Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie Hartley

Second Advisor

William Edmundson


Can or must political liberals recognize any form of legal marriage? If so, on what grounds and what type(s) of marriage can they recognize? Elizabeth Brake argues that political liberals can and must support the social bases of adult caring relationships through the public recognition and support of minimal marriage. She thinks that political liberals cannot recognize a more robust form of marriage than her minimal marriage. Clare Chambers argues that the state should abolish legal marriage and replace it with the marriage-free state, which endorses piecemeal practice-based personal relationship laws. In this thesis, I will argue that the marriage-free state is superior to minimal marriage even in an ideal society because the marriage-free state can secure the rights and entitlements that are important for minimal marriage and do so in a way that is more inclusive of vulnerable persons.