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Licensing Parents

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Category: Philosophy

Autor: anton 15 November 2010

Words: 681 | Pages: 3

Licensing Parents

Hugh Lafollette

Lafollette’s thesis and argument is that we should require all parents or potential parents to procure a license prior to having children. Just as we have licensing programs for anything potentially very harmful today, we should also have one for being a parent. We license drivers, doctors, gun owners, and many other types of potentially harmful practices. So why shouldn’t we also license parents?

Hugh’s argument is structured as this:

P1: Any practice or act that can cause considerable harm should be regulated.

P2: Parenting can lead to significantly bad harm.

C1: Parenting should be licensed.

If C1 follows naturally from P1 and P2 as I think most would see, then me must either object to P1 or P2 if we think that C1 is false, or be able to show an exception. An attack on the second premise plainly doesn’t stand. A maltreated or abused child is a very bad thing is it not? We have punishments for people that do so. And therefore wouldn’t the prevention of something like that be a good thing? The other options are an objection to the first premise, or an exception of the conclusion. The only exception to the conclusion would be that people have a �Right’ to children. Although this is true, there is a statute that should reign here just as it does in the right of freedom of speech or religion. If abusing the right can lead to considerable harm to one’s self or another, then the right is not present.

Now that Lafollette has demonstrated that a parent licensing program should be in effect and is desirable, he refutes 5 common objections to the implementation of the program.

The first is that we don’t have the means of testing what is a �Good Parent’. While this may be true, it’s not what is required by the program. What IS required is that you not be a �Bad Parent’ to get a license. And surely we can tell who or what a bad parent is.

Second, there is no way or predicting who will mistreat their children. This is also true, but there are some ways of correlating who have with how they acted before. But as with all predictive tests and licenses, if the precision of the test is overly strict or denies to many unjustly, there is an option to retest.

The third objection claims that administration of the tests would be abused or biased. But this is no different from any license or test program today. All are susceptible to abuse.

Fourthly, like the third except, intentional misuse. Again, this is not unlike any testing program today.

And the last and probably most substantial objection, is that even IF we made some procedure for testing and some program for licensing, there is no way to effectively or fairly regulate or enforce it. The response to this is that there are a few punishments that can be placed on violators that are less grueling than some of today’s penalties for lesser infractions.

Although VERY radical, I can’t find any way in myself to effectively break down or make light of Lafollette’s argument. I agree it would crush a few or even many people’s dreams, but if it prevents more harm than it causes I’m reluctant to object. My main concern with the program is what happens to conceived children of unlicensed parents? Is adoption really the right decision? Does it help the child more than it would hurt in most if not all cases? And the tax penalty, is this a break for licensed parents, or a penalty on the non-licensed. I also have a feeling that something should be enforced about abortion of fetuses where the parents are deemed unfit. This prevents the child from even coming into existence to an unfit family. It also avoids some repercussions of being a bad maternity mother such as drug or substance abuse and bad diets.

Overall I agree that the program would help and might even be considered necessary but I would have to learn more about the consequences of violation before I could really put my endorsement on it.

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