Who counts as a parent for the purposes of filial obligations?

Keywords: Filial obligations, parent-child relationships, family ethics, alternative families, parenthood


I argue that using a traditional biological account of parenthood causes problems for determining who counts as a parent for the purposes of filial obligations in alternative family structures. I then argue that a better way to understand parenthood is as a role. People who fill the role of parents are parents, regardless of their biological ties to a child. Next, I argue that children can have more than two parents and so can have filial obligations to more than two people. I then demonstrate that understanding parenthood as a role allows us to correctly account for who should be a parent in cases of adoption, surrogacy, and extended families. In the final section I discuss three related worries about allowing a child to have more than two parents.

Author Biography

Cameron Fenton, Western University

Cameron Fenton

PhD Candidate in Philosophy, Western University


Research Area: Filial obligations and parent-child relationships

How to Cite
Fenton, C. (2017). Who counts as a parent for the purposes of filial obligations?. Etikk I Praksis - Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics, 11(1), 17 - 32. https://doi.org/10.5324/eip.v11i1.2245
Artikler - Articles