"Bleeding Heart Libertarian" Cares So Much About the Poor He Wants to Make it Illegal for Them to Bear Children


In what I hope is a subtle satire of political philosophy gone mad (one of his co-bloggers Jacob Levy suggests as much in a comment, but that might have merely been a gentle way of firmly disagreeing) "bleeding heart libertarian" Andrew Cohen gives a supposedly libertarian argument for requiring a government-granted license to be a parent.

He writes that "we need to know what sort of licensing test are we talking about. I'm inclined to think there are two tests that are involved. First, a means test—that is, no one that cannot afford to raise a child should have a child." But don't worry, poor folk--if a private or state charity is willing to step up for you, it's cool for you to carry out the prime genetic imperative of your existence. He also thinks that a state must require a "psychological exam that indicates whether the individual (a) understands how to parent and (b) can handle the stress a child brings."

Infants--autonomous or property or something different or between?--raise many problems for scientistic political and ethical philosophy to be sure, for libertarians or statists. But one has to have a surprisingly unlibertarian view of the state to assume that even "greatest good for greatest number" utilitarianism would be served by legally severing people from one of the core elements of human choice and flourishing and, yes, nature.

Other Reason blogging on bleeding heart libertarians.