Is Having a Loving Family an Unfair Advantage?

Joe Gelonesi, ABC, May 1, 2015

Plato famously wanted to abolish the family and put children into care of the state. Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.

So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions–from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories–form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

It’s not the first time a philosopher has thought about such a drastic solution. Two thousand four hundred years ago another sage reasoned that the care of children should be undertaken by the state.

Plato pulled few punches in The Republic when he called for the abolition of the family and for the children of the elite to be given over to the state. Aristotle didn’t agree, citing the since oft-used argument of the neglect of things held in common. Swift echoes the Aristotelian line. The break-up of the family is plausible maybe, he thinks, but even to the most hard-hearted there’s something off-key about it.

‘Nearly everyone who has thought about this would conclude that it is a really bad idea to be raised by state institutions, unless something has gone wrong,’ he says.

Intuitively it doesn’t feel right, but for a philosopher, solutions require more than an initial reaction. So Swift and his college Brighouse set to work on a respectable analytical defence of the family, asking themselves the deceptively simple question: ‘Why are families a good thing exactly?’

Not surprisingly, it begins with kids and ends with parents.

‘It’s the children’s interest in family life that is the most important,’ says Swift. ‘From all we now know, it is in the child’s interest to be parented, and to be parented well. Meanwhile, from the adult point of view it looks as if there is something very valuable in being a parent.’

He concedes parenting might not be for everyone and for some it can go badly wrong, but in general it is an irreplaceable relationship.

‘Parenting a child makes for what we call a distinctive and special contribution to the flourishing and wellbeing of adults.’

It seems that from both the child’s and adult’s point of view there is something to be said about living in a family way. This doesn’t exactly parry the criticism that families exacerbate social inequality. For this, Swift and Brighouse needed to sort out those activities that contribute to unnecessary inequality from those that don’t.

‘What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children’.

The test they devised was based on what they term ‘familial relationship goods’; those unique and identifiable things that arise within the family unit and contribute to the flourishing of family members.

For Swift, there’s one particular choice that fails the test.

‘Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,’ he says. ‘It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realise these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.’

In contrast, reading stories at bedtime, argues Swift, gives rise to acceptable familial relationship goods, even though this also bestows advantage.

‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t–the difference in their life chances–is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says.

This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion–that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted. In Swift’s mind this is where the evaluation of familial relationship goods goes up a notch.

‘You have to allow parents to engage in bedtime stories activities, in fact we encourage them because those are the kinds of interactions between parents and children that do indeed foster and produce these [desired] familial relationship goods.’

Swift makes it clear that although both elite schooling and bedtime stories might both skew the family game, restricting the former would not interfere with the creation of the special loving bond that families give rise to. Taking the books away is another story.

‘We could prevent elite private schooling without any real hit to healthy family relationships, whereas if we say that you can’t read bedtime stories to your kids because it’s not fair that some kids get them and others don’t, then that would be too big a hit at the core of family life.’

So should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?

‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.

In the end Swift agrees that all activities will cause some sort of imbalance–from joining faith communities to playing Saturday cricket–and it’s for this reason that a theory of familial goods needs to be established if the family is to be defended against cries of unfairness.

‘We should accept that lots of stuff that goes on in healthy families–and that our theory defends–will confer unfair advantage,’ he says.

It’s the usual bind in ethics and moral philosophy: very often values clash and you have to make a call. For Swift and Brighouse, the line sits shy of private schooling, inheritance and other predominantly economic ways of conferring advantage.

Their conclusions remind one of a more idyllic (or mythic) age for families: reading together, attending religious services, playing board games, and kicking a ball in the local park, not to mention enjoying roast dinner on Sunday. It conjures a family setting worthy of a classic Norman Rockwell painting. But not so fast: when you ask Swift what sort of families is he talking about, the ‘50s reverie comes crashing down into the 21st century.

‘When we talk about parents’ rights, we’re talking about the person who is parenting the child. How you got to be parenting the child is another issue. One implication of our theory is that it’s not one’s biological relation that does much work in justifying your rights with respect to how the child is parented.’

For Swift and Brighouse, our society is curiously stuck in a time warp of proprietorial rights: if you biologically produce a child you own it.

‘We think that although in practice it makes sense to parent your biological offspring, that is not the same as saying that in virtue of having produced the child the biological parent has the right to parent.’

Then, does the child have a right to be parented by her biological parents? Swift has a ready answer.

‘It’s true that in the societies in which we live, biological origins do tend to form an important part of people’s identities, but that is largely a social and cultural construction. So you could imagine societies in which the parent-child relationship could go really well even without there being this biological link.’

From this realisation arises another twist: two is not the only number.

‘Nothing in our theory assumes two parents: there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four,’ says Swift.

It’s here that the traditional notions of what constitutes the family come apart. A necessary product of the Swift and Brighouse analytical defence is the calling into question of some rigid definitions.

‘Politicians love to talk about family values, but meanwhile the family is in flux and so we wanted to go back to philosophical basics to work out what are families for and what’s so great about them and then we can start to figure out whether it matters whether you have two parents or three or one, or whether they’re heterosexual etcetera.’

For traditionalists, though, Swift provides a small concession.

‘We do want to defend the family against complete fragmentation and dissolution,’ he says. ‘If you start to think about a child having 10 parents, then that’s looking like a committee rearing a child; there aren’t any parents there at all.’

Although it’s controversial, it seems that Swift and Brighouse are philosophically inching their way to a novel accommodation for a weathered institution ever more in need of a rationale for existing. The bathwater might be going out, but they’re keen to hold on to the baby.

