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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 30, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2010

John Wall
Pages 39-57

"Ain't I a Person?": Reimagining Human Rights in Response to Children

THE ETHICAL GROUNDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS FROM THE ENLIGHTENMENT TO today have been almost exclusively centered on the experiences of adults. This essay argues that human rights are not fully "human" unless their very bases are transformed in response to the third of humanity who are children. The essay is an exercise in what is broadly termed "childism": not just applying ethical norms to children but restructuring norms themselves in light of children's experiences. Human rights in particular should be reimagined along postmodern and religious lines, not as protections of autonomy but as responses to difference. This notion is illustrated through the ethics of political representation, including conceptions of democratic citizenship and voting.

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