July, 2019

Parental Compromise

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I examine how co-parents should handle differing commitments about how to raise their child. Via thought experiment and the examination of our practices and affective reactions, I argue for a thesis about the locus of parental authority: that parental is invested in full in each individual parent, meaning that that the command of one parent is sufficient to bind the child to act in obedience. If this full-authority thesis is true, then for co-parents to command different things would be for them to contest one another’s authority. The only course that respects the authority of both parents is for co-parents to agree to command the same thing. Further, what is commanded must not result from a ‘capitulation’ by one co-parent, rather, it should result from a compromise. Parental authority involves a duty to deliberate about which commands it is best to give the child. If a command results from a capitulation, one parent will rightly think of themselves as not having fulfilled their parental duty. Parental compromises are not best understood as bargains or conflicts, but by the metaphor of gifts given by each parent out of respect for the other’s authority.