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The Rights and Duties of Childrearing

Posted: 28 Oct 2002  

Peter Vallentyne

Virginia Commonwealth University


What rights and duties do adults have with respect to raising children? Who, for example, has the right to decide how and where a particular child will live, be educated, receive health care, and spend recreational time? I argue that neither biological (gene-provider) nor procreative (zygote-producer) parents have in principle any special rights to raise their offspring. Instead, those rights can be legitimately claimed by anyone for whom possession is suitably in the child's best interest. Those who so obtain childrearing rights have a duty to live up to the "basic expectations" for ensuring that their possession of those rights is in the child's best interest, but have no further duties. In particular, they have no duty to do the best they can for the child.

Suggested Citation

Vallentyne, Peter, The Rights and Duties of Childrearing. William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 11, No. 3, May 2003. Available at SSRN:

Peter Vallentyne (Contact Author)

Virginia Commonwealth University ( email )

1015 Floyd Avenue
Richmond, VA 23284
United States

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