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  • superlloyd

    Blacks exacerbate social inequality through their low IQs, their inherent criminality and their inability to form nuclear families or parent in a responsible manner. The playing field has always to be levelled their bottom feeding level by deluded libtards as they can’t compete on any positive level. Enough of this rubbish. Nature isn’t equal and we can’t be held responsible for their innate propensity to failure.

    • martinstuart

      Race has nothing to do with it. It has to do with faith. people of faith don’t murder and rape. Also, people with low IQs have no problem holding jobs,…if they have a work ethic.

      • WR_the_realist

        I am an agnostic. I don’t murder or rape. Muslims have a very strong faith. That doesn’t stop the more ardent among them from murdering and raping infidels.

        And race has a great deal to do with inequality. Even liberals concede that, although they think this is due to racism, when it is really due to the fact that races differ on average in how they think. Not just IQ, but in impulse control, introversion/extroversion, and a host of other things.

        Low IQ people, even if decent, honest, and willing to work, are generally stuck with the low paying jobs. A severe shortage of money can make it very hard for even good hearted people to raise their children.

        • WhiteVeinKratom

          Thank you for putting martinstuart right.

          “Muslims have a very strong faith. That doesn’t stop the more ardent among them from murdering and raping infidels.”

          I don’t believe islam is a religion. It is a control system.

          • martinstuart

            you contradict your self. I question Islam myself so you cannt use it as an example of who murders and rapes by religion.
            and besides, its not who does it, its how the society reacts.
            do they honestly condem it , or do they dance in the street.
            They just had a celebration in “Palastine” to honor 3 suicide bombers. Baby killers. The host of the celebration is the President who is in the 10th year of a 4 year term.

      • I have no faith as an agnostic. On the other hand, I love most of the people who do, except Muslims.

        • a multiracial individual

          Colorado (1% Muslim).

          ?

          • John Smith

            That’s more than enough.

      • superlloyd

        Dream on, Most criminals have an IQ of between 70 and 90. The average black has an IQ of 83.5. Blacks have a greater incidence of short repeat MAO-A genes- a gene connected with impulsive and criminal violence. Faith is not a universal panacea. How many blacks are religious and what percentage of criminals are black? There is a strong overlap. Race has everything to do with it. Islam is a death cult and Christianity has caused many deaths. Naivety and denial like yours doesn’t explain anything.

        • Faith and belief in God only helps law abiding people retain allegiance to laws (secular and divine) – as doing otherwise jeopardizes their eternal grace. Going to church in no way prevents a criminal from making crimes – see any urban church. God helps those who help themselves – discreetly. Free will prevents his doing otherwise. From a generic metaphysical standpoint – is God a real entity? I unexpectedly discovered amazing evidence that more than suggests eternal life is possible. This two year study revealed information I did not anticipate. I was a committed agnostic. After my wife died, my son asked if Mom was in heaven. That question prompted the study that evolved into a research project. I’ve completed a book on the study and will share it in the hopes others find spiritual reconciliation – no matter which God they prefer.

      • De Doc

        Plenty of people of faith lie, cheat, steal, murder, commit adultery, etc. Faith does not make anyone immune from our baser impulses. If it did, the Islamic world would be a shining example of peace, kindness and prosperity. Compare to the Scandinavian countries, which are very secular and among the least religious among Europeans. They seem to be doing quite well and indeed their problems are coming from immigrants hailing from the über-faithful Islamic world.

      • Who Me?

        It has to do with faith
        ****************
        It has to do with a strong foundation of inner morals, not faith.

      • The Worlds Scapegoat

        Faith has nothing to do with it. I think it is mostly genetics. Some of the most emotionally disturbed people I know are heavily religious. I follow the bible’s teachings more than a lot of Christians I know, and I think/know the bible is fake. You cannot learn about being good or bad from a book.

        .

      • D_Smith2020

        Indeed; however, you would be speaking of faith in an epistemology that teaches and demands adherence to such principles. Both the Christian worldview and secular humanism qualify though the former posits a stick and carrot approach that is ultimately meaningful to the individual.

    • Light from the East

      Inequality is the truth. Every living example around you and me is a perfect proof. In order to prove equality of all humans, you have to prove all men are the same looks, same height, same weight, same sex, same brain capacity, same metabolism rate, same skull shape, same wealth, same health, same social status, same IQ, same EQ, same faith, same ideology, same life experience, etc. Swift himself is an example of inequality since no others quote Plato’s idea to rationalize his desire to abolish traditional family in the way he did.

      • Phoenixian Westernia

        > “Inequality is the truth.”
        In a book called “The Revolt Against Civilization” by Theodore Lothrop Stoddard. There was a chapter called: The Iron Law of Natural Inequality.

    • John Smith

      Intellectual inequality usually precedes social inequality, for all races. It has been studied and found that the wealthy are usually significantly more intelligent than average, as I recall. That blacks are so far to the left of the IQ scale corresponds to their lack of financial resources and social standing.

  • Hilis Hatki

    You don’t really own your land, house, car, kids…….

    • Usually Much Calmer

      One owns what one can defend. You may not own anything. I most definitely own some things and some people here own much more than I do.

      • Hilis Hatki

        You and the others must share the secret of being able to defend from a government that says you may possess it but we own it…. and you.
        There’s more important things than stuff that need defending.

        • Usually Much Calmer

          You say, “There’s more important things than stuff that need defending.” after “You don’t really own your land, house, car, kids.”

          Please don’t have kids if you think they are not worth defending.

          • Hilis Hatki

            Communication Breakdown.

          • Usually Much Calmer

            I’m relieved. Mea culpa.

    • John Smith

      You don’t and try not paying your taxes to find out how little you own.

