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This paper examines the nature of welfare and best interests as used in medical and family law. It argues that these are commonly presented in individualistic terms, requiring the court to promote the interests of a child or incompetent adult without reference to the interests of others. However, this paper argues that, properly understood, best interests and welfare should be taken as concepts which recognise the importance of relational interests, the performance of obligations, and the virtue of altruism. © 2012 The Authors. Legal Studies © 2012 The Society of Legal Scholars.

Original publication




Journal article


Legal Studies

Publication Date





480 - 498