Children are People: Liberty, Opportunity, and Just Parenthood
Review Journal of Political Philosophy 9.1 (2012): 49-86
Posted: 14 Jul 2017
Date Written: 2012
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: Suggested Citation