In a feminist critique of John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum claims that the traditional family is not “natural,” essentially because the state and the laws regulate it.


1. The institution of the family may be called natural, insofar as it may be the culmination of thousands of years of social evolution. It may have proven itself successful over many trials and tribulations. The legal regime surrounding the family may then be the accommodations that contribute to the “natural” family’s usefulness and stability rather than arbitrary whims of the rulers or deliverances of philosophers.

2. From the fact that the state does involve itself into the family Nussbaum surprisingly derives the conclusion that it ought to so involve itself; even more, that the state’s power to shape the family ought to be unlimited. Presumably, we should put her in charge of government and let her remake family law. What a non-sequitur.

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