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Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law$
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Elizabeth Brake and Lucinda Ferguson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786429

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786429.001.0001

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Are Children’s Rights Important?

Are Children’s Rights Important?

(p.191) 9 Are Children’s Rights Important?
Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law

Colin M. Macleod

Oxford University Press

This paper explores the nature and justificatory basis of children’s rights with a view to determining whether children’s rights are important. Although children’s rights are frequently invoked in legal and political discourse, they often generate controversy: their practical and theoretical significance is sometimes challenged. Many states acknowledge children’s rights and yet fail to secure many of the most basic interests of children putatively protected by their rights. Moreover, the suggestion that children are the bearers of genuine moral rights is sometimes met with philosophical scepticism. This chapter distinguishes different forms of scepticism about children’s rights and explores whether doubts about the theoretical and practical importance of children’s rights can be vindicated. I argue that reticence about children’s rights is not justified. Given a proper construal of children’s rights it is appropriate both to treat children as genuine bearers of rights and to view their rights as morally and politically important.

Keywords:   children, moral rights, children’s rights, rights scepticism, rights theory

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