email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
"Intimate" Violence against Women3 NBS of Julian DrewA Little PregnantA Natural History of RapeA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAbout a BoyAdult Children of Emotionally Immature ParentsAgainst MarriageAgainst MarriageAlmost a PsychopathAlone TogetherAnatomy of LoveAngelsAnother CountryAnxious ParentsApples and OrangesBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeing the Other OneBetrayed as BoysBeyond AddictionBipolar DisorderBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking ApartBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBringing Up ParentsBut I Love HimCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysCherishmentChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingClawsCloserCold HitCoping With Difficult PeopleCouple SkillsCruddyDancing in My NuddypantsDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingEcstasyEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional Intelligence at WorkEntwined LivesErotic PassionsEssentials of Premarital CounselingEvery Pot Has a CoverFacts About ADHD ChildrenFamilies Like MineFamilyFamily BoundFamily FirstFear of IntimacyFinal JeopardyFind MeFlashpointFor Lesbian ParentsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGirl in the MirrorGirl StuffGoing Home without Going CrazyHandbook of AttachmentHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHappiness Sold SeparatelyHard to GetHe's Just Not That Into YouHealing ConversationsHollow KidsHot ButtonsHot Chocolate for the Mystical LoverHow Families Still MatterHow to Create Chemistry with AnyoneHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Don't Know How She Does ItI Hate You-Don't Leave MeI Only Say This Because I Love YouI'm OK, You're My ParentsIn the Mood, AgainInside the American CoupleIntrusive ParentingIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingKeeping Passion AliveKeeping Your Child in MindLet's Get This StraightLiberation's ChildrenLife's WorkLikely to DieLove JunkieLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLoving Someone with Borderline Personality DisorderLust in TranslationMaking the RunMaking the RunManic DepressionMars and Venus - Starting Over.Mating in CaptivityMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MotherstylesMurder in the InnMysterious CreaturesNecessary NoiseOdd Girl OutOpenOpening to Love 365 Days a YearOphelia's MomOrgasmsOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming Your Difficult FamilyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting on the GoParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerParents and Digital TechnologyParents Do Make a DifferencePassionate MarriagePlanet JanetPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Raising AmericaRaising ElijahRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Kids in the 21st CenturyRaising Resilient ChildrenRay's a LaughRelationship RescueRelax, It's Just SexRespect-Me RulesRomantic IntelligenceRoom For JSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf-NurtureSelfish, Shallow, and Self-AbsorbedSex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShidduch CrisisSickenedSingleSlut!Socrates in LoveSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Staying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop SignsStop Walking on EggshellsStop Walking on EggshellsStrong, Smart, & BoldSummer of the SkunksSurviving a Borderline ParentTaking Charge of AngerTelling SecretsThank You for Being Such a PainThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Birth of PleasureThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Bully Action GuideThe Burden of SympathyThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe CorrectionsThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe DisappearanceThe Dream BearerThe Educated ParentThe Emotional RevolutionThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe EpidemicThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good DivorceThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Hostile HospitalThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Little FriendThe Love HexagonThe Moral Intelligence of ChildrenThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Philosophical ParentThe Psychology of Parental ControlThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Reflective ParentThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of WivesThe Spider and the BeeThe State of AffairsThe StepsThe Story of My FatherThe Velveteen FatherThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Whole ChildTo Have and To Hurt:Two Is EnoughUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhitchedUntrue Up in FlamesWe've Got IssuesWhat about the KidsWhat Goes UpWhat Is Secular Humanism?What It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Mars Women DateWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhy Are You So Sad?Will You, Won't You?WomanWorking With Emotional IntelligenceWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!

