Marriages come in a very wide variety: if the reports of anthropologists and historians are to be believed, an extraordinarily wide variety. This includes some of the more unusual forms, including marriage to the dead; to the gods; and even to plants. This does suggest that few proposed marriage relationships would require 'redefining marriage': but on the other hand, it makes giving a general theory of marriage challenging. So one issue we should face is how accepting we should be of (...) the reports: to what extent reported 'marriages' really are marriages. This paper defends the view that almost all of these reported marriages are in fact marriages, and suggests some theoretical approaches that may be generous enough to account for this. (shrink)
I answer two questions: (1) what are people doing when they exchange conventional wedding vows? and (2) under what circumstances are these things morally and rationally permissible to do? I propose that wedding pledges are public proclamations that are simultaneously both private vows and interpersonal promises, and that they are often subject to uncertainty. I argue that the permissibility of uncertain wedding promises depends on whether the uncertainty stems from doubts about one’s own internal weakness of will and susceptibility to (...) temptation or from the expectation that external circumstances might change. I then explain why uncertainty is a prima facie challenge for unconditional wedding vows, and I offer a solution: rational wedding vows are unconditional in their content but implicitly conditional in their structure; the spouse pledges to act in certain ways unconditionally, so long as they remain in the spousal role. I respond to objections to my view (including Elizabeth Brake’s claim that the permissibility of unilateral divorce undermines an understanding of wedding vows as promises), and conclude with some suggestions about what marrying couples should do to ensure permissible pledges. (shrink)
It is often claimed that adultery can be morally permissible in cases where those engaged in adulterous behavior are part of an open marriage. Yet this only follows if the institution of open marriage itself can be justified. This problem has been generally overlooked, but it deserves attention, as it is far from evident that open marriage has sterling moral credentials. I argue that the most promising general justification of the institution of open marriage is not based on consequentialist or (...) aretaic principles, but rather on the principle of respect for autonomy. Yet while this principle justifies the institution of open marriage in the most general sense, it does not justify every case of adultery involving an open marriage. Whether a given case of adultery is rendered morally permissible by the presence of an open marriage will depend on whether the open marriage in question satisfies several other moral desiderata. (shrink)
Il Sinodo sulla famiglia nel 2014 ha ripreso la proposta di considerare la possibilità di richiedere la fede come requisito di validità per il matrimonio sacramentale. Il presente studio approfondisce la questione, nel suo sviluppo nel tempo, alla luce soprattutto della dottrina e della giurisprudenza, ed evidenzia come una simile proposta manchi di solide e certe giustificazioni teologiche ed in modo particolare non risolva nella pratica nessuna delle questioni per le quali è stata pensata. Il bene indisponibile del sacramento del (...) matrimonio richiede, e questo è il vero aspetto importante, di essere difeso e curato con una pastorale attenta, fatta di verità e carità, prima, durante e dopo la celebrazione. Uguale attenzione si dovrà avere per le persone che vivono una crisi matrimoniale e che dovranno essere aiutate, in ogni caso, a vivere cristianamente una tale prova, in modo particolare se si dovrà verificare la validità stessa del loro matrimonio, cosa che esige personale preparato nei vari Tribunali. /// The 2014 Synod on the Family resumed the proposal of considering the possibility of requiring faith as a requisite for the validity of sacramental marriage. This study explores this question, in its development over time, particularly in the light of doctrine and of jurisprudence, and highlights how such a proposal lacks solid and sure theological justifications and, in practice, does not resolve, any of the matters for which it is intended. The real issue at stake is that the indispensable good of the sacrament of marriage should be defended and treated with an attentive ministry, based on truth and charity, before, during and after the celebration. The same attention should be given to people experiencing marital crisis, and who should be helped to face this trial in a Christian way, it being particularly necessary to ascertain the actual validity of their marriage, which requires personnel trained in the various Tribunals. (shrink)
The chapter advances two claims: first, that commitment to one’s spouse is only instrumentally valuable, adding no intrinsic value to the relationship. Moreover, commitment has costs: it partially forecloses the future, thus making one less attentive to life’s possibilities; therefore, it would be desirable for people to achieve the same goods without commitment. The second, more ambitious, claim is that commitment in general, and marital commitments in particular, are problematic instruments for securing the good of romantic and sexual love. It (...) makes sense to prefer that another person’s (perhaps especially, romantic or sexual) love for you is sustained by inclination rather than commitment. In addition, the pragmatic reasons for commitment are weak in relation to activities that, ideally, are process-oriented rather than goal-oriented—such as loving another person. (shrink)
