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

TOP Q: “Do Children Have Higher Moral Status Than Adults?” February 9, 2011

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:

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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