Some months ago Robert P George, Ryan T Anderson and Sherif Girgis wrote one of the best papers to date on the same-sex marriage issue. That paper has prompted an ongoing debate with various advocates of same-sex marriage critiquing it and the paper’s authors, chiefly Girgis responding.
One of the most recent attacks on the paper came from a fellow Princeton philosophy graduate of Girgis, Robert Chappell.
Chappell seems to imagine he has come up with a slam-dunk response to the original paper. In fact, he proves a substantial part of the argument made by George, Anderson and Girgis. Part of their argument is that marriage must have an essence, something that cannot be changed, if it is to mean something. If it has no essence, then it can be anything at all, in which case why give it special support and status?
For example, if heterosexuality isn’t an essential component of marriage then why should monogamy be, or sexual exclusivity, or sex at all? And if marriage is only about companionship, then why give it any more status and recognition than any other form of companionship?
Indeed, a few months ago I debated the issue of marriage on Twitter with Bernard Cantillon, equality chief of the Labour party and I put it to him that if there is nothing special and distinctive about marriage that warrants giving it special treatment, why give it special treatment?
His answer was that it shouldn’t have special treatment, but so long as it received such treatment, same-sex couples should be allowed to marry!
Girgis himself has responded to Chappell here and from this link you’ll find a link to the original paper also.