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Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law$
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Elizabeth Brake and Lucinda Ferguson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786429

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786429.001.0001

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A Perfectionist Argument for Legal Recognition of Polyamorous Relationships

A Perfectionist Argument for Legal Recognition of Polyamorous Relationships

(p.95) 4 A Perfectionist Argument for Legal Recognition of Polyamorous Relationships
Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law

Ronald C. Den Otter

Oxford University Press

Although several American legal scholars have defended the constitutional right to marry more than one person at the same time on substantive due process or equal-protection grounds, few have underscored the possibility that plural marriage could be beneficial. The standard liberal approach eschews comparative judgments between monogamy and polyamory, ultimately depending on the value of the exercise of autonomy for its own sake. The problem is that those who employ it must remain reticent about the benefits that the legal recognition of polyamorous marriage may produce. In this chapter, I formulate an atypical constitutional argument for polyamorous marriage, drawing inspiration from John Stuart Mill’s well-known idea of experiments of living, rooted in the benefits of unconventional beliefs and practices. I try to explain why polyamory can be a superior marital arrangement for some people under some circumstances. Such marital experiments also may assist polyamorists in becoming better human beings.

Keywords:   polyamory, polygamy, John Stuart Mill, experiments in living, perfectionism, group marriage, marriage equality, plural marriage

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