The flourishing child

Lynne Wolbert*, Doret de Ruyter, Anders Schinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper aims to offer conceptual clarification on the use of the concept of human flourishing with regard to children. We will argue that the concept can meaningfully be applied to parts of human lives, specifically one's childhood, and discuss when we can meaningfully speak of a flourishing child. Viewing children's lives in terms of whether they are flourishing may be able to help us understand and articulate in which ways a child's life may go better or worse. This is relevant, firstly, to the overall evaluation of people's lives, and secondly, because a flourishing childhood could be instrumentally necessary for adult flourishing. But, most importantly, childhood is a period of life that is good in itself irrespective of its contribution to adult flourishing, that is, being able to be a child has intrinsic goodness. Children have particular characteristics that can optimally function in childhood. While these contribute to the overall evaluation of a flourishing life, they are not regarded as valuable only because of this contribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-709
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number4-5
Early online date24 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the John Templeton Foundation as part of the project ‘Wonder, Education and Human Flourishing’ (see

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Philosophy of Education published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • childhood
  • children
  • dependency
  • human flourishing


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