Sep 10 - Freedom Center Colloquium Series: Andrew Williams


Thu, 09/10/2015 - 18:00 to 19:15

On Sep 10, the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom will host Andrew Williams, Pompeu Fabra University, ICREA Research Professor, as part of the Freedom Center Colloquium Series.  His talk is titled "Is It Unfair To Free-Ride On Parents?"  (Abstract below.)

Thursday, Sep 10, 6-7:15pm, in the Kendrick Room at the Freedom Center, Marshall 280 (right above Paradise Bakery).

For further information, please visit the Arizona Freedom Center at



Is It Unfair To Free-Ride On Parents?

To produce children and provide them with the start in life to which they are entitled involves large economic costs.  Those costs are standardly spread across society but parents often bear an especially large share.  Moreover, in most modern affluent societies parents normally receive, at best, emotional rather than economic returns from bearing those costs: for those parents children are a form of consumption rather than investment.  It is feasible, however, to design various social institutions that divide childrearing costs in different ways, and consequently the actual price of parenthood is the product of political decisions.  Due to the profound influence that price exerts on all our lives, it is worth asking what factors are relevant in deciding how well-designed institutions would set it.  This presentation discusses one consideration many have claimed is relevant to our question, namely the fact that individuals outside the family often derive later economic benefits from parental decisions to produce and raise children when their offspring grow up to become workers and taxpayers.  It casts doubt on certain arguments designed to show that in virtue of being benefited those third parties are obliged to bear some of the costs involved in generating those benefits.  Since some may be drawn to these arguments because they assume the arguments could be enlisted by those who oppose gender-based injustice, I also very briefly cast some doubt on this assumption and, more positively, mention another way to conceive the injustive that confronts mothers.

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