a philosophy blog

“The Double Origin”

Notes on:
Sylviane Agacinski, Parity of the Sexes.

Does everyone have an unconditional right to have a child? Agacinski asks.

And can a child be allowed to legally issue from two people of the same sex? I say issue and not raise because legally, education means nothing precise and doesn’t involve the identity of the child.

Can we really relegate every ethical, legal, or political problem to the relativism of individual choice? This is very much the question raised, in general, by new techniques of medically assisted procreation.

[She is leary of making individual choice, an androcentric concern, the central right women seek to acquire and defend—as though there were one univocal concept of “human choice”.]

Agacinski objects to Robert Badinter’s claim that everyone has a right to life, specifically interpreted to mean everyone has the “right to give life”. No, she implies, men don’t.

Is there “an unconditional freedom to procreate”? That there may be is an idea that stems from a highly individualistic, classically liberal perspective in which procreation is simply another of the ways in which I may extend and fulfill myself.

It ignores that procreation involves others: society as well as a future being whose needs and aspirations are not encompassed in my own.

The whole problem of the law is precisely to arrive at an acceptable compromise between shared fundamental values, capable of providing certain ethical “frameworks” that inspire laws, and, on the other hand, to allow for the greatest freedom for each person to choose how to act and live.

The significance of filiation:

…the way in which life is perpetuated and transmitted implies an ethical vision and engages the fundamental structures of our civilization, indeed of all civilization.

Another prepositional distinction:

…the rights of the child cannot be absent from the debate over the right to the child.

The law does indeed have a normative vocation. It is inspired by values and allows them to be respected.

It is necessary, then, to extend the debate, especially concerning the child’s right to a filiation, even to a generation, which includes him in a human order and makes him something other than a simple laboratory product.

The freedom to have children and that to fabricate them cannot be spoken of in the same breath.

It seems, however, that the symbolic and legal order of filiation has always retained a certain relation to the natural order of generation.

It is a question of passing from natural to artificial procreation, and finally of establishing the possibility of fabricating children on the model of artisanal or industrial fabrication.

…the child’s right to a filiation established from his genetic origins is necessarily abandoned.

Resort to third party human donors or conceivers still does not upset the natural mixity in generation. Medical technology, however, has no inherent reason to stop with these possibilities. Limits, if they are to be applied, will have to be pressed from outside the limits of what is possible through technology.

The mixity of humanity, relative to the division of sex roles in generation, is not only a given of physical anthropology but, further, from our point of view, it also structures cultural duality and value by generating singularity and diversity.

It is in the parental couple, as much real as symbolic, that the child discovers the division of man, and thus a form of his finitude and human destiny. It is in the necessary parental complementarity that humans recognize both their differences and their mutual dependence. It is in the impossibility of being both mother and father that individuals encounter their own limits, come up against their desire for self-sufficiency, and must assume their sexual identities.

Mixity is a value that is as much fundamental, universal, and ethical as it is biological.

[The possibility of ethics itself presupposes differences which are ultimately rooted in sexual dimorphism. The encounter with a being not like us should give us pause to consider that interests, too, exist which are not like ours.]

Posted by luno in parity, motherhood, sex differences, Moral Theory, General (Thursday August 3, 2006 at 12:46 pm)

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