Inside Cover Blurb
- Becoming parents draws us into philosophical quandaries before our children have even been born. Why do most of us want to have children? Should we make new people, despite life's travails and our crowded world? Is adoptive parenthood just the same as biological parenthood? Once children arrive, the questions start to be a mix of the profound and the practical. Should we share our lifestyle with our children, no matter how unusual? Should we vaccinate and may we circumcise? Should we encourage gender differences?
- Tracing the arc of parenthood from the earliest days to the college years and beyond, Jean Kazez explores 18 questions for philosophical parents, applying the tools of philosophy and drawing on personal experience. The Philosophical Parent offers a novel account of the parent-child relationship and uses it to tackle a variety of parenting puzzles, but more than that, Kazez celebrates both having children and philosophical reflection. Her book provides a challenging but cheerful companion for thoughtful parents and parents-to-be.
- Jean Kazez teaches philosophy at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She is the author of two previous Books – The Weight of Things: Philosophy and the Good Life and Animalkind: What We Owe to Animals (both Wiley-Blackwell) – and writes a column for The Philosophers' Magazine.
Back Cover Plaudits
- "With generosity of spirit and sharpness of mind, Kazez has given us the most thoughtful gift any parent or would-be parent could receive. Such a philosophical examination of parenthood is long overdue but well worth the wait."
→ Julian Baggini, author of Freedom Regained and The Ego Trick
- "This is a spirited and engaging examination of key philosophical challenges related to having and raising children. Author Jean Kazez provides a deeply serious introduction to procreative and parenting ethics, yet also conveys the sheer delight of philosophizing about topics that are at the heart of human life. Accessibly and clearly written, the book illuminates the many difficult ethical questions that arise for parents, would-be parents, and their children, and encourages readers to develop the skills to resolve them."
→ Christine Overall, Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Queen's University at Kingston; author of Why Have Children?
- "Engagingly and accessibly written, parents especially but also non-parents pondering whether or not to have children and people with a general interest in philosophical questions will find new insights in every chapter of this terrific and important contribution to the philosophy of parenting."
→ Berit Brogaard, Professor of Philosophy, University of Miami, Florida
- "Jean Kazez is right. Having children leads to questions – a lot of them. Questions about ethics, the meaning of life, and what matters in family life are philosophical questions. Whether or not you agree with her views, this book will help you to think more about being a parent, and it will help you to be a more thoughtful parent. And this can make you a better parent, which is something that is definitely worth pursuing."
→ Michael W. Austin, Professor of Philosophy & Religion, Eastern Kentucky University
Amazon Book Description
- 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.
Introduction – ix
- Children Come from Us: What's so special about having kids? – 1
- Life Is Good: Are babies lucky to be born or just the opposite? – 15
- Quantity Control: Must we care about population statistics? – 31
- Quality Control: Should we mess with nature? – 47
- In the Beginning: What's going on in there? – 67
- A Child Is Born: Is labor pain simply awful? – 85
- Whose Child Is This? Why do biological parents have prerogatives? – 99
- Nobody's Child: Does biology really matter? – 117
- Parenthood’s Aim: What's a parent for? – 133
- First Decisions: To cut or not to cut? – 151
- Still Life with Child: Who's going to care for the baby? – 171
- Boys and Girls: Is it okay to prefer a girl or a boy? Should parents reinforce gender? – 187
- The One and the Many: When must I contribute to group efforts? – 209
- Lies, Lies, Lies: Should we ever lie to our children … or for them? – 231
- Passing on Religion: Should we raise children in our own image? – 245
- Letting Go: What should we do for our grown children? – 259
- Going Home: What should our grown children do for us? – 269
- Parenthood and Meaning: Does parenthood make us better off? – 277
Acknowledgments – 293
Annotated Bibliography – 295
Index – 315
OUP USA (7 Sept. 2017)
"Kazez (Jean) - The Philosophical Parent: Asking the Hard Questions About Having and Raising Children"
Source: Kazez (Jean) - The Philosophical Parent: Asking the Hard Questions About Having and Raising Children
Introduction (Full Text)
- Having children turns every parent and parent-to-be into a philosopher. The philosophical questions are right there in the many perplexing situations we confront in the process of bringing new people into the world and then raising them. Fortunately, we're also in a position to spend some time thinking about these questions. Becoming and being a parent is full of waiting, which means we have time to muse, grapple, wonder, and discuss.
- There's waiting to get pregnant — why is it so important to become a parent? Waiting for morning sickness to end — why does nausea make all of life seem so dismal? Waiting for lab results — are there any problems that would make termination of a pregnancy a reasonable choice? And waiting for a fetus to become a baby — at what point has your child come into existence?
- Later, there's waiting for the crying to stop so you can leave for work — is it okay that you're going to work? Waiting at the park while your child plays — why is your child so beautiful and brilliant in your eyes, and should you try to be more objective? Waiting in doctors' offices — must you vaccinate, even if there's a tiny risk of a bad reaction? Waiting for one phase to end and another to begin — does your child remain the same child, through all the changes? And waiting for college admissions decisions — why do you care so much? And many other reasons to wait and to wonder.
- One of my favorite occasions for thought, over the nineteen years since my twins were born, has been The Performance, whether a talent show, a play, or a recital. Your kid is somewhere in the line-up, and there are twenty other acts to watch and applaud. Every child is charmingly gawky and innocent, and there are patches of true talent here and there. But these things can drag, so there's time to think. And also something interesting to think about. Can I go home after my own child performs? Or do I owe it to the parents who watched my child to stay and watch theirs? What social obligations do I incur by being a parent in a community?
- There's time to wonder and reflect, but not long stretches of time. The baby will wake up, the exercise class will end. You only have ten minutes to read at bedtime, before your eyes are going to close. So the chapters of this book are fairly short. Big problems are broken up into chewable morsels. Long stages of life for parents are broken up into series of shorter stages.
- The questions are arranged in chronological order, starting with three about why we want children and whether we're being good, bad, or neither by having them. Next is a question about controlling the sort of child we have — whether to be selective, or to accept whatever child comes our way. And then there are questions about pregnancy, the fetus, and birth. At long last, a child has been born, and there are some hard questions to ask about the basis for saying the child belongs to one prospective parent or another.
- Halfway through the book, we turn from questions about becoming parents to questions about being parents. Chapter 9 considers just what, precisely, parents do for their children — what the parenting job consists of. After that I tackle numerous questions about how we ought to treat our children: whether to circumcise a boy; when we may lie to children; how much to care about a child's gender; and to what extent we should pass on our own values and beliefs. There are also questions about what it means to be a socially responsible parent. Must we get involved with the PTA at our child's school? Do we have to go along with collective projects like vaccination?
- Finally, what do we get out of being parents? Happiness? Meaning? Or in fact a reduction in well-being, especially if we're not only parents but primary caregivers? And what should children give back to us, in return for being cared for over many years? We'll begin at the beginning. We affiliate with other people in all sorts of ways — friend to friend, spouse to spouse, brother to sister, teacher to student. What's so special about parent to child? And in the first place, what is it for another person to be my child.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2017
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)