The Negative Externalities of Immorality: The Case of Same-Sex Marriage

Skepsis, Vol. 17, pp. 52-65, 2006

14 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2006

See all articles by Aristides N. Hatzis

Aristides N. Hatzis

University of Athens - Department of History & Philosophy of Science; National and Kapodistrian University of Athens - Faculty of Law; Athens University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics

Abstract

A number of concepts from economic theory have been used to defend legal paternalism and legal moralism. In this paper I discuss the concept of moral externalities, i.e., of negative externalities of a behavior that is considered immoral by conventional morality. According to some economists the existence of significant negative externalities can justify legal moralism. I attempt to rebut this argument using a Coasean framework (supported by a body of unfortunately little known work on the demarcation of externalities) and by extracting from Richard Posner's wealth maximization criterion a theory of self-ownership which places heavier emphasis on consent than utility as a proxy for social welfare. I apply the results discussing the issue of same-sex marriage. I do not attempt to justify it on legal or moral grounds; I aim rather to repudiate the arguments which reject same-sex marriage based on the concept of moral externalities.

Keywords: same-sex marriage, externalities, self-ownership, legal regulation of morality

JEL Classification: A13, D62, J12, J15, J16, K10

Suggested Citation

Hatzis, Aristides N., The Negative Externalities of Immorality: The Case of Same-Sex Marriage. Skepsis, Vol. 17, pp. 52-65, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=909804 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.909804

Aristides N. Hatzis (Contact Author)

University of Athens - Department of History & Philosophy of Science ( email )

University Campus
Ano Ilisia
Athens, 15771
Greece
+30 210 7275565 (Phone)
+30 210 7275530 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.phs.uoa.gr/ahatzis

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens - Faculty of Law

Athens
Greece

Athens University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Athens
Greece

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