  • You may be wondering how this jives with the new party line consensus being spouted in the NYT that the black-white and black-nonblack gaps in everything from education to income to museum attendance is rooted in the fact that black parents don’t use enough words at, toward and around their newborn and toddler and infant children. It’s easy, really — If Aquanetta won’t read to little D’Leisha and Shitavious, then the way to make things equal is not to allow white parents to read bedtime stories to their white children.

  • MekongDelta69

    Anything and everything which smacks of White Western civilized values, is ‘unfair,’ ‘biased,’ and ‘privileged’ to idiot leftists.

    • Chip Carver

      The people behind the left literally froth in rage when they see little White children happily playing. Nothing bothers them more than seeing Whites succeed. They hate us. Their jealousy springs partly from a subconscious realization that no matter how much they brag and go on about their achievements, they have had to piggy-back White civilizations to enjoy any success at all.

    • LHathaway

      In other words, everything that has been good in this world has been made out to be bad. The inverse might be true also.

      • carriewhite64

        Yes, here I was believing all my life that being a good parent and encouraging others to be good parents in order to produce decent and productive adults was a good thing! Now I am being reprogrammed to believe it is a bad thing because it produces unequal results. So the bad parents are the standard, the good parents are the offenders, the ideal outcome is …what? Universal bad parenting?

    • WhiteVeinKratom

      You forgot ‘racist’!

  • I hail from a traditional, loving family. That means I am naturally ‘advantaged’. I have inherited my East Asian genes from my parents. That means I am naturally ‘advantaged’, yet again. My parents encourage me to study hard and to not end my studies before I have obtained my PhD. That means I am naturally ‘advantaged’, yet again. What are you lib-lefties going to do about it? Have you already found a new way to hold people down? I have got a newsflash for you: Whites and Asians who do better than other races deserve it.

    • dd121

      If you ever decide to run for office let me know and I’ll move there so I can vote for you.

    • Ohmy!

      You have loads of Common Sense which (for some reason) the liberal types lack.

    • Weisheit77

      Having recently worked in an English school at a college for the last 5 years, I have met more than a few Chinese who haven’t “drank the cool-aid”. It is quite refreshing sometimes.

      I don’t know if it’s because the narrative isn’t taught in China, or because Chinese tend to go big American cities and have been victims of black violence, but it’s refreshing. I do know a couple who have gone SJW and all I can do is a face palm. I’ve heard the “ban guns” (sorry, too many out there even if we wanted to), tolerance for Bruce Jenner (instead of the freak show that it is), and black criminality comes from “institutionalized racism” (what about the Jews; how do you explain their meteoric rise?). I usually strongly disagree and ask them not to absorb the worst aspects of American culture, i.e. becoming a preachy SJW.

      I know one girl who just got accepted into Columbia and I saw on wechat that she posted something about evolutionary psychology, and I didn’t know what it was, so I looked it up and I saw that it was opposed to social psychology. I wrote her and said, “I like your major.” She thought I was being sarcastic, at first, but then I said, “no it really seems interesting.” She then went on to explain more about it and how they are at odds with the social psychologists, but they do more actual science instead of the “naval gazing” displayed above. I told her if she was here, I’d hug her. I had just been arguing with the prototypical white female SJW with a PhD in communication theory. I needed a dose of sanity and the chat with her provided it.

    • Murphcon

      You are welcome here, but never lose sight of the racial differences that still need to be compensated for. According to NHTSA statistics, a sober Asian is more that 2 times more likely to die in a car accident as a sober white or black person. That’s in spite of Asian’s usual habit of trying to be overly cautious. Remember to try to compensate for that disadvantage at all times and above all, be sure to keep your eyes open wide to increase your vertical field of vision.

      • Sanchodiablo

        That’s RACIST !!!!!!!!!

    • Deacon Blue

      In time, in this insane asylum we call the USA, I see a cabinet level position akin
      to that of a “Handicapper General” like in Harrison Bergeron. Do they still teach
      that in middle school. Probably not.

      • Mangosteen, $1000 chair

        Aww dang you beat me to mentioning Harrison Bergeron! Next time I’ll read all the comments first. It’s a great story!

      • Diana Moon Glampers

        We teach it at our house.

    • pennawhytmn

      According to this article, your greatest unfair advantage is that your parents read Dr. Seuss to you before bed when you were an infant.

      • Alexandra1973

        I read the Bible to mine when he was a toddler. Oh noes!

    • Mack0

      I’ve been reading your site. I totally agree that an asian/anglo alliance is a good idea. I have masters degree in Asain studies from University of Michigan and have great respect for East Asian culture and intelligence. Asians have to realize they don’t benefit from the leftist political system. Anti-Israel protests are breaking out on campuses. Jews are being attacked by the Marxist beast they created. I’m not commenting on whether that is right or wrong. What I’m saying is it’s only a matter of time before Asians come under the microscope. It’s about jealousy of the lessers toward their betters and the success of Asians won’t go unnoticed by them for much longer. Asians are better on our side.

    • Ted Bundy

      It’s called IQ. jew just wants slaves to rule over. Once they are done here, your people will be next.

  • dd121

    The lefties have soared to new heights of lunacy.

  • Luca D.

    “Equality” was once something humans wanted to work towards. I was once poor but worked my way up to be equal to my middle-class peers. I, like most others, earned it the honest way.

    Now, it’s a matter of saying “life is unfair” and expecting the government to correct it with no effort on your part, other than whining, of course.

    Liberals are screwing with the very laws of nature. There is no equality in nature, other than an equal opportunity to compete.

