What A Mother’s Got to Do: formulating a moderate account of maternal duty.
Modern motherhood is hard. While raising children is never going to be easy, I argue that we, as a society, make motherhood harder than it should be by holding mothers to unrealistic and unreasonable standards. We vastly overestimate maternal duties, assuming that a mother has a defeasible duty to perform each action that might benefit her child. I argue that we should reject this maximal account of maternal duties. However, many people worry that if we reject the maximal account of maternal duties, we will not be able to explain many duties which it seems obvious that mothers must have, for example the duty to protect their children from a non-dangerous wasp sting or the duty to use an age appropriate car seat. This talk discusses possible formulations of a moderate account of maternal duties: an account which avoids the extreme demands (which undermine women’s wellbeing and make talking about parental decisions so tricky) but still recognises some plausible set of maternal duties.