“Natural authority”?

From the archives: The original post was posted on 1st November, 1995

It has been suggested to me that parents have a natural right of authority over their children, and thus that undermining parental authority, as Taking Children Seriously does, is bad.

Suppose it is true. How far does that natural right of authority extend? Why does that override other moral considerations which in any other context we would think very important? What is it about this right of authority which justifies behaviours we would in other circumstances regard as barbaric, immoral, or at the very least unpleasant? What is it about this natural right of authority that is so important as to override our wider values? Why do considerations of this natural parental right outweigh objective harm done to children by their parents?

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, 1995, ‘“Natural authority”?’, https://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/natural-authority/