The Limits of Parental Authority Childhood Wellbeing as a Social Good
This book offers a novel theory of childhood well-being as a social good. It re-examines our fundamental assumptions about parenting, parental authority, and a liberal society’s role in the raising of children.
The author defends the idea that the good of a child is inexorably linked to the good of society. He identifies and critiques the problematic assumption that parenting is an extension of individual liberty and shows how we run into problems in medical decision-making for children because of this assumption. He develops an objective conception of what is good for a child in a liberal society, drawing on the assumptions of liberty, and from here constructs a set of things that society and its members owe children. There are ways in which society should support and intervene in parental decisions to guarantee a child’s well-being. Ultimately, raising children is a social activity that requires input from society. The author then applies this theory of childhood well-being to develop a framework for medical decision-making for children. He also uses practical examples, such as vaccinations, parental leave, and healthcare access, to demonstrate the implications of his theory for public policy.
The Limits of Parental Authority: Childhood Wellbeing as a Social Good will be of interest to practitioners, scholars, and advanced students working in bioethics, political philosophy, and public health policy.
2. Issues in medical decision-making for children: An illustration of the problem
3. Parental authority as individual liberty – a problematic assumption
4. Why parenting should be supported and regulated by society
5. The good of the child and the good of society
6. What society should guarantee for children – an account of childhood interests
7. Parenting as a social role – the nature and limits of parental authority
8. Practical implications – society’s obligations and society’s policies
"In The Limits of Parental Authority, a valuable and timely contribution to pediatric ethics, Bester sets out to reset our approach. In so doing we will, he contends, understand more clearly the moral basis for parental decision-making, but also potentially reach different decisions about vaccination, as well as about a range of medical and wider social questions . . . The Limits of Parental Authority is an accessible, interesting, provocative and useful contribution to vital public and academic debate about parents, parenting and childhood wellbeing."
Dominic J. C. Wilkinson in Bioethics