It’s hard not to take for granted our culture’s most basic assumptions about sexuality, marriage, and family—to think of them as being as natural as the air we breathe; undeniable; in need of no defense. Most people assume, for example, that the main value of sex is in its power to please and to foster affection; that marriage and family are whatever we make of them; that seeing deeper meaning in sex, or unchosen duties in family life, would be superstitious, and maybe devastating in its effects.
But these assumptions are questionable and, in historical terms, quite novel. How we think about sex and family shapes most of our lives very deeply. We have every reason to haul our assumptions about both into the light, to think about them critically, and to make up our own minds. The readings for this seminar are picked out to help us do just that. They’re meant to help us step back from our default ideas about sex, marriage, and family and to empower us to imagine alternatives.
Dr. Sherif Girgis
Sherif Girgis is an associate professor of law at Notre Dame. He is completing a doctorate in philosophy at Princeton and just finished working as an appellate litigator at Jones Day in Washington, D.C., where he went following his law clerkships for Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., of the U.S. Supreme Court. Sherif earned his juris doctorate at Yale Law School, his master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Princeton, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude in 2008. Sherif is co-author of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, cited by Justice Alito in United States v. Windsor, and Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, released by Oxford University Press in 2017. He has also spoken at more than 100 conferences and debates and written on moral and legal issues in academic and popular venues including the Yale Law Journal, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the American Journal of Jurisprudence, the Cambridge Companion to Philosophy of Law, Public Discourse, National Review, Commonweal, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
Director, Tikvah Scholars Program