Marriage, autonomy, and the state: Reply to Christopher Bennett

Res Publica 12 (2):179-190 (2006)


Christopher Bennett has argued that state support of conjugal relationships can be founded on the unique contribution such relationships make to the autonomy of their participants by providing them with various forms of recognition and support unavailable elsewhere. I argue that, in part because a long history of interaction between two people who need each other’s validation tends to produce less meaningful responses over time, long-term conjugal relationships are unlikely to provide autonomy-enhancing support to their participants. To the extent that intimate relationships can provide a unique form of reciprocal support, Bennett fails to show that couples have an advantage over multiple-partner arrangements in doing so.


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Deirdre Golash
American University

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