Call for Papers: Philosophy and Ethics of Childhood (Special Issue in the Journal of Ethics)

Call for Papers – Special Issue: Philosophy and Ethics of Childhood

Special Issue in the Journal of Ethics

Guest Editor: Gottfried Schweiger, University of Salzburg


The Journal of Ethics devotes a Special Issue to the philosophy and ethics of childhood. This subject area has grown in interest in recent years. Some of the relevant questions that the Special Issue intends to address will be briefly outlined below, but this is not intended to be exhaustive.First, there is the question of what distinguishes children from adults and which of these differences are morally relevant. Most often, children are seen as more vulnerable and as less autonomous than adults. Their well-being differs from that of adults in that it appears to be less focused on self-realization and autonomy than on care and protection. These generalized differences diminish over the course of childhood, and children differ greatly among themselves in terms of their vulnerability and in other capacities. In this respect, it is also arguable to what extent the concept of childhood itself should be further differentiated to capture the differences between infants, children, and adolescents and to ask whether they each have their own moral rights and responsibilities.Second, the relationship of the triad of children, parents, and the state to one another is addressed extensively in the philosophical literature. Children almost always live in families and parents have a great deal of power and control over their children, which is legitimized and protected by the state. The influence of parents on children’s well-being and later life chances is well documented by sociology, as is the fact that children are certainly exposed to dangers and risks in their families. Central to political philosophy is the question of the legitimacy of state intervention in the family and the extent to which the family may and should be a protected space while still upholding the goals of justice and equal opportunity for all children.Third, childhood is closely linked to issues of education. Along with the family, school is the central institution in which children’s lives take place. Education, in turn, is closely linked to ideals of justice and a good life, understood as an autonomous and authentic life. The debate in philosophy and ethics of education – similar to the debate about children’s rights – is in part older than the interest of ethics and political philosophy in childhood, because it is also situated in the educational sciences. Questions that still arise here concern the goals of education, the moral claims of children to equal educational opportunities, the influences of parents on their children’s education, and issues of education for moral goals and values, especially in the face of global crises such as climate change, migration, or poverty.Fourth, ethical and political questions arise that relate to specific groups of children or to children in special circumstances. These include children who migrate, children who work, children who care for others, children who are or become parents, children who commit crimes, children who live alone, and children who live in poverty. In each case, this involves questions of justice, that is, of the social and global order, but also questions concerning the interaction between children, children and parents, children and other adults and institutions. It is also worth asking to what extent the philosophical literature still focuses too much on childhood and the position of children in highly developed modern societies, while the situation of children in the countries of the Global South receives much less attention. Submission instructionsAll manuscripts will go through the standard double-blind peer-review process according to the Journal of Ethics’ guidelines. As a matter of general policy on special issues, all submission will also be checked by the editor-in-chief. Interested authors should submit their manuscripts online directly to the journal via the online interface of the journal’s Editorial Manager before 30 September 2021. All manuscript should be prepared according to the journal’s guidelines provided on the journal website.Any questions with regard to this Special Issue, please address to the Guest Editor, Gottfried Schweiger (