What if only usurers could marry?
February 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’ve suggested before that the government should get out of the usury business, and it is worth asking how that differs from the suggestion that the government should get out of the marriage business (GOOTMB).
It is a basic feature of a governed society that citizens may petition the sovereign for redress when a conflict arises with a fellow citizen. Every government is by definition the institution or individual which responds to petition with material resolution and has the authority to back up those decisions. Once you know where the material buck stops, you know who is the sovereign.
The suggestion that the government get out of the marriage business proposes that, at one and the same time, the government should remain agnostic on what marriage actually is ontologically and that the government should stay out of the enforcement of contracts of marriage. In other words, the government should not be involved in the enforcement of a certain kind of contract and at the same time it should remain agnostic on what is actually meant ontologically by “a certain kind of contract” in that requirement. The government at one and the same time must take a nominalistic approach to “marriage” and must successfully categorize a given contract as either marriage or not-marriage in order to decline to enforce it.
Unless the government is supposed to drop out of resolving conflicts altogether – which is to say, unless it is to cease being a government – this pair of requirements is self-contradictory.
Contrast this to my suggestion that the government should get out of the usury business. In order to do so, the government has to have a clear, concrete, non-nominalistic idea of what usury ontologically happens to be. In other words, it has to take a non-nominalistic approach to usury: to be very much in the usury business in precisely the sense that GOOTMB advocates want the government out of the marriage business.