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The State As Parent

Locke, Rousseau, and the Transformation of the Family

Much of modern political and social thought tends to take for granted the fact that traditional conceptions of the family—with their accompanying duties and privileges—are an inherent imposition on individual freedom. With The State As Parent, Laurence Reardon draws on a long philosophical tradition to explain that that assumption is incorrect—that the family remains the most effective way to balance the desire for individual freedom with the continuing need for communal obligations.

 The waning of traditional institutions, Reardon argues, has left the solitary individual much more susceptible to mass movements and the ever-growing power of the state. Turning a critical eye on the individualist thought of John Locke and the collectivist thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Reardon shows how they facilitated departures from traditional, family-based notions of society—and how the result has led to a fundamental conflict between the historic internal obligations of the family and the egalitarian requirements of the modern state.

 Penetrating and sure to be controversial, The State As Parent will be essential for students of political philosophy, ethics, and social organization.

300 pages | 6 x 9

Political Science: Classic Political Thought

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The State As Parent is a substantive and invaluable contribution to contemporary debates about the family.”

William E. May, Catholic University of America

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