Saplings or Caterpillars? Trying to Understand Children's Wellbeing

Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (S1):29-46 (2018)
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Is childhood valuable? And is childhood as, less, or more, valuable than adulthood? In this article I first delineate several different questions that we might be asking when we think about the ‘value of childhood’, and I explore some difficulties of doing so. I then focus on the question of whether childhood is good for the person who experiences it. I argue for two key claims. First, if childhood wellbeing is measured by the same standards as adulthood, then children are worse off than adults. Second, if childhood and adulthood wellbeing are measured by different standards, then we cannot compare them, and children are neither better off nor worse off than adults. This has some counter-intuitive implications, such as that we do not harm persons by depriving them of a childhood, nor by keeping them as children for elongated periods.



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Patrick Tomlin
University of Warwick

Citations of this work

Are Adults and Children One Another’s Moral Equals?Giacomo Floris - 2023 - The Journal of Ethics 27 (1):31-50.
Childhood: Value and duties.Anca Gheaus - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (12):e12793.
Old Age as a Stage of Life.Jean Kazez - 2023 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 40 (3):521-534.

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