What Rights (If Any) Do Children Have?

Harry Brighouse

in The Moral and Political Status of Children

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780199242689
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598715 | DOI:
 What Rights (If Any) Do Children Have?

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According to the interest theory of rights, the primary function of rights is the protection of fundamental interests. Since children undeniably have fundamental interests that merit protection, it is perfectly sensible to attribute rights, especially welfare rights, to them. The interest theory need not be hostile to the accommodation of rights that protect agency because, at least in the case of adults, there is a strong connection between the protection of agency and the promotion of welfare. Children have welfare rights similar to those of adults. But children lack the agency rights adults have because children initially lack and only gradually develop the kinds of capacities for agency that are necessary for agency rights. Children's rights to culture, religion, and free expression are ill‐conceived.

Keywords: adults; agency; children; culture; free expression; fundamental interests; interest theory; religion; rights; welfare rights

Chapter.  10916 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Theory

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