I will argue that there are difficulties with the application of the four principles approach to incompetent children. The most important principle – respect for autonomy – is not directly applicable to incompetent children and the most appropriate modification of the principle for them is not clear. The principle of beneficence – that one should act in the child’s interests – is complicated by difficulties in assessing what a child’s interests are and to which standard of interests those choosing for children should be held. A further problem with the four principles approach is that parental authority does not follow clearly from the four principles.
- ethical theory
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Competing interests: None.