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Balancing a Child's Best Interests and a Child's Views

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We consider the problem of reconciling the two commitments to hear a child and to promote a child's best interests by identifying the principal issues at stake and illustrating them by reference to legal decision-making in the domains of health in the United Kingdom and custody and child protection in Norway.

We agree that a child's views are not authoritative but dispute Harry Brighouse's claim that they are only of consultative value, affirming the fundamental right of a child capable of expressing a view of doing so and of thereby participating in the procedures where decisions affecting his or her interests are made.

In conclusion we offer a checklist of questions that need to be asked about the way in which jurisdictions combine their explicit commitments to the two principles of best interests and hearing the child's views.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Lancaster University; 2: University of Bergen, HEMIL-Centre

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