Children are People: Liberty, Opportunity, and Just Parenthood

Review Journal of Political Philosophy 9.1 (2012): 49-86

Posted: 14 Jul 2017

See all articles by Melina Bell

Melina Bell

Washington and Lee University

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Rawls’s principles of justice, selected in the original position by rational adults, fail to account adequately for the interests of children. In particular, the lexical priority of the principle of liberty with respect to the principle of fair equality of opportunity results in an intergeneratioinal conflict of interest. In the original position, the quality of one's own childhood, which depends a great deal on the opportunities available, is not a consideration; the quality of one's life as a parent, in which liberty plays a much greater role, might be. Rawls’s rigid ordering of the principles sometimes results in social policies that are, or should be, incompatible with our considered judgments regarding justice in a liberal democratic society. I suggest that, compared with the original position, Norman Daniels’s prudential lifespan account of justice across generations is a better model for balancing claims of liberty and equal opportunity because it ensures intergenerational justice.

Keywords: Original Position, Fair Equality of Opportunity, Intergenerational Justice, Children's Rights, Parental Rights

JEL Classification: I14, I24, J12, J13, J16, J18, J19, K36, Z18

Suggested Citation

Bell, Melina, Children are People: Liberty, Opportunity, and Just Parenthood (2012). Review Journal of Political Philosophy 9.1 (2012): 49-86. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2995754

Melina Bell (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University ( email )

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington, VA 24450
United States

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