TOP Q: “Do Children Have Higher Moral Status Than Adults?”

In his book Moral Status and Human Life: The Case for Children’s Superiority, law professor James Dwyer argues that children are not merely equal to adults in moral status but actually have a higher moral status than adults.  Below is a brief video in which he sketches out the broad contours of his thought on moral status and how his views would bear on the relative moral statuses of the unborn, of children, of mentally competent adults, and of brain dead adults:

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I pose to you, my most insightful readers, the relevant questions he raises: How should we conceptualize moral status? What gives a being moral status at all? Are there actually different degrees of moral status and if so how can we fairly determine what they are in different cases? What bearing would various psychological facts have on determining the truth about moral status and what other factors besides psychological facts might matter?

And, most importantly, I pose all these questions to you as part of asking you today’s open philosophical question, “Do Children Have Higher Moral Status Than Adults?”

And beyond questions of the rightfulness or wrongfulness of religious indoctrination as part of formal schooling–which I encourage you to discuss instead in reply to this already hotly debated post rather than redundantly in reply to the present question–what would be other concrete practical issues in which your views on the moral status of children would have ethical and/or legal implications?

Thanks to Richard Collins of the website End Hereditary Religion for the video.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.