‘The kids are alright’: political liberalism, leisure time, and childhood

Philosophical Studies 175 (5):1057-1070 (2018)
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Interest in the nature and importance of ‘childhood goods’ recently has emerged within philosophy. Childhood goods, roughly, are things that are good for persons qua children independent of any contribution to the good of persons qua adults. According to Colin Macleod, John Rawls’s political conception of justice as fairness rests upon an adult-centered ‘agency assumption’ and thus is incapable of incorporating childhood goods into its content. Macleod concludes that because of this, justice as fairness cannot be regarded as a complete conception of distributive justice. In this paper I provide a political liberal response to Macleod’s argument by advancing three claims. First, I propose that political liberalism should treat leisure time as a distinct ‘primary good.’ Second, I suggest that leisure time should be distributed via the ‘basic needs principle’ and the ‘difference principle’ for all citizens over the course of their complete lives, including their childhoods. Third, the provision of leisure time in this way supports the realization of childhood goods for citizens.
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