NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ865641
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0305-7240
Towards a Sexual Ethics for Adolescence
Steutel, Jan
Journal of Moral Education, v38 n2 p185-198 Jun 2009
Which moral principles should guide us in evaluating sexual contacts of adolescents? This paper tries to answer this question by taking two steps. First, the implications of a liberal sexual ethics for adolescence are spelled out, assessed and refuted. The core principle of the liberal ethical view, the principle of valid consent, takes competence as a necessary condition of morally permissable sex. Because adolescents are not yet sufficiently capable of judging and acting prudently in the sexual sphere of life, their consent to sexual relations cannot meet the criterion of competence. Hence, if judged from the principle of valid consent, sexual contacts in which adolescents are involved are morally impermissible. This rather illiberal implication of a liberal sexual ethics is rejected for several reasons. Second, an alternative moral principle for evaluating sexual contacts of adolescents is proposed, explained and defended. Precisely because they are not yet sufficiently capable of looking after their own interests, adolescents are still placed under parental authority. With reference to that, it is argued that their free and informed consent to sexual contacts is not enough for making these contacts morally permissible. What is also required is the considerate consent of their parents. Finally, three guidelines for parental interaction with adolescents are recommended. If parents take these guidelines seriously, exercising their authority will be at the same time an important way of promoting the growth of adolescents into competent actors in the field of sexual relations. (Contains 13 notes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A