Brighouse and Swift on the family, ethics and social justice

Gideon Calder*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


    The family disrupts equality while also, think many, providing goods of unique value. In Family Values, Brighouse and Swift tackle both of these tendencies, offering a refined and distinctive liberal egalitarian account both of the value of family life, and the limits of what may be done in its name. It builds up from an account of children’s specific interests to a defence of ‘familial relationship goods’ as providing the best way of satisfying those interests. Thus though parenthood carries goods of its own, parental prerogatives are delimited by what is good for children. The position which emerges plays out in nuanced, sometimes surprising ways. I raise three main lines of potential criticism, concerning, respectively, the distribution of family relationship goods, their value in relation to fair equality of opportunity, and the viability of distinguishing between family-located and other contributions to the realisation of a child’s interests.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)363-372
    Number of pages10
    JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
    Issue number3
    Early online date21 May 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


    • Children
    • Equality
    • Ethics
    • Family
    • Parents
    • Social justice


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