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Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

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This is a new recent article posted on ABC.com

 

It's a long read.

 

 

"

Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?
Friday 1 May 2015 1:19PM Joe Gelonesi

Plato famously wanted to abolish the family and put children into care of the state. Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.

 

So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally.

 

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Soma pretty much said it all.

We are supposed to strive for equality in abundance, not equality in poverty.

Equality is not good for its own sake, but for the things that come with it: self-worth, opportunity, etc. There are cases where equality is absolutely stupid and undesirable, and this is one of them.

What we could absolutely look for is finding ways to make the family unit more level. Instead of taking away the elements of the good family, why not suppress the elements of the bad one?

Above all else though, any such social engineering should not be coerced. We should absolutely strive to make sure parents are informed, but we must preserve their choice.

Why? It's a necessary evil. When the government starts mandating things left and right, there's not only the problem of enforcement, but the slippery slope one's establishing where the state can actively intervene in our personal lives for our own good.

Parents ultimately are lazy with regards to things that take a lot of work and don't see an immediate effect; this is why second languages die out rapidly in a lot of immigrant families. However, reading a bedtime story is a simple activity, and if parents were told how much of a difference it makes in that person's long term socioeconomic performance, they'll probably get right on board.

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I also want to mention that the idea of a perfect family is a fallacy. All families have their conflicts. Some more than others.

It's ultimately in the context of ethics, I think.

Most ethicists would admit that perfection is impossible, but it's very possible for most people to do the right thing most of the time.

I would say the same principle applies to families, none are perfect, but the continued function of society would indicate that most do a well enough job in breeding morals, diligence, etc.

It mostly then becomes a question of if everything's okay as is in the family unit, or if it could still do better. If what this report says is true, we can do better, but the question is how to approach it.

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The actual model of a "perfect" family is based on archaic notions of what a family should be, made worse by nostalgic purists of the previous generation who base their definition of such on what they believe families "used" to be.  For example, it's generally believed that the family has become more about independent members rather than the entire unit in recent decades.  This often coincides with tidbits about eating together as a family and other rituals that people attribute as a past-time of familial communication.  However, sociologists tend to disagree that these were ever staples in past decades, and by extension, families have always had their own unique way of communicating.  Basically, sociologists say that if your family functions well by watching TV while they eat, then go for it.

 

There is no scientifically correct model for a perfect family, just as there is no ideal model for happiness.  That's not to say that a family can't improve their functionality with these concepts in mind, but they're ultimately just suggestions, and ones that may or may not work for a particular family.

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It's easy to take this article too seriously; it's simply a thought experiment and nobody honestly believes that anything is going to change.  It's framed under a controversial title purely to generate hits, at which it succeeded.  I would have gone for a slightly different construction of the key problem: "Is not having a loving family an unfair disadvantage?"

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Basically as Soma said, The Republic, and a lot of philosophical texts are excercises in thought and not actual genuine propositions, but rather a text that starts with a lot of "what if?" questions and tries to whittle them down to as few as possible as the "characters" in the book discuss the subject matter (in the republic's case, the idea of the "perfect" societal state).

 

They aren't really meant to be taken completely literally.  Philosophy as a subject is about the questions, not the solutions.  When philosophers come up with answers, they're saying "well based on this, the LOGICAL answer would be..." and someone is always welcome to say "but what if..." in response.  Ancient philosophers were often devoted mathematicians too, since the whole concept of philosophy is to try and think about non-mathematical elements of life in as logical a manner as possible.

 

It's pretty fun stuff to talk about (not so fun to study at A level and memorise everything about these philosophers for exams lol), but yeah, I think this article is either taking the ideas too seriously, or is just worded a little badly and too easy to misread as them doing so when really they're being just as "what if" as the original philosophers in question..

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There's an awful lot wrong with thinking there is one solution that might solve the entirety of social injustice, which seems to be the implication.

 

Going off his post history + history at other websites I'm pretty sure he's referring to the concept of "Social Justice" itself and not the sentence (ala the bold). You know, the whole "You're a Social Justice Warrior!!!" drama.

 

But I digress. I 100% agree the article itself is stupid.

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Whether meant to be taken seriously or not, the article does raise a fair point for consideration in social equality: it's effectively impossible given the range of different upbringings.

We are seeing the pitfall of diversity: as much as we love to celebrate it, it can also lead to unfair outcomes for each person.

The cultural thing is what makes it the hardest to remedy; there is no legal panacea we could apply to make everything better, as this is ultimately an individual decision.

All the free day care, paid family leave, or whatever similar programs in the world are meaningless if one child's parents aren't as affectionate as another's. While we have services in the cases of abuse, it'd be ludicrous to take children away because they didn't get enough cuddles, even if said cuddles are better for their long-term development.

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