Opponents of same-sex marriage suggest that legalizing same-sex marriage will start a slide down a “slippery-slope” leading to the legalization of all kinds of salacious family arrangements including polygamy. In this paper, I argue that because previous attempts by liberal political theorists to combat such slippery-slope arguments have been unsuccessful, there are two options left open to political liberals. Either one could embrace polygamy as a logically consistent implication of extending civil liberties to same-sex couples or one could find a (...) new strategy for blocking the slide down the slope. I take the second option arguing that we ought to devise a harm principle for domestic partnerships. Once this principle has been established, it becomes clear that the risk of exploitation for those potentially occupying the multiple side of the marriage is sufficient reason to reject polygamous marriage arrangements. I conclude that, contrary to appearances, holding both same-sex marriage is permissible and polygamous marriage is impermissible is at the same time consistent and consistently liberal. (shrink)
Australians responded enthusiastically to the calling of the Synod, though there appears to be a tension between expectations of doctrinal reform and pastoral reform. The Bishops Conference allowed each diocese to consult as it saw fit and submit its findings, in light of which a committee of four bishops drafted the official submission to the Synod. Other materials were also sent to the Synod office, including some directly by dioceses and other Catholic organisations. The dioceses surveyed made the preparatory document (...) and questionnaire available online and in print. There was a high level of frustration expressed with the complexity of many of the questions. The Conference and most dioceses did not publish the findings of the consultation or their submission to the Synod. Nonetheless, these are likely to reveal trends with regard to co-habitation, pre-marital sex, contraception, the treatment of divorced Catholics and same-sex marriage similar to those of other western countries based on an analysis of existing quantitative data from the National Church Life Survey, diocesan reports to which the researchers were given access, and the Catholic media. There is an apparent disconnect between the lived experience of many Catholics and Church teaching in these areas. Moreover, there is a tension between issues of doctrinal confusion, doctrinal rejection, and pastoral care which could have consequences for whether the Synod should consider doctrinal reform or need only focus on pastoral care. Most importantly, the responses demonstrate that Catholics in Australia want to be better informed about Church teaching, want to be consulted about these matters, and want to have a say in the formulation of Church teaching. Not taking these wishes seriously risks further alienating many Catholics from the Church who express a disjuncture between Church teaching and their own life experience in these matters. (shrink)
Throughout the world, marriage arguably is one of the most important social and legal institutions. The socially and legally recognised bond between a man and a woman lies at the heart of most families. However, there is no globally uniform understanding of marriage. Its meaning is inseparably linked to culture, religion and social class. The purpose of this essay is limited to providing a comparative perspective on the situation in five different Arab and Islamic countries. The main focus is on (...) the minimum age for marriage. Child marriages are a major concern of both human rights organisations and international treaties. There is a strong link between marriageable age and the overall status of women in society: the earlier a woman marries, the more the time for her education, employment and personal development is constrained. In many countries, various attempts have been made to ban marriages between minors. In Arab and Islamic countries, difficulties in this area also arise from tensions between traditional interpretations of religious sources on the one hand, and international treaty commitments on the other. The first section of this paper introduces the classical Islamic law position on marriageability. The second part provides a brief outline of the international framework with regard to the age at which marriage is permitted. The third and central part is dedicated to an analysis of legal developments in five different Islamic countries - Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan – as well as a consideration of the political, historical and social framework of marriage in those countries and the current legal situations which apply there. The fourth and final part of the paper recapitulates the results of this analysis and presents the conclusions drawn from it. (shrink)
In a time when conservatives believe that the traditional family is under increasing fire, some think an appeal to Darwinian science may be the answer. I argue that these conservatives are wrong to maintain that Darwinian theory can serve as the intellectual foundation for the traditional conception of the family. Contra Larry Arnhart and James Q. Wilson, a Darwinian philosophy of nature simply lacks the stability the traditional family requires; it cannot support the traditional conception of human nature and the (...) normativity it was thought to contain. If conservatives are to maintain these traditional ideas, the theoretical foundation must lie elsewhere. (shrink)
I distinguish two ways that a cultural practice may be inherently objectionable. I reject the claim that polygamy is inherently "vicious" because asymmetric marriages are inevitably inegalitarian. I argue that there is good reason to think polygamy is inherently "bankrupt" insofar as a cultural ideal of asymmetric marriage presupposes stereotypical gender roles.
