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Marriage and the Political Liberal State: An Investigation into the Nature of the Marital Relationship and the Legitimacy of a Political Institution of Marriage

Toop, Alison Rose (2018) Marriage and the Political Liberal State: An Investigation into the Nature of the Marital Relationship and the Legitimacy of a Political Institution of Marriage. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis engages with the debate surrounding the legitimacy of the political institution of marriage. Something lacking from this debate is a systematic discussion of the nature of the marital relationship. I address this omission, by means of a detailed investigation of this relationship in Part One. In Western societies the paradigmatic marital relationship is the romantic relationship. I consider whether we can define this relationship in terms of romantic love. I argue that we cannot do so without appealing to the nature of the relationship the love occurs within. We therefore also need an account of the relationship itself. I argue in favour of a role-based account which defines a relationship in terms of the norms governing that relationship. I then provide an account of the role of a romantic partner and claim that a romantic relationship is a relationship in which the participants play this distinctive role for each other. In Western liberal democracies the state directly regulates (it creates a distinct corresponding legal category for) the paradigmatic marital relationship through the political institution of marriage (the legal marital status, rights and duties etc.). Part Two considers whether this is appropriate. I consider and reject arguments which object to the state recognition of marriage on political liberal grounds. I argue that the state recognition of marriage is unproblematic, so long as there are independent liberal reasons for the state to directly regulate and recognise the romantic relationship. I then identify a complaint underlying each of these arguments: the claim that there is no reason for the state to directly regulate the romantic relationship. I respond to this complaint by showing that the romantic relationship leads to systematic material, physical and psychological vulnerability. In virtue of this it warrants some form of direct regulation. I conclude by showing just how complex a task it is to determine what form that direct regulation should take.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Love, Roles, Relationships, Marriage, Political Liberalism, State Recognition, Regulation, Vulnerability
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Depositing User: Alison Rose Toop
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 09:57
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2020 00:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23361

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