The Puzzle of Intra-Familial Commodification

University of Toronto Law Journal, Forthcoming

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper Forthcoming 16-44

37 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2016 Last revised: 1 Dec 2016

See all articles by Ram Rivlin

Ram Rivlin

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 21, 2016

Abstract

Trading babies or brides for money is widely regarded as morally wrong, and sometimes even legally prohibited. Yet here is a puzzle: it seems that parallel exchanges are taking place within the family unit, in the context of custody or reconciliation agreements, both of which might sometimes involve the interweaving of parental or spousal relations with financial exchange. Such cases face much less resentment and criticism, not to mention legal regulation. What can explain this gap in normative treatment? This is the “Puzzle of Intra-Familial Commodification”.

The paper introduces the puzzle, maps it and evaluates the ways in which it might be resolved. First, it explores the possibility to revise our judgment regarding either the permissibility of intra-familial commodification or the wrongfulness of the extra-familial case. Second, it examines why despite the fundamental symmetry between the cases a disparate final judgment might nevertheless be called for. Finally, it explores the option of vindicating the normative fundamental asymmetry. Thinking through the puzzle, the paper offers new insights on both the centrality of the market pricing mechanism for the general problem of commodification; and the way familial ties might save intimacy from the corruption of monetary exchange.

Keywords: Commodification, Family Law, Custody Agreements, Divorce Negotiation

Suggested Citation

Rivlin, Ram, The Puzzle of Intra-Familial Commodification (November 21, 2016). University of Toronto Law Journal, Forthcoming , Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper Forthcoming 16-44, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2873873

Ram Rivlin (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905
Israel

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