The paper offers an account of co-parenthood according to which co-parents are parent and child to one another. The paper begins by reviewing extant theories of the value of being a parent, to see whether the value of co-parenthood is reducible to this. Finding that it is not, I briefly elaborate a theory of parenthood on which parents are those who create persons. Using Aristotle’s four causes as a helpful prism, I outline how parents are the cause of their child, (...) and how in causing a child together co-parents become parent and child to one another. For instance, since parents create children by offering themselves as models to be copied, co-parents should enjoy the best type of friendship with one another, each treating the other’s flourishing as a human person as their end. I suggest that co-parenthood contains parenthood virtually, that the co-parents’ love of their child is a manifestation of their love for one another, that the teleological fulfilled state of the friendship between parent and child exists in the friendship of co-parents. (shrink)
The institution of the family and its importance have recently received considerable attention from political theorists. Leading views maintain that the institution’s justification is grounded, at least in part, in the non-instrumental value of the parent-child relationship itself. Such views face the challenge of identifying a specific good in the parent-child relationship that can account for how adults acquire parental rights over a particular child—as opposed to general parental rights, which need not warrant a claim to parent one’s biological progeny. (...) I develop a view that meets this challenge. This Project View identifies the pursuit of a parental project as a distinctive non-instrumentally valuable good that provides a justification for the family and whose pursuit is necessary and sufficient for the acquisition of parental rights. This view grounds moral parenthood in a normative relation as opposed to a biological one, supports polyadic forms of parenting, and provides plausible guidance in cases of assisted reproduction. (shrink)
In philosophy, there are two competitor views about the nature and value of childhood: The first is the traditional, deficiency, view, according to which children are mere unfinished adults. The second is a view that has recently become increasingly popular amongst philosophers, and according to which children, perhaps in virtue of their biological features, have special and valuable capacities, and, more generally, privileged access to some sources of value. This article provides a conceptual map of these views and their possible (...) interpretations, and notes their bearing on issues of population ethics and on the duties that we are owed during childhood. (shrink)
Cases of non-traditional family-making offer a rich seam for thinking about normative parenthood. Gamete donors are genetically related to the resulting offspring but are not thought to be normative parents. Gestational surrogates are also typically not thought to be normative parents, despite having gestated a child. Adoptive parents are typically thought to be normative parents even though they are neither genetically nor gestationally related to their child. Philosophers have paid attention to these kinds of cases. But they have not paid (...) attention to what the people who have engaged in these forms of family-making have to say about what they’re doing and, more specifically, how they answer the questions: “Who is the normative parent? And why?” Paying attention to their answers reveals two things. First, accounts of parenthood from people involved in two forms of non-traditional family-making – reproduction with gestational surrogacy and reproduction with donated eggs – are mutually inconsistent. This is not surprising. What is surprising is that the contradictory aspects of the views evince a common commitment to, as I shall put it, naturalizing parenthood. The central goal of this paper is to explain what that means, but rough idea is that in naturalizing parenthood, prospective parents aim to put the features that make someone a normative parent beyond the reach of human agency. I conclude by briefly suggesting that we should think of the grounds of normative parenthood – and the very task of theorizing about the grounds of normative parenthood – in a way that avoids the need to naturalize altogether. (shrink)
This article is a critical interrogation of how gender and power figure in Swedish child welfare policy and the discourses on violence in intimate relationships vis-à-vis children exposed to violence. Drawing on feminist violence research, critical childhood studies, and intersectional perspectives, we identify a differentiation with racialised undertones in the understanding of violence as a social problem when related to children’s exposure. While predominately gender-neutral discourses of social heredity and epidemiology run through the material for the seemingly ‘universal’ child, forms (...) of violence ascribed to the presumed cultural Others link to gender, structural power and sexuality. The article concludes that gendered articulations of violence are restricted yet pivotal if children’s exposure is to be linked to issues of inequality and power. However, when gendering interlinks with racialisation, problematic differentiations of violence, childhoods and children are produced. (shrink)
