The Worth Of A Child

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In this graceful and humane book, Thomas Murray illuminates one of the most morally complex areas of everyday life: the relationship between parents and children. What do children mean to their parents? How far do parental obligations go? What social arrangements and technologies used in conceiving, gestating, and rearing children are ethical? What, from the beginning of life to its end, is the worth of a child? Murray leaves the rarefied air of abstract moral philosophy to reflect on the perplexities of ordinary life and ordinary people. He maintains that ethical theory needs a richer description than it now has of the moral life of parents and children, one that captures the complexity of motives for having and rearing children, and the significance of children in the lives of adults. These issues lead Murray into explorations of some of the most contentious moral and technical problems of our time, among them fertility technologies, prenatal testing, adoption, and abortion.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Should you have a second child to provide a bone marrow transplant for your first child? Do biological fathers have rights over their children? Murray (Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics, School of Medecine, Case Western Univ.) doesn't think these questions have universal answers. His book is mostly an attack on mistaken ways of forcing answers. He dislikes theories that make the family and its relations a marketplace, theories that make justification depend on consent, and all theories that simply apply universal principles to solutions of particular cases. Murray cautiously sympathizes with Mary Midgley's claim (Can't We Make Moral Judgments? St. Martin's, 1991) that there is a basic human nature that limits what we can do and also gives us something in common with which to oppose most of the usual biases. But within this general framework he wants to say that the best we can do is ask what makes humans flourish, examine all the facts, identify all the rival values, try to put ourselves in the positions of the partisans, and develop a kind of Rawlsian reflective equilibrium. This well-written book appeals to common sense but offers no clear conclusions. Even so, it is good reading, and many general readers will think it a great find on the library shelf.Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520088368
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/11/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas H. Murray is Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics, School of Medicine, Case Western University. He is the editor of Feeling Good and Doing Better (1984), and Which Babies Shall Live? (1985).

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Table of Contents

1 Why Do Adults Have Children? 1
2 Families, the Marketplace, and Values: New Ways of Making Babies 14
3 Adoption and the Meanings of Parenthood 41
4 Research on Children and the Scope of Responsible Parenthood 70
5 Moral Obligations to the Not-Yet-Born Child 96
6 Prenatal Testing and the Quest for the Perfect Child 115
7 Abortion and the Place of Motherhood 142
8 Tapestry and Web 167
Notes 187
Index 203
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