The Endless Umbilical Cord: Parental Obligation to Grown Children

Journal of Practical Ethics 6 (2):55-72 (2018)
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One might think that parental obligation to children ends with the end of childhood. I argue that if we consider why parents are obligated to their children, we will see that this view is false. Creating children exposes them to life’s risks. When we expose others to risks, we are often obligated to minimize damages and compensate for harms. Life’s risks last a lifetime, therefore parental obligation to one’s children does too. Grown children’s autonomy, and grown children’s independent responsibility for some of their own problems, can sometimes limit what parental responsibility demands of parents but it doesn’t do away with the responsibility. I argue that my conclusions are not as counterintuitive as they might initially seem. I also consider the implications that parental obligation to grown children might have on the oft assumed obligation that grown children have to care for their parents.



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Rivka Weinberg
Scripps College

Citations of this work

Divine Authority as Divine Parenthood.Nick Hadsell - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
Parenthood and Procreation.Tim Bayne & Avery Kolers - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Filial Morality.Christina Hoff Sommers - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (8):439.
Filial morality.Christina Hoff Sommers - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (8):439-456.
The Friendship Model of Filial Obligations.Nicholas Dixon - 1995 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 12 (1):77-87.
Caring for Frail Elderly Parents.Mark R. Wicclair - 1990 - Social Theory and Practice 16 (2):163-189.
How Do We Acquire Parental Responsibilities?Joseph Millum - 2008 - Social Theory and Practice 34 (1):71-93.

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