In this article, I challenge the widespread presumption that a child should have exactly two parents. I consider the pros and cons of various numbers of parents for the people most directly affected – the children themselves and their parents. The number of parents, as well as the ratio of parents to children, may have an impact on what resources are available, what relationships can develop between parents and children, what level of conflict can be expected in the family, as (...) well as the costs involved in parenting and the experience of parenting a child. Indirectly, there is also an effect on who will have the opportunity to be a parent, as well as on wider social issues that I mention but do not discuss. Having considered all these factors, I conclude that there is some reason to believe that three or more parents is usually better than one or two, especially if children are to have siblings, which is typically beneficial. However, these reasons are not strong enough to support a general presumption in favor of any particular number. We should therefore jettison the two‐parent presumption and make different numbers of parents more socially accepted as well as legally possible. (shrink)
What defines family law? Is it an area of law with clean boundaries and unified distinguishing characteristics, or an untidy grouping of disparate rules and doctrines? What values or principles should guide it – and how could it be improved? Indeed, even the scope of family law is contested. Whilst some law schools and textbooks separate family law from children’s law, this is invariably effected without asking what might be gained or lost from treating them together or separately. Should family (...) law and children’s law be distinguished or treated together? One would expect disagreement on these questions in any context. In bringing together theorists from multiple jurisdictions and at least two primary disciplines, we should not be surprised to find deep differences in approach reflecting different methodologies and foundational questions. The tension between them, we hope, can illuminate and enrich discussion on all sides. (shrink)
This book provides rigorous but accessible scholarship, ideal for students in philosophy and public policy. It includes twelve original essays by world-renowned scholars, each examining a key topic in philosophy and public policy and demonstrating how policy debates can be advanced by employing the tools and concepts of philosophy.
Is the wish to be biologically related to your children legitimate? Here, I respond to an argument in support of a negative answer to this question according to which a preference towards having children one is biologically related to is analogous to a preference towards associating with members of one’s own race. I reject this analogy, mainly on the grounds that only the latter constitutes discrimination; still, I conclude that indeed a preference towards children one is biologically related to is (...) morally illegitimate because, in the context of parental love, biological considerations are normatively irrelevant. (shrink)
Because families disrupt fair patterns of distribution and, in particular, equality of opportunity, egalitarians believe that the institution of the family needs to be defended at the bar of justice. In their recent book, Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift have argued that the moral gains of preserving the family outweigh its moral costs. Yet, I claim that the egalitarian case for abolishing the family has been over-stated due to a failure to consider how alternatives to the family would also disturb (...) fair distributions and, in particular, equality of opportunity. Absent the family, children would continue to be exposed to care-givers of different levels of ability, investment in childrearing and beneficial partiality. In addition, social mechanisms other than the family would lead to the accumulation of economic inequalities. Any kind of upbringing will fail to realise equality for reasons that go deeper than the family: our partiality and unequal abilities to nurture. (shrink)
With an increasing number of ways to ‘assist’ reproduction, some bioethicists have started to wonder what it takes to become a genetic parent. It is widely agreed that sharing genes is not enough to substantiate the parent–offspring relation, but what is? Without a better understanding of the concept of reproduction, our thinking about parent–offspring relations and the ethical issues surrounding them risk being unprincipled. Here, I address that problem by offering a principled account of reproduction—the Overlap, Development and Persistence account—which (...) I believe best captures the meaning of ‘genetic parenthood’. (shrink)
This article is a discursive examination of children’s status as knowledgeable moral agents within the Swedish child welfare system and in the widely used assessment framework BBIC. Departing from Fricker’s concept of epistemic injustice, three discursive positions of children’s moral status are identified: amoral, im/moral and dis/loyal. The findings show the undoubtedly moral child as largely missing and children’s agency as diminished, deviant or rendered ambiguous. Epistemic injustice applies particularly to disadvantaged children with difficult experiences who run the risk of (...) being othered, or positioned as reproducing or accommodating to the very same social problems they may be victimised by. (shrink)
In this book, Joseph Millum explains how parental rights and responsibilities are acquired, what they consist in, and how parents should go about making decisions on behalf of their children. In doing so, he provides a set of frameworks to help solve pressing ethical dilemmas relating to parents and children.
