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University of Bath

The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Childhood and Children

This handbook, edited by Anca Gheaus, Gideon Calder, and Jurgen De Wispelaere, is a critical overview of the state of art literature on childhood and children.

Face of a child
This handbook offers an outstanding reference source in the crucial and exciting field of philosophy of childhood and children.

We’ve all been children and it is not surprising that, for many of us, childhood holds special significance: Most of what we know, we learned then. Our basic values have typically been shaped during our childhood, and some of our deepest affective memories are about that period of life.

The people we loved when we were children – our oldest loves – have given us the first, and in many cases the most enduring, templates of relationships with others. And yet, philosophers didn’t have much to say about children and childhood until recently. By contrast, during the last few decades – particularly during the last few years – a lot of philosophical work about children has been published.

The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Childhood and Children reflects this continuing trend. In 36 chapters, world-leading experts in the field explore the nature and value of childhood and most of them discuss answers to the question of what we owe to children and how we should provide children with what they are being owed. The handbook is a critical overview of the state of art literature on what it is special about children’s and teenagers’ minds, their moral status, parenting and family, the social issues raised by childhood and the role of the state in regulating children’s lives. Specific topics covered range from knowledge to war, art to adoption, and the rights of parents to the age of consent and children’s voting rights.

"An excellent and timely collection. Individually the thirty-six chapters are authoritative and state of the art. Together they provide a comprehensive overview of the huge amount of recent philosophical work on children." Adam Swift, University of Warwick, UK

"This volume provides an extraordinarily helpful starting point for philosophically informed conversations about children and childhood. The five sections are easily navigable, and the thirty-six original essays cover a remarkably broad domain of questions. Anyone teaching or writing on children will find this book to be an essential resource." Tamar Schapiro, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

If you wish to purchase the handbook, download the 20% discount flyer.