Justice For Children: Autonomy Development and the State by Harry Adams

By Harry Adams

Applies the idea that of non-public and political autonomy to childrens and kid's improvement.

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This type of argument can be clearly discerned in John Rawls’s work, as one paradigmatic example, and proceeds as follows: A state (and only a state) that recognizes the value of, and shows respect for, people’s autonomy will allow its citizens to pur- Autonomy 29 sue their own thick, comprehensive conception of the good. Officials of this kind of state will not paternalistically push their own conception of the good but will remain neutral, by structuring institutions and pursuing policies that may be said to issue from behind a veil of ignorance.

For, we might ask, how good is it to have one’s “imputed autonomy” or “imputed dignity” respected, if one is actually an ignorant fool? It is in this sense—in constituting various qualities of real and concrete human dignity and agency—that these three components of autonomy seem to have intrinsic or at least great value. For regardless of what benefits flow from them, it just seems valuable, in itself, to be critically reflective, self-controlled, and honestly sober-minded. These 26 JUSTICE FOR CHILDREN seem to be some of the main things that make human life—as opposed to mere animal life or what Marx called mere “species-existence”—so distinctive and valuable.

But here, too, these multiple considerations should not prevent us from being able to derive an all-things-considered judgment, of person’s overall level of autonomy. And this leads to the next point. Second, the main criteria running throughout this scale is the degree of agency and control, including self-control, that persons have over their lives. One might view this same criteria from a negative perspective, by asking: What specific limiting conditions or forces fence in and inhibit the persons, rendering them relatively more powerless, dependent, and not-in-control of their life course?

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