On Wednesday last week, Professor Janet Radcliffe Richards gave the last of her three Uehiro lectures on ‘Sex in a Shifting Landscape’. (Here you can find recordings of all three lectures: 1st audio, 1st video, 2nd audio, 2nd video, 3rd audio, 3rd video.)
She emphasised the goal she pursued with these lectures, namely, to demonstrate methods of philosophical reasoning in practice and to show how they can help in coming to useful conclusions. Recapitulating aspects of her first and second lecture, Radcliffe Richards illustrated the methodological approach John Steward Mill used in the dispute about women’s rights in the 19th century to show the weakness of his opponents’ arguments by proving their incoherence.
In the last two centuries, there has been a massive shift in the legal, social and institutional norms surrounding sex – both in terms of women’s rights and regulation of sexual activity. And, undoubtedly, there will be more such shifts in the future – the sexual norms that emerge in the future may well make even the most strident liberals of today blush. What to make of this complex and sometimes confusing landscape? This is the subject of the 2012 Annual Uehiro Lecture Series, entitled ‘Sex in a Shifting Landscape’ and delivered over the next three weeks by Professor Janet Radcliffe Richards. The first lecture occurred on November 14 (you can listen to the podcast here and here), with two more to follow on November 21 and 28. Continue reading