Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 963–977 | Cite as

Parental Justice and the Kids Pay View

  • Erik MagnussonEmail author


In a just society, who should be liable for the significant costs associated with creating and raising children? Patrick Tomlin has recently argued that children themselves may be liable on the grounds that they benefit from being raised into independent adults. This view, which Tomlin calls ‘Kids Pay’, depends on the more general principle that a beneficiary can incur an obligation to share in the cost of an essential benefit that the benefactor is responsible for her requiring. I argue in this paper that this principle is both generally false and particularly suspect in the kinds of cases that Tomlin needs it to be true, namely, cases in which a benefactor has created the need to be benefitted to satisfy a self-regarding interest in providing the benefit. In a nutshell, I argue that because parents (a) electively put their children into a needy circumstance for the purpose of (b) satisfying a self-regarding interest in meeting their children’s needs, they lack a legitimate claim against their children to share in its associated costs.


Parental justice Kids pay Principle of fair play Benefit foisting Patrick Tomlin 



For helpful comments and discussion on previous drafts, I am grateful to Serena Olsaretti and Isabella Trifan. Research for this project was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) project on Justice and the Family: An Analysis of the Normative Significance of Procreation and Parenting in a Just Society (Grant number: 648610; grant acryonym: Family Justice).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LawUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

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