Kant and Arendt on the Challenges of Good Sex and the Temptations of Bad Sex

Carol Hay, Helga Varden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers why a good sexual life tends to be so challenging, and why the temptation to settle for a bad one can be so alluring. Hay and Varden engage these questions by cultivating ideas found in the traditions of feminist philosophy and the philosophy of sex and love in dialogue with the work of two unlikely canonical bedfellows—Immanuel Kant and Hannah Arendt. Some sources of these challenges, Hay and Varden propose, are patterned in that they involve trying to transform, develop, and integrate certain unruly emotional structures in oneself, including together with others. Other patterned sources track inherited oppressive behaviors and feelings that make emotionally healthy, morally responsible realizations of sexuality difficult. Despite these difficulties, striving for a satisfying sexual life can be a meaningful and exciting part of a good human life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Sexual Ethics
EditorsDavid Boonin
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783030877866
ISBN (Print)9783030877859, 9783030877880
StatePublished - 2022


  • Kant, sexual ethics, sex, love

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Psychology


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