The Family's Role in Society

34 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2013

Date Written: June 30, 2013


How is the family different from other basic social institutions? Using Aristotle's distinction between a thing's form and its matter, I argue that the family produces society's matter while a market, pact, and political constitution are, at least in part, society's form. I draw upon Lucretius, John Rawls, and recent findings in endocrinology to argue that family life prepares adults for social cooperation and helps them evaluate whether their society is just. In other words, the family is important not only for bearing and raising children to become functioning members of society. It also conditions adults for constructive participation in society.

Keywords: Family, Lucretius, John Rawls, Social Contract, Testosterone, Oxytocin, Hylomorphism, Institutions, Aristotle, Fertility Rate, Marriage

JEL Classification: J12, J13

Suggested Citation

Armstrong, John M., The Family's Role in Society (June 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

John M. Armstrong (Contact Author)

Southern Virginia University ( email )

One University Hill Drive
Buena Vista, VA 24416
United States


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