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In this post, I explain why libertarians—or at least minarchist BH-libertarians—ought to endorse parental licensing. The basic idea is simple: See more below the fold. All else equal, causing harm to anyone, including a child, is sufficient and necessary to justify interference.
Children are vulnerable—especially to those who raise them. A policy meant to reduce harms that happen to children and so ensure their rights are respected is worth taking seriously.
Parental licensing is such a policy.
This is not a requirement to be licensed to get pregnant, carry a baby to term, or give birth. It is a requirement to be licensed to raise a child. With such a requirement in place, if you have a baby, are not licensed to raise children, and do not get licensed, the baby would be removed from your home and put up for adoption by someone licensed.
The point is not to punish you but to protect the child. It should be clear that parenting is potentially extremely harmful. If that is right, licensing parenting can reduce significant harms and rights violations.
Libertarians should thus take it seriously. I think BHL readers will raise 2 main objections. The first objection, I suspect, will be an aversion to regulation of all sorts.
Parental licensing is similar: Granted, we would need a licensing institution.
Consider that abused children are more likely than unabused children to commit violent crimes when adults. InLaFollette tells us The damage [of child neglect and abuse] does not stop with the [immediate] victims.
Their maltreatment affects how they will treat others when they grow up. They are far more likely to abuse their own children, and they are more likely to become criminals. This is much higher than the effects of factors normally thought to cause criminality—including unemployment and crack cocaine use LaFollette5.
This means we can reduce the numbers of crimes—violent crimes—in the future by reducing the number of abusive parents now—the point of parental licensing. Reducing crimes means we can reduce police forces, courts, etc.
Of course, the police, courts and such would be needed to deal with violations of the new licensing law as well as remaining crime, but the overall change could be great. Admittedly, a parental licensing program would require interference before there is any harm—but so do laws against drunk driving, laws requiring clear and honest labeling of foods and drugs, etc.Hugh LaFollette, University of South Florida St.
Petersburg, 7 th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, FL , USA. [email protected]; Search for more papers by this author. First published: 25 August Full publication I show how and why the rationale for licensing parents parallels the rational for licensing professionals.
I. In this paper we re-examine Hugh LaFollette's proposal that the state carefully determine the eligibility and suitability of prospective parents before granting them a ‘license to parent’.
Assuming a prima facie case for licensing parents. Back in December of , I posted “Licensing Parents,” defending a view Hugh LaFollette had introduced into philosophical literature in that the state should license parents (LaFollette further defended this stance in ; see Note 1).
LaFollette is not a libertarian and as I indicated then, I disagree with him about a lot–including the need to license medical doctors and lawyers.
Libertarianism and Parental Licensing Back in December of , I posted “Licensing Parents,” defending a view Hugh LaFollette had introduced into philosophical literature in that the state should license parents (LaFollette further defended this stance in ; see Note 1). Although the relationship between a parent and her children is different in some respects, it is also relevantly similar to that between a professional and those she serves.
To defend these claims, I show how and why the rationale for licensing parents parallels the rational for licensing professionals. "Licensing Parents Revisited," the statement of my current views on the topic, appeared in in the Journal of Applied Philosophy, pp. This is an expanded and refined paper.
This is an expanded and refined paper.