This part examines some of the moral questions that arise when evaluating parental power. It evaluates parental power within the boundaries provided by a number of case studies. They are the right to parent and whether parents should be licensed, monitored, and trained; children's capacity and competence to provide informed consent; and sharing lives with children and shaping children's values through civic education. Each case study explores both empirical evidence as well as the relevant legal, policy, and service context.
This chapter shows that the moral dilemmas, for which the liberal account of practical reason is required, arise not only in the political domain but also in relations between parents and children. It examines the role played by consent in the legitimation of power generally and parents' power in particular. Liberals, in their evaluation of the legitimacy of power relations in family, examine whether and to what extent they are based on the consent of the subjugated party. The chapter evaluates the legal validity of parental power by exploring the legal rights granted by the State to parents and children, as well as their legal duties. These legal rights and duties can be discerned from an examination of constitutions and legislation, as well as obligations arising from international, binding covenants and treaties. The chapter considers what type of reasoning is appropriate to justify the coercive imposition of society's basic institutions.
This chapter evaluates the legitimacy of parental licences and the monitoring and training of parents. It discusses the evidence for the effectiveness of parental training programmes as a means to protect children's interests. It explores conceptual questions, relevant empirical evidence, and legal, policy, and service issues concerning parental licences and the monitoring and training of parents. The chapter also explores various proposals for the State's role in respect of adults becoming parents and retaining the right to parent, including the licensing and monitoring of parents. Through the passing of legislation, the implementation of policies, and the provision of services, the State exercises a profound influence on parenting. The chapter examines opportunities both to acknowledge the presence of moral conflict and to try to resolve such conflicts through practical reasoning and practical judgement.
In addressing the issue of informed consent, this chapter examines the legitimacy of the exercise of parents' power over their children. It begins with the legal status of minors and, in particular, the legal rights of minors to make informed consent decisions. The chapter investigates some important legal, policy, and service issues concerning informed consent. The discussion of legal, policy, and service issues, empirical findings about children's competence, professional judgements of competence, and the impact of parenting on children's competence, indicate where conceptual clarification is greatly needed. The chapter also examines empirical evidence relating to children's informed consent. It explores a number of central conceptual issues and addresses a number of ethical questions concerning children's informed consent. The chapter focuses on children's competence in joint decision making. It also focuses on the concepts of competence and voluntariness.
This chapter examines the efforts made by parents to share a way of life with their children as well as those efforts made in the name of the wider society to shape the values of its future citizens. It also examines civic education within a broader political environment of liberal democratic values and institutions. The chapter focuses on the legal, policy, and service issues relevant to civic education. Numerous studies have been carried out concerning civic education, both the civic component of children's formal education as well as specific civic education programmes. However, when children engage with civic education programmes, parents can be faced with moral conflicts concerning the requirement to protect children's liberty. The chapter explains the ways in which philosophers address the moral conflicts. It also addresses some of the ethical questions that arise when considering civic education.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book considers the conditions that should be attached to the 'right to parent', and, in particular to, the arguments for parental licences, the monitoring of parents, and the provision of parenting support programmes. It also considers one area where parents exercise power over their children, namely informed consent decisions for children's research participation and medical treatment. The book argues that paternalism as a concept was not sufficient to account for the power exercised by parents. Paternalism is insufficient to account for the legitimacy of parents' power, as there are non-paternalistic forms of parental power. The book argues with the assumption that political philosophers can answer complex moral questions without giving very much consideration to the complexities of the questions raised. Such arguments about political philosophy do or should have generality of theoretical claims.