I have yet to hear an argument I can accept as to why pedophilia (the attraction itself, not actual child-adult sex) is pathological or inappropriate. If sexual attraction itself is healthy and acceptable, why would the age of whoever one is attracted to matter more than the sex or the ethnicity? If there’s nothing inherently perverse or dirty about sex we should stop associating virginity with “innocence” and “purity” and concede that there’s nothing wrong with viewing children in a sexual context. Anyone who argues that sexual feelings toward members of the same sex are natural and healthy should be consistent and apply the same reasoning to pedo-sexuality. Discrimination and prejudice against pedophiles is as unjustified and as serious of a problem as discrimination against homosexuals and transgendered people is. I think the emotional knee jerk reaction that many people have when the issue of child-adult sex/pedo-sexuality is brought up prevents them from analyzing the issue objectively and realizing that pedophiles are another disadvantaged minority.
As for child-adult sex itself, I won’t deny that it can directly or indirectly harm children (ie. adults can use their authority to coerce children into having unwanted sex, the child might later come to regret the act for whatever reason, especially if they live in a culture that will socialize them to view the act as having been inherently exploitative and victimizing, ) but what makes the action itself unethical or wrong beyond the possible harm that it might cause? If child-adult sex causes children pleasure (with no long-term costs), I think it would not only not be inherently bad, it would be instrumentally good and worth encouraging. In practice, child-adult sex harms children often enough and to an extent that justifies discouraging it in all situations, out of risk aversion, but there are at least some possible scenarios where children could benefit from or at least be unharmed by sexual contact with an adult and the justification for discouraging it should always be the felt harm it could cause and not the cultural ‘inappropriateness’ of the act.
The typical counter argument is that children cannot consent to sex. I think that most people who claim this are confusing informed consent with rational consent but it’s besides the point because I don’t believe that consent has inherent value, I think it’s useful in helping us to estimate how likely it is that our actions will harm or benefit others. Adults make children do many things not only without their consent but against it. What’s directly relevant is whether or not children are harmed or benefited by child-adult sex. It’s ironic that many people who view child-adult sex as inherently wrong in all possible scenarios see nothing wrong with non-medical circumcision or corporal punishment. I don’t think (I could be wrong) that there’s any real evidence to suggest that viewing simulated, computer-generated child pornography encourages adults with or without a preexisting attraction toward children to molest them any more than people become homosexual by watching gay porn. It boggles my mind how someone can actually spend a decade or so in jail for viewing simulated child pornography that does not depict any real life or existing children and even another decade (or so) after being released as a registered “sex offender”