Marriage, morality, and institutional value

Elizabeth Brake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper develops a Kantian account of the moral assessment of institutions. The problem I address is this: while a deontological theory may find that some legal institutions are required by justice, it is not obvious how such a theory can assess institutions not strictly required (or prohibited) by justice. As a starting-point, I consider intuitions that in some cases it is desirable to attribute non-consequentialist moral value to institutions not required by justice. I will argue that neither consequentialist nor virtue-ethical accounts account for these intuitions, suggesting that a distinctive deontological account is needed. The account I give is drawn from Kant's Metaphysics of Morals; I distinguish it from Kantian views of institutions developed by Barbara Herman and Onora O'Neill. Throughout, I use marriage as an example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • Deontology
  • Institution
  • Kant
  • Marriage
  • Rights
  • Value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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