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Unfinished adults and defective children: on the nature and value of childhood
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5364-1026
2015 (English)In: Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, ISSN 1559-3061, E-ISSN 1559-3061, Vol. 9, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Traditionally, most philosophers saw childhood as a state of deficiency and thought that its value is entirely dependent on how successfully it prepares individuals for adulthood. Yet, there are good reasons to think that childhood also has intrinsic  value. Children possess certain intrinsically valuable abilities to a higher degree than adults. Moreover, going through a phase when one does not yet have a 'self of one's own', and experimenting one's way to a stable self, seems intrinsically valuable. I argue that children can have good lives, on several understandings of well-being – as a pleasurable state, as the satisfaction of simple desires or as the realisation of certain objective goods. In reply to the likely objection that only individuals capable of morality can have intrinsic value I explain why it is plausible that children have sufficient moral agency to be as deserving of respect as adults.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 9, no 1
Keyword [en]
children, childhood, adulthood
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Ethics; Practical Philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-98900OAI: diva2:784018
Swedish Research Council, 421-2013-1306
Available from: 2015-01-28 Created: 2015-01-28 Last updated: 2016-04-28Bibliographically approved

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Gheaus, Anca
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