Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 1071–1083 | Cite as

Adult–Child Sex and the Limits of Liberal Sexual Morality

  • Agustin Malón
Original Paper


This article is a critical review of the most common arguments in the specialized literature about the moral status of sexual relationships between adults and prepubescent children. The intent is to reveal how the usual ethical analysis of these experiences, done from a general sexual morality, with a Kantian and utilitarian basis, very clearly shows us the limits and contradictions of contemporary liberal morality regarding sexual matters. It leaves open the possibility that, under certain circumstances, these relationships may be morally admissible. Some shortcomings and contradictions in these liberal arguments suggest that it would be of interest to refer to other authors and ideas to value adult–child sex, approaches that are based on a specific sexual morality concerning the issue of sexual virtues and a more complex conception of human sexual desire. Some of the scientific implications of these moral issues are also discussed.


Children Sexual abuse Sexual morality Pedophilia Sexual consent 



This article has been produced within the Research Project on Child Sexual Abuse founded by the Government of Galicia, Spain (EM 2012\070), whose main researcher is José A. Ramos Vázquez.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Human Sciences and EducationUniversity of ZaragozaHuescaSpain

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