obligations

What grounds paternal obligations?

Last week, Laurie Shrage caused a bit of a stir on the blogosphere with her controversial article on the Stone, a New York Times philosophy blog, entitled “Is Forced Fatherhood Fair?”  In the article, Shrage challenges the prevailing notion that unwilling fathers should be forced by the state to pay child support.  This is unfair, Shrage argues, because unwilling fathers never consented to conceive or raise the child, and (unlike the mother) lacks the freedom to have the child aborted or given up for adoption.  Shrage’s article raises a number of interesting issues, including whether US restrictions on reproductive rights mean pregnant women are analogously forced to give birth and the issue of whether a policy could adequately distinguish between ‘willing’ and ‘unwilling’ fathers.  Here, though, I would like to focus on the central question of whether unwilling fathers have a moral obligation to financially support their children. Continue reading

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