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Family Matters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2006


Governments and international bodies continue to praise the family for its service to the good of individuals and of society. Among its important contributions are the rearing of children and the care of the elderly. So far as the former is concerned, however, the family is subject to increasing criticism and suggestions are made for further state intervention, particularly in the area of education. In response to this challenge I consider the natural operation of the family in relation to the development of children, and examine the implications of this for the role of the state in promoting, protecting or interfering with family life. Relating this to the issue of autonomy I argue that the sort of liberalism that lies behind the increasing criticism of parental authority is unable to find a place for the common good of family because of its commitment to neutrality between life-shaping values. I conclude that the best advice that philosophers might offer to policy makers is to make it possible for families to flourish in the ways they themselves recognise to be best.

Research Article
2006 The Royal Institute of Philosophy

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