The Philosophical Parent: Asking the Hard Questions About Having and Raising Children

ISBN : 9780190652609

Jean Kazez
336 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
Aug 2017
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Having and raising a child forces parents to confront questions that can consume even the most dedicated of philosophers. For those for whom it is a choice whether or not to have children, even the question of whether it is right to have a child is perplexing and difficult. And, if you do have a child, then what do you do? What are your obligations as a parent? Should you remain a neutral steward of your child's independent life, or intervene more strongly? How can you interact with your child to best ensure that that child leads a good life, while not going too far to protect her? On the more practical level, what is the ethical parent to do when it comes to issues like circumcision, vaccination, and teaching children about gender? These are a few of the eighteen questions that Jean Kazez considers in The Philosophical Parent. Drawing on personal experience and philosophical insight, Kazez provides a useful and illuminating companion to parenthood by tracing the arc of a child's development, and addressing all the puzzles that arise along the way. Though arguing ardently for a novel view of the bond between child and parent, Kazez adeptly guides her readers to form their own perspectives as well-their own way of becoming philosophical parents.


1. Children Come from Us What's so special about having kids?
2. Life is Good Are babies lucky to be born or just the opposite?
3. Quantity Control Must we care about population statistics?
4. Quality Control Should we mess with nature?
5. In the Beginning What's going on in there?
6. A Child is Born Is labor pain simply awful?
7. Whose Child is This? Why do biological parents have prerogatives?
8. Nobody's Child Does biology really matter?
9. Parenthood's End What's a parent for?
10. First Decisions To cut or not to cut?
11. Still Life with Child Who's going to care for the baby?
12. Boys and Girls Is it OK to prefer a girl/boy? Should parents reinforce gender?
13. The One and the Many When must I contribute to group efforts?
14. Lies, Lies, Lies Should we ever lie to childrenELor for them?
15. Passing on Religion Should we raise children in our own image?
16. Letting Go What should we do for our grown children?
17. Going Home What should our grown children do for us?
18. Parenthood and Meaning Does parenthood make us better off?
Annotated Bibliography

About the author: 

Jean Kazez teaches philosophy at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She is the author of The Weight of Things: Philosophy and the Good Life and Animalkind: What We Owe to Animals (both Wiley-Blackwell). A columnist, editor, and writer for The Philosophers' Magazine, she has also written articles and reviews for Philosophy Now and Free Inquiry.

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