Reinterpreting the Right to an Open Future: From Autonomy to Authenticity

26 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2016 Last revised: 29 Nov 2016

See all articles by Scott Altman

Scott Altman

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: November 28, 2016

Abstract

This paper reinterprets a child’s right to an open future as based on values other than autonomy. The paper identifies two goods that parents sometimes undermine when shaping their children’s values: authenticity and identification. It argues that these can be recognized as primary goods by both liberals and by fundamentalists. The paper then shows how we might re-conceptualize the right to an open future as protecting authenticity and identification rather than autonomy.

As a running example, the paper considers ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel who deny their sons secular education beyond an elementary school level. If their sons do not remain religious as adults, they cannot easily survive in secular world. The fundamentalist parents think they had no duty to facilitate their child’s secular future. They see no reason to protect their child’s autonomy (which they do not value) or to prepare their child for a life that conflicts with their values. This paper provides one response to their concerns. Following a political-liberal project of seeking overlapping consensus, it tries to base demands that children be prepared for varied futures on values that reasonable fundamentalists can embrace.

Keywords: Parents' Rights, Children's Rights, Right to an Open Future, Political Liberalism, Authenticity

Suggested Citation

Altman, Scott, Reinterpreting the Right to an Open Future: From Autonomy to Authenticity (November 28, 2016). USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 16-35. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2876711 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2876711

Scott Altman (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

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