Parental Licensing Meets Evolutionary Psychology

Ethical Perspectives 19 (2):207-233 (2012)


Hugh LaFollette has proposed that in order to prevent statistically expected harm that many parents inflict on their children prospective parents should be licensed. This article evaluates his proposal by looking at various facts, statistical data and probability estimates related to sex differences in human mating and parenting behaviour provided by evolutionary psychology. It is suggested that these evolutionary considerations create a serious stalemate between certain basic moral principles to which LaFollette subscribes, thus rendering the entire proposal morally impracticable. It is also argued along similar lines that parental licensing would endanger some of the most personal and intimate human relationships that, in LaFollette’s view, are essential for developing one’s capacity for impartial morality.

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