Sexual Ethics in a Secular Age : Is There Still a Virtue of Chastity? book cover
1st Edition

Sexual Ethics in a Secular Age
Is There Still a Virtue of Chastity?

Edited By

Eric J. Silverman

ISBN 9780367522674
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
264 Pages

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Book Description

This collection features essays from top experts in ethics and philosophy of love that offer varying perspectives on the value of a contemporary secular virtue of chastity.

The virtue of chastity has traditionally been portrayed as an excellent personal disposition concerning the ideal ordering of sexual desire such that the person desires that which is actually good for both the self and others affected by his or her sexual desires and actions. Yet, for roughly the past half century chastity has been increasingly portrayed as an unnecessary ideal with few secular benefits that could not be otherwise obtained. Instead, chastity is sometimes portrayed as an odd kind of religious asceticism with few secular benefits. The essays in this volume ask whether there may be advantages to reconsidering a contemporary virtue of chastity. A recovered and reconceptualized concept of chastity can offer partial solutions to problems associated with externalized sexual desire, including sweeping patterns of sexual harassment, the high divorce/relationship-failure rate, and widespread pornography use.

Sexual Ethics in a Secular Age will appeal to researchers and advanced students interested in the philosophy of sex and love, virtue ethics, and philosophical accounts of secularity.

Table of Contents

Section I: Visions of Contemporary Chastity

1. Chastity and the Well-Lived Life

Jennifer A. Herdt

2. Sexuality as Secularly Sacred

Alexander R. Pruss

3. Contemporary Chastity Still Consists in Principles of Temperance, Justice, and Prudence

Eric J. Silverman

4. Chastity, Lust, and Practical Wisdom

Michael Beaty

Section II: The Limits and Dangers of Chastity

5. Is Chastity a Virtue?

Alan H. Goldman

6. Chastity, Power Dynamics, and Enduring Spousal Love

R. Mary Hayden Lemmons

Section III: Culturally Contextualized Expressions of Chastity

7. Finding Chastity in a Secular Age: Chastity as a Virtue of Sexual Autonomy

Nancy E. Snow

8. Cephalus: A Quotidian Case for Chastity in Republic I

Kevin Kambo

9. The Family as the Foundation of the Confucian Ethical Order

Benjamin Huff

Section IV: Chastity and Objectification

10. Sexual Temperance and Sexual Objectification

Raja Halwani

11. Objectification, Indication, and Chastity

Dustin Crummett

Section V: Specific Applications of Chastity

12. Chastity in the Workplace

Chris Tweedt

13. A Renewed Chastity for a New Era: An Aretaic Response to Contemporary Pornography

Joseph Prud’homme

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Eric J. Silverman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Christopher Newport University. He has written two monographs: The Supremacy of Love: An Agape Centered Vision of Aristotelian Virtue Ethics (2019) and The Prudence of Love: How Possessing the Virtue of Love Benefits the Agent (2010). He has also co-edited Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays About Heaven (2017).


"Chastity is a virtue easily misunderstood. To a secular ear it sounds outdated, old-fashioned, and paternalistic. This collection of essays offers a fresh and valuable perspective on the virtue of chastity in a secular age. The contributors provide insightful positions on the strengths and weaknesses of chastity while elucidating its role as a guiding virtue for sexual activity."Audra Goodnight, Villanova University, USA