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1.1       Background of the Study

            Of late years the study of the family has come to be situated within the ambit of sociology. Sociological studies of the family revolve mainly around structural and functional considerations with regards to the family. But in bygone ages, enquiries into the fundamental nature of the family were undertaken almost exclusively by philosophers. The family was deemed the proper subject of philosophical study. A very authoritative work on the nature of the family put together by an ancient philosopher is Aristotle Politics. Aristotle’s up-to-point analysis of the nature and constitution of the family provide us with a unique example of philosophical perspectives on the family, which are still quite useful for us in this page.  The typical twenty-first century is bedeviled with threats of dissolution, looseness, of familial relationships and ties, confusion of domestic roles, ignorance of the nature of domestics rule or household governance, inordinate desire for limitless wealth among others. All of these are ills which can be corrected by an invocation and proper utilization of the insights offered by Aristotle with regards to the family.  In Book I of the politics, Aristotle ventures to examine the various relationships that constitute the fabric of the family, the kind of wealth-getting proper for the household management, the various species of rules to be exercised in the family and by whom, the varying degrees of virtue which various members of the family should possess, the nature of friendship that exists within the family, etc. correct notions of each of these aspects of the family are still very necessary as far as the question of the proper running of the household  is concerned; and this is precisely what prompts this research. We need some theoretical basis for our domestic practices associated with the various highlighted aspects of the family. This is what Aristotle’s notion of the family promises to offer us. Thus, it is this notion of the family that this work is set to examine, to stiff the grain from the chaff in Aristotle’s notion of the family.

1.2       Statement of the Research Problem

There exists a fundamental link between the state and the family, since the state is more or less of a network of discrete but interrelated micro communities called the family. That is to say, the family is the nucleus of the state. Hence, the family and the state necessarily and naturally influence on another. In their workings. This is especially evidence when we consider the fact that every citizen of the state is prima facie a member of a family. Hence, what kind of up bring the family gives its members ipso facto determine the kind of citizens they will grow into. In older to secure a society that is good for human habitation, there is therefore a need to proffer solutions to the following problems.

i)          What should be the nature and constitution of the family?

ii)         Who is to be deemed best fitted for the rule in the family?

iii)       Should there be limit to domestic wealth-getting?

iv)        What kinds of virtue are appropriate to the members of the family?

v)         What kinds of rule is to be exercised over the various subordinate members of the family?

vi)        How is justice to be upheld in the course of interactions among family members?

1.3       Objectives of the Study

This research is set to realize the following objectives.

i)          To determine whether the virtue possesses by the family members are alike, or otherwise, in character.

ii)         To ascertain whether there should be a limit to domestic wealth or not.

iii)       To indicate how justice can be realized in familial interactions.

iv)        To distinguish the various species of rule within the family, as well as to identify who should hold this rule among the various family members.

v)         To expose the nature of friendship that exists between the various parties of family relations.

1.4       Significance of the Study

Besides adding the pool of literary materials available on the topic of the family, researchers and student alike in the area of socio-political philosophy will find the work of immense valve for its concise treatment of some controversial issues in the socio-political philosophy of Aristotle. The work may also be of interest to researchers and students in the area of sociology who desire an adequate understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of the concept of family. Those who wishes to undertake a study of the philosophical foundation of the sociological study of the family are also borne in mind. Parents and children alike are not left out of the picture since both arguably require some level of knowledge as to how the family should be constituted, the art of household management, how to ensure just interactions with each other, how to rule or be rule in the family, etc.

1.5       Justification of the Study

The can form a subject matter to both sociological and philosophical studies. Yet the angles to which these two different disciplines approach their treatment of the family differ markedly. While sociology can analyze the family as it ‘is’, it cannot give us a coherent accountof it ‘ought to be’. Nor can it provide a basis for, or justify, the existence of the family as a unique species of the community. However, these speculative roles can only be played by philosophy. These considerations provide the   grounds on which this research undertakes to philosophically study the family from the perspective of Aristotle.

1.6       Methods of the Study

This research employ for it purposes the philosophical methods of critical analysis, reflection and speculation.

1.7       Scope of the Study

As far as the philosophical study of the family is concerned, the family as a topic is situated within the purview of socio-political philosophy. Since this research is concerned with the family as it subject matter, is consequently restricted in content and perspective to the area of socio-political philosophy. However, concerns with virtue which on Aristotle’s consideration are a vital element of the family, warrants an incorporation of certain ethical concepts. The scope of the work overlaps between socio-political philosophy and ethics. But a particular philosopher whose notion of the family is being considered here is Aristotle.

1.8       Clarification of Key Terms

1.8.1    The Family

            Aristotle defines the family as “the association established by nature for the supply of man’s everyday wants” (3). According to Hitlinger (3), “the family represents nature in its clearest manifestation. The mutual attraction of the male and female, the veneration of the power of fertility and precreation, and the enduring social form of the family plant it squarely in the middle of political society”. The family is said to be the basic cell of all human society, the primary association of human beings. The family is defined by Murdock (15) as “a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults.

1.8.2    Friendship

            Friendship is a platonic relationship between two people who care about each other. Suzanne Degges-White explains that “Friendship are relationships that involve two very critical dimensions-interdependence and voluntary participation” (cited in Hoyt and Edmonds, 3). White continues that “true friendships are hallmarked by each members desire to engage with. The other – it’s about mutual interest in one another’s experience and thoughts, as well as a sense of ‘belongingness’ and connection.” Friendships require reciprocity – of admiration, respect, trust, and emotional and instrumental support.

1.8.3    Justice

Justice has been defined a fairness in protection of rights and punishment of wrongs. In another sense, it is seen as the legal or philosophical theory by which fairness is administered. According to Binieh (11), “Justice, like courage, is often taken to be a virtue focused on benefiting others.” Binieh holds that much of Aristotle’s account of justice is devoted to discussion how to ensure that everyone (including the virtuous agent) receives his fair share in different kinds of relationships and in exchange. Zuchert (73-85) says that advocates of divine command theory say that justice issues from God. In the 17th century, theorists like John Locke advocated natural rights as a derivative of justice. Thinkers in the social contract tradition state that justice is derived from the mutual agreement of everyone concerned. In the 19th century, utilitarian thinkers including John Stuart Mill said that justice is what has the best consequences. John Rawls used a theory of social contract to show that justice, and especially distributive justice, is a form of fairness (Rawls, 266). 

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