Related Topics
The Ethics of the FamilyReview - The Ethics of the Family
by Stephen Scales, Adam Potthast, and Linda Oravecz (Editors)
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010
Review by Christian Perring
Nov 25th 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 48)

This large edited collection has 432 pages.  It starts with a one-hundred page introduction to moral theory and its relevance to family ethics, written by the editors. It is followed by 24 papers by academics from a variety of kinds of department; most are in philosophy by several are in sociology, law, or communication.  The papers are based mainly on conferences papers from the 10th International Conference on Ethics Across the Curriculum: "The Ethics of the Family"

This collection has some interesting papers, some useful papers, and some that are worth skipping. It is unlikely that anyone would read the whole book: rather, it could be worth finding one or two papers that would be useful to readers for particular purposes. The decision to include the "Introduction" to moral theory is an interesting one. It seems designed to be used for teaching purposes: it includes extracts from some well-known philosophers such as Mill, Kant, Rawls, Aristotle, as well as they psychologist Carol Gilligan. It seems a fairly standard introduction, and maybe it would be useful to readers, but there are plenty of other introductions to ethics available on the internet and in many textbooks, and I can't really imagine who would prefer to use this one. It would be a strange decision to use this book as a textbook for an undergraduate course, since conference papers are not very approachable for students new to philosophy.

The main interest of the book is in the subsequent four sections:

  • Love, Sex, and Marriage
  • Parents and Children
  • The Family and the Larger (Moral) Community
  • Family Practitioners, Law, Ethics, and Emerging Technologies

The section on marriage addresses relatively standard issues on the nature of marriage and to what extent marriage can take diverse forms and yet still be legitimate. There's also a paper on the relation between sex, love, and moral obligation. These are certainly interesting issues, but they have received plenty of attention in the literature.  So it is in the last three sections that the book's potential for being useful lies.

These sections do well at examining a broad range of issues.  Charles Zola examines some of the literature on the responsibility of adult children to care for their aging parents, and turns to Aquinas's theory of prudence for a source of illumination. Suk Choi provides a useful account of Confucian ethics to discuss filial piety. Ernani Magalhaes gives a rather straightforward analysis of the morality of getting children to believe in Santa Claus. A previously published paper from 2002 by Stephen Scales is republished here, on the topic of intergenerational justice.  Michael McFall argues in favor of licensing parents as a way to prevent bad parenting and child abuse. Yvette Pearson addresses similar issues, with focus on the intentions of the people who cause a child to come into existence.  Wade Robinson argues that children are moral agents and should be encouraged to engage in moral reasoning. All the papers in this section are thoughtful, carefully argued, and useful as introductions to the particular subjects they address.

The next section is more mixed.  There's a nice paper by Eric Silverman on reconciling an impartial ethics (such as Kantian deontology) with the partiality we have to our loved ones, where he offers a useful summary of a paper by Velleman on the topic, provides criticisms and ends with an alternative approach. Jeff Buechner addresses the group nature of a family and uses the work of Margaret Gilbert on social facts to investigate whether there may be a distinctive family rationality that is different from individual rationality. The other papers in this section are less innovative, not advancing the scholarly conversation so much, although they may well interest less specialist readers.

The final section focuses mainly on medical ethics and legal issues. They deal with assisted reproduction, the cognitive neuroenhancement of children, organ donation, the ethical dilemmas faced by attorneys appointed to represent the best interests of children, and the ethical obligations of social workers.  So these papers are of more specialist interest, and are not at the heart of the topic.  Nevertheless, they are worthwhile for those who want to think more about those topics in relation to the family.

Cambridge Scholars Publishing puts out an alarming number of edited philosophy books: nearly anyone putting together a conference in philosophy will be invited by them to publish a collection of papers from the conference, and this means that the quality of their books is often not particularly good.  Libraries and individuals should be cautious before purchasing their books, especially since they tend to be fairly costly: this book currently sells for a little over $70. But in this case the editors have brought together a number of useful articles in an area that is of growing interest. The papers here are worth reading by philosophers and other theoreticians interested in the moral problems raised by families.


© 2014 Christian Perring


Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


Welcome to Metapsychology. We feature over 8200 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716