Philosophy Paper – Parental Licensing

May 6, 2013 Essay 3 Parental Licensing Congress is considering passing a law that would mandate parental licensing and two experts are testifying, philosophers, Lafayette and Frisks. I think Congress should listen to Leaflet’s defense testimony and enact parental licensing immediately. Lafayette argues parent’s should be required to obtain a license before they can raise a child. Though he says there are many hurdles in this claim but they can be addressed overtime. Part of Loftiness’s core argument is that the state regulates lots of activities that are harmful to others, so why does the state not regulate parental sensing?

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For example, the state mandates people sixteen and over to have a drivers license if they want to drive an automobile in order to better protect society. Lafayette says, “safe performance of the activity requires a certain competence”(Licensing Parent’s, 390). A drivers’ license test regulates and requires a level of competence and if you pass you can legally drive a car. Similarly, Lafayette offers the same principle for a parenting test. Likewise, surgeons have medical tests and schooling to become a legal surgeon in order to keep patients safe.

Lafayette also stands for this argument and feels it relates to licensing adults to prove their competence to be a good parent. The main goal is to protect children in his eyes, he states, “each year more than half a million children are physically abused or neglected by their parent’s”(391). If there is a parenting test in order to protect even a few children we should mandate it in order to lower that horrific statistic. Many people lack the knowledge they need to raise children or they lack the stability, energy or patience that is necessary in the child rearing process (392).

Since we already remove children from abusive parent’s and homes to further prevent harm, he claims, why don’t we require adults to prove that they are competent parent’s before they have children. Lafayette believes it is better to catch some bad parent’s than none like we catch some bad drivers than none with a licensing test. It is important for people to prove their competence before they engage in activities and a license or test fulfills that claim according to Lafayette.

The only way to deny this conclusion is to “deny the need for licensing any potentially harmful activity'(392), whether the regulation of drivers, doctors, or surgeons and without those regulations it breaks down a stable society. Addressing the issue of what happens when you fail the test is similar to the process of failing a drivers test though this issue can be addressed later on. If you are denied a drivers test you are given the opportunity to repeat the test to obtain your drivers license and thus if you fail the test you could to go counseling or therapy to improve your chances on passing the next test.

The second part of Loftiness’s core argument is his analogy with adoption; he claims that f we screen parent’s who want to adopt children we should screen biological parent’s as well. He states, “the adoptive process is far more rigorous than the general licensing procedures I envision”(398). In order to adopt a child you are tested many recognizes these demanding pre adoption procedures exclude some people who could be bad parent’s, which is a positive thing. Adoptive children are “five times less likely to be abused than children reared by their biological parent’s”(399).

We screen adoptive parent’s because its better to deny some people the opportunity to adopt than freely allow anyone to adopt a child. Lafayette sees many parallels between his licensing program and the adoption program mainly, “both programs have the same aim- protecting children”(399). If we continue to regulate the adoption of children we should be compelled to establish a licensing program for any biological parent as well. Though, if you get pregnant without a license Lafayette wouldn’t want to make abortions mandatory at all.

He is against forced abortion, however, he would say the child would have to be taken from you until you pass the test in order to protect the child. You could be penalized for raising a child without a license that may be noninsured a crime, as if you drove a car without a drivers’ license. This program according to Lafayette “does not demand that we license only the best parent; rather it is designed to exclude only the very bad ones” (396). It is hard to test for good parent’s but easy to test for harmful ones, because they are defined as those who could abuse or neglect their children.

Therefore there is enough criteria to make a licensing program for parent’s to successfully work in society. Though procedures for licensing drivers or surgeons are not a 100 percent accurate we embrace them anyway, so we should embrace the parental licensing program even though it is not 100 percent accurate as well. On the opposition side of the argument is philosopher Frisks who is against parental licensing. Frisks claims societies undertake licensing because there is reason to believe licensing will exert some control over specific risks.

The risks fall into these categories according to Frisks, “risks arising out of ignorance, risks arising through physical or mental incapacity, risks arising from willful misconduct, and risks arising through negligence or inability to exert self control over behavior”(On Licentious Licensing, 348). Risk of ignorance and physical or mental disability are not factors for bad parenting, while risk of willful misconduct or lack of self control are factors for bad parenting according to Frisks. First, the ignorance risk says that you don’t harm your kids and be a bad parent from ignorance, parent’s know that abusing your child is bad.

