Philosophy Club Presents Dr. Michael Burroughs on Child Moral Agency

Event Date: Friday, March 12 - 6:00 pm
Location: Zoom


SFSU Philosophy Club is proud to host Dr. Michael Burroughs, Assistant Professor at CSU Bakersfield and director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics for a discussion of his work on child moral agency on Friday, March 12th at 6pm. It’s recommended that attendees read the attached article and/or listen to the linked podcast.


Abstract: Child moral agency is dismissed in many historical and contemporary accounts based on children’s supposed lack or marginal possession of agency-bearing capacities, including reason, deliberation, and judgment, amongst others. Given its prominence in the philosophical canon, I call this the traditional view of child agency. Recent advancements in moral developmental psychology challenge the traditional view, pointing toward the possession of relevant capacities and competencies for moral and responsible agency in early and middle childhood. I argue that both views—traditional and developmental—underdetermine our practices of holding children responsible in our common interactions. For one, we face significant epistemic barriers in accurately assessing children’s agential status qua posses- sion of responsibility-bearing capacities and competencies. Second, overreliance on assessments of individualistic capacities emphasizes an atomistic view of agency at the expense of relational views that are of particular relevance for children as uniquely developing persons. Our practices of holding children responsible and the values that guide these practices in the context of supportive relationships are cen- tral to both supporting current and drawing out future responsible agency in child- hood and, importantly, provide us with a path to regard children as participants in our moral communities, as opposed to mere agents-in-waiting.

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