Colloquium: Sept. 20th 2019

Speaker: Liam Shields, University of Manchester

Title: Children as Public Goods: at what cost?

Friday, September 20th at 2:30pm in CLE A303



The debate about justice in the costs of children has primarily focused on whether non-parents can be required to share the costs with parents. This debate is framed as a debate about whether children are public goods that are enjoyed by parents and non-parents alike. Only if they are, it is assumed, can their costs can be shared. I challenge this approach in two ways. First, I show that the debate should focus on a broader set of questions, including the question of how much individuals can be required to share, since answering it, not the question of who should share, determines the extent of public support for parents. Second, I show that the public goods approach sets strict limits on how much individuals can be required to share, far less than many proponents have supposed. In light of this, I propose that the debate should be re-oriented around a broader set of questions of 1) who should share, 2) how much they should pay and 3) to whom the revenue should be allocated and I propose that those who believe in generous public support for parenting should abandon the public goods argument, perhaps favor of a more perfectionist route.