    • Deacon Blue

      People like you and I are as rare as hen’s teeth these days. I grew up in a poor,
      working class neighborhood with parents who had manufacturing jobs – remember them? My options were cop, firefighter, a manufacturing job with dad or maybe a trade apprenticeship as a pipe fitter or electrician. I was the first to
      decide I wanted to go to college. Of course as a White male even back then
      there were few grants or scholarships for me. I could have went to the priesthood I suppose but that would not work as I chased skirt too much. So I went into the ROTC program and sucked it up. At the time, I hated the army but looking back on it all? The army gave me more than I gave it. Discipline, purpose, social skills. I know its not the same army today but still… I went to college on the military’s dime. First in my family after three generations of being in the USA.

      It was not easy. I made a lot of sacrifices. I remember going to basic training with maybe $30 to my name at the time? That was the thing about America, even back in the 1980’s. You could still earn it if you put in the time and sweat equity. If you were honest and hard working? It was ripe for the taking. Not today. They feel entitled today like the keys to the kingdom should just be handed over to them all.

      The Republic has indeed fallen!

      • nicholasstix

        There were no “firefighters” back then. There were firemen, who put out fires. The term “firefighter” was introduced by feminists who were unconcerned with putting out fires, as opposed to wasting jobs on the biologically unfit.

        • Alfa158

          Real Firemen refer to the few women who have been forced onto fire departments as “Firewatchers”. At fires the women don’t have the brute physical strength or testosterone fueled courage to perform many of the tasks, and keep to the periphery trying to look useful. They pretty quickly get promoted to supervisory positions where they can stay out of the way and mostly get sent out to talk to the reporters.

          • Deacon Blue

            What will they call them when they allow the LGBTQ “people” in the fire department? Flaming Fire Fighters?

        • Diana Moon Glampers

          Agreed.

          An able woman needs no concession from others. She achieves what she chooses and is capable of; just as any man does. If women want to be catered to, they should choose a willing man to mate with.

          Feminism only benefits lesbians and ugly women. I am anti-feminist.

  • LexiconD1

    Most of the time, not all, parents get from their kids what they put into their kids.

    If you want good kids who succeed, you plant the seeds early, and work hard to achieve it.

    If not, you ought to be made to pay for your failures, when little Antwan ends up in jail, or LaTrine, ends up knocked up.

    I do not want my kid paying for their kids mistakes.

  • Mack0

    First off they are philosophers or as I call them professional naval gazers. They are trying to make a profession with zero practical application relevent. This drive is common in the social sciences. This is why we have ridiculous convoluted nonsense like culture of critique

    Secondly, they are clearly motivated by leftist politics. One need only look at how they frame their argument. They are also framing the issue in terms of “happy families increase social equality for other people, as if a happy stable home is the negative or the problem. Instead they should be concerned with why people aren’t in or creating stable families.

    They prefer to place the blame on the families doing it right instead of the families doing wrong-for the lack of better terms. I find that bizzare. The real problem is unstable families decrease social equality. However, they go out of their way to avoid stygmatizing unstable families yet feel completely comfortable making moral judgements on stable families.

    • carriewhite64

      This is probably the best response to that insanity I have seen. I wish you would have published it in the original story’s comment section before they closed it down.

  • Tarczan

    Of all the screwy things I’ve read, this one is the winner. Why not just encourage those less supportive parents to nurture their children via an educational program?

    Really, this is a completely wacko left wing concept.

    • The school districts across our 3000 mile-wide insane asylum already provide free breakfasts, lunches and dinners – during summer vacation, no less – for parents who are too drunk, drugged-up and lazy to feed them.

      • Who Me?

        Really? Free meals, 3 times a day, 5 days a week, excepting holidays? Why the heck are they getting food stamps then? I thought they were to provide food for the “chilluns”. If their “chilluns” already get fed free at the school, cut out the “food skamps” altogether, Let the able-bodied adults feed themselves.

        • Why the heck are they getting food stamps then?

          To buy dope and weave.

  • Susannah

    Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse specialize in liberal egalitarianism and social justice, and their ideals for family life reflect all of the looniness and dysfunction one would expect from that worldview.

  • Hilis Hatki

    To ensure “equality” the government will have to monitor and micromanage every aspect of our lives.

  • lordhumungusthegreat

    When did I start living in a dis-utopian nightmare. More and more the world resembles a cross between A Brave New World, and camp of the saints.

    • TrueNorthFree

      Good lord yes, I was reminded of Brave New World when I read it. Chilling.

    • Weisheit77

      You forgot 1984.

      • WR_the_realist

        Yup, we’re getting all three.

        • John Smith

          Could probably throw in the first third or so of “The Turner Diaries” too.

  • Eagle1212

    As long as the leftists continue to pour in whatever suits their agenda, our kids’ future will be in jeopardy.

  • antiquesunlight

    I might could use a wig after this, I’m yanking my hair so hard. This article is to stupidity as skyscrapers are to height.

    How can you be a professional philosopher and not understand the distinction between “unfairness” and “difference”? If kids from working class families are being denied access to private schools for no reason other than their class status, that’s unfair. If kids from working class families aren’t getting into private schools because they’re not smart enough or aren’t interested enough in school, that’s difference. If the primary reason working class kids aren’t getting into private schools is money (but not intelligence, motivation, etc.) then the solution is to work on a sustainable funding system for them, some sort of loan or something. Doing away with elite schools is certainly NOT the solution.

    • Usually Much Calmer

      John Rawls did a lot of damage.

      • antiquesunlight

        Inestimable damage. No one has more successfully perverted the noble goal of societal fairness. Fortunately, Nozick made a more reasonable view academically respectable, but Rawlsianism remains dominant.

        We really need a strong conservative intellectual renaissance to counter the left’s academic tyranny.

        • Usually Much Calmer

          Paul Woodruff, classicist at UT, takes down the theory of justice as fairness very effectively in a work titled the Ajax Dilemma, published in 2011. Not a philosopher, but a very learned, reasonable, and engaging man. His book on reverence may hook the left.

