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"Having Sex" Is Rational; "Making Love" Is Not

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/15/2013 Category: Arts
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,804 times Debate No: 36708
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




Before starting, please note this categorized in arts, not education, health, philosophy, politics, or society. Being "rational" can be, but doesn't have to be, "good" or "proper". For those judging, please make sure you judge accordingly.

Now to start, let's consider what these three concepts mean: "having sex", "rational", and "making love".

The first simply refers to the scientific process of reproduction, the second refers to strategic efficiency, and the third refers to someone thinking about how another physically feels while another thinks about how someone physically feels.

In biology, the scientific process of reproduction coincides with what's called "evolutionary stable strategies". Organisms in an ecosystem satisfy naturally selective nash equilibriums in terms of survival of the fittest. Those organisms which strategize most efficiently have the greatest fitness, so their offspring live on.

However, "making love" isn't this. It's taking quality time, energy, and attention to rhythmically synchronize with one's partner. The goal isn't "to win" but "to relate". The goal isn't to simply "get one's rocks off" but to express oneself intimately and romantically with one's partner to realize a mutual identity.

Now someone might argue that this is still rational, but individually, not collectively. After all, the goal includes getting one's rocks off and to enjoy oneself as much as possible. It would be efficiently strategic to "make love" in order to "have sex".

The problem is that attitude itself inhibits "making love". When people focus on strategic efficiency in order to win, they rush through things in order to get as much done as quickly as possible as well as doing as little as possible to get as much as possible. The notions of passionate foreplay, teasing, and "taking your time" get thrown out the window because they're inefficient. The notion of playing language games to symbolize suggestive mysteries is also thrown out the window because it artistically synthesizes, rather than rationally analyzes, communication style.

There's also the matter of mistaking the ends for the means or outputs for inputs. What's proposed here is that making love itself is not rational. Being used for a rational end or output does not make the means or inputs rational.

Let's also be clear that being thoughtful is not the same as being rational. Rationality is not the only way that people think, and people can feel what's rational as well. That is people can coincidentally behave with efficient strategies just by feeling them out if their feelings coincide. As an analogy, consider two people playing poker who don't know any winning hands, yet one feels joy having one's cards all of the same suit. In poker that's called a flush, so if one trades in cards or bets when feeling joy, one will be rational.

"Having sex" is biologically acting out one's feelings where strategically efficient animals reproduce. "Making love" is thinking before you act in order to relate.


Your argument is built upon your definitions (which are inaccurate).

You define "having sex" as the scientific process of reproduction. I agree, but we can make it more a little better by defining it as "the engagement in the physical act that can lead to reproduction."

Your definition of "rational" irks me because of it"s lack of elegance and accuracy. You define rational as "strategic efficiency." This is, with all do respect, one of the most worthless definitions of rationality. This definition"s lack of worth is due to it"s very nature; "strategic efficiency" describes the goal of the conception of a process. Rationality extends far beyond the conception of an idea; rationality is the descriptor of a process in which predictable variables lead to an accurate predictable result without fail. Rationality is often referred to in terms of mathematics, so this is an example of a rational equation: A+B+C = A+B+C. If A+B+C = A+B+C+D and D was not = 0, that would not be rational because the predictable variables did not lead to an accurate predictable conclusion (according to the laws of mathematics).

"Making love" cannot be defined as "thinking about how another physically feels while another thinks about how someone physically feels" because "making love" and "having sex" are denotatively the same. This means that when someone says they are "making love" and when someone says they are "having sex," they are fornicating (in both scenarios).

Now I need stop dissecting your argument and will go on to make my own.

If "Making Love" and "Having Sex" mean the same thing denotatively, that means that they differ only connotatively. The title of this debate argues that "Having Sex" is rational and "Making Love" is not. However, "Having Sex" is a biological imperative (or a biological suggestion). The difference between "Having Sex" and "Making Love" is that the emotion "love" is involved in "Making Love" whereas only gratification exists in the connotation of "having sex." Due to the biological urge for sex (and lack of emotion) in the connotation of "Having Sex" and the emotional connotations in "Making Love," I"d argue that "Having Sex" and "Making Love" are either both irrational or rational (depending on your perspective).

Biological needs are rational because, given the same circumstances, they have a predictable outcome. Similarly, emotional needs or situations in which "love" is involved are equally rational because, given the same circumstances, said events will have a predictable outcome. Additionally, "love" can be considered a bonding emotion. That bonding emotion can be considered a biological imperative similar to the biological imperative for reproduction.

