Autonomy, Harm and Development. An Inquiry into the Influence of Philosophical Concepts in Youth Care.
Liempd, N.N. van
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Children can suffer developmental delay, or permanent damage, in their development towards an autonomous person but it is difficult for philosophical theory to explain how. The question I will focus on is how a child can be harmed and what this harm consists of. The general difficulty with philosophical theory about autonomy and harm is that it focusses on fully developed autonomous persons, not on not yet fully developed children. Using two exemplary cases, I will show that this can make it difficult to determine if a child is harmed and on what basis intervention is allowed to protect children from harm. This thesis will inquire into the possibilities of philosophical theory to respond to this question raised by the cases. I will analyse Joel Feinberg’s notion of soft paternalism and Richard Rorty’s work on ironism and liberalism to show that even though these theories do not answer all questions, they are able to guide me in providing possible answers.