Governments often aim to improve children’s wellbeing by targeting the decision-making of their parents. In this paper, I explore this phenomenon, providing an ethical evaluation of the ways in which governments target parental decision-making in the context of anti-poverty policies. I first introduce and motivate the concept of parent-targeted paternalism to categorize such policies. I then investigate whether parent-targeted paternalism is ever pro tanto wrong, arguing that it is when directed at parents who meet a threshold of parental competency. I next explore the factors that affect the degree of pro tanto wrongness of paternalistic anti-poverty policies targeting parents, and provide an account of the conditions under which such policies are on balance permissible, and when they are not. Finally, I illustrate the plausibility and usefulness of my framework by considering a case.
Philosophy and Child Poverty : 321-340Full article