          Rawls’s TofJ awaits a real unpinning of his “before you become who you are, imagine agreeing to the rules of. . . ” Dude, I was never anyone before I was me, this is the same stupid ontological error as for God. Which was never exposed, and yet God is dead anyhow. Hold my hand, antiquesunlight, we will make it!

          • antiquesunlight

            Yeah, I agree. It’s been a couple years since I’ve looked at the details of his argument, but my impression at the time was that it was the political theory of a weak, calculating person. His assumption, I think, is that all rational people would try to structure the system to their best advantage, which since we don’t know anything about ourselves, would be to the best advantage of everyone. But this assumes what to my mind is a vulgar, petty selfishness; which is to say, it assumes a moral quality. Which means I can assume my own moral quality. And my moral quality that I would assume is a proud, compassionate individualism, which would result in a very different, very Anglo-Saxon, Western system.

          • Usually Much Calmer

            Rawls was in the thrall of game theory, but didn’t have the chops to do it right. What offends you is his hack work. Which make me like you.

          • DCRealist

            Actually, Rawls’ argument smacks of being either ignorant of biology or a hope that everyone else is. If, as is likely, genes and culture shape one another, then the “inequality” of the family structure is rooted in deep seated genetic patterns that are manifested through actions. No state action short of genetic manipulation will change that fact.

            It’s time to go to war against the entire conceptual edifice of “equality.”

            Every time you see a claim made that X or Y is unequal, the default position should be to ask why equality is assumed to be the natural and correct state, rather than a diktat from on high, enforced by the entire might of the state.

        • LHathaway

          That would counter them. Perhaps that’s why conservatives are weeded out at college.

        • nicholasstix

          Unfortunately, Nozick was a weakling and a coward. When his book proved a huge success, his colleagues at Harvard retaliated by shunning him, and stopped inviting him to their dinner parties. He then recanted his beliefs, and the invitations started coming again.

          A mind is a terrible thing to waste. So, too, a will.

    • I had to quit before I finished it, as I wanted to gnaw my own leg off and escape.

      • Deacon Blue

        I read it because of “bystander apathy” Michael. Its like the train wreck
        you see down the road. You know its going to be uglier the closer you
        get and you feel you are essentially powerless to do much about it. But you look anyhow. Out of morbid curiosity if nothing else.

        Know the enemy and all that.

        • Diana Moon Glampers

          The same reasons I read news one, huff po, and the root.

    • AmericanRemnant

      Apparently ‘philosophy’ is now an affirmative action approved category.

    • EuropeanIdentity33

      To people like this philosopher any difference=unfairness, it is the nature of egalitarianism.

      • John Smith

        A concept that can only exist in the human mind, not reality.

  • AmericanCitizen

    If any of you reading this don’t think that the endgame for Leftists is the complete subjugation and destruction of the White European ethnicity, think again.

    This whole concept is a Freudian slip; this “philosopher” who came up with this idea of a caring family as “wrong” is showing his true colors. If this guy is warped enough to decry parenting (which has worked for about 50,000 years since fire was mastered) as a form of “white privilege”, he’s really arguing that the way we (you and I) grew up is wrong. That is a direct condemnation of Western Civilization, which is what whites created and flourished under for centuries.

    Keep in mind that Progressive “equality” means complete regression to the lowest common denominator. We see what that denominator looks like in the streets of Baltimore or Ferguson. Whites are far above that level, so we need to be broken (according to Leftists). Whether or not we stay above that level remains to be seen.

    • TrueNorthFree

      Dude, I recently woke up from decades of ivory tower mutli-culti mind programming and I am now unbreakable.

      • Tim

        You had me at “Dude”…

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

      “…endgame for Leftists…”

      Who are these “Leftists”?
      Do they have a specific height, weight, and body type?
      Do they live in a specific area and eat a specific type of food?
      Or could they be from a specific ethnic, racial, and religious group?
      Maybe they are Nazis or Muslims.

      I hate it when people identify them as “them.” It is cowardice.

      Name those Eskimos behind the curtain.

      .

      • John Smith

        Finns, usually.

  • Caucasoid88

    Liberals are often about as race-conscious as we are, except they dress up their language with excuses to deflect the blame, because their weak hearts can’t come to terms with reality.

  • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

    Equalityaholics are one strange breed.

  • George Moriarty

    If they want to quote Plato, remember his republic was politically incorrect and everyone had their place in his society from the privileged elites & rulers to the humblest slaves with no privileges. Their were very few rights and even less upward mobility.

    • Deacon Blue

      Plato had essentially a tri-tiered caste system. An example of his Philosopher-King
      concept would be someone like John Kerry or Barak Obama. Plato was a nice
      start but obviously his ideas had many flaws. He would have made an exceptional
      ivory tower liberal in a fancy pants college today. I prefer Diogenese, with his
      lantern looking for an honest man, to Plato these days. Those who know my
      back story will understand why.

  • Irishgirl

    This is not the first time that someone named Swift has come up with A Modest Proposal.

    • Deacon Blue

      So should we make it a sport to hunt Black children and develop recipe’s
      like that of the marinating of suckling pigs (poor Irish children) as Swift
      advocated and update the recipe for use with Black babies? I hear they taste
      like chicken. Wait! Don’t Blacks essentially eat their own kids anyhow?
      Nevermind…do you know I once brought in a copy of A Modest Proposal
      and tacked it to the bulletin board in the lunch room – I guess they don’t
      teach this in school anymore because I had a bunch of angry employees
      asking me about it, employees who do not understand the concept of satire.

      • Irishgirl

        The expression “ghetto lobster” comes to mind.

