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Evaluating Parental PowerAn Exercise in Pluralist Political Theory$
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Allyn Fives

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784994327

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784994327.001.0001

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Legitimacy in the political domain and in the family

Legitimacy in the political domain and in the family

(p.147) 7 Legitimacy in the political domain and in the family
Evaluating Parental Power

Allyn Fives

Manchester University Press

It could be argued that the concepts and methods used when evaluating the power relations of the political domain are simply not appropriate to the normative evaluation of the relations between parents and children. I want to address and respond to two aspects of this criticism. First, it could be argued that the question of legitimacy is posed in respect of what liberals call the political domain, and not the relations of parents and children. Second, in the political domain, it is argued, we must appeal to the most objective moral standards, and this is because of the moral seriousness of what is at stake. In this chapter, I respond to each of these criticisms in turn. First, I show that parent-child relations are not antithetical to the political domain, as the latter has been defined by liberals. It also follows, second, if the highest standards of moral objectivity are required for the evaluation of power in the political domain, they are required in regard to the family as well. However, I also want to say more about the requirement of moral objectivity where competing moral claims are in conflict. I argue that we should resolve dilemmas through a form of practical reasoning and practical judgement owing much to liberal thinkers such as John Rawls and Thomas Nagel. In this chapter, I explore whether such a ‘liberal’ approach to practical judgement is appropriate when we consider moral dilemmas in situations liberals themselves do not consider to be political.

Keywords:   Political domain, private sphere, family, legitimacy, consent, coercion

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