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We’re all familiar with the policy debates that surround the family. How does the tax code interact with family stability and the needs of children? Who should care for children, and how is this care to be supported? What are the ethical implications of fertility technology? But behind all these issues is the hard problem of human nature. Thinking about the family—and especially about children—we soon find ourselves tripping over the question of what a family is, what its normative patterns are, and why. In other words, questions of human nature. What is a person? Do we have a nature? Does normal even exist?

At the inception of modernity, Francis Bacon set out to put nature “to the question.” The scientific revolution heralded by Bacon’s words enabled an explosion of innovation and commerce, alongside a growing sense that we were no longer bound by the givens of creation but destined to master them.

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