What Is A Family? A Constitutive-Affirmative Account

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Bio-heteronormative conceptions of the family have long reinforced a nuclear ideal of the family as a heterosexual marriage, with children who are the genetic progeny of that union. This ideal, however, has also long been resisted in light of recent social developments, exhibited through the increased incidence and acceptance of step-families, donor-conceived families, and so forth. Although to this end some might claim that the bio-heteronormative ideal is not necessary for a social unit to count as a family, a more systematic conceptualization of the family—the kind of family that matters morally—is relatively underexplored in the philosophical literature. This paper makes a start at developing and defending an account of the family that is normatively attractive and in line with the growing prevalence of non-conventional families and methods of family-formation. Our account, which we call a constitutive-affirmative model of the family, takes the family to be constituted by an ongoing process of relevant affective and affirmative relations between the putative family members.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Number of pages11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

ID: 387262031