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Fatherhood - Philosophy for Everyone: The Dao of Daddy

Fritz Allhoff (Series Editor), Lon Nease (Editor), Michael W. Austin (Editor), Adrienne Burgess (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-1-4443-3031-1
224 pages
March 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Fatherhood - Philosophy for Everyone: The Dao of Daddy (1444330314) cover image


Fatherhood - Philosophy for Everyone offers fathers wisdom and practical advice drawn from the annals of philosophy. Both thought-provoking and humorous, it provides a valuable starting and ending point for reflecting on this crucial role.
  • Address the roles, experiences, ethics, and challenges of fatherhood from a philosophical perspective
  • Includes essays on Confucius, Socrates, the experience of African fatherhood, and the perspective of two women writers
  • Explores the changing role of fatherhood and investigates what it means to be a father
  • An ideal complement to Motherhood - Philosophy for Everyone (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)
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Table of Contents

Foreword (Adrienne Burgess).

Acknowledgments (Lon S. Nease and Michael W. Austin).

Introduction: Fathering the Idea (Lon S. Nease and Michael W. Austin).


1 Father Time and Fatherhood (Scott A. Davison).

2 How Fatherhood Will Change Your Life (Ammon Allred).

3 The Born Identity: Becoming Daddy (Kimberley Fink-Jensen).

4 Fatherhood and the Meaning of Life (Michael Barnwell).


5 In Virtue of Upbringing: The Art of Raising a Good Person (Lon S. Nease).

6 Does My Father Care? Paternalism, Care Ethics, and Fatherhood (Andrew Terjesen).

7 How Should I Parent? Fathering That’s Fun and Effective (Dan Florell and Steffen Wilson).

8 Fathering for Freedom (J. K. Swindler).

PART III KEEPING IT REAL: Authentic Fatherhood.

9 Real Fathers Bake Cookies (Dan Collins-Cavanaugh).

10 Maybe Happiness is Loving Our Father: Confucius and the Rituals of Dad (Andrew Komasinski).

11 Authentic Fatherhood: A Traditional Yoruba-African Understanding (Abiodun Oladele Balogun).

12 The Heart of the Merciful Father (Stephen Joseph Mattern).


13 Should I Let Him Watch? A Father’s Philosophical Perspective on Popular Media (Joshua Baron).

14 Fathering for Social Justice: Raising Children with Open Eyes and Open Minds (David S. Owen).

15 Like Father Like Son? Challenges in the Father-Son Relationship (Anthony Carreras).

16 Father's Ideals and Children's Lives (Jeffrey Morgan).

17 Dads and Daughters: Wisdom for a Winding Road (Michael W. Austin).

Appendix A: Cookie Recipes for Dads (Dan Collins-Cavanaugh).

Appendix B: Wisdom of Youth.

Notes on Contributors.

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Author Information

Lon Nease is a PhD student in the Philosophy Department at the University of Cincinnati. He holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of Kentucky, where he studied phenomenology and existentialism. Nease has published on post-Kantian ethical theory.

Michael W. Austin is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University. His primary interests are ethics and philosophy of religion. His books include Running and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), Conceptions of Parenthood (2007), Football and Philosophy: Going Deep (2008), and Wise Stewards (2009).

Series Editor
Fritz Allhoff is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Western Michigan University, as well as a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian National University’s Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. In addition to editing the Philosophy for Everyone series, Allhoff is the volume editor or co-editor for several titles, including Wine & Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), Whiskey & Philosophy (with Marcus P. Adams, Wiley, 2009), and Food & Philosophy (with Dave Monroe, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).

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"Fatherhood: Philosophy for Everyone is a spectacular book. Dense with essays written on everything from Fatherhood and the meaning of life by Michael Barnwell to Real Fathers Bake Cookies by Dan Collins-Cavanaugh, you will find meaning in these pages beyond the common daddy stereotypes. . . Reading this book will help you make sense of the gravity of fatherhood." (GladDads.com, 28 February 2011)

"One of the best books written for dads who enjoy philosophy." (About.com, January 2011)

"Overall this was a great book. I appreciated not only that it was enjoyable and approachable to read but that it really made me think and question my own thoughts and beliefs about fatherhood." (BookDads, January 2011)

"Each section is so diverse and covers everything from the impact of being a father to dilemmas of being a dad. Each essay is well written and the sections are short, to the point and easy to read and digest. I found that this book started many conversations between myself and other fathers and even opened some conversations between me and my wife...Overall this was a great book. I appreciated not only that it was enjoyable and approachable to read but that it really made me think and question my own thoughts and beliefs about fatherhood." (Dad of Divas Blog, January 2011)

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Press Release

November 09, 2010
Fatherhood: The Dao of Daddy: Philosophy for Everyone

It has been said that being a father is what finally gives a man his meaning in life. However, a modern Dad’s role is complex and can come with high expectations: sharing the rearing duties during the early years, tightly scheduled play dates, little league fights, ‘tween dating, saving for college, cyber bullying, and if it doesn’t work out, shared custody. With these challenges come many joys, with a lot for dads to discover, including coming to see that learning really begins when fathers realize how little they know.

Fatherhood: The Dao of Daddy is the first book to offer wisdom and practical advice drawn from the tried and true annals of philosophy, exploring paternal concerns such as the search for the meaning of life, the life-changing impact of new fatherhood, how to raise “good little people,” the impact of popular media (“Should I Let Him Watch?”), and how to bake cookies Daddy-style. As Adrienne Burgess writes in her foreword, “Fathers matter.” Indeed, where would we be without them?

The thought-provoking and humorous essays in this volume replace the diaper bag with insightful tools that you can take anywhere, even a crowded mall or restaurant.  Based on the philosophies of Confucius and Socrates, African cultural practices, feminist theory, and many other figures, traditions and insights, each essay features a photo of the contributor with his or her own family.

The book is presented in four sections. Part I: The Impact of Being a Father illustrates the reality that poker games with the guys are now out of the question , with essays such as “The Born Identity: Becoming Daddy.” Part II: Ethics and Parenting Styles delves into the methods and ethics associated with teaching your children the rules of life, and guidelines for behaving ethically towards other people with essays such as “In Virtue of Upbringing: The Art of Raising a Good Person.” Part III: Keeping It Real: Authentic Fatherhood presents the substance of building a relationship with a little one, with essays such as “Real Fathers Bake Cookies,” and “The Heart of the Merciful Father.” Part IV: Dilemmas for Dad explores the continuing role of the father in their children’s lives, as they grow into opinionated and independent adults, with essays such as “Father’s Ideals and Children’s Lives,” and “Dads and Daughters: Wisdom for a Winding Road.”

The volume finishes up with cookie recipes, and “Wisdom of Youth,” quotes from kids answering questions about fatherhood and philosophy such as “What Have You Learned From Your Father?” (Answer: “How to fight, wrestle, shave a beard, and how to wind up a clock”), and “What is A Father?” (Answer: “They catch babies”).

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