging rightly how to proceed in a particular situation, but also to exhibit, when applicable, the proper emotions.

Consider courage. According to Aristotle, this virtue allows its agent to handle fear and dangerous situations properly.* He claims that the courageous agent feels the right amount of fear when in danger; otherwise he would be either rash or cowardly (NE 1115b17-

20). The goods for the sake of which the agent faces fear must be worthwhile (NE 1115a10-15). Overcoming one’s fear and stepping into the bathroom despite the presence of a cockroach does not count as being courageous the good at stake is trivial. By contrast, overcoming fear of retribution and reprisals and speaking up in a crowded and hostile room in defense of an innocent victim would count as being courageous. Aristotle also requires (NE 1105a30-1105b1) that the agent must act for the right reason or out of the right motive (Kant also requires this). To be virtuous, the agent must speak up because an innocent victim must be defended and an injustice stopped, hot because he is motivated by anticipated rewards for doing so.

Thus the virtuous agent is one who makes the right decision about what to do in a particular situation, makes this decision for the right reason, and feels the right kind and amount of any associated emotion. Not all virtuous actions require the display of emotion, however. Some virtues have no connection to emotions, such as magnanimity and magnificence (Hursthouse 1980-1981, 58). And some virtues deal with desires, rather than emotions, as is the case with temperance. (This does not mean that emotions are never experienced along with temperate action: realizing that my hunky neighbor lusts after me as I lust after him, I strip for the ensuing sexual activity, feeling both desire and joy and gratitude.)


A virtue ethics approach is neither inherently hostile to nor inherently in favor of sexual behavior. Aristotle’s views on sex are found mostly in his treatment of temperance–the virtue that best expresses the proper attitudes and actions towards bodily desires (Halwani 2003 [chap. 3], 2007a; Young 1988). Whether a sexual action or desire is permissible or worthwhile depends on the object of the action or desire, much like whether fear is appropriate depends on its object (NE 1118625). One question is: Are people’s desires for casual sex permissible or worthwhile? Is there anything wrong with desiring to have casual sex?

Further, assuming that desires for casual sex are morally permissible, ought they be acted on? The type of desire, say, a desire for heterosexual, Vanilla sex, might be morally impeccable, yet acting on it in a particular case (having sex with my best friend’s spouse) might not be. There might be types of casual sex such that desiring them is wrong and indicative of a lack of virtue. For example, rape is wrong; if it is casual sex, then it is wrong casual sex, and both desiring it and acting on the desire would be wrong. Similar reasoning applies to sex with children. Moreover, if sex with animals or with corpses is wrong, and it is casual sex, then it would be wrong casual sex, and so desiring it would be wrong. But these cases are not exhaustive. Indeed, they are not even the types of casual sex that first come to mind, which include one-night stands, anonymous sexual encounters, and swinger sex. What seems to be wrong about rape, pedophilia, and so forth, is something other than the fact that they are casual. They involve coercion, manipulation, deception, and harm, to name a few moral faults. In these cases, desire indicates a defective character. If we focus on the usual cases of casual sex, they seem not to include these faults. If two adults pick each other up in a bar with the intention and the knowledge that they are to have casual sex, what might be wrong? Setting objectification aside for a moment, and assuming-contra Kant”-that sexual desire is not inherently morally suspicious, it would seem that nothing is wrong with desiring casual sex or acting on the desire as long as, from a virtue-centered perspective, two conditions are satisfied (beyond that the type of casual sex desired must avoid the standard wrong-making features).

The first condition is one on which the advocates of virtue ethics must insist, given virtue theory’s inclusion of character and motives under the moral umbrella: the agent’s desire for casual sex should not consume his or her life. That is, desires should not be so strong or numerous that they overshadow other important aspects of life.

Further, there might be something especially pernicious about letting sexual desire take control of one’s life. The first condition is bound to be controversial. Why should no single activity take over one’s life, if that activity is worthwhile? And if there is nothing morally wrong or vicious in general with a worthwhile activity taking control of one’s life, why be suspicious of sex? Perhaps when it comes to casual sex the idea is that an agent’s life being consumed by it is hard to defend, because sex is not sufficiently worthwhile to justify sacrificing other things. But casual sex is not special here, for life-consuming sex between a loving couple would perhaps not redeem such lives.

