Increasing philosophical attention has recently focused on questions of the nature of vulnerability, and of the implications of recognizing and responding to vulnerability in human agents and subjects. Within that field of interest, explorations and analyses of the specific vulnerability of children have raised many interesting questions regarding the nature of childhood and the vulnerability-responsive obligations of parents. By contrast, there has been no philosophical recognition or discussion of parental vulnerability within the parent-child relationship. In this paper I seek to address that theoretical gap, exploring the distinct ways in which parents are vulnerable qua parents, as well as some of the normative implications that follow from a recognition of that vulnerability. These implications include claims of a vulnerability-based foundation for extensive parental authority over children, and the significant role of expanded social structures and mechanisms to more adequately support the parenting of our children.
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