Having and Raising Children: Unconventional Families, Hard Choices, and the Social Good

Having and Raising Children: Unconventional Families, Hard Choices, and the Social Good

Having and Raising Children: Unconventional Families, Hard Choices, and the Social Good

Having and Raising Children: Unconventional Families, Hard Choices, and the Social Good

Synopsis

As the term "family values" achieves prominence in the rhetoric of political debate, the social issues at the heart of today's political controversies deserve to be studied in depth. This volume brings together a group of philosophers, political scientists, and legal scholars to explore a wide range of specific topics dealing with the legal, ethical, and political dimensions of familial relationships.

Topics addressed include the rights of unwed fathers, the nature of children's autonomy, children's rights to divorce their parents, parental rights with respect to medical treatment and religious education of children, surrogate parenting, same-sex parenting, and single-parent families. Collectively, the essays point out that many contemporary issues pertaining to the having and raising of children pose genuinely hard choices for public policy makers, for those who make and enforce the laws, and for citizens who would like to engage in informed and critical democratic debate on these issues.

Excerpt

Familial relationships between parents and children are at the center of a number of important moral, social, and political controversies. The welfare of families and children often occupies a significant space in contemporary political rhetoric, cutting across the political spectrum. Conservative rhetoric about "family values" is echoed by liberal homilies about how "it takes a village to raise a child." Issues such as how family relationships should be normatively assessed, what types of family relationships should be regarded as valuable, who should count as parents and what rights they should have with respect to their children, and what sorts of protections should be accorded to children against their parents all surface in these debates as matters of ongoing social concern and political contestation. While both children and the institution of the family are often idealized in these debates, both the complexities of families as entities and the realities of the predicaments and problems faced by children as a group often tend to receive inadequate attention.

The idealization of families and children coexists in contemporary discourse with depictions of the family as "an institution in crisis" and on the verge of "breaking down." There is much divergence, however, in . . .

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