Therefore, I cannot accept that "Having Sex" is rational and "Making Love" is not because, as I have shown, they are either both rational or both irrational (not different). Even if you disagree with my definition of rationality, I think you will find my conclusion valid and sound.
Debate Round No. 1


To be clear, yes, rationality is not necessarily an elegant idea (which is why this is an artistic debate). It can be coarse, rough, crude, brutal, and nasty. Strategic efficiency is not necessarily a smooth or sensitive process. It often entails overlooking details, nuances, and intricacies just to come up with a general concept that doesn't deal with specific reality. This is especially rational because being rational includes efficiently using one's attention span. Perfection is not necessarily efficient. Even trying to approach perfection isn't necessarily efficient nevermind expressing an idea with style. For example, flirting and foreplay entail using words and items out of place to implicitly suggest what you really want.

In fact, "making love" often entails surprises where you're deliberately inefficient just to give your partner something unexpected. On the other hand, you're also inefficient in not constantly surprising your partner because that's spoiling.

Even the notion of doing something "without fail" is off the mark. Rationality includes cost-benefit analysis where you calculate the amount of risk you're willing to accept to achieve a reward. Making love, however, involves feeling secure.

What your mathematical example described is thoughtful, but all forms of thought are not rational. In fact, even Immanuel Kant, the forefather of modern aesthetics, described beauty as "purposiveness without a purpose". This is detected by genius which recognizes technique from originality:

This is even why making love is better than using toys or fantasizing. Partners are original sources that think about what each other feels. They aren't imitations of the real thing. Unfortunately, relationships also fall apart and people cheat because partners no longer find each other original.

What you said about fornicating ignores what I said about mistaking the ends for the means, so I'll advance that argument. The same thing goes for your reference to emotional gratification which ignores what I said about feeling rationality. I agree that biology can be rational. My point is making love goes beyond biology.


I"m sorry, but your argument is incoherent and you didn"t reject my counter. My counter still disproves your position on this issue and you need to disarm it if you want to be able to prove your point. You keep dancing around it and talk about feelings and this vague understanding of

I wasn"t saying that rationality isn"t an elegant idea, I"m saying that I think your definition of rationality is wrong because it isn"t elegant.

Rationality doesn"t include a cost-benefit analysis of risk calculation...logical thought does, but rationality and logical are not always the same thing. For something to be rational it is to be in accord with logic or reason, but not necessarily the same thing.

Your third paragraph is really ambiguous because you are trying to imply that "Having Sex" involves risk balancing. You haven"t made that argument. In fact, I, for all intensive purposes, can argue that, because it is a subconscious desire, we cannot call all instances of "Having Sex" based in rationality because the possibility exists that the level of rationality involved is equal to that of someone "Making Love." If "Making Love" is irrational, so is "Having Sex" and if it is not, neither or either.

Your fourth paragraph is all over the pace. I used my mathematical example to illustrate rationality. You are using ambiguity in your argument again. You argue that my example is "thoughtful, but not all forms of thought are rational" but I never argued that all forms of thought are rational. You brought Kant into this to bolster your argument, but your statement is unrelated to our debate here.

You argue that love goes beyond biology, but the side you are taking in this debate is that of ""Having Sex" is rational; "Making Love" is Not" however you just conceded that biology can be rational. Your final "point" is that "Making Love" goes beyond biology, but rationality doesn"t stem from biology it stems from a line of thought or a process being in accord with logic. You haven"t argued that "Making Love" must be irrational.
Debate Round No. 2


At this point you're brutally asserting your counter. I'm getting the impression that you're claiming I'm incoherent despite being coherent because you have nothing else to say and are just playing semantics.

For clarification's sake, however, please remember what I said about "evolutionary stable strategy" and "nash equilibriums" before. This suggested that "rational" was interpreted in terms of game theory where "rational" actors strategize efficiently. In fact, there's even an entire related field of game theory dedicated to this specifically called "rational choice theory".

Again, we are talking about what's specifically rational, not generally thoughtful. People can think completely and consistently about concepts without efficiently strategizing. Your claims of this being the other way around in terms of cost-benefit analysis and mathematical example are backwards and unconventional. The fields of study previously referred to demonstrate convention. This is not strictly a matter of logic. It's a matter of logic being exercised a specific way.

