Paternalism towards children

In Anca Gheaus, Gideon Calder & Jurgen de Wispelaere (eds.), Routledge handbook of the philosophy of childhood and children. pp. 123-133 (2018)
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Debates on the nature and justifiability of paternalism typically focus only on adults, sometimes presuming without argument that paternalism towards children is a non-issue or obviously justified. Debates on the moral and political status of children, in turn, rarely connect with the rich literature on paternalism. This chapter attempts to bridge this gap by exploring how issues that arise in the general debate on paternalism are relevant also for the benevolent interference with children. I survey and discuss various views and argue for my own: that paternalism towards children is in most respects like paternalism towards adults and stands in the same need of justification, though such justification is more often forthcoming both because children are typically less prudent than adults and so benefit more from interference, and because, in some respects, interference is less harmful to them.
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