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Minimizing MarriageMarriage, Morality, and the Law$
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Elizabeth Brake

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199774142

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199774142.001.0001

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Special Treatment for Lovers

Special Treatment for Lovers

Marriage, Care, and Amatonormativity

(p.81) 4 Special Treatment for Lovers
Minimizing Marriage

Elizabeth Brake

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 takes up the question of whether marriage is valuable because it promotes caring relationships. At a distance from care ethics, I argue that care is motivationally and epistemologically valuable, but only in the context of rights and justice. Just, caring relationships have some value, and this value should be recognized wherever it appears. But the special priority accorded marriage and marriage-like relationships marginalizes other forms of caring relationships. To the extent that it sustains ‘amatonormativity’ – the focus on marital and amorous love relationships as special sites of value – marriage undermines other forms of care. For example, the assumption that the most valuable relationships must be marital or amorous devalues friendships. Thus, I argue, marriage and the associated pressures of amatonormativity can threaten care. On the other hand, I argue that contract and bargaining, which are often seen as opposed to care, are not.

Keywords:   marriage, friendship, amatonormativity, heteronormativity, care, contract, justice, care ethics, singlism, feminism

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