This article provides a philosophical analysis of a putative right of the child to have their expressed views considered in matters that affect them. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 is an influential and interesting statement of that right. The article shows that the child’s ‘right to a voice’ is complex. Its complexity lies in the problem of contrasting an adult’s normative power of choice with a child’s weighted views, in the various senses in which we might consider the child’s views, and in the questions of how to weight those views and how their weighting makes a practical difference in coming to a decision. In so doing we criticise other accounts that simply regard a child’s views as having consultative value. We also make better sense of how we might weight a child’s views. The philosophical issues addressed in the article carry implications for how we might understand Article 12 that are not satisfactorily identified and addressed in the voluminous literature on Article 12 within childhood studies. These issues also have implications for how we might understand the distinction between adults and children in respect of powers of personal choice. We conclude by emphasising the importance and value of the right that Article 12 seeks to formally identify.
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