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What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense Paperback – 11 Dec 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; First Edition edition (11 Dec. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594036225
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594036224
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Sherif Girgis is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at Princeton University and a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and "summa cum laude" from Princeton, where he had won prizes for best senior thesis in ethics and best thesis in philosophy, as well as the Dante Society of America's national Dante Prize, he obtained a B.Phil. in moral, political, and legal philosophy from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Robert P. George is a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School and McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and previously served on the President's Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. He is a recipient of the United States Presidential Citizens Medal and the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland. Ryan T. Anderson is William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the editor of "Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good," the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute. A Phi Beta Kappa and "magna cum laude" graduate of Princeton University, he is a doctoral candidate in political philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He has worked as assistant editor of "First Things" and was a Journalism Fellow of the Phillips Foundation. His writings have appeared in the "Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy," "First Things," the "Weekly Standard," "National Review," the "New Atlantis," and the "Claremont Review of Books."

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One: Comprehensive Union

For all the difficulty and ambiguity of making value judgments, the broadest outlines of the good life are plain to most of us. One man has a healthy body and a happy family, an enriching complement of hobbies and a keen sense for Bob Dylan. By day he teaches high-school seniors to savor the rhythm and wit of Chaucer’s poetry; by night friends help him savor red Bordeaux. A second man is debilitated, depressed, desensitized and detached. It doesn’t take a poet or a saint to see who is better off.

It is equally clear that there is nothing special about Dylan, Chaucer, or Bordeaux that gives the first man his advantage. There is no single good life, but a range of good lives: countless ways of blending the basic ingredients of human thriving. But the ingredients themselves—the most foundational ways in which we can thrive, what we call “basic human goods”—are more limited. They include only those conditions or activities that make us better off in themselves, whether or not they bring us other goods. It makes sense for us to want these for their own sake. Health, knowledge, play and aesthetic delight are a few examples, and another is friendship.

Yet another basic human good, we think, is marriage. A critical point here is that marriage and ordinary friendship do not simply offer different degrees of the same type of human good, like two checks written in different amounts. Nor are they simply varieties of the same good, like the enjoyment of a Matisse and the enjoyment of a Van Gogh. Each is its own kind of good, a way of thriving that is different in kind from the other. Hence, while spouses should be friends, what it takes to be a good friend is not just the same as what it takes to be a good spouse.

What, then, is distinctive about marriage? All sorts of practices are grafted onto marriage by law and custom, but what kind of relationship must any two people have to enjoy the specific good of marriage? This framing of the question, though unusual, should not seem mysterious; we could ask it just as well of other basic human goods.


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