Luke Brunning, Natasha McKeever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asexuality is overlooked in the philosophical literature and in wider society. Such neglect produces incomplete or inaccurate accounts of romantic life and harms asexual people. We develop an account of asexuality to redress this neglect and enrich discussion of romantic life. Asexual experiences are diverse. Some asexual people have sex; some have romantic relationships in the absence of sex. We accept the common definition of asexuality as the absence of sexual attraction and explain how sexual attraction and sexual desire differ by giving an affordance‐like account of sexual attraction. Armed with that distinction, we show that asexuality is clearly different from celibacy or disorders of desire and that some existing philosophical theories of sexual desire struggle to accommodate asexual sexuality. We then build on asexual testimony about the diversity of non‐sexual attractions to answer two common objections levelled at asexual romance: that romantic relationships require sexual attraction or that sex in the absence of sexual attraction is insufficiently focused on someone as an individual. Finally, we describe some of the ways asexuality has been erased or denigrated in society, and the specific injustices and harms that result.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Oct 2020


  • Asexuality
  • Sexual desire
  • Sexual attraction


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