This is a book about parents, power, and children and, in particular, the legitimacy of parents' power over their children. It takes seriously the challenge posed by moral pluralism, and considers the role of both theoretical rationality and practical judgement in resolving moral dilemmas associated with parental power. The book first examines the prevailing view about parental power: a certain form of paternalism, justified treatment of those who lack the qualities of an agent, and one that does not generate moral conflicts. It proposes an alternative, pluralist view of paternalism before showing that even paternalism properly understood is of limited application when we evaluate parental power. According to the caretaker thesis, parental power makes up for the deficits in children's agency, and for that reason children should be subjected to standard institutional paternalism. The liberation thesis stands at the other end of the spectrum concerning children's rights. The book then addresses the counter-argument that issues of legitimacy arise in the political domain and not in respect of parent-child relations. It also examines the 'right to parent' and whether parents should be licensed, monitored, or trained children's voluntariness and competence, and the right to provide informed consent for medical treatment and research participation. Finally, the book talks about parents' efforts to share a way of life with their children and the State's efforts to shape the values of future citizens through civic education. The overall approach taken has much more in common with the problem-driven political philosophy.
This book provides a unique perspective on the Allied bombing of France during the Second World War which killed around 57,000 French civilians. Using oral history as well as archival research, it provides an insight into children's wartime lives in which bombing often featured prominently, even though it has slipped out of French collective memory. The book compares three French towns with different experiences of bombing: Boulogne-Billancourt , Brest, and Lille. Divided into three parts dealing with expectations, experiences and explanations of bombing, the book considers the child's view of wartime violence, analysing resilience, understanding and trauma. The first part of the book deals with the time before bombing. It examines how the French prepared for war and preparations made specifically for bombing, showing how state-level and municipal-level preparations. The second part considers the time during bombing and its aftermath. It discusses the experience of being bombed, examining children's practical, sensory and emotional responses. The fascinating and frightening scenes in the immediate aftermath of bombing that made lasting impressions on children, including destruction, chaos and encounters with violent, public death. Changes in status as a result of bombing becoming a sinistre, refugee or evacuee had far-reaching consequences in some children's lives, affecting their education and economic situation. The last section looks at the way in which air raids were explained to the French population. It considers the propaganda that criticised and defended the Allies, and an understanding of the history of Vichy.
This part looks at the conceptual and methodological issues to evaluate parental power. Findings from psychology strongly support the view that parents can use their power so as to promote their children's agency. The part examines the legitimacy of parental power. Even when parents successfully promote their children's social, cognitive, and emotional development, they can be faced with moral dilemmas and conflicts which call into question the legitimacy of their power.
This chapter looks at the interviewees' explanations of the Allied bombing and the way in which they situate it within a wider war, comprised with their own experiences as well as others. American bombing was explained in two ways. The first was impersonal and the second explanation hinged on an emotive attitude that chimed in places with anti-Allied propaganda. But acceptance of bombing suggests a more purposeful idea of victimhood: death was not a waste. Explaining casualties like this contextualised bombing within the wider war was awful, but they had to beat the enemy. For some children, concepts of enemy and friend, and the geopolitical context were blurred and partial. Usually, the Germans were depicted as the enemy. An impervious group of people seemed less affected by propaganda, while in another group held evidence of children's agency: they sought information and engaged with it, organising it into maps and scrapbooks.
This chapter provides an analysis of paternalism by exploring the way that the concept of paternalism has been utilised in the 'caretaker thesis' and the 'liberation thesis'. To understand the caretaker thesis, it is helpful to start with the general liberal argument concerning legitimate power. The chapter examines Onora O'Neill's Kantian defence of the caretaker thesis according to which the fundamental moral principle is the requirement to respect autonomy. O'Neill denies that there is a moral conflict when parents interfere with their children's liberty in acting paternalistically. According to the caretaker thesis, parental power makes up for the deficits in children's agency, and for that reason, children should be subjected to standard institutional paternalism. The chapter argues that children with the capacity for liberty of action are owed a right to liberty even when they are incompetent and/or cannot execute decisions.
This chapter explores an aspect of parents' power over children and provides instances where parents' power is exercised so as to promote children's agency. It discusses the findings from the psychology literature on child development, where a positive association is hypothesised between children's positive freedom and children's ever-increasing independence from parental control. To use the concepts of political philosophy, in the psychology literature, a positive association is hypothesised between children's negative freedom and positive freedom. The chapter looks at Joseph Raz's discussion of positive freedom, which refers to both 'the inner capacities required for the conduct of an autonomous life' and 'an adequate range of options' to choose from. Like Raz, Isaiah Berlin acknowledges that moral considerations can pull in different directions leading to moral conflicts. He indicates how practical reasoning can be critical and can take account of the background conditions supportive of autonomy.
This chapter evaluates a reductive approach to the conceptualisation of power and a reductive approach to the resolution of moral conflicts when evaluating parental power. Psychology and Foucauldian sociology are indicative of two distinct approaches to the conceptualisation of parental power. The psychology literature supports a pluralist, non-reductive approach to the conceptualisation of parental power in political philosophy. The chapter looks at the psychology literature on children's agency, where the empirical evidence suggests positive associations between children's negative freedom and children's positive freedom. It concerns the differences between science and ethics, and argues that there is an irreducible plurality of power concepts, including 'power to', 'power with', and the various forms of 'power over'. Within the 'power over' category, the chapter distinguishes coercion, interference with liberty, control, authority, and paternalism.
This book recounts the little-known history of the mixed-race children born to
black American servicemen and white British women during the Second World War.
Of the three million American soldiers stationed in Britain from 1942 to 1945,
about 8 per cent (240,000) were African-American; the latter’s relationships
with British women resulted in the birth of an estimated 2,000 babies. The
African-American press named these children ‘brown babies’; the British called
them ‘half-castes’. Black GIs, in this segregated army, were forbidden to marry
their white girlfriends. Up to half of the mothers of these babies, faced with
the stigma of illegitimacy and a mixed-race child, gave their children up for
adoption. The outcome for these children tended to be long-term residency in
children’s homes, sometimes followed by fostering and occasionally adoption, but
adoption societies frequently would not take on ‘coloured’ children, who were
thought to be ‘too hard to place’. There has been minimal study of these
children and the difficulties they faced, such as racism in a (then) very white
Britain, lack of family or a clear identity. Accessibly written and illustrated
with numerous photographs, this book presents the stories of over forty of these
children. While some of the accounts of early childhood are heart-breaking,
there are also many uplifting narratives of finding American fathers and gaining
a sense of self and of heritage.
The UK’s response to children during the refugee crisis
undermine the recognition of children's agency. As Cohen ( 2001 ) argued in States of Denial , despite the knowledge that suffering is occurring, it is often denied. Suffering is ignored, disavowed or reinterpreted and the appropriate moral responses and intervention are, therefore, withheld. A discourse of childhood vulnerability and claims of ‘compassion’ are sometimes used in denials of suffering through being presented as justifications for restrictive policies. For example, during the refugee crisis it has been asserted that denying settlement opportunities will
Aldridge (eds), In the Best Interests of the Child, p. 15.
Barnardo’s, Racial Integration and Barnardo’s, p. 23.
See Julie Selwyn, Lesley Frazer and Angela Fitzgerald, Finding
Adoptive Families for Black, Asian and Black Mixed-parentage
Children: Agency, Policy and Practice (London, 2004). Thanks to
Annie Hudson for this reference.
Lois Raynor, Adoption of Non-White Children (London, 1970).
See Gaber and Aldridge (eds), In the Best Interests of the Child.
Adoption, fostering and attempts to send the babies to the