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Gheaus, Anca. The Best Available Parent
2021, Ethics 131 (3):431-459
Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas

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.

Comment: This paper takes a position counter to the general philosophical consensus on the right to parent, instead defending a child-centred answer to the question, 'How does one acquire the moral right to parent?' in which the childrens' interests take precedence over potential parents. It would therefore be interesting to read and discuss in the context parental duties and rights, as well as the rights of children.

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