A Classical Liberal Argument against Parental Rights
Sætra, H. S., A classical liberal argument against parental rights. Barataria, Forthcoming
18 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2022
Date Written: December 21, 2022
That the freedom of one individual entails the unfreedom of another is a fundamental challenge for liberalism, and this article examines how children pose a problem for certain varieties of liberalism. It begins by showing that the term liberalism is used in very different ways in the literature on parental rights. Then an analysis of a strand of liberalism referred to as classical political liberalism, based on John Locke and John Stuart Mill, is performed. A classical liberal framework is then proposed, where the government does not have comprehensive positive duties to ensure that children achieve certain outcomes, but in which it does have a clear duty to create and secure a negative space for each child. It is also argued that liberal theory is based on a comprehensive conception of the good, and that in order to know what sort of negative space is required, this must be acknowledged.
Keywords: liberalism, parental rights, children’s rights, the good, paternalism
JEL Classification: 100
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation