Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sexual Repertoire, Duration of Partnered Sex, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: A US Nationally Representative Survey of Adults show that while women and men reported a similar actual duration of sex, men wished it to last longer

Sexual Repertoire, Duration of Partnered Sex, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Findings from a US Nationally Representative Survey of Adults. Debby Herbenick, Tsung-chieh Fu & Callie Patterson. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Sep 23 2022.

Abstract: In a confidential U.S. nationally representative survey of 2,525 adults (1300 women, 1225 men), we examined participants’ event-level sexual behaviors, predictors of pleasure and orgasm, and perceived actual and ideal duration of sex, by gender and age. Event-level kissing, cuddling, vaginal intercourse, and oral sex were prevalent. Sexual choking was more prevalent among adults under 40. While women and men reported a similar actual duration of sex, men reported a longer ideal duration. Participants with same-sex partners reported a longer ideal duration than those with other-sex partners. Finally, findings show that gendered sexual inequities related to pleasure and orgasm persist.

Credence to assign to philosophical claims that were formed without any knowledge of the current philosophical debate & little or no knowledge of the relevant empirical or scientific data

The end of history. Hanno Sauer. Inquiry, Sep 19 2022.

Abstract: What credence should we assign to philosophical claims that were formed without any knowledge of the current state of the art of the philosophical debate and little or no knowledge of the relevant empirical or scientific data? Very little or none. Yet when we engage with the history of philosophy, this is often exactly what we do [sic, it means, to give credence]. In this paper, I argue that studying the history of philosophy is philosophically unhelpful. The epistemic aims of philosophy, if there are any, are frustrated by engaging with the history of philosophy, because we have little reason to think that the claims made by history’s great philosophers would survive closer scrutiny today. First, I review the case for philosophical historiography and show how it falls short. I then present several arguments for skepticism about the philosophical value of engaging with the history of philosophy and offer an explanation for why philosophical historiography would seem to make sense even if it didn’t.

Keywords: History of philosophymetaphilosophyphilosophical methodologysocial epistemologyepistemic peerhood

Consider Plato’s or Rousseau’s evaluation of the virtues and vices of democracy. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of evidence and theories that were unavailable to them at the time:

  • Historical experiences with developed democracies

  • Empirical evidence regarding democratic movements in developing countries

  • Various formal theorems regarding collective decision making and preference aggregation, such as the Condorcet Jury-Theorem, Arrow’s Impossibility-Results, the Hong-Page-Theorem, the median voter theorem, the miracle of aggregation, etc.

  • Existing studies on voter behavior, polarization, deliberation, information

  • Public choice economics, incl. rational irrationality, democratic realism

  • The whole subsequent debate on their own arguments

  • […]

When it comes to people currently alive, we would steeply discount the merits of the contribution of any philosopher whose work were utterly uninformed by the concepts, theories and evidence just mentioned (and whatever other items belong on this list). It is not clear why the great philosophers of the past should not be subjected to the same standard. (Bear in mind that time and attention are severely limited resources. Therefore, every decision we make about whose work to dedicate our time and attention to faces important trade-offs.)

The nature/nurture debate in moral psychology illustrates the same point. Philosophers have long discussed whether there is an innate moral faculty, and what its content may consist in. Now consider which theories and evidence were unavailable to historical authors such as Hume or Kant when they developed their views on the topic, and compare this to a recent contribution to the debate (Nichols et al. 2016):

  • Linguistic corpus data

  • Evolutionary psychology

  • Universal moral grammar theory

  • Sophisticated statistical methods

  • Bayesian formal modeling

  • 250 years of the nature/nurture debate

  • 250 years of subsequent debates on Hume or Kant

  • […]

Finally, consider Hobbes’ justification of political authority in terms of how it allows us to avoid the unpleasantness of the state of nature. Here are some concepts and theories that were not available to him when he devised his arguments:

  • Utility functions

  • Nash equilibria

  • Dominant strategy

  • Backward induction

  • Behavioral economics

  • Experimental game theory

  • Biological evidence on the adaptivity of cooperation

  • Empirical evidence regarding life in hunter/gatherer societies

  • Cross-cultural data regarding life in contemporary tribal societies

  • […]

Again, when it comes to deciding whose philosophical work to devote our time and attention to, any person that didn’t have any knowledge whatsoever of the above items would be a dubious choice.

A version of this problem that is somewhat more specific to moral philosophy is that in ethics, it is often important not to assign disproportionate testimonial weight to people of which we have good reasons to suspect that they harbored deeply objectionable attitudes or publicly expressed moral beliefs we have reason to deem unjustified and/or morally odious. Personally, I have made a habit of not heeding the ethical advice of Adolf Eichmann, Ted Bundy, and various of my family members. But upon looking at the moral views held by many of the most prominent authors in the history of philosophy, one often cannot help but shudder: Plato advocated abolishing the family, violently if need be; Aristotle defended (a version of) slavery as natural; Locke advocated religious toleration, only to exclude atheists from the social contract; Kant argued that masturbation is one of the gravest moral transgressions there is; Hegel claimed that it is an a priori truth that the death penalty is morally obligatory, and indeed a form of respect towards the executed; the list of historical philosophers who held sexist, racist and other discriminatory views would be too long to recount here.