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Sex and Reason Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0674802803 ISBN-10: 0674802802 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st edition (January 31, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674802802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674802803
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,036,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

[Posner] is one of the most distinguished and prolific legal thinkers of his generation [and this is an] extraordinary book...Like [George Bernard] Shaw, he combines a passion for exposing humbug and pseudo-profundity with an odd but genuine sort of social compassion, a delight in shocking the self-righteous with a love of human diversity and freedom...We will remember, and profit by, the wit and the courage of his attacks on bigotry, folly, and cruelty. (Martha C. Nussbaum New Republic)

An incisive tour through theories of sexuality and legal regulation of such matters as marriage, pregnancy, homosexuality, sexual revolution in the courts, erotic art, pornography and nudity, sexual abuse, and the separation of reproduction from sex...At a time when intellectual shoddiness permeates our highest court, [Posner] is a true philosopher of law. (Carlin Romano Washington Post Book World)

About the Author

Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

More About the Author

Richard A. Posner is a judge of the U.S. Court Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books, including Overcoming Law, a New York Times Book Review editors' choices for best book of 1995 and An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton, one of Times' choices for Best Book of the Year in 1999 and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, 2000.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Redmund K. Sum on March 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Reading Judge Posner's book is a humbling experience. Much of what I thought I knew about sex is a tiny fraction of what this book has documented, analyzed and argued.
I have known that many early Greek luminaries, such as Plato, Socrates and Sophocles were homosexual. This book puts these mere points of interest in a wholly different light by exploring the social settings of the early Grecian (Athenian) society: that the early marriages were not companionate, that women in that society, including wives, were sequestered, that boys and girls were raised separately, and not by the mother, that pederasty was almost an accepted social institution, etc.
I have always believed that homosexuality is a rooted genetically, although it is not binary factor. This book puts homosexuality, through the use of the "Kinsey scale", into different degrees and clearly distinguishes between homosexual tendency and homosexual activity, and defines the opportunistic homosexual in economic terms. With very simple reasoning, this book explains why urbanization seems (only seems) to foster homosexuality and the emergence of homosexual enclaves such as San Francisco and New York.
This book also explains, again through an economic model, why the black men in this country seem (again, only seem!) to be sexually aggressive and promiscuous, whereas sexual abuse of off-spring children (girls) have a higher incidence in white households.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Kennedy on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this book Richard Posner manages to singlehandedly turn legal scholarship on its head. He examines human sexuality from a myriad of perspectives--literature, sociology, evolutionary biology, morality, and history. He does so with impeccable scholarship, demonstrating not only that he is widely read in these diverse areas, but that he has something to say. The book is worth reading for just that.
But Posner's more impressive accomplishment is his singular approach to the regulation of human sexual behavior. His rational choice, economics of law approach is compelling. Even if you are not entirely convinced, Posner builds a powerful case for both academic and policy debate.
Posner's approach contrasts with most legal scholarship, which is lifeless and rarely bothers to consider the social sciences. Posner's book shows the intergal link between law, politics, and economics. It is also approachable and direct. You can't read Sex and Reason and not feel your deeply held beliefs directly challenged by a kind and discerning intellect. He is passionate, articulate, and eminently readable.
Posner's book has become a lightening rod in legal circles and is a must read for any serious reader in the area.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 1995
Format: Paperback
The author assumes that people act for the own benefit, and tries to work out what benefit some behaviors have by comparing different eras, cultures, or legal attempts at control. Because of the rational-consumer argument, much of it sounds like economic analysis, though the transactions are rarely monetary. It reminded me of old-fashioned essay sociology - I'm thinking even of Montaigne - not necessarily liberal or conservative, but always rational. Posner is a judge & often compares the intent and the effect of similar legal policies in different countries.
Good fodder for a coffehouse reading group and interesting to loan to a sweetheart. Don't try to read it all at once or in soundbites - an evening at a time, and a chapter an evening, is the speed I found best
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1997
Format: Paperback
Richard Posner's book is a brilliant accomplishment in its application of rational choice theory to macro- and micro-social issues of sexuality. In a cogent, lucid, and extremely readable way, he brings together diverse scholarship to explain many of the apparent paradoxes in the social and legal treatment of sexual matters cross-culturally.
The book's strength lies in Posner's seeming mastery of a huge array of original sources and documentary material, it's cross-cultural approach, and the links between social-structural instiutions and individual choice.
The book has some major problems that hold it back from being a true masterpiece of scholarship. For one, much of the information Posner draws on to explain such issues of homosexuality is severely dated. Additionally, he often presents teleological arguments with dependent variables later becoming independent in relation to the same phenomena. Finally, his "all other things being equal" assumption is a large one, especially given the sometimes cursory review he gives of a subject under provocative hypotheses, leading the lay reader down paths of (unintentional) partially or mostly incorrect conclusions.
Regardless of these drawbacks, the book does present a landmark in the linking of rational though to moral/legal considerations. The breadth of his knowledge, cogent presentation, and the provacative issues resolved and raised by this book will be sure to appeal to kinks and conservatives, liberals and vanillas.
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