In the philosophy department the other day we were discussing race-based sexual preferences. As well as considering the cases in which this is ethically problematic, we were trying to determine cases in which it might be okay.

A colleague suggested that a preference with the following history would not be problematic. There is a culture with which he feels a strong affiliation, having spent time living in this culture and having a keen interest in various aspects of that culture, such as its food. As a result, he is more likely, on average, to find himself sexually attracted to someone from that culture—he shares something with them. And since almost all members of that culture are of a particular racial group, that means he is more likely to find himself sexually attracted to someone of that race than to other races, ceteris paribis.

The cultural affiliation is something good. The sexual preference is then an ethically neutral side effect of that affiliation. My colleague suggested a name for the process which is responsible for the preference: he has subjectified his relationship with the culture. Instead of objectifying members of that group, as happens with problematic race-based sexual preferences, he has done something which counts as the opposite.

I am interested in thinking more about the idea of subjectification.

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