Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1-1-2013






This essay revisits Mary Ann Glendon’s comparative law study, Abortion and Divorce in Western Law and her subsequent book, Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse. Glendon’s comparative study actually included a third topic: “forms of dependency which are connected with pregnancy, marriage, and child raising.” The topic of dependency has obvious relevance to consideration of intergenerational obligations and the interplay between family responsibility and societal responsibility for addressing dependency needs. A central claim Glendon made in both books is that the U.S. legal tradition is “libertarian,” views individuals as “lone rights bearers,” and exalts the “right to be let alone,” while European conceptions of the person are “dignitarian,” envision the rights-bearer as situated in family and community relationships, and support a more communitarian and generous model of social provision and of social responsibility to address dependency.

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