CAHSS Faculty Articles

Title

[Book Review] Elizabeth Brake: Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality and the Law

Department

Department of History and Political Science

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Publication Title

Feminism & Philosophy Newsletter

Volume

13

Issue/No.

1

First Page

15

Last Page

17

Abstract

In this book, Elizabeth Brake calls for extensive reform of marriage law. At a time when the United States is in the midst of re-examining the relationship between marriage and the state, Brake takes us far beyond the typical popular and legal debates. She argues against reforms that merely extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, and against reforms supporting total abolition of state-sponsored marriage. Instead, Brake supports “minimal marriage,” according to which “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties, the type of relationship involved, and which rights and responsibilities to exchange with each” (157). In this book, Brake defends two main claims: (1) that marriage as an institution is not morally valuable in and of itself, and (2) that a liberal political state cannot justify sponsorship of any marriage relationship “thicker” then minimal marriage. Ultimately, I believe she strongly supports point number one above, and insightfully argues for point number two, conditioned on her philosophical commitment to a Rawlsian liberal political state.

ORCID ID

0000-0002-9289-8967

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