Surrogacy involves a private agreement whereby a woman who gestates a child attempts to surrender her (putative) moral right to become the parent of that child such that another person (or persons), of the woman’s choice, can acquire it. Since people lack the normative power to privately transfer custody, attempts to do so are illegitimate, and the law should reflect this fact.
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)
There is a broad philosophical consensus that both children’s and prospective parents’ interests are relevant to the justification of a right to parent. Against this view, I argue that it is impermissible to sacrifice children’s interests for the sake of advancing adults’ interest in childrearing. Therefore, the allocation of the moral right to parent should track the child’s, and not the potential parent’s, interest. This revisionary thesis is moderated by two additional qualifications. First, parents lack the moral right to exclude (...) others from associating with the child. Second, children usually come into the world as part of a relationship with their gestational mother; often, this relationship deserves protection. (shrink)
The Significant Interest view entails that even if there were no medical reasons to have access to genetic knowledge, there would still be reason for prospective parents to use an identity-release donor as opposed to an anonymous donor. This view does not depend on either the idea that genetic knowledge is profoundly prudentially important or that donor-conceived people have a right to genetic knowledge. Rather, it turns on general claims about parents’ obligations to help promote their children’s well-being and the (...) connection between a person’s well-being and the satisfaction of what I call their “worthwhile significant subjective interests.” To put this view simply, the fact that a donor-conceived person—who knows she is donor-conceived—is likely to be very interested in acquiring genetic knowledge gives prospective parents a weighty reason to use an identity-release donor. This is because parents should promote their children’s well-being through the satisfaction of their children’s worthwhile significant interests. (shrink)
Analytic philosophers tend to agree that intentional parental genetic shaping and intentional parental environmental shaping for the same feature are, normatively, on a par. I challenge this view by advancing a novel argument, grounded in the value of fair relationships between parents and children: Parental genetic shaping is morally objectionable because it unjustifiably exacerbates the asymmetry between parent and child with respect to the voluntariness of their entrance into the parent–child relationship. Parental genetic shaping is, for this reason, different from (...) and more objectionable than parental environmental shaping. I introduce a distinction between procreative decisions one makes qua mere procreator—that is, without the intention to rear the resulting child—and procreative decisions one makes qua procreator-and-future childrearer. Genetic shaping is objectionable when undertaken in the latter capacity: Both selection and enhancement are objectionable because they introduce an unnecessary and avoidable inequality in the parent–child relationship; in the case of enhancement, this also results in harm to the future child. (shrink)
Camus considered the most crucial philosophical problem to be that of suicide—whether to discontinue your existence by endingit. Alternatively, a most crucial philosophical problem may be procreation—whether to continue human existence by making new humans. The topic has spurred an increasing amount of debate over the past decade, with marked diversion with Anscomb’s comment that it makes no moral sense to inquire whether one should reproduce. One might as well ask why digest food or why should the wind blow. This (...) article reviews some of the most recent literature on this topic, which shows little resemblance to Anscomb’s remark. (shrink)
The moral limits on how, and how much, parents may attempt to shape their children depend on what the moral project of parenthood is all about. A great deal has been written in the past forty years on the moral functions of parents and families and the acquisition and character of parental duties and rights. There has also been a great deal of philosophical writing on the use of technologies to create, select, and modify children, with such seminal works as (...) Warnock et al., and Robertson. The two literatures have overlapped... (shrink)
The birth of our daughter nearly 5 years ago went very well. But in a new city, with some experience on our side and access to a homelike natural birth center connected to a major area hospital, we thought it would be all the better when our son was born. We hadn’t dreamed that the detection of a benign arrhythmia in the baby’s heart would cascade into a situation that would not only undermine our entire birth plan, but force unwanted (...) treatment and threats of abandonment. In this commentary, our intention is to illustrate the way in which narratives, and the commonalities between the stories shared by other authors in this issue and our own, can give profound depth and new insights into the things that happen to us. (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)
Dualist and Reductionist theories of mind disagree about whether or not consciousness can be reduced to a state of or function of the brain. They assume, however, that the contents of consciousness are separate from the external physical world as-perceived. According to the present paper this assumption has no foundation either in everyday experience or in science. Drawing on evidence for perceptual projection in both interoceptive and exteroceptive sense modalities, the case is made that the physical world as-perceived is a (...) construct of perceptual processing and, therefore, part of the contents of consciousness. A finding which requires a Reflexive rather than a Dualist or Reductionist model of how consciousness relates to the brain and the physical world. The physical world as-perceived may, in turn be thought of as a biologically useful model of the world as described by physics. Redrawing the boundaries of consciousness to include the physical world as-perceived undermines the conventional separation of the 'mental' from the physical', and with it the very foundation of the Dualist-Reductionist debate. The alternative Reflexive model departs radically from current conventions, with consequences for many aspects of consciousness theory and research. Some of the consequences which bear on the internal consistency and intuitive plausibility of the model are explored, e.g. the causal sequence in perception, representationalism, a suggested resolution of the Realism versus Idealism debate, and the way manifest differences between physical events as-perceived and other conscious events are to be construed. In the present paper I wish to challenge some of our most deeply-rooted assumptions about what consciousness is, by re-examining how consciousness, the human brain, and the surrounding physical world relate to each other. (shrink)
RPC.2 The individual’s measure of consequences is proportionate to the circle of his outlook. His horizons may lie so near that he can only measure at short range. But, whether they be near or far, he can only judge of consequences as proximately or remotely touching himself. His judgment may err; his motive remains always the same, whether he be conscious of it or not. RPC.3 That motive is necessarily egoistic, since no one deliberately chooses misery when..