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Evaluating Parental PowerAn Exercise in Pluralist Political Theory$
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Allyn Fives

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784994327

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784994327.001.0001

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Children and the provision of informed consent

Children and the provision of informed consent

(p.197) 9 Children and the provision of informed consent
Evaluating Parental Power

Allyn Fives

Manchester University Press

When researchers try to recruit children as participants in a scientific study or when physicians recommend a course of medical treatment for children, a question then arises as to who may authorise such activity. May parents make these decisions on behalf of their children? May children make them independently of their parents? Or should such decisions be made jointly? To address these questions, in this chapter I explore the topic of informed consent, and more precisely, how it is that informed consent authorises children’s research participation and medical treatment. I first ask how we should define competence. In this chapter, I will argue that a person is competent to make a decision if she is able to reflect on the alternative courses of action and the likely consequences of each, and also, crucially, she is aware of the plurality of moral values and the possibility for conflict between those values, and reasonable in the face of such conflicting moral claims. We shall also consider voluntariness. In this chapter, I argue that a person acts voluntarily if she wills the action without being under the liberty-infringing influence of another. One issue to examine here is whether and in what ways parents can, through the exercise of their power, help their children become more competent and yet without limiting their children’s voluntariness.

Keywords:   Competence, informed consent, mature minor, voluntariness

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