        • Deacon Blue

          I know in Tanzania anyhow, the “Black” Blacks hack off the
          limbs and body parts of “Albino Blacks” to make charms and
          to eat such. I guess everyone prefers “White meat” after all?

          Anyone see the movie District 9? Great movie. The Black criminal (redundant) wanting to hack the infected limb from the lead character to eat it. Because of the joo joo magic powers of course!

          I wonder if anyone has done as a satire in the form of a “Serving Blacks” cookbook a la the old Twilight Zone episode “Serving Man?”

          Ghetto lobster slathered with clarified butter, served on a bed
          of beans and rice, with a side of collard greens and cornbread.

          Add plenty of hot sauce now. Don’t be stingy!

          Authentic. And with the leftovers you can make a killer
          Jambalaya.

          Bon appetite!

  • IstvanIN

    I am not sure I should comment on this because the article has me so upset I am almost tearing up, so I may not fully understanding their premise but I will tell you one thing, no normal person can love my baby as much as I do. When the nurse brought my little girl out of the delivery room and presented her to me I fell in love like I have loved no one in my life. There she was, kind of shriveled and burgundy looking, even a little slimy looking (newborns don’t look like those pink newborns on TV) I had tears running down my face. Thinking about it even decades later I now have tears running down my face. No one, absolutely no one can tell me some social worker or village could love my daughter more or sacrifice more for her than me. These demented would-be baby stealers have no clue what they are talking about. It is not my fault that I loved my daughter more than life itself, even now, and that some “poor” person, code for black, doesn’t love their kid. I had a rough time of it, my wife passed, my parents were awful examples and I had to do a lot of it alone (although my sister-and brother-in-law in particular were great). Nope, blood counts, unless you are a no emotions freak. Reinventing the basic mom-dad structure is sick and demented. Noe excuse me I got pull myself together.

    • Cindy

      Your daughter is lucky to have you as her dad.

      • TrueNorthFree

        Amen to that and God bless loving Dads and loving Mums.

      • IstvanIN

        You want to hear my biggest regret, that I never remarried. I felt I cheated her out of both a female role model as well as siblings. Hindsight is 20/20. On the other hand careers have seperated us by about a two hour drive, and the nicest thing she has said to me is “I wish you lived closer, (grandson) adores you so much and you have so much patience with him”.

        I will never understand parents who beat, berate or abandon their children. It kills me to read stories of parents who kill their children or parents who lose their children to senseless crimes, I don’t know how they survive it.

        Sorry for the tirade but this is one of those topics that upset me to know end.

        • One winds up PTSD after that. One of my old friends, who won’t talk to me since 1998, saw his father die early this year at age 84. I loved his father far more than my own. I was afraid to go home back in the day, and everyone knew it. Mel Myers was a sweet, decent man and raised good kids. I should probably send them a nice letter, but what would I write?

          • Tim

            Just look into your heart and start putting it on paper. No different that writing whats in your head and putting it on here…

          • carriewhite64

            In my experience, anything you write will be much appreciated. Acknowledging a person’s life is never inappropriate.

          • IstvanIN

            What you told us, that he was a kind, decent man who raised great kids and you wished you had a father like that.

        • Ohmy!

          You sound like a gem of a man! Your daughter was fortunate to have you as her dad, growing up to know that she is very much loved. That’s the best gift you can give anyone.

    • George Moriarty

      Well said IstvanIN. Yes, neurotic feminists have been trying to re-invent the basic, natural and God given mother and father family structure since at least the time we had the first of our 4 children way back in the 1970s.
      I/we too would have hated it for any of our young children to go into a government run child care centre as soon as they were 3 months old. And if it was for the simple reason that mother should have to go to work this would have been disgusting.
      And as for giving our children privilege, this is just the natural to want the best for your families and it does not cost any money to tell the kids bedtime stories or help and encourage them with their homework. Also as good parents we made them take on responsibilities as well.
      But as you say, what chance does a black kid born to a 15 year old mother and no responsible father in sight have in this world. They may enjoy the little baby for a while but as soon as it becomes a feral 5 year old who is going to give help or hope to that kid, not it’s mother, she will probably have 2 or 3 other kids “father unknown”

      • Lygeia

        Considering it was Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse who are advocating that a loving family is an unfair advantage, unless Adam and Harry are non-gender normative names, why are you bashing feminism?

        • George Moriarty

          I will always “bash” feminism for as long as I have access to a keyboard.
          I mentioned feminists as they are usual suspects in “family bashing”
          As to the two philosophers who were behind this article I will give them the full benefit of the doubt, perhaps they were just being philosophical.

          • Alexandra1973

            They’ve pretty well admitted that they want to destroy marriage and family.

        • John Smith

          Nutjob leftist beta-males are often as pro-feminist as the feminazis themselves, just like how white SJWs are often the only ones out protesting for yet more negro special treatment.

  • Dave West

    What this author is decrying is basically the end result of the leftist assault on the family structure over that last 40-50 some odd years. Through his astonishing blabber he has basically repackaged this and ignored the root causes.

    • TrueNorthFree

      The implications of the article are terrifying, especially when you consider that ivory tower academics are actually teaching this crap to bright young people

      • Usually Much Calmer

        Agreed. This is the most disgusting thing I have read on this site or in the magazine.

      • John Smith

        Marxism has always been about forcing theoretical equality claptrap onto actual people by a small group of elites who think they can do better than anyone else and know what’s good for everyone. It never works and they never learn – obviously hubris stands in the way of their realization.

    • ZenSouth

      Fried Chicken and Watermelon is no substitute for a loving family.

      • The Worlds Scapegoat

        Throw in some sugary soda and you get pretty close.

        .