A horrible doctor could harm patients with improper medicine but not because of ignorance, they know administering that particular medicine is bad. If you test based on ignorance in a parental licensing test “there is no empirical reason to believe that making knowledge of parenting a prime retention for licensing would reduce the incidence of child abuse”(348). Secondly, the physical or mental disability risk is not a factor in regards to parenting because if you can’t walk that doesn’t mean you can’t be a caring and loving parent.

For example, “a deaf parent could care for an infant only if flashing lights were provided to alert the parent of the baby’s crying” (349). In the case of the surgeon, if they can’t see and lack adequate vision while performing surgery then the disability would be a factor for them in being a bad surgeon. We can test for this risk, however, it would not be a actor to prevent bad parenting. Thirdly, willful misconduct risk is a huge factor for bad parenting because it includes purposive violence to a child by the wrongdoer.

Parent’s who like to be abusive exist; however, screening for them couldn’t work on a violate those standards”(349). Lastly, the self-control risk is a factor in bad parenting because if a parent gets frustrated really easily or if they are constantly under high stress they could potentially release that stress on their child. For example, they could shake their infant extremely hard out of a lack of self-control outbursts. Frisks says most cases of child abuse fall under this category and that “it is difficult to image a testing situation that could duplicate that”(349).

The risks that are relevant cannot be tested for and the risks that are not relevant can be tested for on a parental licensing test. Frisks claims Loftiness’s proposal wouldn’t work on the grounds that he is confusing competence, testing drivers to see if they are fit to drive, with good Judgment, a quality that is indirectly in our present licensing procedures (351). Frisks says Lifestyles argument fails theoretically because he proposed sensing based on predictions of future abusive behavior from parent’s and that argument cannot hold in Frisk’s eyes.

For example, what do we do if one parent passes the test and the other does not and should the licensing tests be repeated at different times? These questions and concerns about Loftiness’s proposition are highlighted in Frisk’s response stating why licensing is not beneficial. The four risks provided by Frisks state the flaws in Loftiness’s proposal for parental licensing. I agree with Lafayette on his position to enact parental licensing on the same reasons e presents.

Though I find some of his arguments stronger than others especially the argument that if you are against parental licensing on the basis that it is not theoretically desirable or that there is no reliable procedure to implement this program, you also must deny the need to license any potentially harmful activity. I believe that the state regulates activities that are harmful to others and parenting should be one of those regulated activities since it is potentially harmful to children. Regulating drivers and surgeons protects the greater good therefore I agree with

Lafayette saying administering a parental licensing test will protect the greater good by eliminating the bad parent’s in society. I would not want to live in a society where there were no regulation laws and anyone could drive a car or anyone off the street could perform surgery. Though I do understand that there will be unintentional mistakes with accepting this program and that would affect innocent individuals. However, there will always be mistakes in any licensing program, for example, the state could grant a license to a pharmacist who luckily passed the licensing test and hen could administer the wrong drugs to many patients.

On the other side the state could not grant a drivers license to a single mother who needs to drive to work simply because she accidentally made a wrong turn during the drivers test. Although these mistakes do not add up to the importance of implementing the licensing program in my opinion because the greater good will benefit. I also support Lifestyles adoption argument because whether the child is yours biologically or through adoption I believe they should be equal in their testing for parental competence because the love for the child is equal in both cases.

I feel Loftiness’s strongest argument is his adoption argument and it is the argument I support the most as well. I believe since our screening on adoptive parent’s is so extensive and is non-existent for biological parent’s that the difference is concerning and needs to be equal. The parental licensing tests may also benefit society because if any adult takes the test they could qualified to raise a child. This in result protects a child from potentially being neglected or abused because the parent’s didn’t realize they weren’t ready yet. In reply to my opinion there is a genetic objection that needs to be addressed.

Lafayette supports a parental license test to determine the competence of an adult to be a good parent. Though if you support that claim you should support the idea of a genetic test to determine if the adult will pass on good genes to their child, therefore being a good parent genetically. Bad parent’s create the risk of harm, either mental or physical pain, on their children and parent’s can increase the likelihood of hurting your children by passing on genetic characteristics as well. Transmitting certain genetic traits, such as anxiety or depression, to your children can hurt them just as much as inflicting physical or mental on them.

