Special agents: Children's autonomy and parental authority

In David Archard & Colin M. Macleod (eds.), The Moral and Political Status of Children. Oxford University Press. pp. 97--117 (2002)
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Cognitive incompetence cannot adequately explain the special character of children's moral status. It is, in fact, because children lack preference structures that are sufficiently stable over time that they are not ’temporally extended agents’. They are best viewed as 'special agents’, and parents have the responsibility of fostering the development of temporally extended agency and other necessary related moral capacities. Parental authority should be exercised with the view to assisting children to acquire the capacities that facilitate their transition from 'special agents’ to full and functioning members of the moral community.



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