In a provocatively timed New York Times Opinionator post (just before Father’s Day), Laurie Shirage argues that fatherhood ought to be optional. The kernel of her argument comes from 2005 paper in the Journal of Applied Philosophy:
If women’s partial responsibility for pregnancy does not obligate them to support a fetus, then men’s partial responsibility for pregnancy does not obligate them to support a resulting child.
The logic is fine as far as it goes. It just doesn’t go very far.
- Abortion involves a lot more than merely declining to assume a moral or legal responsibility. It involves the ending of a human life.
- Having a child isn’t like acquiring a pet. Children are human beings who have their own rights. Among these rights is–or ought to be–a right to support from their parents.
- The position ignores the social and psychological implications of human biological dimorphism and assumes that women and men are equivalent participants in sex, each gaining, receiving, and perceiving exactly the same things from copulation.
So the position is logically consistent, it’s just totally divorced from reality. Which, all things considered, is about what I’d expect from “the Journal of Applied Philosophy.”