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Justice, children and family

Reshef, Yehonathan (2012) Justice, children and family. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Taking as a starting point the assumption that justice is the first virtue of the family, my main aim in this dissertation is to offer an account of what justice requires of parents. Grappling with this issue, however, sheds some light on related questions that are wider in scope: How should we think about justice in general? What is the distinctive value of the family? What would a society of just families look like? In answering these questions, the following thesis is advanced: Demands of justice are best understood contextually. They arise from the characteristics of the specific relationship in the context within which they are meant to apply. An account of justice in the family should thus appeal to the parent–child relationship itself. This is an intimate fiduciary relationship that normally constitutes the primary site of upbringing. Yet what makes it distinctively valuable is its element of identity, i.e., a sense of interconnectedness and continuity generated through the transmission of beliefs, practices and more idiosyncratic attributes from parent to child. Corresponding to this understanding of the parent–child relationship, justice requires parents to provide their children with the conditions to achieve a set of functionings up to the level that allows them to lead a decent life in terms of the parents’ social and cultural context. As this account of justice in the family is not strictly political, it gives rise to a complex interplay along the axis of citizens–parents–children, displaying formulae of both integration and separation of family and state. A society of perfectly just families might not be perfectly just as a whole. Yet it may be interpreted as particularly liberal; characterized by multiplication and separation of authorities, reflecting rather than resolving the tensions between the individual and society and between different individuals and groups within society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Yehonathan Reshef
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Kukathas, Chandran
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/549

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