  • AmericanRemnant

    “Is Having a Loving Family an Unfair Advantage?”
    No, but having an unloving family is certainly an unfair disadvantage. Try philosophizing a remedy for that one genius.

  • Weisheit77

    The two evilest words in the English language are “equality” and “fairness”. Wasn’t Satan thrown out of heaven because it was “unfair” that he wasn’t “equal” with God?

    • Eagle_Eyed

      How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations. But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

  • jambi19

    “Abolish the family.”
    -Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto

    Notice they alluded to Plato instead of Marx in order to give their argument moral standing. The idea is to abolish the concept of estate, inheritance, and THE vital institution (the family) that stands against total domination of the individual by the state. An institution that makes individuals, clans, families etc free from the collective. The family, along with other vital pillars of western civilization such as private property rights and religion are under attack by Marxists as they always have been. I hate the modern marxists in academia with every bone in my body.

    • Weisheit77

      I think I grew a couple extra bones just so I could hate them that much more. They are not intelligent, just clever.

      • rightrightright

        Animal cunning.

    • Tim

      I used to get strange looks from my peers when I claimed that China`s one child policy was NEVER about overpopulation. It was to destroy the one bond that supercedes the States. The family… Two billion people without brothers or sisters, nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles….

  • Exuberant Auditor

    Yes, parents who read bedtime stories to their children or some such might be giving them a slight advantage over those who don’t, but so are many, many things. Equality of outcomes is impossible. Get over it, Mr. Swift.

    • Who Me?

      The advantage that reading bedtime stories gives the child is not really the bedtime stories in and of themselves. It is the fact that parents who care and love their children enough to read them bedtime stories, also love and care for them enough to do other things that nourish their children, physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.

  • JohnEngelman

    The way to close the race gap in academic performance is to find ways to reduce the performance of whites.

    • Usually Much Calmer

      The ONLY way to close the race gap. . . .

      • a multiracial individual

        That is not accurate. With careful selection the black median IQ could be raised to 100.

        • John Smith

          And the white average would be 115 by then.

        • Usually Much Calmer

          IQ is simply one of many differences. There is a race gap in empathy, time preference, fecundity, many other measures.

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

      TOB SHEBBE GOYIM HAROG!

    • WR_the_realist

      That’s why the elites are pushing Common Core.

  • LeonNJ

    I’m no philosophy expert, but it seems like any so-called philosopher born after 1900 can be forgoten about. Most just spout off cultural Marxist garbage. Weren’t there some Australian philosophers from a few years ago who said it’s moral to support post birth abortions?

    • Usually Much Calmer

      Karl Popper is worth your time.

    • ZenSouth

      It must be all the chemicals in the food and water that is causing an epidemic of brain rot throughout the land these days.

      • American Tax Payer

        Monsanto is his name. Dow CHEMICALS is part owner as is Monsanto IS a CHEMICAL Company and all their other partners are Chemical too. They own most of the seeds and own the Seed Bank. They stored the natural seeds in case their mad experiment should go awry but so far, all is gong according to plan.

      • Try television.

    • Susannah

      Maybe you’re referring to Peter Singer? That is one truly vile individual. He’s fully supportive of every extreme leftist position out there, and then some.

    • Who Me?

      I thought that was Mr. Obama.

    • We may laugh at this kind of silliness today, but there’s a conveyor belt between these philosophical crackpots to the NYT editorial page to the DNC platform to actual public policy.

  • Mike

    ABC News has gone full Marxist

    • bubo

      I read this a few days ago and it’s from Australia. Our ABC is bad, but not quite on this level, yet.

      • George Moriarty

        Here they call our ABC the Gay B C. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation,taxpayer funded public broadcaster modelled on the BBC and just as left leaning). Unfortunately at times it is the only service worth watching or listening to and they occasionally do put out some brilliant stuff.

        • John Smith

          Just like the BBC does, at least until they torpedoed Top Gear by sacking Clarkson.

  • rightrightright

    Local authorities become the ‘corporate parents’ of children taken into care. Then, you get Rotherham, Rochdale etc. It takes a village to raise an underage prostitute, obviously.

    • carriewhite64

      Yes, from what I have read about these shameful incidents, when the parents tried to take action against the offenders the parents themselves were punished or ignored. That is a perfect example of the state actually harming the child and damaging the parent-child bond.

  • American Tax Payer

    This notion that white families are automatically loving is a crock. It needs to be called out for the blatant lie that it is. If white people have things, it’s because they worked for them and not because of any “love” they got or did not get, from “home”.

    • pennawhytmn

      I beg to differ. A good family isn’t the end all be all. But it is certainly beneficial. And whites are much better at it than Afrikanus Criminalis. And most likely when a White family is dysfunctional, the white children, through extended family, friends, and neighbors, are exposed to normalcy. The children are aware that their family isn’t normal or right. The dark ones are born into dysfunction, grow up in dysfunction, are exposed only to.dysfunction, and even idolize and celebrate dysfunction.

      • American Tax Payer

        Yeah, I reckon that is right. My family wasn’t “normal” but we certainly did know the difference and smart enough not to follow that example.

    • WR_the_realist

      White families are not all loving, and they aren’t all rich either. But the average white family is a haven compared to the average black family.

      • American Tax Payer

        My point was, we can’t let them keep saying that whites are automatically from good homes ’cause it gives them ammo.

        When we allow non-whites to control the narrative like saying we all come from good families, they get to promote the falsehood of “white privilege” and that gets them more funding and more racial oppression and higher taxes for us.

  • Augustus3709

    Startling New Study from Marxist Philosophers proclaims that having an advantage is advantageous.

    Radical new social measures are being discussed to compensate in an ever-changing world towards social justice and equality.

