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University of California at Davis Law Review


natural law, nurture, human nature


The state cannot take the place of the nurturing acts between individuals. It can assist the formation of those relationships. It can seek to prevent the vulnerabilities present in intimate relationships from resulting in harm (spousal abuse or abortion, for example), but it cannot construct its own alternative to how humans can beneficially interact. It can coordinate the generic basics of security, subsistence, and education; it can encourage patterns of nurturing (parental involvement in education, a wider range of information available in abortion decisions, welfare policies that reward bonding and independence); it can seek to prevent harm (rescuing those in need), but it cannot regulate the variety of interpersonal decisions upon which effective nurturing depends. In sum, the state is morally obliged to respect the goods that come from a reasoned reflection on human nature. And those goods, including nurture, depend upon the individual's own commitment to excellence.

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