A family is a social institution, a network of intimate relationships, a psychological shelter from a chaotic worldand much more. Family relationships invoke special expectations and commitments, often involving loyalty in a way that conflicts with the impartial and universal nature of most ethical obligations. The family also is a focal point for broader ethical problems, such as obligations related to healthcare, raising children, caring for the elderly, corporal punishment, interpersonal justice, and other issues. The word family originally meant household, thereby including unrelated people (e.g.servants). However, over time family came to refer to relationships established either by blood, marriage, or adoption. In more recent times, the word family has been more broadly used to describe people who voluntarily associated in ways that resemble (but do not necessarily match) traditional family relationships. The word family has also taken on an ideological character, becoming a focal point for ethical and political controversy. This cassette presentation considers critiques of the family from Plato, Mo Tzu, Marx and Engels, and feminists. Also discussed are trends and changes in the divorce law, along with the social, personal, and moral issues related to broken families. Three models of parenting are discussed, describing parents as either child producers, guardians, or providers of life prospects. Also discussed are issues related to childbirth and care for the elderly.
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