  • Light from the East

    Swift said “It’s true that in the societies in which we live, biological origins do
    tend to form an important part of people’s identities, but that is
    largely a social and cultural construction. So you could imagine
    societies in which the parent-child relationship could go really well
    even without there being this biological link.”

    I think social and cultural construction is an external reflection of our inner self and nature. In the long run, almost no personal choices can fight against the greatness of nature as a whole. And I found a strange thing. The same group of people tend to show compassion for pets without their biological parents but they think human children do not deserve the love of their parents naturally in the name of their slogan “equal opportunity”?

  • Tim

    Funny what you remember after decades. We were rolling silverware during the afternoon at Applebee`s. Two waitresses were talking about how messed up their parents, and what passed for their families were, growing up. I was taking it all in without comment. One of the girls asked, “What was your life like growing up?!?’ I answered that I grew up with an Irish Setter on each end of the fireplace She shot back with a sneer, “What does that mean?!?” I replied that if she didn`t know already I had no point of reference to explain it to her. She knew she had been snubbed or one upped somehow and started giving me the freeze. Which was okay by me because I had come to realize she was damaged goods… I loved you Mom and Dad and dog…!!!

    • John Smith

      I probably could’ve had a better childhood with a Ward and June Cleaver for my mother and father, but I can only contemplate how much worse it would’ve been under govt. control, considering how badly they screw up all they touch.

  • carriewhite64

    Leveling the playing field by bombing and destroying the playing field.

  • David Ashton

    Loving two-parent families obviously privilege the children, so equality should get rid of them, unless the “parents” are two “gays” of course. Friedrich Engels improved by Terry Bean?

  • carriewhite64

    “What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children.”Does the use of the word “allow” make anyone else uncomfortable? I thought so.

  • Tarczan

    This is communism extended to the family level.

    • John Smith

      They’ve always gone for the children, realizing they are the only hope for eventual full control of the populace. I wonder how long it will be before schools ask children to report mom and dad for thought crime?

  • Mangosteen, $1000 chair

    Wow, Harrison Bergeron is about to become reality, if these lunatics have their way.

    • Diana Moon Glampers

      I have been saying so.

  • how about this

    Maybe someone should develop some kind of script to measure the jealousy in a piece of writing. It could look for the key words like “inequality” and “social justice” and give each piece a jealousy rating from 1 to 10. Would there be a market for something like this?

  • Lexonaut

    “‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.”

    Thank god for the “quips Swift”. Until that phrase I thought I was reading an excerpt from the Common Core mission statement.

  • Realist

    It’s simple. I can sum this Waste-Of-10-Minutes-Of-Your-Life up in less than 15 seconds:

    Since the Marxists now realize that propping up the eternally-dysfunctional Negro is a Herculean task, they want to tear the rest of us down and put us on the same level as the Negro.

    • John Smith

      Like a bad Eastwood move, any which way you can.

  • Phoenixian Westernia

    When I see race traitors holding signs “End White Privilege”, I’ll tell Somali refugees to move in their houses and shout “NO BORDERS” on their front yard.

    • TrueNorthFree

      Those white race traitors almost always live in nice safe white liberal communities. If they love die-versity so much they should move into the ghetto.

      • Phoenixian Westernia

        Or bring the ghetto to them. We’ll make the inhabitants of the ghetto move in these nice houses while chanting anarchistic slogans such as “NO BORDERS, FREEDOM TO MOVE”. We should use their own weapon against them.

  • Who Me?

    Okay, here we go. Rant starts.
    From the article we read:
    “So should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?
    ‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.”

    And the answer is as follows:
    So should parents feeding their children food on a regular, daily basis be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?
    I don’t think parents feeding their children food on a regular, daily basis should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally.
    Either way a person with even the slightest bit of sense knows that feeding a child on a regular basis gives that child an advantage over the child that is not fed regularly. This is not something the parent should ever have to bother thinking about. I’m not going to quit feeding my kids good food on a regular basis because some other mother chooses to do otherwise, and the same goes for reading to my children. It’s not my business what other people do or don’t do with their kids, and it’s not other people’s business what I do with mine. I’m absolutely going to do everything in my power to give mine every advantage I can to succeed in life. This is what intelligent people do.
    Sorry, rant over. Thanks for reading.

  • The Worlds Scapegoat

    For now.

    Half negro Miss Universe wants to exterminate pure blooded Japanese people.
    www[dot]eutimes[dot]net/2015/05/black-miss-japan-vows-to-enter-politics-and-destroy-japanese-people/

  • Fed Up

    Not to worry! The Lunatic Left also thinks having (two) White parents is also an unfair advantage. Remember that idiotic nonsense, “White Privilege” concocted by an educator trying to gain notoriety and tenure?

    • George Moriarty

      Not quite, it is quite OK in the eyes of the lunatic left if both white parents are of the same gender.

  • George Moriarty

    Absolutely!
    And as for reading bedtime story one of my kids brought a book from the school library, it was supposedly a story about a fat girl who was being bullied. The whole book was then about feminism and every other left wing ideology that was current back in the 70s. The girls mother was a high powered Ms advertising exec, the girls father was a hack who washed the dishes, all the professional people like Drs counsellors and teachers were women Negros.

    • American Tax Payer

      Erasing the White Man. They think they’ve won already so they hold nothing back anymore. But, this will backfire on them ’cause white people can’t help but notice how their own race is being erased from everything and then they wonder why.

  • BlueSonicStreak

    Harrison Bergeron, coming to life. The world is aflame.

  • John Smith

    The classic irrational Marxist drive for equality that has never existed nor ever can exist. Evolution and genetics are something they are attempting to suppress.

  • Andrew Flanders

    This guy needs a good flogging.