Tue, 18 October 2011
At the heart of the question of making laws about marriage is a question of definition. Specifically, is “marriage” a noun describing a mere social convention, or does it label something that is part of the order of reality? Can marriage be whatever we want it to be, or is there something about the nature of human being that defines it rather narrowly? On this issue of Dialogues, Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, says that it’s important to insist that marriage has a distinct, inelastic nature. George insists not only that marriage be understood as something with a fixed definition, but as an intrinsic good, something that is morally good prior to any good effects it might have such as social stability, mutual happiness, or the begetting of children. Marriage, rightly understood, is good in and of itself, and law should reflect that reality.