Thursday, October 8, 2009
Notre Dame Law School's Gerry Bradley writes:
"Greg Popcak's post yesterday illimunes beautifully the harmony between adoption and the procreative understanding of marriage I described in my Public Discourse essay. All that I would add to Greg's intervention is this: I think that adoption is intelligible, and distinct from, say, foster care, only in light of marriage-as-procreative. Parents who adopt should (and usually do) understand themselves as taking into their family someone who is biologicially unrelated, but someone who at the same time they intend to integrate into their lives as they have (or would) issue of their marriage. They endeavor to treat their adopted son or daughter as indelibly part and parcel of the marriage, as unbreakably connected to them (the parents) and siblings (if there are any), and equally of the parents' marriage as any biological children are. And so adoption is not an "exception" to a sound normative understanding of marriage (as Rob Vischer wondered in his post yesterday), but fully in keeping with it.
"Rob also wonders (in the title of his post) "who is left out?". In the post itself he worries about whether my proposal sends "significant", even if "unintended" messages about "some realtionships counting more than others". In reply I would say, first, that it is scarecly the point of articulating and defending a moral norm to "send messages" of inclusion or exclusion, as if dividing up people was the goal of expressing moral requirements. In this way, any such message is indeed "unintended". But an inevitable effect of any account of excellence in the moral life (and in performances of every sort, be they intellectual, artistic, athletic, spiritual) is to send the message that some count more than others. This is true of my proposal for how to understand marriage, just as it is true for every proposal for how to understand marriage."