Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Can minors ethically participate in consensual sex?

Posted by Michael Dickens on February 6, 2010

The question proposed herein is, Can adults ethically have consensual sex with minors, or is it always wrong? I will be analyzing this position from a rational perspective.

First, when is sex immoral? It is immoral when one party is being unwillingly harmed, as in the case of rape. This can also apply in cases in which one party does not understand the possible risks or outcomes. And this is the exact reason why most people are opposed to adults having sex with minors. However, the age at which people become rational enough to understand the consequences of their decisions is lower than most people think. Some middle schoolers are much more rational than adults. It is clear enough that there is no legitimate reason why these people can’t participate in consensual sex with adults. Wait, what’s that you say? It’s illegal? Well, what kind of argument is that?!

I am certainly opposed to adult humans having sex with irrational beings. This includes babies, sheep, etc. as such beings cannot make the decision to participate. The same applies to relatively young children, who do not really understand what’s going on. But once you are old enough to understand what you’re doing and the consequences of your actions, you’re fair game. For some this happens at 13, for some it happens at 16, for others it happens at 20. But for most people this point is before 18, so it is irrational to completely ban sex with minors.

In fact, while we’re at it, we should lower the voting age to 16. I generally agree that the age at which you become a legal adult should be 18; I know a good deal of 17- and 18-year olds, and they seem just about ready to tackle adulthood. 16 year olds, though, are smart enough to be able to vote rationally. I personally probably could have started voting at around age 14, in the second half of 8th grade. I don’t know so much about other people; I could go on about why the voting age should be this or that, but that’s not really the point right now. Since I seem to have run out of things to say, I’m just going to wrap up.

In conclusion, the exact age of 18 is not a real barrier. Instead, the barrier is an understand of the consequences of one’s own actions, which people each get at different times — and frequently before the age of 18.


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