Ending a Romantic Partnership: Towards an Ethics of Divorce

Professor Monika Betzler
Event date
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16:00 - 17:30
Faculty of Philosophy (In-Person and Online)
Radcliffe Humanities Building
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road
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Lecture Room

Event type
Lectures and seminars
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Disabled access?
Booking required

Abstract: Romantic partnerships are typically among the most important goods in our lives. But romance sometimes ends, and often so too does the relationship. It is amply corroborated by empirical research that in undergoing divorce we are particularly vulnerable to being wronged and harmed. 

In this paper, my aim is to examine what partners owe to each other in ending their partnership. After providing some necessary clarifications I show why the possibility of divorce is necessary to realize the value of romantic partnerships, before highlighting the distinct wrongs and harms to which the divorcee is vulnerable. I explore the status, ground, and content of the duties that the divorcer has with regard to the divorcee, and confront various objections to bolster my claim that the divorcer has special residual duties with regard to the divorcee to avoid those wrongs and partly mitigate the harms incurred on the divorcee. These duties are grounded in the value that the particular partnership once had for both parties involved. I will finally discuss some objections and possibly paradoxical implications of my view.