Ethical independents: children and rights in democratic theory
One of the important features which characterize contemporary democracies is their commitment to the equal and universal provision of individual rights. However, interesting complications arise when we think about how this commitment applies to children. On the one hand, children are citizens of the state, and thus have reasonable claim to a universally-accorded package of individual rights. On the other hand, children live under the auspice of their parents, and often seem ill-situated to access or exercise many of the rights which they are due as citizens. This thesis examines the extent to which the commonplace exemption of children from a full scheme of ‘ethical independence rights’ (including religious, expressive, or associational freedoms) is consistent with democratic principles. It argues that democratic values yield a strong presumption in favour of protecting ethical independence rights for children, and that the most prominent objections to this view are ultimately unpersuasive.
Politics, Theory, Children, Rights, Democracy, Philosophy