Roger Scruton on the Filial Tie


“Consider the other side of family loyalties. We are apt to think of children as having a responsibility towards their parents, a responsibility that in no way reflects any merely contractual right, but which is simply due to the parents as a recognition of the filial tie. This sense of obligation is not founded in justice – which is the sphere of free actions between beings who create their moral ties – but rather in respect, honor, or (as the Romans called it) piety. To neglect my parents in old age is not an act of justice, but an act of impiety. Impiety is the refusal to recognize as legitimate a demand that does not arise from consent or choice. And we see that the behavior of children towards their parents cannot be understood unless we admit this ability to recognize a bond that is ‘transcendent’, that exists, as it were ‘objectively’, outside the sphere of individual choice. It is this ability that is transferred by the citizen from hearth and home to place, people and country. The bond of society – as conservatives see it – is just such a ‘transcendent’ bond, and it is inevitable that citizens will be disposed to recognize its legitimacy, will be disposed, in other words, to bestow authority upon the existing order.”

– Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism


– Lucas G. Westman

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