If you're confused about "risk balancing" then I would hope you understand that strictly biologically speaking, animals do not necessarily consent to have sex nor do they climax in nature. Making love necessarily involves both of these things which includes taking quality time, energy, and attention without overlooking nuances, details, and intricacies in the processes of foreplay and teasing as previously described.

I mean animals don't do any of this. They just get at it to get their rocks off. They feel an urge, and release it. Making love expresses original and technical genius which isn't rational. It's artistic. That's why I referred to Immanuel Kant before by the way.

Lastly, I also see what you're saying about the "level of rationality involved is equal", but what you're again mistaking is the difference between the means and the ends as I've previously described. The means of making love are not equal to the ends of having sex.


I continue asserting my counter because you, thus far, haven"t taken down my argument. As a linguist, I should inform you that "semantics" means "the study of meaning," so if I"m playing semantics, that means we are debating the meaning of a word. It is impossible to communicate about the color blue if one person is calling grass blue and also the sky.

This is the first time you bring up game theory explicitly. This definition of "rational" clarifies your definition, but you are using equivocation to try and create an argument. You either defined "rational" as something completely different before or you used "rational" with two definitions without clarifying which one you are using. Either way, it is ambiguous.

You say that ""rational" actors strategize efficiently" then you jump to the conclusion that "efficiently strategizing" is "rationality," but you haven"t shown that. Very easily, someone could say that rationality is strategizing, but it doesn"t require that it be efficient (it could just be that acting upon rationality requires efficiency, but rationality itself does not require it).

Semantically, "rational" means in accord with logic. Even in game theory, rational means the same thing, however, it is viewed with a microscope and applied to different situations, but it means the same thing - in accord with logic. [Source:].

You need to define thoughtful because thoughtful and rational are two things that are not mutually exclusive therefore I don"t know what you mean by "what"s specifically rational, not generally thoughtful."

You haven"t met the burden of proof to define rationality as efficiently strategizing.

You are correct about animals not necessarily consenting, but you are applying human-level linguistic capacity to animals. Animals don"t really have the ability to consent in a way we can understand because most don"t have the capacity to understand the future or hypotheticals. They can do a mating dance and accept or not or it can happen by force, but by force is usually done when the hierarchy allows it (so it may be non-disputed and thereby ambiguous in regards to consent).

Your argument about the necessities of "Making Love" can be broken by asking if before the engagement is complete, if the individuals are stopped by a fire, others, natural events, etc, were they still "Making Love?" "Making Love" involves the emotion love. Typically, when in love, the purpose of "Making Love" is to physically express the emotion of love usually by helping giving another pleasure.

You need to research on animal foreplay. Certain animals do engage in foreplay two are Bonobos [] and Fruit Bats: [].

You haven"t shown that "Making Love" necessarily requires a difference between "Having Sex" beyond an emotional one (Love v Lust ("Making Love" v "Having Sex")).
Debate Round No. 3


At this point, you're asserting your counter just to fill up space. Claiming that your argument wasn't "taken down" is like being a pinned wrestler who claims one isn't pinned by another. Another pinned one whether one says so or not. Please don't make claims of incoherence, etc. If you're going to present an argument, then present it. We know what's meant by semantics as well. Whether you're a linguist or not has nothing to do with anything.

Game theory was implictly referred to before in referring to evolutionary stable strategy and nash equilibrium. It didn't need to be explictly referred to. Please stop repeating previous arguments over the original unambiguous definition of "rational".

It's unclear why you're claiming "thoughtful" needs to be defined separately from "rational" either. It's been previously explained how all forms of thought are not strategically efficient. When you refer to not being mutually exclusive, you have burden of proof backwards. Someone has to show those definitions are uniform, not diverse. Words do not have the same definition by default. Actually, if anyone's equivocating, it's you. You've equivocated "rational" and "thoughtful" being the same. Please don't project.

The same goes for not meeting the burden of proof on rational not being efficiently strategizing. At this point, you're just brutally asserting yourself over and over for the sake of it. Convention was presented, and you're just ignoring it.

I'm not applying anything to animals either. My argument was animals don't consent. Someone who claims they do consent would be applying a capacity to animals. By default, people are entitled to be skeptical.

