Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships

Princeton University Press
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The family is hotly contested ideological terrain. Some defend the traditional two-parent heterosexual family while others welcome its demise. Opinions vary about how much control parents should have over their children's upbringing. Family Values provides a major new theoretical account of the morality and politics of the family, telling us why the family is valuable, who has the right to parent, and what rights parents should—and should not—have over their children.

Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift argue that parent-child relationships produce the "familial relationship goods" that people need to flourish. Children's healthy development depends on intimate relationships with authoritative adults, while the distinctive joys and challenges of parenting are part of a fulfilling life for adults. Yet the relationships that make these goods possible have little to do with biology, and do not require the extensive rights that parents currently enjoy. Challenging some of our most commonly held beliefs about the family, Brighouse and Swift explain why a child's interest in autonomy severely limits parents' right to shape their children's values, and why parents have no fundamental right to confer wealth or advantage on their children.

Family Values reaffirms the vital importance of the family as a social institution while challenging its role in the reproduction of social inequality and carefully balancing the interests of parents and children.

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About the author

Harry Brighouse is professor of philosophy and affiliate professor of educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His books include On Education and School Choice and Social Justice. Adam Swift is professor of political theory at the University of Warwick. His books include Political Philosophy: A Beginners' Guide for Students and Politicians and How Not to Be a Hypocrite: School Choice for the Morally Perplexed Parent.
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Additional Information

Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 24, 2014
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Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / Political
Social Science / Sociology / Marriage & Family
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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School Choice and Social Justice develops a liberal egalitarian theory of social justice in education. Looking at the most recent empirical evidence, it evaluates the justice of existing choice schemes, and proposes a series of social justice-based school choice reforms. - ;School choice, the leading educational reform proposal in the English-speaking world today, evokes extreme responsesDSits defenders present it as the saviour; its opponents as the deathnell of a fair educational system. Disagreement and vagueness about what constitutes social justice in education muddies the debate. The author provides a new theory of justice for education, arguing that justice requires that all children have a real opportunity to become autonomous persons, and that the state use a criterion of educational equality for deploying educational resources. Through systematic presentation of empirical evidence, the author argues that existing schemes do not fare well against the criterion of social justice, yet this need not impugn school choice. Brighouse offers a school choice proposal that could implement social justice and explains why other essential educational reforms can be compatible with choice. - ;Powerful, compelling book. - British Journal of Educational Studies;Presents a persuasive and lucid case that holds concrete implications for the formation of public policy in liberal democratic states ... a welcome and timely addition to the literature on liberal political theory and a real attempt to tackle a fundamental issue which is too often conveniently ignored by many other liberals. - Political Studies;This book draws together philosophical debate with policy analysis in a way that makes fascinating reading ... The poise of the discussion is such that a reasonable hearing is given to both sides of the argument ... This book has shown that there can be a third perspective in the debate over school choice, and, perhaps surprisingly in the current climate, one that is not born out of politics but out of a philosophical understanding of social justice. - Sociology;A refreshing contribution to critical discussion of the social impacts of school choice reforms. - Sociology;Brighouse''s book is immensely useful in clarifying the value bases of public policy in education and will force readers to examine and ultimately refine their own assumptions about school choice. - Choice
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