Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie Hartley

Second Advisor

Peter Lindsay


Whether a liberal state should sanction marriages, and if so, in what form, is a hotly contested topic in liberal political theory. This essay responds to a radical proposal by Clare Chambers to end state sanctioned marriage and replace the institution with a network of practice-based directives aimed at ensuring gender equality and liberty. I argue that this proposed framework suffers from the serious defect of not only failing to ensure liberty but actively undermining it due to the way directives will inevitably either include too many people under their scope to preserve liberty or too few to ensure equality. While the presence of this defect does not settle the debate concerning how liberal states should handle marriage, it makes clearer the tradeoffs involved in selecting new personal relationship law frameworks to replace marriage.


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