Ethics and Social Welfare 6 (2):132-142 (2012)
|Abstract||Much is said about the decline of the family, often in connection with the prevalence of certain social problems. In this article I consider two kinds of fear: (i) that the traditional family is disappearing; (ii) that new forms of family emerging are, in some or other respect, not worthy of the title. In themselves, neither fear, I argue, should give rise to pressing ethical concerns as such. On fear (i): if by ?traditional family? we mean one whose adult members are heterosexuals, normally married and bringing up, in a single shared residence, their own offspring to whom they are biologically related, then indeed this is threatened by certain laws, and social and biotechnological relationships that tolerate and make possible new kinds of parental relationships. But as there are clear ethical objections to the disadvantaging of non-traditional families, there is no clear-cut case that the decline of the traditional version is a bad thing. Fear (ii) typically reflects a concern about excessive separation of the social and biological aspects of parenthood?i.e., that the definition and function of the family in social terms has become detached from a strict biological understanding of such factors. I argue that this concern is misplaced, for various reasons. As a result, there is no good reason to worry that the family?in all of its myriad forms?does not have a future|
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