The moral basis of children’s relational rights

Authored by: James G. Dwyer

Routledge Handbook of Family Law and Policy

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415640404
eBook ISBN: 9780203796221
Adobe ISBN: 9781134447534


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‘Children’s rights’ connotes to many a plea for special assistance, a claim to sympathy and charity for a vulnerable population. They are positive rights, dependent on adults’ choosing to be generous, and thus inherently weaker than the negative liberties that respect for autonomous individuals entails. In addition, when thinking about children’s rights many imagine only particular aspects of upbringing that arise after children are embedded in a family, such as schooling, medical care and discipline. Children’s coming to be in one particular family rather than another in the first place is not a concern of political theorists, and is generally not thought to be something to which they have rights; the family setting is taken for granted, parenting by biological parents assumed as a natural, supra-legal condition.

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