, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 117-121

Norvin Richards, The Ethics of Parenthood

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Norvin Richards’s The Ethics of Parenthood is an important contribution to the growing philosophical literature on the ethics of family relationships, and it deserves to assume a place alongside more established works like Jeffrey Blustein’s Parents and Children (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982) and David Archard’s Children: Rights and Childhood (London: Routledge, 2004). Covering such topics as parental rights and duties, education and the autonomy of children, and the reciprocal duties of grown children and parents, Richards approaches his subject in a problem-oriented, bottom-up way, and he serves up several original arguments, which he presents with clarity and thoroughness.

Because Richards’s book is worthy of serious engagement, it seems best to limit ourselves to critical exploration of just two topics. The first concerns the moral basis of parental rights. Some philosophers argue that custodial rights ought to vest in whomever can best promote a particular child’s intere