If you fail Loftiness’s licensing test, you are deemed a bad parent, though with time you could change and retake the test and pass and be deemed a competent parent. However, you cannot test traits such as anxiety or depression on a written test therefore there would need to be a correlating genetic licensing test. Say an adult takes the genetic test and the results conclude that there is a fifty percent chance to pass genes of depression to your child, and then you are deemed inadequate to be a parent.

In this case there is o ability to retake the test because your genes are permanent so if you fail the test you cannot be a biological parent. This genetic testing leads too slippery slope because if you are in favor of parental licensing for Loftiness’s reasoning, how do you stop sterilization in the basis of genetic screening? Should the state then be able to mandate genetic screening? If you get advice from a doctor to not have a baby because a poor genetic trait could harm that child is different than the state forbidding you to reproduce.

All human rights are also conditional, for example, the eight to religion is limited by the lack of a right to harm others and therefore the right to have kids is limited by not harming them. If we ban genetically bad people from reproducing in order to avoid harming children, we would loose diversity in the world, therefore leading to a snowball effect of negativity. Only the healthy and beneficial traits would thrive leaving us with a society of perfectly engineered people who all look the same and society would be defined by sterilization.

Without uniqueness or differential genes in the world society will lack the necessary character it needs to thrive. Say you only can reproduce if you are athletic, intelligent and physically attractive because those traits that will benefit your child, then anyone else who doesn’t have those traits will be eliminated since they cannot reproduce according to the genetic test. Therefore a genetic test in correlation to determine if you are a fit parent to raise a child is a destructive program for society.

In response to the genetic objection, I believe that genetic licensing is not as bad as it seems and that if you don’t make the claim to support genetic licensing that there will be something worse down the line to accept. Genetic licensing is not detrimental in my opinion because if you fail this genetic test you could still adopt a child because then you would not pass on your bad traits on to your child. If you want to raise a child there should be no difference in the love you give them if you adopt or biologically reproduce.

Genetic testing is not as bad as it seems because say you have a disease such as downs syndrome and want to reproduce the odds of would not want to reproduce knowing I would pass my negative traits on to my biological child, therefore I would adopt so I could still raise a healthy child. Preventing and even eliminating these horrible diseases is something society can benefit from in my opinion. Sterilization may not be a bad thing since no one would have to suffer from cancer or be inflicted with continuous anxiety if these traits didn’t exist in the world.

I also agree with Lafayette on his adoption argument, therefore I support a written test and a genetic test for parental licensing for biological and adoptive parent’s. Genetic testing leads us to eugenics, even declaring who can reproduce and who cannot on the basis of their genes, and this slippery slope could potentially lead us to the issue of regulating adoption. It could say that since we don’t want to test genetics in order to be a good parent then we can’t have a written test and if we can’t have a written test for biological parent’s we shouldn’t test or screen for adoptive parent’s.

Therefore I am more willing to embrace the argument for genetic testing because I support adoption regulation. According to Loftiness’s principle harming children is wrong and a written licensing test to screen for parental competence can lower the odds of hurting children. I believe you cannot have a written test without screening with a genetic test because there are many active genes that can be harmful to children. I am not willing to accept letting anyone decide they want a child then go adopt one on the spot without any screening on their competence to raise the child.

Either outcome is potentially harmful in my option but I am more willing to bite the bullet and accept the genetic testing bullet because not screening adoptive parent’s is even worse. I also support genetic testing on the grounds of Harrier’s “yuck factor” because with parental and genetic screening, genetic screening feels “yucky’ or intrusive to us, though because something feels strange to us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Genetic testing is not as bad as it seems in my opinion.

Lafayette and Frisks both raise convincing points in their arguments, however, I support Loftiness’s claim on supporting parental licensing. There are millions of children in the world who suffer from parental violence or negligence and I believe there needs to be a test for adults to take before they can reproduce. It is contradictory to say that the state can regulate some activities that are harmful to others but not every activity that is harmful to others. Parental licensing is harmful to others so it should be regulated and congress should pass the law to enact it.

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