Children and community: A reply to Jonathan Schonsheck's “deconstructing community self-paternalism” [Book Review]
Law and Philosophy 15 (1):75 - 80 (1996)
Schonsheck attacks views which seek to justify the majority of citizens of a society passing legislation that is designed to serve the purpose of preventing their own first order preferences from changing over time (or being corrupted). The issue that I think is more important is a related one, but not precisely the same. It is not whether it is morally permissible for the majority of members of a society to pass legislation designed to prevent their own individual preferences from changing over time, but whether it is morally permissible for them to pass legislation for the sake of preventing the community's preferences from changing over time. As some people mature and acquire preferences and others die, no individual's already-formed preferences have to change for the community's preferences to change. The arguments concerning these two issues are the same, or at least similar, but putting the matter the way I do, raises the question of influencing the preferences of children. I argue that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a community's doing this and that Schonsheck's arguments to the contrary either are not convincing, or apply in some cases but not in others.
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