Alone Together: Law and the Meanings of Marriage by Milton C. Regan

By Milton C. Regan

Modern marriage contains complicated notions of either connection and freedom. at the one hand, spouses are contributors of a shared neighborhood, whereas at the different they're discrete people with their very own precise pursuits. Alone Together explores the ways that legislation seeks to deal with tensions among dedication and freedom in marriage. writer Milton Regan means that purely shut consciousness to context can consultant us in figuring out what weight to assign to every measurement of spousal identification in a given environment. This interdisciplinary paintings has relevance to kin legislations, kin reports, feminist criminal conception, and the talk among liberal and communitarian social theorists.

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An internal stance toward marriage has some affinities with both the communitarian critique of liberalism and with emphasis on an ethic of care in contrast to an ethic of justice. " 142 These relationships are both a precondition for engaging in critical reflection and choice, as well as important sources of human value in their own right. Liberals acknowledge that we cannot call all of our commitments into question at once when we scrutinize our lives. 1"13 Communitarians focus on this feature of deliberation to stress the way in which the self cannot coherently be conceptualized apart from particular attachments and connections with others.

Marilyn Friedman, for instance, suggests that partiality to particular relationships may create at most a prima facie duty, hut this obligation must be assessed in light of the moral value of the relationship—that is, from an external stance. 32 Similarly, jean Hampton argues that contractarian thinking can serve as a welcome contrast to women's traditional selfless orientation. 33 A contractarian approach asks whether the benefits and burdens of family life could be justified by appeal to the consent of each individual in light ol reflection about her own interest.

As the next section indicates, however, it is incomplete. Particularly with respect to family life, the ability to take a stance internal to a given relationship may be crucial to the experience of genuine attachment with others. The Internal Stance In a chapter in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, Lena, a first generation ChineseAmerican married woman, is entertaining a visit from her mother. Her mother is peering with puzzlement at a list on the daughter's refrigerator. 85 Lena goes on to say, And I feel embarrassed, knowing what she's seeing.

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