By Michael Tiboris
Journal of Applied Philosophy,Vol. 31, No. 1, 2014
Children are less blameworthy for their beliefs and actions because they are young. But the relationship between development and responsibility is complex. What exactly grounds the excuses we rightly give to young agents? This article presents three distinct arguments for children's diminished responsibility. Drawing on significant resources from developmental psychology, it rejects views which base the normative adult/child distinction on children's inability to participate in certain kinds of moral communication or to form principled self-conceptions which guide their actions. The article then argues that children's responsibility ought to be diminished because (and to the degree that) they are less competent at using features of their moral agency to meet social demands. This ‘normative competence’ view is philosophically defensible, supported by research in developmental psychology, and provides us with a method to evaluate whether things like peer pressure are relevant to responsibility.
The entire article is here.