Supporting Arguments for Parent Licensing: Hugh Laffollette's Licensing Parents
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Supporting Arguments for Parent Licensing
In Hugh Lafollette’s paper, “Licensing Parents” he talks about the need for government licensing of parents. His argument states that for any activity that is harmful to others, requires competence, and has a reliable procedure for determining competence, should require licensing by the government. This argument relates to parenting because it can be harmful to children, requires competence to raise those children, and we can assume that a reliable procedure can be formulated. Therefore, parenting should require licensing by the government. I agree with Lafollette and shall focus on supporting him by addressing the most practical objections: There is no reliable procedure for identifying competent parents and it is impossible to reasonably enforce parent regulations. I shall address these objections and their reasoning, followed by responses that Lafollette and myself would most likely have, thereby refuting the objections.
The first objection to Lafollette’s argument is that “…there may not be, or we may not be able to discover, adequate criteria of ‘a good parent’” (Lafollette 1980, 190). This is a strong and sound objection because who can universally define what constitutes a good parent? Many cultures prefer to raise their children in different ways that others might think is unacceptable. For example, some cultures believe that spanking their children is an effective form of punishment, while others condemn it as child abuse. Therefore, it seems impossible to distinguish between a “good and less than good parent” (Lafollette 1980, 190). In addition, if we did come up with a criteria, it would be too generalized (in order to include different cultures) and therefore, wouldn’t be ab...
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... to fairly enforce such a program. This objection was backed by multiple scenarios which demonstrated that most punishments are implausible. In response to this objection, I discussed Lafollette’s idea of removing children and putting them up for adoption. This plan involved orphanages or third party adoption indefinitely or until their biological parents became licensed. I also formulated an enforcement plan consisting of heavy fines and jail time for unauthorized children. Although this plan is harsh, it is fair and enforceable, thereby refuting the objection that there is no way to enforce parent certification. This paper discussed objections and responses to Lafollette’s argument which concluded in the reaffirmation that parent licensing is a possibility.
Lafollette, Hugh. "Licensing Parents." Philosophy and Public Affairs 9, no.2 (1980): 182-197.