Four Questions about Marriage




Kintz, Zara

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This thesis is an exploration of several loosely related questions centering on marriage. What is the current state of marriage? What is marriage, and what are the common philosophical conceptions of it? Which conception is better? How does public policy play a role in the institution of marriage? To answer these questions, I employ an array of different sources: U.S. Census data, philosophical works by John Locke and Thomas Aquinas, Karol Wojtyla’s work Love and Responsibility, and a variety of reports, blog posts, and books about marriage and public policy. Ultimately, this thesis aims to give readers a deeper understanding of marriage and to use that understanding to throw light on the current state of marriage, both statistically and philosophically. Since my chapters explore unique questions, I offer a variety of arguments. There is no single argument that runs through the entire thesis. However, one of the most important insights I reach is that the general understanding of marriage today is basically Lockean, while the orthodox Christian conception is much more philosophically and theologically deep. It is also better at encouraging fidelity. Because I find this conception so attractive, I spend a chapter digging into its conception of love through the work of Karol Józef Wojtyla, Love and Responsibility. I close with a survey of the way public policy has tried to bolster the institution of marriage, but I find that its impact has been minimal. Still, I argue that marriage should not be penalized by public policy.