The Natural Rights of Children

Int J Health Policy Manag 2014; 2: 85–89. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2014.20

5 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2014

See all articles by Walter E. Block

Walter E. Block

Loyola University New Orleans - Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business

Ed Smith

Independent Scholar

Jordan Reel

Loyola University New Orleans

Date Written: February 26, 2014

Abstract

What does libertarian theory, Murray Rothbard’s theory in particular, tell us about the rights of children? The two foundational principles of Rothbardian libertarianism are the sanctity of private property and the rule of non-aggression. Persons, including children, are “self-owners”. Yet children, at a young age, are not yet capable of functioning fully as “self-owners.” They must be cared for, and the caring will necessarily involve some degree of aggression in the form of supervision and restraint. Parents and other caregivers play the role of trustees; and just as the beneficiary of a trust has the right to petition a court to change trustees or terminate the trustee relationship, so a child, able to express his preferences when it comes to the nature and degree of supervision and restraint to which he will be subjected, should equally enjoy that right while, in terms of property rights, a biological caregiver may have better “title” than an adoptive caregiver to be the child’s “trustee” given the child’s inability to express a preference for one or the other. What may seem to a contemporary sensibility as an extreme degree of childhood independence in the choice of caregivers and other freedom from supervision and restraint was common in pre-industrial America and continues to be the rule in some native cultures.

Keywords: Children; Rights; Libertarianism; Babies Switched at Birth

Suggested Citation

Block, Walter E. and Smith, Ed and Reel, Jordan, The Natural Rights of Children (February 26, 2014). Int J Health Policy Manag 2014; 2: 85–89. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2014.20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2403405

Walter E. Block (Contact Author)

Loyola University New Orleans - Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business ( email )

6363 St. Charles Avenue
Box 15, Miller 321
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
(504) 864-7944 (Phone)
(504) 864-7970 (Fax)

Ed Smith

Independent Scholar ( email )

Jordan Reel

Loyola University New Orleans ( email )

526 Pine Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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