How Many Parents Should There Be in a Family?

Journal of Applied Philosophy (3):467-484 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,991

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Who counts as a parent for the purposes of filial obligations?Cameron Fenton - 2017 - Etikk I Praksis - Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics 1 (1):17-32.
Child Abuse: parental rights and the interests of the child.David Archard - 1990 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 7 (2):183-194.
Child Abuse: parental rights and the interests of the child.David Archard - 1990 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 7 (2):183-194.
Childrearing, Parenting, Upbringing: Philosophy of Education and the Experience of Raising a Child.Stefan Ramaekers - 2018 - In Ann Chinnery, Nuraan Davids, Naomi Hodgson, Kai Horsthemke, Viktor Johansson, Dirk Willem Postma, Claudia W. Ruitenberg, Paul Smeyers, Christiane Thompson, Joris Vlieghe, Hanan Alexander, Joop Berding, Charles Bingham, Michael Bonnett, David Bridges, Malte Brinkmann, Brian A. Brown, Carsten Bünger, Nicholas C. Burbules, Rita Casale, M. Victoria Costa, Brian Coyne, Renato Huarte Cuéllar, Stefaan E. Cuypers, Johan Dahlbeck, Suzanne de Castell, Doret de Ruyter, Samantha Deane, Sarah J. DesRoches, Eduardo Duarte, Denise Egéa, Penny Enslin, Oren Ergas, Lynn Fendler, Sheron Fraser-Burgess, Norm Friesen, Amanda Fulford, Heather Greenhalgh-Spencer, Stefan Herbrechter, Chris Higgins, Pádraig Hogan, Katariina Holma, Liz Jackson, Ronald B. Jacobson, Jennifer Jenson, Kerstin Jergus, Clarence W. Joldersma, Mark E. Jonas, Zdenko Kodelja, Wendy Kohli, Anna Kouppanou, Heikki A. Kovalainen, Lesley Le Grange, David Lewin, Tyson E. Lewis, Gerard Lum, Niclas Månsson, Christopher Martin & Jan Masschelein (eds.), International Handbook of Philosophy of Education. Springer Verlag. pp. 995-1012.
Why the Family?Luara Ferracioli - 2015 - Law, Ethics and Philosophy 3:205-219.


Added to PP

60 (#274,778)

6 months
24 (#121,679)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Kalle Grill
Umeå University

Citations of this work

Parenthood and Procreation.Tim Bayne & Avery Kolers - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Introduction: Ethics of Childhood.Gottfried Schweiger - 2023 - The Journal of Ethics 27 (1):1-5.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Family History.J. David Velleman - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):357-378.
The Right to Parent One's Biological Baby.Anca Gheaus - 2011 - Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (4):432-455.

View all 10 references / Add more references