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Social Theory and Practice

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published on November 9, 2017

Andrew Jason Cohen

The Harm Principle and Parental Licensing

Hugh LaFollette proposed parental licensing in 1980 (and 2010)—not as a requirement for pregnancy, but for raising a child. If you have a baby, are not licensed, and do not get licensed, the baby would be put up for adoption. Despite the intervention required in an extremely personal area of life, I argue that libertarians—of a certain sort—ought to endorse this. The paper is of general interest as the core of libertarian thinking (as discussed here) is more widely accepted than libertarianism as a whole, accepted by all liberals, though in less strict form. If that is right, they too should endorse parental licensing.

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