Family Justice Conference

               How Much Are Children Owed? Towards a Comprehensive Account

         6&7 June 2019


                Aula Polivalent, Mercé Rodoreda Building, Campus de Ciutadella

           Universitat Pompeu Fabra





Matthew Clayton, University of Warwick, Department of Politics and International Studies

Maia Cucchiara, Temple University College of Education

Tim Fowler, University of Bristol, School of Sociology, Politics & International Studies

Anca Gheaus, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Colin Macleod, University of Victoria, Department of Philosophy

Katherine Magnuson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Social Work



Andrée-Anne Cormier, York University, Glendon College

Nicolas Brando, Katholieke Universitet Leuven

Fernando de los Santos, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

Serena Olsaretti, ICREA-Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Clemens Pinnow, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Riccardo Spotorno, Universitat Pompeu Fabra



Scholars working on childhood and the family within philosophical, legal and sociological perspectives often address the question of what children are owed, whether by their parents, educators or society at large. While it is generally thought that both children´s well-being and agency interests should be well-served by those who are responsible for their care, however, we do not have a well-worked out account of how to establish the limits and demandingness of the duties that parents or others have towards children, and of how to allocate those duties.


This conference aims to explore a set of questions that must be addressed in order to develop such an account. Do children, either against their parents or society at large, have rights to the conditions for a minimally good life, or to those needed to ensure they have an equal opportunity with their contemporaries? Do they have rights to as good a set of conditions as their parents, consistently with respecting others´claims, are able to offer them? Should the claims of children be seen as part of a person´s lifetime claims, so that, in order to ascertain what children are owed, we should ask how a person would prudentially allocate her fair share of resources or opportunities across her lifetime?




Family Justice Conference

Intergenerational Justice and the Rights and Duties of Procreators

18-20 June 2018

Aula Polivalent, Mercé Rodoreda, Campus de Ciutadella, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Organised by: Serena Olsaretti, Erik Magnusson, Isabella Trifan






Gustaf Arrhenius, Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm 

Simon Caney, University of Warwick

Elizabeth Finneron-Burns, University of Warwick and IFS, Stockholm

Joseph Mazor, London School of Economics 

Julia Mosquera, Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm 

Niko Kolodny, University of California, Berkeley

Hillel Steiner, University of Manchester

Danielle Zwarthoed, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Questions about the rights and duties of parents on the one hand, and about intergenerational justice on the other, are almost invariably treated in isolation from each other. Yet, given that new generations are brought into existence as a result of some people´s having children, there are various ways in which our views about the rights and duties of parents and about intergenerational justice are internally connected.

Consider first how our views about the duties and rights and parents may affect our views concerning intergenerational justice. Whether people have children and what parents do for their children affects what each generation does for the next one, and helps determine the size and the shape of that and further generations. Given this, what parents owe their children may generate constraints on what each generation owes the next one that are either in line or in tension with the demands of intergenerational justice; accordingly, parental partiality can in some cases be harnessed to reinforce, and in other cases be at odds with, the demands of justice between generations. Parents may owe it to their children, for example, not to lower their standard of living by having too many children, thereby also serving independently justified demands of intergenerational justice. What parents owe their contemporaries in their role as parents can also determine who is deemed to be under the obligations to pay the costs of meeting future generations´ claims of justice. Parents may owe it to non-parents, for example, not to externalise on them the net costs of their choice to have and raise children. On this view, many of the duties of intergenerational justice which we currently assume are general obligations would be instances of the special duties of parents.

It also seems that some of our judgements about intergenerational justice have implications for our views about the rights and duties of parents. If we all have duties to maintain equality between overlapping generations, then prospective parents may owe it to their contemporaries, as well as to future persons, to restrict their procreative freedom and only collectively have the number of children of which it seems feasible, in light of the scarcity of natural resources and of the given limits of our capacities to exploit them, that the newcomers ´claims of intergenerational equality can be met. The obligations we all have towards future generations also affect how parents may raise the children they do have, insofar as parents, as well as nonparental educators, have a responsibility for raising children into just future citizens.

This conference aims to examine a series of questions about the connections between our theories of intergenerational justice and the rights and obligations of parents, towards both their children and their contemporaries. By exploring such questions, it is hoped, we can both gain insight into the nature and scope of our obligations of intergenerational justice, and learn more about the normative significance of procreation and parenthood.

Conference attendance is free but registration is necessary. Please register by sending an email to: [email protected].