Care of the Sexual Self: Áskēsis as a Route to Sex Education

ABSTRACT: In adolescent sex education, the contemporary debate has developed into two camps: the paternalistic view and the liberal view. I argue that both sides of the camp have been too focused on actions and behavior and are assuming a heteronormative background. This dissertation argues that the way to take care of the self is through exercises, techniques, self-discipline, and self-cultivation—what the ancient Greeks called áskēsis. By applying áskēsis to sex education, students will gain the character of taking care of the sexual self and have a robust outlook of themselves via sexuality.

After looking at countless syllabi, I reduce three different moral foundations that
underlie existing sex education programs. The first are paternalistic sex education
programs. However, empirical research shows that gender discrepancies and
heteronormativity are presented as inevitable.

The second model is what I call liberal-consequentialist sex education, which
emphasizes avoiding negative consequences such as unwanted pregnancies and STIs.
This model is an improvement since it empowers students with essential knowledge such
as anatomy and sexual mechanics. But this model is still limited because it fails to discuss
many forms of sexuality and gender while embracing heteronormativity.

The third model is what I call liberal-deontological sex education, which teaches
sexual consent. While this model definitely improves on the previous two models, there is still something lacking. Most importantly, this model fails to address the gender
inequality at the root of the problematic power dynamics. For example, if to receive
consent is to garner a yes, then all men have to do is manipulate woman to get that yes.

These three models focus on a person’s behavior, but sexuality is much deeper. Therefore, we need another model that implements áskēsis. For simplicity, I analyze
áskēsis to three components: the sexual emotions, the sexual mind, and the sexual body. A comprehensive sex education program helps students train the moral sexual character
by disciplining whether those components are coming from their authentic character, or if these ideas were simply societal expectations. This model, thereby, helps students
question their own social mores and help formulate their sexual subjectivity.



“BDSM,” in Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, 7th edition. Edited by Raja Halwani, Nicholas Powers, Sarah Hoffman, (421-436). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2017. Article.

“Quagmire: Virtue and Perversity.” In Family Guy and Philosophy.  Edited by J. Jeremy Wisnewski, 27-35.  Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

“A New Look of Wittgenstein’s Family-Resemblance Model: Struggle of Powers.”  The Journal of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.   Vol. 81 (2004): 189-196.

Media Appearances:

  • “Ideas that Matter: A Conversation with Dr. Gregory B. Sadler and Shaun Miller.” Ideas that Matter. Conversation with Dr. Gregory B. Sadler. March 28, 2018.
  • “Creating Sexual Resiliency in Children.” Birds and Bees Podcast. Interviewed by Braxton Dutson. Feb. 21, 2018.
  • “Stoicism and the Workplace.” Stoicism and the Workplace. Discussion Stoic Week 2017, the MKE Stoic Fellowship hosted this panel discussion with three of its members – Gregory Sadler, Shaun Miller, and Andi Sciacca – opening the event up to the general public. Jan. 8, 2018.
  • “People are Terrified of Sex.” The Atlantic. Interviewed by Brian D. Earp.  Nov. 12, 2015. Article.

Book Reviews:

Philosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An Introduction Second Edition by Raja Halwani. Metapsychology Online Reviews, Vol. 22, Issue 48, 2018.Article

Being Ethical: Classic and New Voices on Contemporary Issues. Edited by Shari Collins, Bertha Alvarez Manninen, Jacqueline M. Gately, and Eric Comerford. Teaching Ethics. Vol 17, Issue 1 (2017): 127-128. Article.

Existentialism and Romantic Love by Skye Cleary. The Philosophers’ Magazine. Issue 78, 3rd Quarter (2017): 106-107. Article.

Sexuality in Adolescence: The Digital Generation by Meredith Temple-Smith, Susan Moore, and Doreen Rosenthal.  Metapsychology Online Reviews, Vol. 20. Issue 13, 2016. Article.

Philosophizing about Sex by Laurie J. Shrage and Robert Scott Stewart.  Metapsychology Online Reviews, Vol. 19.  Issue 35, 2015. Article.

