In this chapter, I introduce the central themes of the book. These themes can best be presented as questions, as follows: When parents exercise power over their children, what are the various forms power takes and what forms of power can be morally justified? When we evaluate the legitimacy of parental power, can we be faced with moral dilemmas, and if so how can we resolve such conflicts? Finally, in what ways may parents exercise power over children who lack the qualities of an agent, those who are capable of agency but are incompetent, and those who are fully competent? I do not claim to answer all of these questions in full in this chapter. However, by examining two competing definitions of paternalism (liberal and pluralist) I think we can highlight what are the pertinent issues that we must explore further, while I will also endeavour to make clear the arguments to be made in the coming chapters.
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