What Should the Voting Age Be?
Journal of Practical Ethics 8(2): 1-29
In this paper, I endorse the idea that age is a defensible criterion for eligibility to vote, where age is itself a proxy for having a broad set of cognitive and motivational capacities. Given the current (and defeasible) state of developmental research, I suggest that the age of 16 is a good proxy for such capacities. In defending this thesis, I consider alternative and narrower capacity conditions while drawing on insights from a parallel debate about capacities and age requirements in the criminal law. I also argue that the expansive capacity condition I adopt satisfies a number of powerful and complementary rationales for voting eligibility, and conclude by addressing challenging arguments that, on the one hand, capacity should not underly voting eligibility in the first place, and, on the other, that capacity should do so directly and not via any sort of proxy, including age.
Parents’ Rights, Children’s Religion: A Familial Relationship Goods Approach
Journal of Practical Ethics 8(2): 30-65
The article presents a theory of the basis and nature of parents’ rights that appeals to the goods distinctively produced by intimate-but-authoritative relationships between adults and the children they parent. It explores the implications of that theory for questions about parents’ rights to raise their children as members of a religion, with particular attention to the issue of religious schooling. Even if not obstructing the development of their children’s capacity for autonomy, parents exceed the bounds of their legitimate authority in so far as they aim deliberately to influence their children’s religious views. Healthy familial relationships involve some identification of child with parent and require a sphere of spontaneous interaction between parent and child that are in any case likely to influence those views and constitute a standing threat to autonomy. Correcting over-deferential understandings of parents’ rights enables schools better to promote not only children’s autonomy but also other legitimate civic goals.