The Science of Intimate Relationships by Garth Feltcher, Jeffry A. Simpson, Lorne Campbell, and Nickola C. Overall.  Metapsychology, Vol. 18. Issue 31, 2014. Article.

Not the Marrying Kind: A Feminist Critique Against Same-Sex Marriage by Nicola Barker.  Metapsychology, Vol. 17. Issue 46, 2013.  Article.


  • Presenter. “Virtue Signaling, Moral Outrage, and Clapping Back: Moral Insights Through Social Media,” presentation Public Philosophy and Theology in a Digital Context, Molloy College, New York, June, 21, 2019.
  • Presenter. “Sexual Parrhesia: Speaking Truth to Power in Sexual Consent,” presentation Consent and Truth-Telling Conference, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 10, 2019.
  • Presenter. “Moral Foundations in Sex Education Curricula in the United States,” presentation Great Lakes Conference, Siena Heights University, Adrian, Michigan, Apr. 7, 2019.
  • Presenter. “Sex Education and the Virtue of Chastity,” presentation Is There Still A Secular Virtue of Chastity? Ethics Conference, Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA, Mar. 30, 2019.
  • Presenter. “A Three-Tiered View of Sexual Consent,” presentation Eastern American Philosophical Association, New York, NY, Jan. 9, 2019.
  • Presenter. “Three Pictures of Sexual Consent,” poster presentation Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, University of Boulder, CO, Boulder, CO, Aug. 10, 2018.
  • Invited Speaker. “Sexual Consent and Sexual Autonomy,” speaker University of Milwaukee–Parkside, Kenosha, WI, Oct. 27, 2017.
  • Presenter. “Evaluating Dan Savage’s ‘Monogamish’ Claim,” presentation Pacific American Philosophical Association, Seattle, WA, April 12, 2017.
  • Presenter. “BDSM, Consent, and Human Flourishing: A Sketch for the Possibility of Ethical Degradation,” presentation Pacific American Philosophical Association, San Francisco, CA, April 1, 2016.
  • Presenter. “Analyzing Dan Savage’s ‘Monogamish’ Claim,” presentation Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, Seattle, WA, March 22, 2016.
  • Presenter. “Bodily Consciousness: A Sartrean Response to Irigrary,” presentation North American Sartre Society at Lehigh Valley Center, Bethlehem, PA, Nov. 14, 2015.
  • Commentator. “Language and Feminist Resistance in Kristeva, Irigaray, and Cixous” by Emily Douglas, The Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture at University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, June 4, 2013.
  • Presenter. “Luce Irigaray: Love Through Sexual Difference,” presentation The Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture at University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, June 4, 2013
  • Presenter. “Caring for the Sexual Self: Applying Foucault’s Hermeneutics of the Subject in Sex Education,” presentation Queertopia 6.0 at Northwestern University, Illinois, April 14, 2013.
  • Presenter. “Caring for the Sexual Self: Applying Foucault’s Hermeneutics of the Subject in Sex Education,” presentation North Carolina Philosophical Society at East Carolina University, North Carolina, February 16, 2013.
  • Presenter. “Why Does God Care if I Believe in His Existence?” presentation Philosophy Club at Weber State University, Utah, November 16, 2007.
  • Presenter. “Luce Irigaray: Love through Sexual Difference,” presentation Intermountain Philosophy Conference at Brigham Young University, Utah, November 10, 2006.
  • Presenter. “Luce Irigaray: Love of Community through Sexual Difference,” presentation Love in the Public Square Conference at Molloy College, New York, March 31, 2006.
  • Presenter. “A Critique of Wittgenstein,” presentation Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters at Southern Utah University, Utah, April 16, 2004.


  • Travel Award, Graduate Student Research Travel Award, Marquette University, 2015
  • Travel Award, Center for Ethics Studies, Marquette University, 2013.
  • Teaching Assistantship to Professor Charles Harris, Texas A&M, 2005-2006
  • Best Paper Award at the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters for “Critique of Wittgenstein,” 2004.


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