PARENTAL VIRTUE: A NEW WAY OF THINKING ABOUT THE MORALITY OF REPRODUCTIVE ACTIONS

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

In this paper I explore the potential of virtue ethical ideas to generate a new way of thinking about the ethical questions surrounding the creation of children. Applying ideas from neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics to the parental sphere specifically, I develop a framework for the moral assessment of reproductive actions that centres on the concept of parental virtue. I suggest that the character traits of the good parent can be used as a basis for determining the moral permissibility of a particular reproductive action. I posit three parental virtues and argue that we can see the moral status of a reproductive action as determined by the relationship between such an action and (at least) these virtues. Using a case involving selection for deafness, I argue that thinking in terms of the question ‘would a virtuous parent do this?’ when morally assessing reproductive action is a viable and useful way of thinking about issues in reproductive ethics.

Keywords: parenthood; reproduction; selection; virtue ethics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2007.00544.x

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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