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Thread: Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

  1. #1

    Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/...values/6437058

    Race to the bottom continues.


    1 May 2015

    Plato famously wanted to abolish the family and put children into care of the state. Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.


    So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

    The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

    Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

    ‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

    ‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

    Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

    So, what to do?

    According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

    ‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

    It’s not the first time a philosopher has thought about such a drastic solution. Two thousand four hundred years ago another sage reasoned that the care of children should be undertaken by the state.

    Plato pulled few punches in The Republic when he called for the abolition of the family and for the children of the elite to be given over to the state. Aristotle didn’t agree, citing the since oft-used argument of the neglect of things held in common. Swift echoes the Aristotelian line. The break-up of the family is plausible maybe, he thinks, but even to the most hard-hearted there’s something off-key about it.

    ‘Nearly everyone who has thought about this would conclude that it is a really bad idea to be raised by state institutions, unless something has gone wrong,’ he says.

    Intuitively it doesn’t feel right, but for a philosopher, solutions require more than an initial reaction. So Swift and his college Brighouse set to work on a respectable analytical defence of the family, asking themselves the deceptively simple question: ‘Why are families a good thing exactly?’

    Not surprisingly, it begins with kids and ends with parents.

    ‘It’s the children’s interest in family life that is the most important,’ says Swift. ‘From all we now know, it is in the child’s interest to be parented, and to be parented well. Meanwhile, from the adult point of view it looks as if there is something very valuable in being a parent.’

    He concedes parenting might not be for everyone and for some it can go badly wrong, but in general it is an irreplaceable relationship.

    ‘Parenting a child makes for what we call a distinctive and special contribution to the flourishing and wellbeing of adults.’

    It seems that from both the child’s and adult’s point of view there is something to be said about living in a family way. This doesn’t exactly parry the criticism that families exacerbate social inequality. For this, Swift and Brighouse needed to sort out those activities that contribute to unnecessary inequality from those that don't.

    ‘What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children’.

    The test they devised was based on what they term ‘familial relationship goods’; those unique and identifiable things that arise within the family unit and contribute to the flourishing of family members.

    For Swift, there’s one particular choice that fails the test.

    ‘Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,’ he says. ‘It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realise these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.’

    In contrast, reading stories at bedtime, argues Swift, gives rise to acceptable familial relationship goods, even though this also bestows advantage.

    ‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t—the difference in their life chances—is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says.

    This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion—that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted. In Swift’s mind this is where the evaluation of familial relationship goods goes up a notch.

    ‘You have to allow parents to engage in bedtime stories activities, in fact we encourage them because those are the kinds of interactions between parents and children that do indeed foster and produce these [desired] familial relationship goods.’

    Swift makes it clear that although both elite schooling and bedtime stories might both skew the family game, restricting the former would not interfere with the creation of the special loving bond that families give rise to. Taking the books away is another story.

    ‘We could prevent elite private schooling without any real hit to healthy family relationships, whereas if we say that you can’t read bedtime stories to your kids because it’s not fair that some kids get them and others don’t, then that would be too big a hit at the core of family life.’

    So should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?

    ‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.

    In the end Swift agrees that all activities will cause some sort of imbalance—from joining faith communities to playing Saturday cricket—and it’s for this reason that a theory of familial goods needs to be established if the family is to be defended against cries of unfairness.

    ‘We should accept that lots of stuff that goes on in healthy families—and that our theory defends—will confer unfair advantage,’ he says.

    It’s the usual bind in ethics and moral philosophy: very often values clash and you have to make a call. For Swift and Brighouse, the line sits shy of private schooling, inheritance and other predominantly economic ways of conferring advantage.

    Their conclusions remind one of a more idyllic (or mythic) age for families: reading together, attending religious services, playing board games, and kicking a ball in the local park, not to mention enjoying roast dinner on Sunday. It conjures a family setting worthy of a classic Norman Rockwell painting. But not so fast: when you ask Swift what sort of families is he talking about, the ‘50s reverie comes crashing down into the 21st century.

    ‘When we talk about parents’ rights, we’re talking about the person who is parenting the child. How you got to be parenting the child is another issue. One implication of our theory is that it’s not one’s biological relation that does much work in justifying your rights with respect to how the child is parented.’

    For Swift and Brighouse, our society is curiously stuck in a time warp of proprietorial rights: if you biologically produce a child you own it.

    ‘We think that although in practice it makes sense to parent your biological offspring, that is not the same as saying that in virtue of having produced the child the biological parent has the right to parent.’

    Then, does the child have a right to be parented by her biological parents? Swift has a ready answer.

    ‘It’s true that in the societies in which we live, biological origins do tend to form an important part of people’s identities, but that is largely a social and cultural construction. So you could imagine societies in which the parent-child relationship could go really well even without there being this biological link.’

    From this realisation arises another twist: two is not the only number.

    ‘Nothing in our theory assumes two parents: there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four,’ says Swift.

    It’s here that the traditional notions of what constitutes the family come apart. A necessary product of the Swift and Brighouse analytical defence is the calling into question of some rigid definitions.