Even your example of bonobos is controversial since primates are the blurry line between animals and people, and your fruit bat example isn't foreplay. It actually involves touching genitals rather than teasing in an approach to savor the moment. In fact, the scientists even suggested a functional purpose of lubrication and increased quantity of time spent copulating.

It's unclear why you're referring to being stopped before completion either. Making something is a process, not a result. Something can be in the process of being made before it's completed, and some things are made perpetually throughout a process. Stopping a process doesn't invalidate it.

Even the notion of treating "love" as an emotion is controversial, and you even refer to the actual emotion of "lust" which I never referred to before. Love is also interpreted as thinking about how another feels in order to relate, and I've considered this before in terms of "making love" where people think about how each other physically feels among other terms. However, that thought isn't rational. It's artistic.

It's not constructive to expect someone to repeat oneself. Please don't do this in the future.


At this point, you haven"t countered my counter with a good argument. To refresh, my argument was that "Having Sex" is based in the subconscious and "Making Love" is based in emotion. Both of those are either rational or irrational, you can make arguments from either side. However, you cannot say that subconscious is rational if emotional is irrational and vice versa because emotion and logic are two different controls in the brain. Logic stems from the Neocortex, emotion from the Limbic system, and sexual arousal (and sexual impulse) from the Basal Ganglia. Note, that neither emotion nor sexual arousal are located in the Neocortex, where logic occurs. We can therefore deem that sex is illogical. Because sex is illogical, the process of having sex, no matter what it is, is not in accord with logic and, therefore is irrational. This proves that "Having Sex" and "Making Love" are both irrational.

Your argument is predicated on the idea that "Having Sex" is rational. Your argument is thereby disproven.


I brought up the fact that I was a linguist for the sake of illuminating how by saying that I was playing semantics, you were arguing that I was challenging your definition, but I think you meant to say that I was arguing a minuscule difference.

Thoughtful means something along the lines of "done with a high level of consideration" and your definition of rational, which I disagree with in the context of this debate, are being used similarly, but I"m not sure why you used "thoughtful" or what you mean by it.

You predicate your whole argument on this definition of rationality. You haven"t shown why that definition should be accepted in this debate. The definition I used is the dictionary definition. You need to justify your definition because I don"t think it is applicable. Is your argument only based in game theory? You probably should have said in the beginning that "this debate is going to be though the lens of game theory." Because you did not, it is not.

What convention was presented that I am ignoring?

While I appreciate how you think of love, what you are describing is empathy. Empathy and love are not the same thing, even though they usually occur around one another. Empathy, however, is not artistic and neither is love as they are emotions. Empathy is a wonderful thing and it doesn"t have to be artistic to be wonderful. You haven"t justified how empathy is artistic.

Also, I take slight offense at the idea that art and rationality are mutually exclusive. I"m a professional musician and I an tell you that everything done in music (and most likely all other arts) is rational. Music that is irrational is never enjoyed because it doesn"t communicate anything --except irrationality.
Debate Round No. 4


At this point, I'm going to advance all arguments instead of repeating myself. My opponent's neocortex argument is circular too. Human beings would subjectively evaluate their own objective logical capacity. This assumes human beings know the entire domain of logic to begin with. Logic's domain could activate where it's previously undiscovered. Music is not merely rational either. Yes, it involves mathematical rhythms, cadences, modes, and tones, but those devices are used to symbolize artistic expressions.

Instead, I'll focus on thoughtfully irrational yet artistic qualities of making love. I wish my opponent didn't go on tangents to distract discussing art beforehand.

As said before, thinking about how someone feels isn't a rational process. When people make love, they caress and cherish each other's bodies, wear and strip provocative clothing, dance erotically, play smooth music, burn scented candles, embrace and massage and pet each other, eat food suggestively, bathe softly, and sensitively joke around. This gradually teases each other's senses, and leads to varying positions and paces instead of jackhammering away like a machine over and over. The goal isn't to merely empathize; no two lovers need to feel the same way. Lovers are like pieces of a puzzle, uniting even if they aren't the same. The key to making love is sympathy, not empathy. Empathy would be egotistical in projecting one's feelings upon another.

Rationality is unsympathetic. A rational person just thinks about oneself, so would play with toys, fantasize on one's own, hire a hooker, or efficiently strategize how to get one's rocks off. Again, many relationships fall apart from this. Partners can be unoriginal, and many people enter relationships because they're desperate or mutually hateful of third parties. One obvious example of this is "bad-boy/nice-guy" syndrome where someone gets into a relationship with a bad boy who makes fun of nice guys in order to efficiently strategize status. As the relationship goes on, there aren't nice guys to make fun of. Partners don't get in the mood to enjoy and relate with each other.

