Equality, self-government, and disenfranchising kids: A reply to Yaffe

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Abstract

Gideon Yaffe has recently argued that children should be subject to lower standards of criminal liability because, unlike adults, they ought to be disenfranchised. Because of their disenfranchisement, they lack the legal reasons enfranchised adults have to comply with the law. Here I critically consider Yaffe’s argument for such disenfranchisement, which holds that disenfranchisement balances children’s interest in self-government with adults’ interest in having an equal say over lawmaking. I argue that Yaffe does not succeed in showing that these two values need to be balanced, nor that disenfranchising children is a justifiable method of achieving this balance. In my conclusion, I sketch an alternative contractualist approach to disenfranchising children that, like Yaffe’s, appeals to the implications that enfranchisement has for political relations among citizens, but unlike Yaffe’s, rests on empirical claims about the influence of parents on children’s voting patterns rather than on a priori claims regarding who has a rightful say over lawmaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-297
Number of pages17
JournalMoral Philosophy and Politics
Volume7
Issue number2
Early online date7 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • children's rights
  • parental rights
  • voting rights
  • equality
  • intergenerational justice
  • disenfranchisement

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