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Minors: Rights And Children

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I agree there, I was reffering more to the idea of scientific and philosophical progress.

I am beginning to get the sense that "perfection" is not quite the right word for what you have in mind. I suspect you are thinking along this line: "We do not know all there is to know about a given field, or at least we have not yet done in that field all that can be done, so we continue to progress but perfection of knowledge or action in that field is an ideal that we seek, but do not directly achieve."

If that is what you have in mind, then it is not just your standard of perfection that is in question, but your use of the word itself. Man is not omnipotent (all powerful), nor is he omipotent (all knowing), so of necessity man continues to struggle, to exert mental and physical effort, to learn and do all he can. I am no less perfect in a field if I do not know and have not done all that potentially may be. I establish rational goals to achieve and I measure my progress by how well I achieve those goals. Just as I would accept a grade of 100% on a test to be a mark of perfection, so I accept the perfection in the use of my mind to learn and understand some particular field, or some aspect of it.

For the forseeable future there are endless vistas in science, and perfection of achievement is not diminished by not having done all that ever can be done, regardless of time and circumstances. The perfection is in the achievement, and the achievement should be judged by standards that are appropriate to man, which does not include omnipotence and omniscience.

Incredibly intresting feedback, gotta love this place.
There are a lot of nice people here, and a lot of bright young minds.

On a side note, I picked up 'Selfishness as a virtue'. 'Philospohy: who needs it' and 'The new left- the anti industrial revolution' Looking foward to reading them all!

Enjoy!

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What?? Progress is the act of always seeking to improve upon what came before you, but you can never achieve perfection.

The live version of "Hotel California" from the Eagle's album Hell Freezes Over is an example of perfection achieved. :D

VES

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Cathy Young outlines an apparent conflict between the rights of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs and the rights of children to the objectively best care possible.

http://reason.com/0204/co.cy.sound.shtml

Do children have any rights?

If they do, to what extent should government attempt to resolve conflicts between parents and children?

Edited by softwareNerd

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Do children have any rights?

If they do, to what extent should government attempt to resolve conflicts between parents and children?

Children have all the rights an adult has. They are temporarily in a situation where they cannot exercise their rights themselves, so they have a parent or guardian who holds their rights as a trustee and exercises them on the child's behalf until they are adults.

Generally, the state should not step in unless the parent violates his fiduciary responsibility. My standard is: Is the parent doing anything to the child that the child cannot UNdo as an adult?

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Children have all the rights an adult has.  They are temporarily in a situation where they cannot exercise their rights themselves, so they have a parent or guardian who holds their rights as a trustee and exercises them on the child's behalf until they are adults.

Generally, the state should not step in unless the parent violates his fiduciary responsibility.  My standard is: Is the parent doing anything to the child that the child cannot UNdo as an adult?

What is the situation?

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I think children most certainly have rights, and I think they have more or less the same rights as an adult. I have wondered about though, when a human beeing gains it's rights. I don't think an embryo have the same rights as an adult human beeing, but as said before, I think a child has. When does the amount of rights change?

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Well, its a simple equation:

"right" of a child = "responsibilty" of parent(s)

Which ideally means that every child should have(get) a rational upbringing.

But a child only has a right as long as it does not conflict with the right of an adult.

Only an adult has a capability of making a fully concious choice, so right as a concept

fully applies only to an adult.

With the child this concept of right has a more indirect association because the child is not capable of excerising it directly.

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What is the situation?

The situation is that they are under the age of 18. It is temporary because eventually they will be over the age of 18 and will be fully responsible for themselves.

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I think children most certainly have rights, and I think they have more or less the same rights as an adult. I have wondered about though, when a human beeing gains it's rights. I don't think an embryo have the same rights as an adult human beeing, but as said before, I think a child has. When does the amount of rights change?

I think what Betsy said was correct: children, as independent human beings, have all the same rights as adults but they cannot yet exercise all of those rights. That is why the parents act as guardians for the child's rights. But a fetus is not an independent human being -- it is part of a woman's body -- and it does not acquire any rights until it is born and exists as an independent entity.

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"right" of a child = "responsibilty" of parent(s)

I am not sure what you mean by this.

Which ideally means that every child should have(get) a rational upbringing.
And what a wonderful world that would be. Unfortunately, based on the way many children are raised, I think a great deal of people should not have children.

But a child only has a right as long as it does not conflict with the right of an adult.

I'm not sure I understand how rights can conflict.

Only an adult has a capability of making a fully concious choice, so right as a concept fully applies only to an adult.
After intitial development children are perfectly capable of making a fully conscious choice. Where they differ is in the extent of their knowledge, experience, and maturity.

With the child this concept of right has a more indirect association because the child is not capable of excerising it directly.

I do not know what you mean by "indirect association," but I sense we mainly agree on the point that a child is not yet able to exercise all of his rights, which is why the parents act as guardians of those rights.

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The situation is that they are under the age of 18.  It is temporary because eventually they will be over the age of 18 and will be fully responsible for themselves.

More accurately, they will (in most states) be held legally responsible for their actions. A number of adults never learn to act responsibly or to take responsibility. The age can be lower, and also isn't uniform (consider legal age for consensual sex vs. drinking vs. driving vs. voting vs. getting married). In Nebraska and Alabama, the Age of Majority is 19. In addition, in some states, the Age of Majority is 16 if you are married. And finally, let's not forget that the courts have the freedom to treat someone under the age of majority as though they are an adult. So really you have to check the local laws for the specific purpose before concluding anything about the relationship between age and rights & responsibilities.

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(I have posted this before on another thread, so if any of my arguments require further explanation this might be because theres a bunch of text left out. So just ask if anything is unclear.)

A new born child is unlikely to successfully fend for himself till he reaches maturity (sufficient knowledge and rationality to survive.) Since the state is responsibile for making sure there isnt any force initiated on the child, and children can have force initiated on them by simple lack of action on the parents (IE not feeding the child), they must set an objective requirement for one to lose the status of a child and become mature (legally an adult.) 18 is the age when most people finish basic high school education, have had much time experiencing the world, and therefore a good age for someone to legally become mature (having to care for oneself, being legally responsibile for all actions, being allowed to vote etc..)

There should be exceptions to this rule, since different people mature at different times. A 16 year old that commits murder goes infront of a judge to determine whether or not he was aware and reasonable enough (mature) to understand his actions so he can be trialed as an adult. So someone that is underage, and for whatever reason (such as wanting to leave parents, voting reasons, job reasons etc) should be able to go infront of an objective judge and prove his maturity, thus aquiring adulthood before the age set by the state.

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Since the state is responsibile for making sure there isnt any force initiated on the child ...

I think you have to be careful here in your wording. Would you have the state intervene if the parent uses physical discipline on the child? (And here I do not mean physical abuse or serious physical harm. Many parents think that a swat on the behind is a proper reminder for a child not to repeat certain behavior. Personally, I abhor such a form of discipline, but there are other Objectivist parents who have no problem with it.)

... So someone that is underage, and for whatever reason (such as wanting to leave parents, voting reasons, job reasons etc) should be able to go infront of an objective judge and prove his maturity, thus aquiring adulthood before the age set by the state.

It is not clear to me from what you wrote, and perhaps you are already aware of this, but there do exist state laws for the emancipation of minors, under certain circumstances releasing them from the authority of their parents.

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Well, its a simple equation:

"right" of a child = "responsibilty" of parent(s)

Which ideally means that every child should have(get) a rational upbringing.

But a child only has a right as long as it does not conflict with the right of an adult.

Only an adult has a capability of making a fully concious choice, so right as a concept

fully applies only to an adult.

With the child this concept of right has a more indirect association because the child is not capable of excerising it directly.

I understand the legal situation. What I was refering to is the metaphysical situation, dealing with the rights of children. What besides law puts a child into a situation where they can not act on thier rights?

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I understand the legal situation. What I was refering to is the metaphysical situation, dealing with the rights of children. What besides law puts a child into a situation where they can not act on thier rights?

I have always seen the right of a child as being the same as those of adults, with the difference that some of them are "nascent" and must be activated somehow. The metaphysical grounds of this are simply that a child has the rights of a human because they are humans, but are temporarily unable to exercise them due to conditions of nature beyond their control.

I'd be interested in seeing some further enumeration of these nascent rights; for myself, these consist of the right to sustenance, and the right of contract.

First, I don't see food, shelter etc. as a "right" in the same manner as the right to life, but are instead an obligation incurred by the parents when they performed a certain, legally defined act called "having a child". (At this time that doesn't address the question of orphans, stepchildren etc.)

Second, the current test by which nascent rights are "activated" is an age of majority. I wonder whether it might be a good idea to make possible a test whereby a child can claim such rights earlier if he so chooses. The consequence of exercising the right of contract would be releasing the legal bonds of parent to child; the child is no longer subject to parental authority and the parents are freed of their sustenance obligations (i.e. the legally defined act of having this child is completed).

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Second, the current test by which nascent rights are "activated" is an age of majority.  I wonder whether it might be a good idea to make possible a test whereby a child can claim such rights earlier if he so chooses. 

There is. A minor can go to court and ask to be declared an "emancipated minor" by demonstrating to the court that he can support himself, etc. Then he will be treated as a legal adult -- although he may have to produce his court order when he wants to make a contract.

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I think you have to be careful here in your wording. Would you have the state intervene if the parent uses physical discipline on the child? (And here I do not mean physical abuse or serious physical harm. Many parents think that a swat on the behind is a proper reminder for a child not to repeat certain behavior. Personally, I abhor such a form of discipline, but there are other Objectivist parents who have no problem with it.)

Couldn’t spanking a child be considered as exerting physical force upon that child? Since it has been established that a child has all the rights as an adult, why should they be excused from the non-initiation of force?

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Couldn’t spanking a child be considered as exerting physical force upon that child? Since it has been established that a child has all the rights as an adult, why should they be excused from the non-initiation of force?

The reason a child requires a guardian for his rights is that the child has not yet achieved enough intellectual and physical development to properly exercise those rights on his own. For his own safety there are many instances for which a child must be physically constrained, a constraint that would not be proper if applied to an adult. In such cases using force to physically constrain a child is obvioulsy not a violation of his rights. If anything, using that force (at an appropriate level) underscores the need of the child for a guardian to protect him until such time as he is equipped to be responsible for his own life. Some argue that physical discopline, such as mild spanking, is a form of instilling the need for constraints on a child. For instance, one Objectivist mentioned using a swat on the behind to reinforce to the child the need to look before running out to the street.

However, since, as I indicated, I myself do not approve of such an approach, I may not be the best person to ask for a justification of spanking.

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However, since, as I indicated, I myself do not approve of such an approach, I may not be the best person to ask for a justification of spanking.

Thank you for the answer. What are your reasons for not approving such an approach?

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Thank you for the answer.

You're welcome.

What are your reasons for not approving such an approach?

If a child is too young to go into the street then as a parent I consider it to be my responsibilty to control the situation well-enough so it will not happen. Hitting the child and causing some degree of pain is being used as a replacement for reason; if the child is not old enough to understand, then do not allow him to be in situations that can cause him such serious harm.

When necessary, discipline can still be dispensed in ways that are appropriate to the age and still be as strong, or even stronger, then causing the physical pain of spanking. A child can get over the pain of a spanking rather quickly, but being unable to play with a favorite toy is something he can experience for a longer time, namely every time he would ordinarily be playing with it. In general, I would rather reason than hit, and when reason is not enough then there are other, less physical, disciplinary methods. Why teach a child that hitting can be used as a form of communication?

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I think there need to be some serious alterations in the way America views children, or rather minors. Obviously a five-year-old has not reached a mature and rational state, but there are many teenaged minors who really are capable of utilizing their own rights but are instead forced under the control of their parents until they hit 18. On the other hand, some people live their whole lives at the maturity of the average twelve-year-old. The system of determining rights by age is inherently flawed in that everyone matures at a different pace.

The problem is most comonly manifested in teenagers, who usually by this time have formed some kind of credo of beliefs, yet can still be forced to live according to the beliefs of thier parents (i.e. forced religion, how much homework they have to do, ect.) simply because they are underage. A person does not even own himself in most states until he is eighteen.

California has recently considered giving minors as young as 14 weighted votes in government elections. This could possibly give minors the representation and rights that they seriously lack in government today. A classic example: driving laws. Sixteen year olds have so many restricitons up on their driving habits, but cannot do anything about it because they cannot vote. Senior citizens, who are statistically only sligtly better drivers have no extra restrictions because they can and do vote. I know a woman who was driving legally blind for years before anyone did anything about it.

Obviously, there's no perfect solution, but America's minors deserve better.

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The law is often more rational and more flexible than some people think.

Obviously a five-year-old has not reached a mature and rational state, but there are many teenaged minors who really are capable of utilizing their own rights but are instead forced under the control of their parents until they hit 18. On the other hand, some people live their whole lives at the maturity of the average twelve-year-old. The system of determining rights by age is inherently flawed in that everyone matures at a different pace.

True, and a person is free to deal with a mature youngster or a foolish adult as that person deserves to be dealt with. When it comes to LEGAL matters, however, there needs to be a clear, knowable, easily verified, OBJECTIVE standard of moral responsibility. Age serves that purpose.

The problem is most commonly manifested in teenagers, who usually by this time have formed some kind of credo of beliefs, yet can still be forced to live according to the beliefs of their parents (i.e. forced religion, how much homework they have to do, etc.) simply because they are underage. A person does not even own himself in most states until he is eighteen.

Actually, the law is quite flexible, in this respect. A minor can petition the court to be "emancipated" and freed from his parents control and responsibility. He does this by showing that he can take care of himself, support himself, etc.

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