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If you had a child to make yourself happy, as most people do, would that violate the Kantian imperative to avoid treating people as means?

Unfortunately, this is a tricky question for Kantian ethics to address. On its face, it might appear that procreation (bringing a child into existence) in order to advance one’s own happiness treats the child merely as a means: One ‘uses’ the child to promote one’s own happiness. But things get more complicated once we attend to exactly what this Kantian imperative says. The Kantian moral requirement you mention states that we are not to treat “humanity” merely as a means. There are debates as to exactly what Kant had in mind by “humanity” but the standard view is that “humanity” means the capacity for rational agency — the ability to choose our ‘ends’ (our goals or objectives) and the best means to those ends. But a newborn lacks “humanity” in this sense; it cannot choose ends for itself, etc. Nor can a fetus. All the more, a child who does not yet exist does not have humanity! Hence, it would appear that the apparent answer to your question is ‘no’: You cannot treat someone’s capacity for...

Do philosophers raise their children differently? Is talking back to a teacher always a good thing so long as the child has good arguments?

Second question first: Of course not! If 'talking back' means picking arguments with a teacher, that's not very productive -- or very philosophically minded. That said, I think many philosophers would agree that too much of formal education emphasizes the memorization or assimilation of 'established' knowledge as the expense of the sort of curiosity and questioning found in philosophy. There's a worldwide movement to promote philosophy education for children. Here are some good resources on that front: http://depts.washington.edu/nwcenter/ http://p4c.com/ As to your first question: I don't have any empirical data to support this -- to my knowledge, how philosophers raise their children has never been studied. All the same , I would not at all be surprised to learn that many of the traits that one needs to be successful in philosophy -- a sense of puzzlement, attention to reasoning, comfort with uncertainty, respect for those with whom one disagrees -- are passed on by philosophers to their children. I...

Is bearing a child really a right? The state does not know much about its own citizens other than date of birth and tax information so bringing unwanted children into the world is unfair to the child and the rest of society that must deal with all of the associated problems. Irresponsible parents or single mothers cannot guarantee the welfare or even the survival of their wanted children so why not prevent problems by passing a law allowing the state to licence and decide what type of people are allowed to have children according to certain criteria just like a driver's license? Those denied a license can always reapply at a later date once they've proved they are responsible enough. Right to privacy ends once the child leaves the womb since it is then a separate human and legal entity.

Your questions touches on a number of issues within the emerging philosophical field of procreative ethics , the field addressing questions concerning the ethics of reproduction and parenting. I concur with the spirit of your last sentence: It is interesting that landmark legal rulings in the United States establishing legal rights to use birth control and the right to abortion both appealed to the right to privacy. But if there is a right to procreate, it is probably not best modelled on a right to privacy. Your comments about licensing parents echo a well-known argument given by Hugh LaFollette in a 1980 article (http://www.hughlafollette.com/papers/licensing.parents.pdf). Here's my reconstruction of LaFollette's argument: 1. Incompetent parenting is harmful to children. 2. Societies are justified in restricting access to activities that are potentially harmful to others if those restrictions significantly reduce the likelihood of harm from those activities. (Compare, for example, driving...