Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

T. H. Green on Family Rights

Crossley David.

T. H. Green's 1879-80 lectures on family rights appear to support the limitation of the rights to marry and to form families to monogamous heterosexual couples and their legitimate children. But determining whether this is true, and if so whether it is legitimate, requires answering two logically prior questions. First, is Green correct in his analysis of the nature of family rights? Second, does the moral function of the family, as Green sees it, require that it have some specific form or structure?
The second question is especially important because Green's strategy throughout the Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation is to provide a theoretical account of the rights which must be granted in some area, such as property or the family - must be granted because of the moral function of these social institutions - and then to analyse existing society to determine whether it comes up to the mark. If he gets the theoretical account wrong, he then has no basis from which to generate evaluations of existing arrangements and from which to advance proposals for change. (Planning the development of future human society may require paying attention to the past - and this is one of the main lessons learned in the study of the humanities - but the past cannot be of any help until we have critically assessed its analysis and justification of various human institutions.) This paper offers a critical evaluation of these basic elements of Green's views on family right


Crossley David  (Canada)
Professor of Philosophy
Department Of Philosophy
University of Saskatchewan

David Crossley is currently professor of philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Canada. He studied English literature and philosophy at the University of Toronto and then did doctoral work in social philosophy at King's College in the University of London, England. His research interest are focused on the ethical and political theories of philosophers in Victorian England, and related topics in political philosophy. His publications include a book on informal logic and numerous book chapters and journal articles on Victorian philosophers, including J. S. Mill, F. H. Bradley, T. H. Green and Henry Sidgwic

  • Rights
  • Family Rights
  • Political Philosophy
Person as Subject
  • T. H. Green

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)