There is a tradition in philosophy and theology, which includes Plato, Augustine, and even John Stuart Mill, that doesn’t view sexual pleasure as valuable. The pleasures and goods of sex, though intense, are brief and tend to vanish (as opposed to, say, the pleasures and goods of reading a book). One can fondly remember sexual encounters, and can even dwell on these memories, but this is not worthwhile, if the activities that one dwells on are not worthwhile to begin with. One can manifest excellence when it comes to sex, but this, too, amounts to little if the activity at which one excels is not worthwhile.

I think this view is largely correct. Although sex is pleasurable, it is not the sort of activity to which devoting one’s life would be good.

It is not an activity that ordinarily enriches the agent or leaves its mark on humanity. Here casual sex might be especially vulnerable, since one cannot redeem it even on the grounds that one meets interesting people and thereby enriches one’s life (as is often said about taxi drivers). The meetings tend to be fleeting; they involve superficial conversations (if any) between strangers; one’s partner (and oneself) may well be dull and shallow. Casual sex seems not to merit letting one’s life revolve around it, let alone letting it consume one’s life. However, the argument has limits: if casual sex and the desire for it are not all-consuming, they could satisfy the first condition.

The second condition is another one on which advocates of virtue ethics would insist: what motivates the parties is subject to moral assessment, and casual sex must be engaged in for the right reason. Sometimes those who are motivated by desire for sexual pleasure have other motives that actually account for their behavior.

(Similarly, one might desire casual sex yet for some virtuous reason not engage in it.) One’s motives or reasons must be morally permissible or commendable. Having casual sex with X in order to spite Y, to make Y jealous, or to exact revenge on Y are morally pernicious motives. Morally permissible motives might include making money, engaging in leisurely activity, and wanting sexual pleasure. Morally commendable motives go beyond what is expected of people, for example, having casual sex with X out of compassion for X, or having sex with X so that X knows what to do on X’s wedding night.

An Aristotelian virtue ethicist would also consider the role of casual sex in a flourishing-well-lived, eudaimon-life. The concept of a flourishing life is central to Aristotle’s ethics since it explains why people should be virtuous (NE 1097a15-1098a20). Casual sex might not consume one’s life, be done for the right reasons, and not involve the usual wrong-making features. Still, could it contribute to a flourishing life?

Sexual activity is often experienced as an urge that, if not satisfied, leaves the agent agitated; it is generally pleasurable; in this and other ways it is an important source of leisure; and it often functions as a release, whereby the agent is able, afterward, to attend more freely and less anxiously to other matters. Consider, in this light, an agent who has a healthy sexual drive but who either has no room for a romantic commitment in her life or who, for some good reason, does not desire such a commitment. She prefers to pursue activities and projects central to her life. She might then opt to conduct her sexual life by engaging in casual sex, meeting sexual partners in bars, online, or having one or two “fuck buddies.” Such a sex life helps the agent flourish in the ways described above, i.e., casual sex allows her to avoid the agitation of unsatisfied desire, it refreshes her for a return to her work, and so forth.

Now consider a couple, X and Y, who decide to jettison sexual fidelity. They might do so because their sex has become boring or because they desire sexual variety. Extramarital sexual behavior should be conducted cautiously, because it can lead to jealousy and insecurity that endangers the relationship X and Y desire to continue to have. Still, if conducted wisely, it might lead to enriching their sexual lives without detracting from their lives and pursuits. It might even strengthen their love, allowing them to see how valuable they are to each other and how much they want to be with each other.?

And their casual sex may make their lives more pleasant. If properly and wisely engaged in, casual sex can enrich an otherwise eudaimon life by making it more pleasant and allowing the agents to pursue their life-projects more comfortably.

Finally, consider people who are not especially virtuous, but are not vicious, either. Because the virtues are necessary for flourishing, according to Aristotle, these people are not living their lives well.

Furthermore, they might have very little going for them under a philosophical (perhaps elitist) notion of what it is to live a worthwhile life: they are not astronauts, Proust scholars, or Piet Mondrians. They might be slow-witted or otherwise have bland personalities. Yet if they are physically attractive, the availability of casual sex might be something that makes their lives better. Casual sex would help them lead enjoyable, even if not flourishing, lives.


To objectify a person is to treat him or her only as an object. For example, a person treats another as an object if the first uses the second as a chair while reading the paper. If objectification is always morally wrong and is an essential feature of casual sex, casual sex is always wrong. It would not avoid one of the standard wrong-making characteristics of acts. Further, it would be tainted to the extent that the desire for casual sex included the vicious motive of objectifying one’s partner. Objectification poses a problem for anyone who thinks that casual sex is morally permissible.