    ‘Politicians love to talk about family values, but meanwhile the family is in flux and so we wanted to go back to philosophical basics to work out what are families for and what’s so great about them and then we can start to figure out whether it matters whether you have two parents or three or one, or whether they’re heterosexual etcetera.’

    For traditionalists, though, Swift provides a small concession.

    ‘We do want to defend the family against complete fragmentation and dissolution,’ he says. ‘If you start to think about a child having 10 parents, then that’s looking like a committee rearing a child; there aren’t any parents there at all.’

    Although it’s controversial, it seems that Swift and Brighouse are philosophically inching their way to a novel accommodation for a weathered institution ever more in need of a rationale for existing. The bathwater might be going out, but they’re keen to hold on to the baby.



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  3. #2
    ‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.
    You're free to think as you wish, I on the other hand will never view my positive interaction with my kid as having any effect on other peoples kids.

    For one to think along those lines he must accept responsibility for that which he can't control.

  4. #3
    Ban Cricket.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Ron Paul know some weird people...



    Quiz: Test Your "Income" Tax IQ!


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    The Federalist Papers, No. 15:

    Except as to the rule of appointment, the United States have an indefinite discretion to make requisitions for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either by regulations extending to the individual citizens of America.

  5. #4
    Having a family of any sort is a threat to Tyranny.

    Belief, Money, and Violence

    How much of what you believe are lessons taught to you by your own parents? When the state becomes the Surrogate Family, they can control exactly what lessons you are taught. The Monopoly of Belief requires multiple sources to establish and maintain thought control, which is why the MSM, Tech Giants, and Public Schools promote the same agenda. At first, Public Education was used as the earliest form of "get em while theyre young", but it now appears that a NORMAL FAMILY itself has become a direct threat to their power and control, and is probably the last standing challenge to their Monopoly of Belief.

    Cradle to Grave.
    1776 > 1984

    The FAILURE of the United States Government to operate and maintain an
    Honest Money System , which frees the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators, is the single largest contributing factor to the World's current Economic Crisis.

    The Elimination of Privacy is the Architecture of Genocide

    Belief, Money, and Violence are the three ways all people are controlled

    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Our central bank is not privately owned.

  6. #5
    A loving family is normal and right. If we had more of them the world would be a better place.
    "There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought."~~Charles Kingsley

  7. #6
    Is having loving family unfair in general? Helicopter parents. Now there are "lawn mower" parents that don't hover they "mow down" any obstacles their children face. Having a family unit might actually be detrimental...depending.

  8. #7
    //
    Last edited by specsaregood; 12-05-2018 at 01:12 PM.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    Ban Cricket.
    In Australia?



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  11. #9
    A neighbor has a sign:




    What are they doing, advertising their kids for perverts?
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Ron Paul know some weird people...



    Quiz: Test Your "Income" Tax IQ!


    Short Income Tax Video

    The Income Tax Is An Excise, And Excise Taxes Are Privilege Taxes

    The Federalist Papers, No. 15:

    Except as to the rule of appointment, the United States have an indefinite discretion to make requisitions for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either by regulations extending to the individual citizens of America.

  12. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by specsaregood View Post
    I had to laugh at the beach this summer, when taking my kid boogie boarding. He's a little guy and he got tossed and tumbled and wiped out numerous times. I lost count of the times that other parents on the beach got a shocked and worried look on their faces, ready to run to his aid while looking all around for where this poor kid's mindless parents where. But everytime, he'd hop back up, turn around and run back into the waves, out where I was waiting --and watching-- for him.
    Did the same with my lady's grand kids. The older 12 looked after the younger 8 and they had a grand time.

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    In Australia?
    Well, it gives their children an unfair advantage.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Ron Paul know some weird people...



    Quiz: Test Your "Income" Tax IQ!


    Short Income Tax Video

    The Income Tax Is An Excise, And Excise Taxes Are Privilege Taxes

    The Federalist Papers, No. 15:

    Except as to the rule of appointment, the United States have an indefinite discretion to make requisitions for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either by regulations extending to the individual citizens of America.

  14. #12
    //
    Last edited by specsaregood; 12-05-2018 at 01:12 PM.

  15. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    A neighbor has a sign:




    What are they doing, advertising their kids for perverts?
    Some people overestimate their sense of humor.

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    A neighbor has a sign:



    Do they mean their children are slow of foot? or slow of wit?
    Either way I would have thought free range children would be superior instead of inferior.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  17. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by specsaregood View Post
    The tattoos all over his body got a lot of 2nd looks too. lol
    whenever I see kids like that covered with tattoos, I immediately call CPS.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Ron Paul know some weird people...



    Quiz: Test Your "Income" Tax IQ!


    Short Income Tax Video

    The Income Tax Is An Excise, And Excise Taxes Are Privilege Taxes

    The Federalist Papers, No. 15:

    Except as to the rule of appointment, the United States have an indefinite discretion to make requisitions for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either by regulations extending to the individual citizens of America.

