Autonomy and conjugal love: A reply to Golash

Res Publica 12 (2):191-201 (2006)
In my response to Golash I distinguish between two steps in my original argument. The first relates to the special value of conjugal (two-person) love relationships. I defend this step against criticisms, arguing that the two-person relationship provides a form of recognition that is of special importance to us and cannot be found in other sorts of relationship. The two-person relationship is one that, at least as private individuals, we have special reason to pursue. The second step concerns the claim that the special value of such relationships tends to promote the autonomy of those who have them. It is this second step that is important for the argument that a liberal state – one, at any rate, that takes itself to be in the business of safeguarding the pre-conditions of autonomy – could have reason to favour marriage or some form of civic partnership over other forms of intimate adult tie. However, I admit that Golash puts forward plausible – if anecdotal – arguments against this second step. I therefore agree that I need to be more tentative about this step than I was in the original paper
Keywords autonomy  friendship  Hegel  marriage  recognition
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-006-9003-x
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