This paper presents four different understandings of the family and their concomitant views of the authority of the family in pediatric medical decision making. These different views are grounded in robustly developed, and conflicting, worldviews supported by disparate basic premises about the nature of morality. The traditional worldviews are often found within religious communities that embrace foundational metaphysical premises at odds with the commitments of the liberal account of the family dominant in the secular culture of the West. These disputes are substantial and ultimately irresolvable by sound rational argument because of the failure to share common foundational premises and rules of evidence. It is in light of these fundamental disagreements that there is a need to evaluate critically the claims and agenda advanced by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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