These comments on Sabine Grebe, "The Transformation of the Husband/Wife Relationship during Exile: Letters from Cicero and Ovid" raise questions about the similarities and dissimilarities of marriage and friendship examined in the marriages of Cicero and Ovid.
The work which the Loeb Classical Library classifies as book 3 of the Oikonomika attributed to Aristotle is a curious piece. It has come down to us only via medieval translations into Latin. (I will be quoting the Loeb text and translation except where noted.) It is not certain that it is by Aristotle: and it is not certain whether it is even a part of the work attributed to Aristotle in ancient times. For want of a better name, let (...) me refer to its author, whoever that was, as “Aristotle”, and let me refer to this piece as book three of Ta Oikonomika – but with the caveats that it may not have been by the Stagirite, and its ancient source may not have even been one typically attributed to Aristole, although it was so attributed at some stage. (shrink)
[Opening sentences:]What business does the government have in sticking its nose into people’s private affairs? What affairs could be more legitimately private than relationships involving sex and love? LOCKEAN LIBERTARIANISM These questions resonate with many individuals across a wide range of ideologies and beliefs. For many of us these questions will strike us as rhetorical questions to which the obvious answers are “none” and “none.” These responses reflect a Lockean libertarian strain in the social thinking of many intelligent and thoughtful (...) people. But of course matters are more complex, even as viewed from a Lockean libertarian perspective.1 Sex and love tend to bring about new children, and causing a child to exist is a social act with wide consequences for other people who could not be supposed to consent to bear these consequences. Libertarians will regard with equanimity the showering of externalities in the form of benefits that typically accompany the creation and upbringing of a responsible competent person who becomes a useful member of society. The libertarian will insist that the receipt of such benefits does not generate any reciprocal obligations to benefit those who benefit us in these unconsented to ways.—at least, not obligations that are legitimately enforceable and that justify forcible imposition on people’s liberty to lead their lives as they choose. But bringing children into the world can and often does impose net costs on people who do not consent to bear these costs. The introduction of one extra person may strain scarce resources... (shrink)
In this paper, I ask whether mishpat ivri (Jewish Law) is appropriately conceived as a “legal system”. I review Menachem Elon’s use of a “Sources” Theory of Law (based on Salmond) in his account of Mishpat Ivri; the status of religious law from the viewpoint of jurisprudence itself (Bentham, Austin and Kelsen); then the use of sources (and the approach to “dogmatic error”) by halakhic authorities in discussing the problems of the agunah (“chained wife”), which I suggest points to a (...) theory more radical than the “sources” theory of law, one more akin to the ultimate phase of the thought of Kelsen (the “non-logical” Kelsen) or indeed to some form of Legal Realism (with which that phase of Kelsen’s thought has indeed been compared)? I finally juxtapose an account based on internal theological resources (a “Jurisprudence of Revelation”). Downloadable at at http://www.biu.ac.il/JS/JSIJ/jsij1.html. (shrink)
I argue that promoting justice within marriage requires a cultural reconceptualiza¬tion of marriage itself as not merely a relationship of love, but as also a commitment to justice. I argue that it is insufficient to combat injustice in marriage with progressive laws and policies, even when combined with smart planning and bargaining on the part of women. Also necessary is a change in the way marriage itself is viewed. In addition to being regarded as an emotional commitment, it should also (...) be seen as a commitment to interpersonal justice. I discuss what this reconceptualization would mean in practice and address several possible objections. (shrink)
The Cerdanya valley in the eastern Pyrenees has a physical unity into which a political frontier has been imposed to divide it. The social and cultural repercussions of this Franco-Spanish border have created obstacles to marriage which are not due to topography. Choice of month of marriage is under cultural control and the study of seasonality in marriages recorded in the registers of all the Cerdan parishes on both sides of the border demonstrated differences over time and between French and (...) Spanish sectors. It is suggested that these changes demonstrate the process of distancing of the two populations. Cluster and correspondence analysis showed progressive differentiation of the seasonality patterns of the French and Spanish Cerdans despite the geographic unity of the valley. Sociocultural factors are presumed responsible. (shrink)