Evaluating parental power

An exercise in pluralist political theory

By Allyn Fives

Evaluating parental power


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9432-7
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: June 2017
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Ethics & moral philosophy, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Marriage & Family, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy, Political Theory, PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Politics & government, Sociology: Family & Relationships
  • Series: Social and Political Power


Is parents' power over their children legitimate? And what role does theoretical analysis play when we make such normative evaluations? While this book adds to the growing literature on parents, children, families, and the state, it does so by focusing on one issue, the legitimacy of parents' power. It also takes seriously the challenge posed by moral pluralism, and considers the role of both theoretical rationality and practical judgement in resolving moral dilemmas associated with parental power.

The primary intended market for this book is advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students and established academics, in particular those with an interest in practical and applied ethics, contemporary political theory, moral theory, social theory, the sociology of childhood, political sociology, social work, and social policy.


'Fives' book is a wise, intelligent, consistently interesting, robustly argued and elegant discussion of issues that span the division of normative applied philosophy into ethics and political theory. It is an excellent contribution to the Lockean question of how and why power is rightly exercised by adult guardians over their children. No-one can read it without understanding this question better.'
David Archard, Queen's University, Belfast, Journal of political power


1 Introduction: philosophy, power, and parents
Part I: Paternalism and its limits
2 Paternalism
3 Caretaker or liberator?
Part II: Conceptual and metholodogical issues
4 Moral dilemmas
5 Children's agency
6 Parental power
7 Normative legitimacy
Part III: The moral legitimacy of parental power
8 Legitimacy in the political domain and in the family
9 Licensing, monitoring, and training parents
10 Children and the provision of informed consent
11 Sharing lives, shaping values, and voluntary civic education
12 Conclusion


Allyn Fives is Lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway

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