April 19th, 2011
Over the course of several weeks, I published a series of posts analyzing Robert George’s article, “What Is Marriage?“, which appeared on pages 245-286 of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
Robert George authored The Manhattan Declaration and is the Founding Chairman of Maggie Gallagher’s National Organization for Marriage, but don’t let that fool you. He’s an intellectual heavyweight, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. A recent profile in the New York Times dubbed him America’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker.” “What Is Marriage?” has been hailed as “a definitive defense of the institution of traditional marriage. Just two months after its publication, it’s become the most downloaded paper of the past year at the Social Science Research Network. What follows is my reply to George.
February 24, 2011: Reply to George: I. Introduction. Blogging is inherently presumptuous: Look at me! I wrote this! You should read it! But it feels especially presumptuous asking people to read a long, multi-part rebuttal to an academic article. I hope you’ll do it anyway, for several important reasons: George’s article has substance, his article may improve the equality of your own thinking on marriage, his article will be influential, and I could use your help and feedback.
February 8, 2011: Reply to George: II. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself. In which Robert George asks his basic question, and we consider two different ways of addressing it.
February 10, 2011: Reply to George: III. Stop Sneaking in Your Conclusion! In which Robert George sets up the argument in a way we cannot accept.
February 12, 2011: Reply to George: IV. Parallels to Interracial Marriage. In which Robert George explains the structure of his article and makes a claim so outrageous it undermines his basic credibility.
February 15, 2011: Reply to George: V. Can We Talk About “Real” Marriage? In which Robert George works hard to establish his right to talk about real marriage.
February 18, 2011: Reply to George: VI. Marriage = Man + Woman. This is it. This is the meat you’ve been waiting for. This is the next generation of anti-gay talking points. Because this is where Robert George tries to prove only a man and a woman can marry.
February 20, 2011: Interlude: A Quick Story of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Balance. In which I bring up an example of how dangerous extreme rationalism can be. I think we see a milder version of it in George’s work, when he starts with a known conclusion (i.e., Church doctrine is correct) and attempts to reason his way toward it, disregarding how well the outcome matches reality.
February 24, 2011: Reply to George: VII. Is Marriage About the Children? Not for George. In which George pretends to talk about children but really just repeats his thoughts on sex organs.
February 28, 2011: Reply to George: VIII. Only the Dead Can Marry! In which George accidentally argues it’s okay for the government only to recognize the marriages of dead people (yes! yes, he does!).
March 11, 2011: Reply to George: IX. Polygamy and Incest. In which Robert George doesn’t realize he’s made a case for recognizing incestuous and polygamous (and polygamously incestuous) marriages.
March 13, 2011: Reply to George: X. Why Infertile Straights Get to Marry. In which Robert George explains why infertile opposite-sex couples can still have “real marriages.”
March 16, 2011: Reply to George: XI. Gay Marriages Will Destroy Straight Marriages. In which Robert George explains why infertile opposite-sex couples can still have “real marriages.”
March 24, 2011: Reply to George: XII. The Dishonest Truth about Same-Sex Parenting.. In which George — well, read for yourself. Any summary I write sounds incredibly harsh.
April 2, 2011: Reply to George: XIII. Marriage Equality Threatens Religious Freedom. In which George accidentally suggests the First Amendment is a threat to religious freedom.
April 19, 2011: Reply to George: XIV. Justify Your Love. Robert George has some challenges for us “revisionists.” He says we can’t meet them, but you know what? He’s wrong.