Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (1):104-128 (2020)

Frank Dietrich
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
The child’s right to an open future aims at protecting the autonomy of the mature person into which a child will normally develop. The justification of state interventions into parental decisions which unduly restrict the options of the prospective adult has to address the problem that the value of autonomy is highly contested in modern pluralist societies. The article argues that the modern majority culture provides young adults with many more options than traditionalist religious communities. However, the options that can be chosen in faith groups, such as the Amish, do not constitute a subset of the options available in the wider society. Therefore, state policies which pursue the goal of providing every child with the greatest possible set of options cannot be based on a neutralist version of political liberalism. The advocates of a child’s right to an open future must rely on a perfectionist version of liberalism which draws on the ideal of leading an autonomous life. Since liberal perfectionism has problematic implications, the article defends a neutralist position that largely refrains from state interference with the educational authority of fundamentalist religious communities.
Keywords liberalism  neutrality  open future  autonomy  education  John Rawls  Joseph Raz  Jonathan Quong
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DOI 10.1111/josp.12273
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