Family and Marriage: Institutions and the need for Social Goods
Institutions, if unjust, ought to be reformed or even abolished. This radical Rawlsian thought leads to the question of whether the family ought to be abolished, given its negative impact on the very possibility of delivering equality of life chances. In this article, I address questions regarding the justice of the family, and of marriage, and reflect on rights, equality, and the provision of social goods by institutions.
There is a temptation to justify our social institutions in terms which highlight their universal accessibility and benefits. But we may best understand the claim of some of our most important institutions where we recognize that they are forms of social good which may benefit some, without benefitting all. Their abolition is unjustified where their value is of sufficient importance that it would be unreasonable for others to refuse the means to maintain and promote these social goods.
Véronique Munoz-Dardé is Professor of Philosophy at UCL, and she is also a member of the Department of Philosophy at UC Berkeley. Her research is in practical reasoning, ethics and political philosophy. In recent years, she has written articles on a range of issues, worrying about ethical problems at different levels of abstraction: aggregation and numbers in practical reasoning; the transitivity of ‘better than’; the social significance of risk; the justification of taxation; the nature of regret and what it reveals about the role of value in practical reasoning; the nature of social goods such as universities and museums; and the nature and importance of the political ideals of equality, fraternity and solidarity. She has held visiting positions at the department of Philosophy at Harvard and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. She is the author of La justice sociale: le libéralisme égalitaire de John Rawls (Armand Collin, 2001), and is currently finishing a book manuscript provisionally entitled The Regulation of Intimacy.
MGF (Mike) Martin is Wilde Professor of Mental Philosophy at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of Corpus Christi College; he is also Mills Adjunct Professor in the Dept of Philosophy, UC Berkeley, where he spends one semester every academic year.
Mike’s research is centred in the philosophy of mind, and predominantly in questions about the nature of sense perception. He also studies the philosophy of David Hume and issues arising in early analytic philosophy.