Torsdagen den 12 maj kl 19.00 i T302, Olof Wijksgatan 6 kommer Heather Draper, Professor of Biomedical Ethics vid University of Birmingham till Filosofiska föreningen. Heather är en världskänd forskare inom bioetik/medicinsk etik och har forskat om etiska frågor rörande bl.a. familjerelationer och föräldraskap, organdonationer, patienters ansvar att delta i medicinska experiment, samt hur sjukvården agerar vid pandemier. Titeln för kvällen är I am no longer your parent: Severing and transferring parental responsibility.
On my view, what it means to be a parent has little to do with biology (and genetic relationship). On such a view, one never ceases to be a parent as this biological relationship is perpetual even if one never has anything to do with one’s so-called child. This is a rather thin view of ‘parent’ but a social definition (doing the work of the parent) can lead to some confusion between parents and other significant carers (live in nannies or grandparent carers, for example). In my view parenting is essentially a moral relationship: it is about fulfilling parental responsibilities motivated specifically by parental love and commitment. Given that parental love is often characterised as being unconditional, this raises the question of when – if ever – parental responsibility can be voluntarily severed or transferred. Of course, it may be removed from people who systematically harm their children or abandon them – but on my definition people behaving like this have ceased to be (or perhaps never were) parents. The more interesting case, then, is considered severing or voluntary transfer by a parent (someone who is fulfilling parental responsibility with parental love and commitment). A good test case is Kevin of Lionel Shriver’s We need to talk about Kevin (2003 London: Serpent’s Tail). This paper necessarily contains spoilers for this novel. In considering this question, I will argue that: some children are born not only fatherless or but motherless and in most cases transferring or severing is indecent for a parent to do. Of course there are exceptions: indeed it appears that some transferring may be required in exceptional circumstances of the good parent. We see this in the case that went before Solomon (from which other examples can be built). These cases do not, however, capture the challenge of Kevin. A different kind of justification would be need to severe parental relationships with a moral monster.
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