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Ethics 109: What is a child?

Author: Tamar Schapiro
Year Published: 1999
Description: Treating someone like a child is prima facie wrong, unless, of course, the person in question really is a child. By ‘treating someone like a child’ I mean interacting with her on the basis of more paternalistic standards than those which apply to adult-adult relations. To treat someone like a child is, roughly, to treat her as if her life is not quite her own to lead and as if her choices are not quite her own to make. I want to know what features of a person’s condition can in principle justify us in treating a person this way. What is a child, such that it could be appropriate to treat a person like one?