  18. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    whenever I see kids like that covered with tattoos, I immediately call CPS.
    This is not a permanent tattoo.



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  20. #17
    Sterilize all new born children.
    Afterwards any new human's produced in labor-atory are raised by state.
    GMO children that cannot reproduce.

  21. #18
    Not having a loving family is an unfair disadvantage.

    Which is why the enemies of the people love every anti-family initiative ever proposed.

  22. #19
    Where is that old video of the newscaster saying "We need to think of children as Property of the Community, and NOT their parents"? Probably paraphrased that...
    1776 > 1984

    The FAILURE of the United States Government to operate and maintain an
    Honest Money System , which frees the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators, is the single largest contributing factor to the World's current Economic Crisis.

    The Elimination of Privacy is the Architecture of Genocide

    Belief, Money, and Violence are the three ways all people are controlled

    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Our central bank is not privately owned.

  23. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    whenever I see kids like that covered with tattoos, I immediately call CPS.
    When I was a teenager I had a job at a beach, and there was this one kid, about 10 years old, who never ran out to play with the other kids so he'd hang out with me. Reason why was that he had had open-heart surgery, and there was a huge scar down the middle of his chest right where that lion is on this kid.

    Size and build being identical, I would have suspected that maybe this tattoo was to cover a surgery scar, which would be the one thing to make it OK.

  24. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    I believe I've lost at least 20 IQ points reading that drivel.

    OK, so why are these people allowed to live, exactly?

    Seriously though, the stupidity of these "researchers" as portrayed here strains credulity in abusive fashion.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    "It’s just interesting to note how constant government oppression can kill people’s fighting spirit." - Withur We




    Pray for reset.


  25. #22
    I do think children need to be better taught in school how to report their parents to CPS. I think it would really change the parent/child dynamic for the better.

    Perhaps Texas can add this as another mandatory class to the school curriculum.
    It's all about taking action and not being lazy. So you do the work, whether it's fitness or whatever. It's about getting up, motivating yourself and just doing it.
    - Kim Kardashian

    Donald Trump / Rand Paul (Vice Pres) 2016!!!!

  26. #23
    Hmmm...since we're talking of ancient Greeks.

    Molon labe.

    Come and take them motherfuckers, I dare you.

  27. #24
    Philosophically, it's a fair question to ask.

    Is it an unfair advantage? Yes.

    Is it still something we should strive for, absolutely. Better stronger families make the world a better place.

    Dori
    www.LittleLibertarians.com



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  29. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Dori_G View Post
    Philosophically, it's a fair question to ask.

    Is it an unfair advantage? Yes.

    Is it still something we should strive for, absolutely. Better stronger families make the world a better place.

    Dori
    www.LittleLibertarians.com
    I think the word "unfair" is the key. It's definitely an advantage, but in no way is it "unfair".
    "And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works." - Bastiat

    "It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." - Voltaire

  30. #26
    I suppose it depends from whose perspective you are asking. Families can do a lot for a child's sense of security and future economic and personal outcomes, which is why we want stronger families in the first place. From the perspective of someone with no family support, it seems a bit unfair. But unfairness doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

    Dori
    www.LittleLibertarians.com

  31. #27
    From this realisation arises another twist: two is not the only number.

    ‘Nothing in our theory assumes two parents: there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four,’ says Swift.

    ...

    ‘We do want to defend the family against complete fragmentation and dissolution,’ he says. ‘If you start to think about a child having 10 parents, then that’s looking like a committee rearing a child; there aren’t any parents there at all.’
    I agree. Ten is probably too many.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.

  32. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Do they mean their children are slow of foot? or slow of wit?
    Either way I would have thought free range children would be superior instead of inferior.
    I kid you not, in my town there is a "Slow children" sign, and the next three cross streets are "Harvard", "Yale", and "Princeton". Adding to the humor, it's a very poor part of town.
    "The journalist is one who separates the wheat from the chaff, and then prints the chaff." - Adlai Stevenson

    “I tell you that virtue does not come from money: but from virtue comes money and all other good things to man, both to the individual and to the state.” - Socrates

  33. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Original_Intent View Post
    I kid you not, in my town there is a "Slow children" sign, and the next three cross streets are "Harvard", "Yale", and "Princeton". Adding to the humor, it's a very poor part of town.
    There's a Slow Children sign on our street.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.

  34. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanimal View Post
    There's a Slow Children sign on our street.
    Great example of bureaucracy. DOT gets paid to put signs up to warn motorists of potential children playing in the streets. DCFS gets paid to arrest parents of children playing in the streets. Meanwhile, this isn't 1918 when children might actually play in streets in numbers.

    XNN
    "They sell us the president the same way they sell us our clothes and our cars. They sell us every thing from youth to religion the same time they sell us our wars. I want to know who the men in the shadows are. I want to hear somebody asking them why. They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are but theyre never the ones to fight or to die." - Jackson Browne Lives In The Balance

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