A Project View of the Right to Parent

Journal of Applied Philosophy 1:1-23 (2023)
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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.

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Benjamin Lange
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München


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