The family and political justice – the case for political liberalisms

Journal of Ethics 4 (3):257-282 (2000)
This paper examines two central arguments raised byfeminist theorists against the coherence andconsistency of political liberalisms, a recentrecasting of liberal theories of justice. They arguethat due to political liberalisms'' uncritical relianceon a political/personal distinction, they permit theinstitution of the family to take sexist and illiberalforms thus undermining its own aims and politicalproject. Political liberalisms'' tolerance of a widerange of family forms result in two fatalinconsistences. Firstly, it retards or completelyprevents women from developing the necessary politicalsense of self required for citizenship, and secondly,it prevents children from acquiring the requisitepolitical virtues and sense of justice necessary forthe viability and long-term stability of such asociety. In the paper, I argue that despite theirinitial appeal these feminist criticisms are notcompelling. Firstly, they misunderstand what politicalliberalisms mean by unjust family forms, secondly,they trade on a misunderstanding of thepolitical/personal distinction and, finally, they makequestionable empirical claims about the effects of theilliberal family on a viable political conception ofjustice.
Keywords family  feminism  justice  Okin  political liberalism  public/private distinction  Rawls
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009855117726
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Ryan Reed (2013). Are the Kids Alright? Rawls, Adoption, and Gay Parents. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):969-982.

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