Unfortunately, some relationships here involve children, and partners blame them for things going wrong in order to have someone to make fun of and feel good about each other. Furthermore, many of these relationships are divorced, and children are guilt tripped. On top of this, communication problems precipitate due to ignored foreplay. Partners argue over stupid things such being too serious, not serious enough, or both. This destruction of artistic license disables making love from not uniting in common language arts. Instead, partners obsess over rationally controlling the relationship.

In conclusion, partners make love because they do not just efficiently strategize how to get what they want. Instead, they think about how each other feels. When the expression of artistic license fails, so do partners' relationships.


Here is a third counter argument:

The emotional aspect of sex is to create bonds to another person. In this way, "Making Love" would be hyper-rational as it allows an individual to bond with another person for the sake of happiness/survival/stability. Even with your definition of rational, this does not change. This means that your argument, that "Making Love" is irrational, is countered.

I"ll end this section with my conclusion: "Making Love" and "Having Sex" are equally irrational or rational because they both are non-logic-based decisions.


My argument is not circular as it begins with the assumption that is is possible to know where logic, emotions, and sexual urges arise in the brain and it ends with those answers. Humans aren"t subjectively evaluating their logic centers, but rather they are able to identify, through the use of large scale studies, the parts of the brain that activate in those areas. This doesn"t require humans understand the entire domain of logic, but rather that we understand how to interpret brain activity (which we do). Logic could activate where it was undiscovered if we evolved further, but it hasn"t in the studies thus far, so your argument is moot (because if that argument were valid, nothing would be valid-including your argument-because everything could change sometime in the future).

Your argument is predicated on artistic and rational being mutually exclusive. Every artistic decision is based in rationality. Art models language. Language can be modeled using mathematics (although it is non-optimal). Math can be called a rational language. This means that there is rationality can model art.

Your argument about empathy is flawed. Empathy is, by definition "the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another." (source: Empathy is one of the few emotions that is not egotistical in nature as it involves understanding others. This may be done by one"s subconscious recognition of the physical manifestations of another"s emotion. This is rational as it is in accord with logic. Humans are social creatures. We create bonds to others as a method of survival. Empathy is a way to create bonds and that is rational.

A rational person is not always unsympathetic and egotistical. A rational person would create allies to help them survive in this world.

I don"t know why you brought children into this because it didn"t make sense in the context of your argument. You make a whole bunch of assumptions here that you can"t justify. For example, "communication problems precipitate due to ignored foreplay" "you can"t make that statement without backing it up. I don"t know what you mean by "This destruction of artistic license from not uniting in common language arts." Also, "rationally controlling" is an oxymoron.

I"m not going to go after your conclusion out of respect (you won"t be able to go after mine).
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Heavenandhell 5 years ago
Your definition of rational confused me. So I looked up the word, it said the definition of rational is to be able to think clearly and sensibly. Now I'm even more confused.
Posted by Bullish 5 years ago
Confused on your definition of rational.
Posted by Dragonfang 5 years ago
When you take the con position, does this include opposing the "Having sex is rational" part?
Posted by Daktoria 5 years ago
My point is drawing a distinction between art and science. A rationally minded person would be scientifically minded. Art isn't supposed to be that way.
Posted by HighSchoolDebater 5 years ago
Sorry if this is clear to others, but as a new member, I'm a bit confused. You point out that this topic is listed in "arts," yet it seems like you base the majority of your argument in scientific, biological reasoning. If you'd like to debate this from a biological standpoint, I'd be more than happy to accept the challenge. I just want to make sure I know what I'm getting into...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Con was very disrespectful from the start, thinking that this would make him sound more convincing. He also deviously tried to end the debate with an act of respect, so that readers who didn't read the whole thing would regard him as respectful. (That trick is common around here) Pro managed to keep his temper and argue properly. Conduct goes for Pro. Arguments are tried because of Con's semnantic tricks which were meant to blow smoke around the topic. I didn't see any good argument from Con that both are rational or irrational. His main strategy was to re-define what making love is, and he failed badly at doing so. When it comes to Pro, his arguments were not that convincing but he provided some arguments which were not enough to ensure him a victory, so arguments are tied.