Chapter

Marriage, Sex, and Morals

Elizabeth Brake

in Minimizing Marriage

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199774142
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933228 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199774142.003.0004

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

Marriage, Sex, and Morals

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This chapter examines three of the most influential defenses of marriage; each holds that marriage is the sole permissible context for sex and the unique context for achieving certain goods. Kant held that marriage morally transforms sexual objectification, thereby making procreation morally possible. Natural law accounts argue that basic human goods of procreation and marital friendship can only be attained through marriage. Roger Scruton argues that marriage enables virtuous erotic love, which is an essential contributor to human flourishing;. These three accounts, which attribute to marriage a unique transformative role, share a failing: entry into a legal institution does not effect, nor is it required for, the psychological transformation which virtues require. Basic goods and virtues can exist outside marriage, as in unmarried relationships. Furthermore, unqualified attributions of value to marriage fail to recognize the variability of real marriages and ignore their vices.

Keywords: sexual morality; marriage; objectification; kant; new natural law; aquinas; scruton; chastity; basic human goods; finnis

Chapter.  7363 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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