Parents’ Rights, Children’s Religion: A Familial Relationship Goods Approach

Journal of Practical Ethics 8 (2):30-65 (2020)
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The article presents a theory of the basis and nature of parents’ rights that appeals to the goods distinctively produced by intimate-but-authoritative relationships between adults and the children they parent. It explores the implications of that theory for questions about parents’ rights to raise their children as members of a religion, with particular attention to the issue of religious schooling. Even if not obstructing the development of their children’s capacity for autonomy, parents exceed the bounds of their legitimate authority in so far as they aim deliberately to influence their children’s religious views. Healthy familial relationships involve some identification of child with parent and require a sphere of spontaneous interaction between parent and child that are in any case likely to influence those views and constitute a standing threat to autonomy. Correcting over-deferential understandings of parents’ rights enables schools better to promote not only children’s autonomy but also other legitimate civic goals.
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Archival date: 2021-01-05
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