Bad Behavior

Norvin Richards

in The Ethics of Parenthood

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199731749
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866311 | DOI:
Bad Behavior

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When children do wrong, should we respond differently than we would if they were adults? That belief underlies the practice of having separate systems of juvenile justice, and Tamar Schapiro points out that it also underlies our everyday reactions. This chapter argues against a standard justification for this view, namely that children are not responsible for their actions in the way that adults are. A different thesis is supported by an analysis of reactive attitudes such as resentment and a theory about the way in which a child's character becomes his or her own. The conclusion drawn is that children who do wrong are ordinarily entitled to have us take this behavior primarily as an occasion to contribute to their moral education, and adults who do wrong are not. The chapter closes by offering a view about when this presumption is to be abandoned with regard to a child who has done wrong, and it argues that typically these are occasions for mercy.

Keywords: parents; children; bad behavior; wrongdoers; juvenile justice; responsibility; moral education; mercy; Tamar Schapiro

Chapter.  11253 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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