Feinberg, Mills, and the child's right to an open future

Mianna Lotz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Appeals to the notion of a child’s right to an open future famously articulated by Joel Feinberg in his 1980 paper “The Child’s Right to an Open Future” have become commonplace in applied ethics, particularly in debates over genetic
reproductive technologies. Here the concern to protect that right reflects anticipated and real increases in the extent to which the genetic characteristics of future children might be selected or manipulated. The need to protect a child’s right to an open future has been invoked to buttress opposition to cloning, genetic selection, and genetic engineering. Yet the capacity and the precise way in which such interventions might threaten the child’s right to an open future is a matter of considerable dispute. We are far from reaching a consensus as to whether a future child could be harmed or wronged––in the sense of having her autonomy threatened––by being a clone, or having been genetically selected or manipulated for possession of certain desired traits, including sex or sexual orientation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-551
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Philosophy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


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