The Case against Different-Sex Marriage in Kant

Martin Sticker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
634 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, a number of Kantians have argued that despite Kant’s own disparaging comments about same-sex intercourse and marriage, his ethical and legal philosophy lacks the resources to show that they are impermissible. I go further by arguing that his framework is in fact more open to same-sex than to different-sex marriage. Central is Kant’s claim that marriage requires equality between spouses. Kant himself thought that men and women are not equal, and some of his more insightful remarks on the issue reveal that he was also aware that, as a matter of fact, women were disenfranchised by society, and suffer legal and other forms of discrimination. Kant, according to his own account, cannot approve of heterosexual marriage. Same-sex couples, by contrast, can satisfy the crucial equality condition. I conclude with a suggestion for refocus with respect to the issues at hand, calling for attention to more complex and insidious forms of inequality than deprivation of rights and full civil participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-464
Number of pages24
JournalKantian Review
Issue number3
Early online date12 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • marriage
  • sex
  • equality
  • gender
  • natural ends
  • rights
  • active and passive citizenship


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