Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law

Paperback | February 14, 2012

byElizabeth Brake

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Even in secular and civil contexts, marriage retains sacramental connotations. Yet what moral significance does it have? This book examines its morally salient features - promise, commitment, care, and contract - with surprising results. In Part One, "De-Moralizing Marriage," essays on promise and commitment argue that we cannot promise to love and so wedding vows are (mostly) failed promises, and that marriage may be a poor commitment strategy. The book contends with the most influential philosophical accounts of the moral value ofmarriage to argue that marriage has no inherent moral significance. Further, the special value accorded marriage sustains amatonormative discrimination - discrimination against non-amorous or non-exclusive caring relationships such as friendships, adult care networks, polyamorous groups, or urbantribes. The discussion raises issues of independent interest for the moral philosopher such as the possibilities and bounds of interpersonal moral obligations and the nature of commitment.The central argument of Part Two, "Democratizing Marriage," is that liberal reasons for recognizing same-sex marriage also require recognition of groups, polyamorists, polygamists, friends, urban tribes, and adult care networks. Political liberalism requires the disestablishment of monogamousamatonormative marriage. Under the constraints of public reason, a liberal state must refrain from basing law solely on moral or religious doctrines; but only such doctrines could furnish reason for restricting marriage to male-female couples or romantic love dyads. Restrictions on marriage shouldthus be minimized. But public reason can provide a strong rationale for minimal marriage: care, and social supports for care, are a matter of fundamental justice. Part Two also responds to challenges posed by property division on divorce, polygyny, and supporting parenting, and builds on critiquesof marriage drawn from feminism, queer theory, and race theory. It argues, using the example of minimal marriage, for the compatibility of liberalism and feminism.

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Even in secular and civil contexts, marriage retains sacramental connotations. Yet what moral significance does it have? This book examines its morally salient features - promise, commitment, care, and contract - with surprising results. In Part One, "De-Moralizing Marriage," essays on promise and commitment argue that we cannot promis...

Elizabeth Brake was educated at The Universities of Oxford (B.A.) and St. Andrews (M. Litt., PhD). Since 2000 she has taught in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary, Canada; in 2011-2012 is a Visiting Associate Professor at Arizona State University. She has written on the construction of parental obligations, fath...

other books by Elizabeth Brake

Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law
Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law

Kobo ebook|Mar 16 2012

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:February 14, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199774137

ISBN - 13:9780199774135

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Marriage and PhilosophyPart One. De-Moralizing Marriage1. The Marriage Promise: Is Divorce Promise-Breaking?2. How to Commit Marriage: A Conceptual Guide3. Marriage, Sex, and Morals4. Special Treatment for Lovers: Marriage, Care, and AmatonormativityPart Two: Democratizing Marriage5. Critiques of Marriage: An Essentially Unjust Institution?6. Defining Marriage: Political Liberalism and the Same-Sex Marriage Debates7. Minimizing Marriage: What Political Liberalism Implies for Marriage Law8. Challenges for Minimal Marriage: Poverty, Property, Polygyny