HISTORY OF CHILDHOOD

Sympathy
for libertarianism depends on whether it is
believed to offer enough protection for people, especially
children and impoverished or incompetent adults. This view
arguably benefits the wealthy and powerful; because most
children are neither, it might create an age bias against
children. Libertarians argue that competent adults should
pay their own way, but when do people really do that?
Typically, people’s healthcare insurance gives them access to
institutions heavily subsidized by public money. People who
“pay their own way” may pay just a bit more for many more
services. Those who cannot pay more are unfairly excluded.
Libertarians might agree that separate institutions should be
set up in which people truly pay casinos en ligne their full share even if that
would mean that few could afford such added care.
Libertarians usually favor special state protection for
children, allowing the state to interfere with parents who
endanger, neglect, or harm children. This can include
providing children with a “safety net” of basic healthcare and
social services. A system favoring special benefits based on
redistribution of wealth for competent adults, however, is
considered unjust. Hence, a system like that in the United
States that provides many social and health benefits to
competent and even wealthy adults but not to children, for
example, in the allocation of healthcare benefits, goods, and
services, would be viewed by libertarians as unjust.
CONTRACTARIANISM. Contractarians hold that distributions
of social goods are fair when impartial people agree on
CHILDREN

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOETHICS 3rd Edition 397
the procedures used for distribution. The best-known defender
of this position is John Rawls, who in A Theory of
Justice (1971) and Political Liberalism (1993) contends that
people form stable and just societies by building a consensus
that merits endorsement by rational and informed people of
goodwill.
This entails a commitment to three principles of justice.
First, “each person is to have an equal right to the most
extensive system of equal basic liberties compatible with a
similar system compatible for all.” Second, “offices and
positions are to be open to all under conditions of equality of
fair opportunity–persons with similar abilities and skills are
to have equal access to offices and positions.” Finally, “social
and economic institutions are to be arranged so as to benefit
maximally the worst off” (Rawls, 1971, p. 60). These
principles are ordered lexically such that the first, the greatest
equal-liberty principle, takes precedence over the others
when they conflict and the second, the principle of fair
equality of opportunity, takes precedence over the third, the
difference principle. Nowhere is healthcare as a right mentioned
specifically in Rawls’s attempt to frame the basic
structure of a just society. This is understandable because a
society may not have enough healthcare goods, services, or
benefits to distribute. In a society that does have such goods,
services, and benefits, however, their fair distribution seems
central to promoting fair equality of opportunity and benefits
to the worst off.

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