A Kantian Conception of Rightful Sexual Relations: Sex, (Gay) Marriage and Prostitution

Social Philosophy Today 22:199-218 (2006)
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Abstract

This paper defends a legal and political conception of sexual relations grounded in Kant’s Doctrine of Right. First, I argue that only a lack of consent can make a sexual deed wrong in the legal sense. Second, I demonstrate why all other legal constraints on sexual practices in a just society are legal constraints on seemingly unrelated public institutions. I explain the way in which the just state acts as a civil guardian for domestic relations and as a civil guarantor for private property and contract relations—and thereby enables the existence of legally enforceable claims. Throughout the aim is to demonstrate that Kant’s relational conception of justice entails that legally enforceable claims regarding sexual deeds are fully justifiable only insofar as they are determined and enforced by a public authority that we may refer to as a liberal democratic welfare state

Author's Profile

Helga Varden
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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