Self-Restraint: Social Norms, Individualism and the Family
Representations of contemporary individualism as “selfish” can lead to the perception that social and community relationships take place in a normative vacuum, which the law should attempt to fill. In this Article I argue that the representation is inaccurate and that replacing moral or social norms with legal norms carries serious risks. I suggest three models for the relationship between state law and family norms: the “authorization” model; the “delegation” model; and the “purposive abstention” model. Since I maintain that moral and social norms do pertain within families, I argue that the “purposive abstention” model should normally be preferred.