Sunday, 26 August 2012

Kant on the good of monogamous marriage

Kant thought that the only way for two people to have sexual relationships without the risk of reducing themselves to objects was if they were in a monogamous marriage.

The risk of becoming an object lies in the use of sex to satisfy an appetite. Basically, you are using a person as a means and not an end in itself. But in a monogamous marriage, Kant supposed, the way in which two people surrender themselves to one another is equal, and thus no one is asked to surrender more and so no one is victimised.

This strikes me as curious. Surely the greatest respect you can give a person in regards to treating them as an end, and not merely a means to your own purposes, is to honour their autonomy. And yet a monogamous marriage requires great sacrifices of ones autonomy! It is now someone else's business how you conduct your life. You're personal relationships are constrained by the whims of your spouse. You are in a very literal sense 'sharing your life with someone'.

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