Excerpts from reviews of Ethical Sex: Sexual Choices and Their Nature and Meaning ($25 + S&H) by Anthony McCarthy.
"Why is sex so special? Because, says the author, human beings are made for love and commitment. ... The author notes that the Catholic Church holds that marriage as an arrangement of nature is of Divine origin. The essential properties of sacramental marriage are unity, monogamy and indissolubility. ... The author's fine critique of the new natural law theory fits in well with the rest of the book because the new natural law theory repudiates the view that there is such a thing as human nature and that from human nature one can argue philosophically for a system of ethics. The metaphysics of human nature is cast aside and the metaphysics of human nature in relation to sexual activity is what I think this book is all about. ... In the light of the recent Synod on the Family and all its surrounding confusions, I cannot praise this book too highly." Dr. Pravin Thevathasan, Catholic Medical Quarterly.
"McCarthy's book on sex and marriage is full of fascinating, creative and powerful arguments. It interacts with a broad base of philosophical, literary and theological reflection, from Aquinas and Shakespeare to a rich and diverse set of contemporary philosophers. All who want to have an informed view on traditional sexual ethics need to look at this work." Professor Alexander Pruss, Baylor University, author of One Body: An Essay in Christian Sexual Ethics.
"... brings philosophical rigour to a controversial subject. Discussing themes such as contraception, natural law, sexual desire and the true meaning of love, Dr McCarthy shows why human sexual behaviour has unique ethical significance. We are moral creatures and therefore sexual relationships 'cannot but have a moral meaning'. Lay people who are concerned to oppose the liberal assumptions of the age should read it in order to bring reason to support their intuitive understanding of human dignity and self-respect." Catholic Herald (UK).
"Anthony McCarthy’s erudite exploration of human sexuality and its significance provides a worthy contribution to an academic field dominated by secular thinking. ... it is always tempting to shy away from debates about sexuality per se, but this book provides a chastening reminder of the impossibility of avoiding the root cause of the sexual revolution’s terrible anti-life legacy. ... certainly not for the fainthearted or for the casual skim-reader; this is a fiercely intellectual treatment of the moral complexities of human sexual interaction ... What makes Ethical Sex so significant is that it explores not only the morality of human sexuality (there are plenty of books that do that), but precisely the reasons why sexual behaviour is important in the first place. ... The book is a must-read for teachers, academics, doctors, clergy and campaigners but it should be read by anyone in search of intellectual clarity in an age of confusion and uncertainty." Fiorella Nash, Catholic World Report.
"This splendidly and engagingly written book deserves wide attention and careful reading. It defends in an intelligent way - brilliantly debating views opposite to the author's own - a number of important and, I believe, very true theses about human sexuality and sexual ethics." Professor Josef Seifert, International Academy of Philosophy - Institute of Philosophy Edith Stein, author of True Love.
"McCarthy engages robustly and at times provocatively with well-known moral philosophers, moral theories, and with themes such as virtue, pleasure, desire, intention and liberty. This engagement alone would be reason to pay careful attention to the book." New Blackfriars
"McCarthy’s book is about ideas. ... the author understands that to see reality properly has profound implications for how we act. And so, he has done impressive and important work to bring the philosophical discussion on marriage back to its foundation, that is, its basis in the morality of human action." Rev. Jeffrey Langan, Culture Wars.
"The author has teased out the fine strands of this complex subject, and it is reassuring to know that in a sea of ethical relativism the most intelligent human beings are clinging to the rock of eternal truth." Ann Farmer, author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign.
"The ... structure and content of McCarthy's book shows forth what is valuable in his work, which is his appreciation of the notions of embodiment and teleology in formulating an adequate sexual ethics. Many creative arguments are marshalled ... In elaborating these arguments, the author, as already intimated, engages an impressive range of figures from the domains of philosophy, theology and literature." Nova et Vetera
"A rich and very interesting exploration of a complex subject matter....You will find in this book an account of the biological, and of the psychological and of the social/political, which I don't think prioritises one greatly over the rest, but sees the social and political recognition of human sexuality as importantly tied to the biological in particular, because he sees this social recognition as importantly natural...He is contributing to what is a very deep problem in philosophy - where do we draw the boundaries between the natural and the artificial. He is also contributing to a debate on New Natural Law Theory...and rightly raises some very severe problems for this approach to the morality of sexual theory as for any kind of theory that tries to incorporate human sexual life within a general model." Professor Thomas Pink, King's College London, author of The Ethics of Action.
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