Moral Status and Human Life: The Case for Children's Superiority

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Are children of equal, lesser, or perhaps even greater moral importance than adults? This work of applied moral philosophy develops a comprehensive account of how adults as moral agents ascribe moral status to beings - ourselves and others - and on the basis of that account identifies multiple criteria for having moral status. It argues that proper application of those criteria should lead us to treat children as of greater moral importance than adults. This conclusion presents a basis for critiquing existing social practices, many of which implicitly presuppose that children occupy an inferior status, and for suggesting how government policy, law, and social life might be different if it reflected an assumption that children are actually of superior status.