According to the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis, the legalization of abor- tion in the United States in the 1970s explains some of the decrease in crime in the 1990s. In this paper, I challenge this hypothesis. First, I argue against the intermediate mechanisms whereby abortion in the 1970s is supposed to cause a decrease in crime in the 1990s. Second, I argue against the correlations that sup- port this causal relationship.
This chapter argues that there is a collective responsibility to have enough children in order to ensure that people will not, in the future, suffer great harm due to depopulation. Moreover, if people stopped having children voluntarily, it could be legitimate for states to incentivize and maybe even coerce individuals to bear and rear children. Various arguments against the enforceability of an individual duty to bear and rear children are examined. Coercing people to have children would come at significant moral (...) cost; however, none of the arguments against enforceability seem decisive. The existence of a collective responsibility to have children bears on the question of whether parents and non-parents ought to shoulder the costs of childbearing and child rearing together. (shrink)
The perceived meaning of life significantly affects the quality of human life. It is of particular significance in borderline situations. One of such situations is the birth of an intellectually disabled child. The article presents the results of the study concerning the perceived meaning of life in the case of parents who bring up a child with limited intellectual abilities. The study included 87 mothers and 65 fathers bringing up an intellectually disabled child. In the studied cases, parents perceived their (...) life as highly meaningful. The results indicated that the perceived meaning of life in the case of parents of intellectually disabled children was related with: suffering experienced by the parents as a result of a limited intellectual ability of their daughter/son, the manner of performing their parental role and the sense of parental identity. (shrink)
The use of assisted reproductive technology is becoming more and more common nowadays and the procedures that a few years ago would be seen as experimental have now become basic benefits. The present text covers the issues of risks and conflicts faced by family members and related with the use of technology in the process of conceiving and giving birth to a child. The authors pay special attention to the possible use of foreign germ cells in the conception of a (...) child. The article aims to demonstrate that the use of modern and advanced medical technology in health care in the field of medically assisted procreation may be seen as a benefit for the family, which satisfies the desire to have a child, but in the long run it may give rise to legal or psychological problems as well. The authors examine the draft on the infertility treatment. (shrink)
Can a person be harmed or wronged by being brought into existence? Can a person be benefited by being brought into existence? Following David Heyd, I refer to these questions as “genethical questions”. This chapter examines three broad approaches to genethics: the no-faults model, the dual-benchmark model, and the parity model. The no-faults model holds that coming into existence is not properly subject to moral evaluation, at least so far as the interests of the person that is to be brought (...) into existence are concerned. The dual benchmark model allows that coming into existence can be subject to moral evaluation, but holds that our judgments about the kinds of lives worth starting ought not be aligned with our judgments about the kinds of lives worth sustaining. I argue against both the no-faults and dual benchmark models. In their place, I argue for a parity approach to genethics, according to which our judgments about the conditions under which life is worth creating ought to be constrained by our judgments about the conditions under which life is worth continuing. (shrink)
In this paper, we are concerned with the ethical implications of the distinction between natural reproduction and reproduction that requires assistance. We argue that the current practice of enforcing regulations on the latter but not on the former means of reproduction is ethically unjustified. It is not defensible to tolerate parental ignorance or abuse in natural reproduction and subsequently in natural parenting, whilst submitting assisted reproduction and parenting to invasive scrutiny. Our proposal is to guarantee equal treatment to people engaging (...) in either form of reproduction or parenting. (shrink)
This essay suggests some links between concern about the decline of ‘the family’, or of ‘family values’, the use of reproductive technology, and the claim that some people have children for the ‘wrong reasons’. It is argued that where conceiving and bringing a child to term is a matter of choice, a person must have a reason or reasons for doing so and further, that those reasons are of moral significance. By appealing to Kant's Categorical Imperative: ‘Act in such a (...) way that you always treat humanity … never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end’, a distinction is made between morally desirable and morally undesirable reasons, on the grounds of the extent to which the parent or parents will be able or likely to treat the child as an end in herself. In conclusion it is argued that whilst ‘the family’is vital to the health of children, and to the health of society, it is not so much the form that the family takes that is significant, but the extent to which it allows for the development and maintainance of a certain sort of relationship. (shrink)