Why assume that objectification is always morally wrong? Its moral wrongness cannot simply be read off from the definition; it is not obvious why treating an entity that is not an object (in particular, a person) only as an object constitutes conclusive grounds for moral condemnation. Something else must be added, to the effect that the person does not merit object-like treatment in virtue of some characteristic he has that morally blocks object-like treatment. So, in treating the person only as an object, one is trespassing this moral boundary. For persons, it might be their rationality, sophisticated desires and mental structures, hopes, wishes, happiness, capacity for flourishing or eudaimonia, or their affinity to God that morally elevates them above objects. Note that any of these features-not only rationality -could be the basis on which persons can legitimately demand nonobjectifying treatment. Objectification, though it has its natural home and origin in Kantian ethics, is a concept that fits well with other moral frameworks, including virtue ethics. If the feature specified cannot morally elevate us above objects (or animals), those who think objectification is always morally wrong will have to find other arguments (Sole 2002, chap. 2). I shall not pursue this approach.

Why assume that objectification is an essential feature of casual sex? In typical cases of casual sex, two people engage in sex only for sexual pleasure. In doing so, we might argue, they use each other-treating each other as objects, as sophisticated dildos or plastic vaginas–for the purpose of pleasure. Even when one party has other reasons or motives (money), there is still objectification, for X uses Y to fulfill that purpose. This argument need not rely on the implausible assumption that in typical cases of casual sex the parties intend to objectify each other. Even if X does not intend to objectify

X still does so in and by using Y for sexual pleasure.

The defender of casual sex can adopt two strategies. First, it can be argued that although objectification is an essential feature of casual sex, objectification is not always wrong. Second, it can be argued that objectification is not an essential feature of casual sex, and that whether casual sex objectifies depends on the particular case. I adopt the second strategy.

How can a particular casual sex act not be objectifying? If objectification is to treat someone who is not an object merely as an object, attending to the phenomenology involved in casual sex helps us see how. I Casual sex partners do not usually consider each other mere objects. A woman who picks up a man in a bar does so precisely because she thinks him a man, not a cleverly constructed robot or a penis with some body attached. A gay man who sucks another’s penis through a glory hole does so precisely because he thinks the penis is attached to a man, a man whom he likely saw earlier and was attracted to. Thus, the parties to casual sex usually desire interaction with other persons, not objects. On its own, this fact means little, for even as we know that our casual sexual partner is a person, we can nonetheless proceed to objectify him or her. But the fact is still important in reminding us that casual sexual interaction is close to many other types of human interaction, sexual and nonsexual. In casual sex, as elsewhere, we are aware of the humanity of others, and we usually attempt to respect their wishes, desires, and wants. Paying the grocer for the chewing gum, in a civil fashion, is a form of respect: I respect his wishes to be treated as a seller and kindly, not merely someone to be abused and robbed. This is no less true in casual sex; in typical cases, the partners attend to each other’s sexual needs, desires, and wishes. Indeed, even when X complies with Y’s demand, “Yes! Use me like a lemon sucked dry,” X would not be objectifying Y, for in treating Y as nothing but a body part, X is doing Y’s bidding. The operative phrase is “doing Y’s bidding,” and it is hard to see how abiding by Y’s wishes and desires one is objectifying Y, that is, treating Y merely as an object.

Note that this argument does not deny that objectification occurs in some cases of casual sex, in which, say, one partner treats the other as a piece of meat. Such cases are unlikely to be frequent, since the used person, realizing that he or she is being used in selfish ways, opts out of the activity (unless he or she is unable or afraid to), and since such behavior is largely confined to deranged individuals. Note also that this argument does not deny that in casual sex the focus is on sex itself and the body of one’s partner, rather than on some purportedly more substantial feature. Indeed, few things can disrupt the mood of casual sex act as well as intellectual conversation. But it does not follow that objectification is occurring, unless it also follows (which I cannot see that it does) from my focusing on a dancer’s body that I am objectifying her, or focusing on a chefs hands as he swiftly dices an onion is objectification. If so, objectification is not an essential feature of casual sex, and casual sex cannot be sweepingly faulted on this score.

