The Intercourse Theory of Conception

Don’t these people know about the intercourse theory of conception? That’s what I cynically ask myself when I read novels in which the author sends his characters merrily off, for all sorts of reasons, to start baby-making.

That sexual intercourse between a man and woman is the cause of conception is one of our best established theories. Coupled with awareness of this theory comes those positive and negative thoughts and feelings about sexuality. We realize its importance for human survival, pleasures and love. Yet we dread its disruptive power.

The intercourse theory of conception, and accompanying thoughts and feelings are common sense. Suddenly, it struck me that the way to make my defense of traditional sexual morality clearer is to stay with common sense. I am not saying that acceptance of traditional sexual morality is part of common sense. However, the beliefs and concepts used in a strong case for traditional sexual morality are expressible in the every day language with which we talk about sex. The argument does not need some special philosophical vocabulary and system. The ideas we use to talk about relationships, to give advice, to teach children about sex, to gossip, etc., are sufficient to follow, accept or reject the argument. The importance of emphasizing that the argument goes on at the common sense level is that it has to be given serious attention. It cannot be ignored as coming from some special religion or philosophy. It is not necessary to develop a special philosophical vocabulary and then show that use of this conceptual scheme is the correct way to represent reality as it is.

In my book, I tended to develop too much special vocabulary and explicitly draw upon the philosopher Kant. I am not changing the basic themes of the book. But I am setting aside ways of speaking, issues and scholarship which would be of interest to academic philosophers, reference to other philosophers and intriguing philosophical puzzles. I will write for the intelligent lay person using terms of everyday life. Of course, this does not eliminate the critical thinking need for making distinctions and defining how some crucial terms will be used in discussion. But critical thinking is common sense.

There are other common sense concepts whose use we need not justify. The language of morality: right, wrong, good, evil etc. does not need defense. We do not need to show that we have a right to talk about right and wrong. We do make the distinction between the results of natural processes we can alter and the results of natural processes, such as the getting of agreements by promises, which it is wrong to frustrate by lying. We do not need to justify using the notions of good character, a way a person ought to be, and a meaning for life. If we try to show that we are entitle to talk at the common sense level, we start an endless regress of justifying our ways of thinking. This undercuts giving an effective argument.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. I have not changing the basic line of argument in my book. But in these blog posts I am developing better ways of expressing my argument by staying with the language of common sense and removing topics and language which could at best be of interest to professional academic philosophers. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.

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Charles F. Kielkopf
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