Wednesday, January 22, 2020

John Locke and The Rights Of Children :: Empiricists, Empiricism

Locke firmly denies Filmer's theory that it is morally permissible for parents to treat their children however they please: "They who allege the Practice of Mankind, for exposing or selling their Children, as a Proof of their Power over them, are with Sir Rob. happy Arguers, and cannot but recommend their Opinion by founding it on the most shameful Action, and most unnatural Murder, humane Nature is capable of." (First Treatise, sec.56) Rather, Locke argues that children have the same moral rights as any other person, though the child's inadequate mental faculties make it permissible for his parents to rule over him to a limited degree. "Thus we are born Free, as we are born Rational; not that we have actually the Exercise of either: Age that brings one, brings with it the other too." (Second Treatise, sec.61) On top of this, he affirms a postive, non-contractual duty of parents to provide for their offspring: "But to supply the Defects of this imperfect State, till the Improvement of Growth and Age hath removed them, Adam and Eve, and after them all Parents were, by the Law of Nature, under an obligation to preserve, nourish, and educate the Children, they had begotten." (Second Treatise, sec.56) Apparently, then, Locke believes that parents may overrule bad choices that their children might make, including self-regarding actions. Leaving aside Locke's duty of self- preservation, his theory permits adults to do as they wish with their own bodies. But this is not the case for children, because their lack of reason prevents them from making sensible choices. To permit a willful child from taking serious risks to his health or safety even if he wants to is permissible on this theory. Parents (and other adults as well) also seem to have a duty to refrain from taking advantage of the child's weak rational faculties to exploit or abuse him. On top of this, Locke affirms that parents have enforceable obligation to preserve, nourish, and educate their children; not because they consented to do so, but because they have a natural duty to do so. 2. The Problem of Positive Parental Duties The first difficulty with Locke's theory of childrens' rights is that the positive duty of parents to raise their children seems inconsistent with his overall approach. If, as Locke tells us, "Reason teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.