Equality, Self-Government, and Disenfranchising Kids: A Reply to Yaffe

Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh
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.
Keywords voting  voting rights  equality  parental rights  children's rights  intergenerational justice
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 49,066
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Should Democracy Grow Up? Children and Voting Rights.Steven Lecce - 2009 - Intergenerational Justice Review 4 (4).
Yaffe on Democratic Citizenship and Juvenile Justice.Jeffrey W. Howard - 2020 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 14 (2):241-255.
What Rights (If Any) Do Children Have.Harry Brighouse - 2002 - In David Archard & Colin M. Macleod (eds.), The Moral and Political Status of Children. Oxford University Press. pp. 31--52.
Felon Disenfranchisement and Democratic Legitimacy.Matt S. Whitt - 2017 - Social Theory and Practice 43 (2):283-311.
Equality in Education – Why We Must Go All the Way.Tammy Harel Ben-Shahar - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (1):83-100.
Family, Choice and Distributive Justice.Veronique Munoz-Dardé - 2002 - In David Archard & Colin Macleod (eds.), The Moral and Political Status of Children. Oxford University Press.
Two Objections to Yaffe on the Criminalization of Attempts.Alexander Sarch - 2014 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 8 (3):569-587.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature