What we owe to children: A rawlsian perspective in an irish context
Cahill, Audrey R
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This thesis begins from the premise that a just state ought to be concerned for how children actually turn out. The basis for this claim is grounded in the contemporary liberal view that each person ought to have the fundamental freedom to lead the life they choose, given an equal right accorded to others. This thesis makes the claim that the circumstances of childhood generate a range of disadvantages, rooted in childhood, that frustrate the liberal goal of free and equal moral persons. In this context the central aims of this thesis are as follows: 1. To establish why the state ought to be concerned about the circumstances of childhood 2. To determine what is required of justice, and subsequently what types of policy are needed, to successfully ameliorate the effects of the circumstances of childhood. In order to answer these question we provide a thorough review the work of John Rawls, presented as justice as fairness, to determine what we owe to children from the view of social justice. To this end we explore the limitations placed on the role of the state in ensuring the outcomes of children as free and equal moral persons. This leads to our interpretation of Rawls' Difference principle that applies directly to children over a wide range of Primary Social Goods (PSG). We find support for this interpretation in the work of Rawls and recent developments in equality and freedom theory. In the penultimate chapter we flesh out how Rawlsian justice, in this light, can be implemented in an Irish context to ameliorate the circumstances of childhood.