Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Subtlety and Validity

Thanks to Michael P. for posting another comment on my thought from Commonweal. This time it is a comment by Eduardo Penalver.  I gather that neither Eduardo nor Michael is asserting that I have cast aspersions on the adoption of children who have been orphaned or whose parents cannot properly care for them.  That's good because I haven't.  To suggest that I have, would be odd in view of the work I've done (beginning in the mid-90s with the late Robert P. Casey, then-Governor of Pennsylvania) to promote adoption and reform legal procedures that unnecessariliy impede or discourage adoption in certain cases. I'm pro-adoption, not anti; and there is nothing in my thought that would cast aspersions on adoption where circumstances are such that the interests of chlidren are served by it---as they often are. On a different point in Eduardo's comment, I gather that he is merely claiming that the distinction between acts that are procreative in kind or type (those that fulfill the behavioral conditions of procreation whether or not the nonbehavioral conditions happen to obtain) and the subset of such acts that are procreative in effect (given that the nonbehavioral conditions of procreation more often than not do not obtain) is subtle, not that it is false or fallacious. For what it is worth, it doesn't strike me as especially subtle, nor did it when I first encountered it in the careful and analytically precise work on marriage and sexual morality of Elizabeth Anscombe. But perhaps subtlety is in the mind of the beholder.  And, of course, what matters is not whether a distinction or principle is subtle, but whether it is valid. 


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As an adoptive parent, I have had the chance to see up-close the struggles of adopted children to grow up without their biological parents. These struggles are difficult for any adopted child but especially for children who do not have even the comfort of a two-parent, mom/dad household. Our adopted daughter's older brother was raised from infancy by two gay men who attempted to provide him a nurturing environment, but they simply could not. The boy needed a mother, and when he got old enough, he found the one who had given birth to him. By that point, however, he was simply incapable of living in a trusting relationship with any adult, and he currently has a lengthy prison term awaiting him. Surely we should not simply write off the real psychological needs of children because they do not fit the PC template of selfish adults who see children as lifestyle accessories.

Posted by: Ron Chandonia | Mar 30, 2013 11:08:40 AM