15th Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Spotorno

Riccardo Maria Spotorno

Licensing Parents and Conflicts of Interests between would-be Parents and Children

The aim of this paper is to analyze a conflict of interests that seems to arise in licensing parents schemes, namely the conflict between children’s interest in not having incompetent parents and would-be competent parents’ interest in not being barred from parenting a child.

This conflict is caused by the fact that every improvement of the capacity of the tests employed in licensing parents schemes in detecting incompetent parents is inversely related to the capacity in detecting competent ones and vice-versa: the more a test is reliable in detecting incompetent parents, the less is reliable in detecting competent ones. In the first session, I present the argument for licensing parents proposed by LaFollette; I proceed by noticing that the objection raised by De Wispelaere and Weinstock (2012), according to which the consideration that individual have a fundamental non-substituable interest in parenting makes parenting disanalogous to other licensed activities, should be taken seriously and that the advocates of licensing parents schemes should be able to accomodate this consideration.

In the second section, I provide some remarks about the nature of predicting tests, I analyze the conflict of interests involved in designing a licensing test and I offer a principle that states how to design tests involved in licensing parents schemes.