Engelhardt and Children: The Failure of Libertarian Bioethics in Pediatric Interactions
Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 2005 June; 15(2): 179-198
In Engelhardt's secular bioethics, moral obligations derive from contracts and agreements between rational persons, and no infants or children and few adolescents meet Engelhardt's requirements for being a rational person. This is a problem, as one cannot have any direct secular moral obligations toward nonpersons such as infants and adolescents. The Engelhardtian concepts of ownership, indenture, and social personhood, which are meant to allow the theory to accommodate children and adolescents adequately, fail to give an Engelhardtian any actual means of determining the right action to take in difficult cases, even on his or her own terms. Thus, the theory is incapable of determining the morally correct action to take in cases involving children and therefore is unhelpful in dealing with moral questions involving children.
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