Perhaps the defense of casual sex has gone through so easily because we have been employing a superficial definition of objectification. As Martha Nussbaum (1995) argued, objectification may be more complex, and treating someone as an obiect can take many forms and have different meanings. If so, a defense of casual sex should consider this complexity. Of the seven senses of “objectification” Nussbaum lists, however, only two pose difficulties; the other five-denial of autonomy, inertness, violability, ownership, and denial of subjectivity- do not. On the contrary, what typically occurs during casual sex is the opposite. In taking into account my partner’s sexual desires, I consider him to have autonomy, self-determination, and agency. Furthermore, I do not consider him to be violable, for I attribute to him boundaries and integrity in two ways: first, by not treating him contrary to his desires and, second, precisely by treating him in accordance with his desires. I also, for the same reasons, do not treat him as an owned object. Finally, in taking his sexual desires into account, I certainly do not treat him “as something whose experience and feelings… need not be taken into account” (257).

This leaves us with two objectifications, instrumentality and fungibility. Instrumentality is a problem only if the person is treated merely as a tool (which Nussbaum acknowledges, 265). But people frequently use each other as tools (students use teachers for educational purposes; teachers use students for career purposes). In interactions with each other, if we use each other as tools but also, in doing so, act in accordance with each other’s wishes and desires, it seems that objectification disappears. Since in casual sex the partners typically do this, instrumentalization, understood as the mere use of another as a tool, is not a problem.

Fungibility-the treatment of something or someone “as interchangeable (a) with other objects of the same type, and/or (b) with objects of other types” (Nussbaum 1995, 257)-is an interesting type of objectification. When we objectify someone, he would make perfect sense were he to say, “I demand that I not be treated this way,” given that we ought not to objectify people. However, fungibility does not license such reactions. Suppose I enter a coffee shop, do not like the selection, and go somewhere else. In doing so, I treat the store owner as fungible with other coffee shop owners. Yet for him to protest that I have wronged him in this treatment would be silly. Similarly, if I go to a bar in search of casual sex, no one can demand that I pick him or her up. In considering people as “interchangeable with other objects of the same type” I do nothing wrong. When objectification is wrong, others can demand of objectifiers that they, the objectified, not be objectified. This seems out of place regarding fungibility. Unless I have preexisting obligations, no one can demand that I purchase coffee from his shop rather than another or that I have sex with him instead of someone else.

Does this argument show that fungibility is morally innocuous objectification, or that fungibility is not objectification, period? As I have presumed, if objectification is always morally wrong, then fungibility cannot be objectification, because not all cases of treating people as fungible are morally wrong. We can add that in permissible fungibility-buying and selling merchandise, selecting hotels for vacationing, picking up people in bars, hiring people for jobs-those making the choices treat others in a fungible way, but they do not treat them as objects, because both the selected and rejected people have made the choice to compete with others for special attention, whether this attention be economic, sexual, academic, etc. The respectful treatment of others that occurs here nullifies objectification.

Fungibility seems wrong because it is like treating people like pens or paper cups, discarding one and using another for our own purposes. But this indicates that fungibility is wrong when it occurs with otherwise wrong actions, in which case fungibility itself is not the problem, or when it occurs in special relationships. For example, were I to own five slaves whom I treated like pens, consigning each to the trash bin when they ceased to be useful, I would be treating them fungibly. The wrongness here, however, stems from my treating them as objects to begin with, not the resulting fungibility. If I kidnap my neighbor’s child and bring them a child from the local shelter, declaring “Have this one. He’ll do,” the wrongness is fungibility, but only because I acted, wrongly, as if no special relationship had existed between parent and child, that is, as if any child of a certain age would for them be an adequate substitute. Now, if I were in a bar cruising for a one-night stand, eyeing potential sexual partners, I would be treating them as fungible; I view them, individually, as interchangeable with other men in general or with other men of a particular sort, say, thirty-something Indian or Pakistani men (“of the same type”). But since none of them can rightly demand of me that I sleep with him, and since I cannot sexually impose myself on any one of them or demand of any one of them that he sleep with me, in treating them as fungible I not only do not do them wrong, I do not objectify them.

So fungibility, when it comes to casual sex, should be stricken from the list of possible ways to objectify others.

I have argued that virtue ethics morally permits casual sex in some cases but not in others. Virtue ethics also allows an otherwise flourishing life to be enriched by casual sex. Moreover, objectification in casual sex is much less frequent than thought; it requires morally nasty behavior in which casual sexual partners do not usually engage.

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