Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



First Advisor

Dr. Andrew I. Cohen


Hugh Lafollette’s theoretical justification of parental licensing hinges upon consideration of the harms associated with raising children. If we understand Lafollette’s stance as one in which the moral status of children is equal to that of other human beings, we must consider what such a commitment might require of social institutions such as the family. Unlike other licensing programs, I argue that Lafollette’s parental licensing program serves as a tool by which fair equality of opportunity can be acquired for those living within a given society. I attempt to demonstrate how the normative views as to the sovereignty of parents serve to discount the moral status of children, thus limiting the protections offered against child maltreatment. I will show how Lafollette’s theoretical justifications align with concerns addressed in John Stuart Mill’s harm principle and Rawlsian views as to the importance of access to fair equality of opportunity.