Summer 2024 - PHIL 321 D100

Topics in Moral Philosophy (3)

Philosophy of Love, Sex and Marriage

Class Number: 3582

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2024: Wed, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 120, 120W, 121, 220, 221, 270, SDA 270, ENV 320W, or REM 320W.



An advanced investigation of central issues and theories in moral philosophy. In any given term, the course may focus on a general theory or concept or concern, for example meta-ethics, utilitarianism, or theories of rights. Sometimes it will focus on a particular problem or problems, such as medical ethics, moral personhood, or free will and moral responsibility. May be repeated for credit.


Selected Topics: Philosophy of Love, Sex and Marriage

In this course, we will explore the nature, uses, and ethics of romantic love, sexuality, and marriage. We will critically examine moral issues such as: What is romantic love, and how is it distinguished from other types of love such as friendship and parental love? Is romantic love different from lust or infatuation? What is the connection between romantic love and sex? How are sex and the sexual best defined? What is the difference between good and bad sex, and what are the roles of pleasure, “naturalness” and moral permissibility? What is the nature of sexual objectification, and can sexual objectification be connected to virtue? What are the moral statuses of pornography, BDSM and race based sexual desire? What is the connection between love and marriage? Is sex important to marriage? Is marriage necessary? In what ways does the institution of marriage need reform? How important are love, sex, and marriage to a well-lived life?


PHIL 321 is one of the electives for the Philosophy Major or Minor with a Concentration in Law and Philosophy. It may also be applied towards the Certificate in Ethics: Theory and Application.   This course may be repeated for credit if the topic is different, but not in the same term. 

Students that took this same course offering in Summer 2023 can not take it for further credit. 


  • Response papers: You are required to submit five one page response papers over the course of the term. You should outline key points in our readings for a given week and provide a brief point of criticism or reflection upon some claim or argument presented in the readings. This assignment is designed to serve as the starting point for our discussions each week. Response papers also provide a potential starting point for paper topic proposals. Papers will be collected at the end of each class, and will only be accepted if submitted in person at the end of class. Students who are absent or miss more than 20 min of class time will not be permitted to submit a response paper for a given week. Emailed submissions will not be accepted. Response papers will be marked on a credit, partial credit and no credit basis. Submissions must be double spaced and include MLA citations and a works cited list. 15%
  • Discussion Leading: Over the course of the term, you are expected to sign up to lead discussion on one of the assigned readings or chapters. You will introduce the article or chapter, including key points, and propose questions, points of reflection or criticisms of the reading. You can use your weekly response paper as a starting point for leading the discussion. 10%
  • Participation: Participation will require active engagement in seminar discussions. Students can ask questions or add their discussion thoughts verbally while class is in session. Students will submit a written participation self-assessment at the end of term. In order to receive full marks, students must have added to class discussions at least 5 times. Students can earn 1 participation point per weekly class. 5%
  • Paper topic proposals (2): A minimum of two weeks before papers are due, you are required to submit a paper topic proposal. Your proposal must be centred on our course readings. You will outline your thesis, and explain how you intend to argue for it. Your first proposal will focus on one or more course readings from the first half of the term. Your second proposal will focus on one or more course readings from the second half of the term. You will receive feedback on your proposal to help you write a focused paper on a topic that interests you. Paper topic proposals are usually around two pages in length (double spaced), not including your MLA citations and works cited listing. 10%
  • Papers: You are required to submit a minimum of 15 pages total (double spaced, 12 point times new roman font, with standard margins) to satisfy the essay component of this course. MLA style citations and a works cited list are required. You will distribute this requirement into 2 papers of variable length. Students who are less experienced in philosophy in general, or ethics in particular, may want to submit a shorter first paper and a longer second paper. 60%


Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.



Raja Halwani Philosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An Introduction (2nd Edition) Routledge 978-1138280205

Additional weekly course readings will be available on Canvas


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.