Sexual Promiscuity: An Immoral Act

It is frequently argued that what is moral in one culture is not necessarily moral in another culture.  Morality, it would appear is dependent on the beliefs and preferences of various people all over the world, with little hope for consistency.  If morality were completely dependent on religion or other cultural mores, that might be true.  However, true morality has universality; it is not dependent of those kinds of belief.  One example of this kind of universality is the proscription against incest.  Many cultures worldwide forbid incest on moral grounds, even when those moral grounds differ.

According to Ruggerio, respect for persons is a critical part of moral behavior (78-79).  This respect for persons, according to Ruggerio, is “an important value in most ethical systems” (79) all over the world, giving this stance a large degree of universality.  When a person takes part in indiscriminate sexual practices, however, that individual’s partners are not chosen based on respect.  Rather, that partner is chosen based on sexual capabilities, if the partner is chosen at all.  This aspect of promiscuity reduces human beings to the level of things to be exploited.  By its very nature, exploitation is not a moral ideal.  If loving kindness, compassion, and gratitude are all accepted as moral ideals (Ruggerio 80-81), then it is easy to see how promiscuity works against this principle.  Promiscuity is generally based on selfish desire for personal gain and a lack of consideration for the emotions and desires of others.

The question of whether an ideal is an ethical obligation has no clear answer.  The paradox of the relationship between the two does not really seem to be at issue in this situation, given that promiscuous behavior is considered antisocial as well.  This perspective on promiscuous behavior may well be due to the consequences that it creates.  These consequences are almost inevitably negative.  The consequences for promiscuity can include lack of self-esteem for both partners, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancy.  If either participant in a sexually promiscuous act has a committed partner, that partner may behave in a jealous fashion, perhaps responding with sadness, anger, or even rage.  In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, sexual promiscuity brings a potentially unwanted child into the world.  This child may or may not be treated with respect, which again is contrary to the fundamental good.  Ruggerio states that in general, “a moral action is one that demonstrates respect for persons by honoring the relevant obligations and ideals and by producing favorable consequences” (81).  Because sexual promiscuity does none of those things, it is safe to conclude that it is an immoral act.

Work Cited

Ruggiero, Vincent Ryan.  Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues (6th ed.).  City: Publisher, year.