Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Chris Heathwood

Second Advisor

Dominic Bailey

Third Advisor

Robert Buchwald


This thesis examines the notion that it is morally permissible for the government to require that people obtain a license before they are allowed to legally raise a child. Though it sounds like a rather shocking idea, I compared the current state of adoption law to show the benefits it has for children and society as a whole. If we use this as a framework for biological parenting law, we can see that a licensing system has the potential for the same benefits. The system would protect children before the fact and place them in homes sooner as to avoid any psychological damage that can come from the foster care system. This paper is an extension of Hugh LaFollette’s original philosophical work, “Licensing Parents”, which was published in Philosophy and Public Affairs in 1980. I use LaFollette’s framework to discuss the ways the system would work in practice and to respond to various counterarguments against the idea.