In Anca Gheaus, Gideon Calder & Jurgen De Wispelaere (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Childhood and Children. Routledge Press. pp. 67-78 (2018)

Julie Tannenbaum
Pomona College
Agnieszka Jaworska
University of California, Riverside
Broadly speaking, an entity has moral status if and only if it or its interest matters morally for its own sake. Some philosophers, who think of moral status in terms of duties and rights owed to an entity, allow that moral status can come in degrees, with only some beings having status of the highest degree – that is, full moral status (FMS). We critically review the competing accounts of what qualifies one for FMS. Some accounts demand cognitive sophistication, which excludes many children, while others are inclusive of children but fail by (a) putting children morally on a par with most animals (experiencing subject of a life), (b) invoking criteria of dubious moral relevance (potentiality, membership in a biological species), or (c) not securing impartial moral status (special relationships). We end with our own account, which attempts to rectify such problems, addressing specifically the moral status of children.
Keywords children  moral status
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