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The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2006

    An Interesting and Timely Book

    There¿s no denying that the movement to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions has recently brought the subject of marriage back to the forefront of public debate. But while many involved in this debate are quick to voice their opinions on the subject, few take the time to consider marriage¿s significance in careful detail. The authors of these essays, however, do just that. Uninterested in cliched talking points or partisan claptrap, they engage in a serious consideration of marriage¿s meaning and importance. The resulting product is a careful analysis of the significance of marriage for the individual, for the family and for political society. Roger Scruton reminds us in the book¿s first essay that institutions, including marriage, may be viewed externally or internally, from third-person or first-person perspectives. Skillfully weaving together literature, history and the phenomenology of personal experience, Scruton argues that marriage¿s full importance can only be comprehended through considerations from both perspectives. This essay is an appropriate choice to precede what follows, because in subsequent essays, the authors approach the topic mindful of the differences inherent in these two perspectives and determined to examine marriage from every angle imaginable. Furthermore, they are remarkably capable of engaging in this challenging task, experts as they are in a variety of fields ranging from law and public policy, philosophy, sociology, economics, history and political science. Though the authors are among today¿s leading academics and scholars ¿ from Princeton, Amherst, U Chicago, Stanford, UVA, and so on ¿ this book is quite accessible to the lay reader. In the end, the readers will be left more greatly aware of the breadth of issues implicated in contemporary marriage debates and more capable of participating in civil discourse through evaluating common arguments and advancing his or her own arguments as well. But this is not to say that the average reader will find each essay in this book extremely rewarding. The essays are all very well written, but unavoidably a reader¿s own interests will dictate that he or she will find some of these essays more approachable or interesting than others. This is simply the downside of the fact that this book seeks to leave no facet of marriage¿s significance out of the discussion. Yet the upshot of this same fact is that there is a great deal in this book that will be of value and appeal to everyone with any interest in considering the meaning of marriage. The Essays: Foreward by Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spellman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago and the Thomas and Dorothy Leavy Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom at Georgetown University 1 ¿ ¿Sacrilege and Sacrament,¿ by Roger Scruton, professor of philosophy at the University of Buckingham 2 ¿ ¿What About the Children? Liberal Cautions on Same- Sex Marriage,¿ by Don Browning, Alexander Campbell Professor Emeritus of Religious Ethics and the Social Sociences at the University of Chicago Divinity School and Elizabeth Marquardt, affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values 3 ¿ ¿Changing Dynamics of the Family in Recent European History,¿ by Harold James, professor of history at Princeton University 4 ¿ ¿Why Unilateral Divorce Has No Place in a Free Society,¿ by Jennifer Roback Morse, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University 5 ¿ ¿The Framers¿ Idea of Marriage and Family,¿ by David F. Forte, Charles R. Emrick Jr.¿Calfee, Halter & Griswold Endowed Professor of Law at Cleveland State University 6 ¿ ¿The Family and the Laws,¿ by Hadley Arkes, Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College 7 ¿ ¿What¿s Sex Got to do with It? Marriage, Morality,

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