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Reinterpreting the Right to an Open Future: From Autonomy to Authenticity


This paper reinterprets a child’s right to an open future as justified by authenticity rather than autonomy. It argues that authenticity can be recognized as valuable by people whose conceptions of the good do not value autonomy. As a running example, the paper considers ultra-Orthodox Jews who lead separatist lives and who deny their sons secular education beyond an elementary school level. If their adult sons want to have careers and participate in life outside the religious enclave, they cannot easily do so. The parents see no reason to protect their child’s autonomy (which they do not value) or to prepare their child for a life that conflicts with their values. This paper provides one response to their concerns. Following a political-liberal project of seeking overlapping consensus, it tries to base demands that children be prepared for varied futures on values that reasonable religious people can embrace.

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Correspondence to Scott Altman.

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This paper benefitted greatly from suggestions by Carol Bruch, Kurt Eggert, Sam Erman, Ron Garet, Ariela Gross, Greg Keating, Dan Klerman, Colin Macleod, Andrei Marmor, Jonathan Quong, Bob Rasmussen, Stephen Rich, Ram Rivlin, Daria Roithmayr, Elyn Saks, Dan Simon, Nomi Stolzenberg, Gary Watson, participants at a faculty workshop at the USC Law School, and two anonymous reviewers from Law and Philosophy.

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Altman, S. Reinterpreting the Right to an Open Future: From Autonomy to Authenticity. Law and Philos 37, 415–436 (2018).

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