Babies Are Not Amoral Beings

Stegosaurus

Registered Member
#2
Psychological research on babies has shown that they have morals even before being taught them.

The Moral Life of Babies - NYTimes.com

If you don't read all 7 pages, at least watch the 5 minute video.

What are your thoughts on the results of these studies?
You don't even need to read all 7 pages--this favorite quote of mine by Harvey Diamond dovetails quite nicely:

"You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I'll buy you a new car." :lol:

But yes, I totally agree for the most part (aside from children who are born with the predisposition to be serial killers, in which case I think the argument is that the part of their brains that process proper emotions like compassion and love are actually malformed). I studied a lot of this in psychology as well as the concept of universal moral cores in my ethics studies as well.

It really throws the "tabula rasa" right out the window.
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EDIT: Further, many non-human animals have exhibited what can be interpreted as "morals," which makes this even more interesting and blows away Freud's idea of us being born as amoral "animals."

They raise this in the article on page 3, but I have to say that after reading a lot about the claims of "universal moral underpinnings," I have to say I am inclined to believe in them. Certainly higher morals vary by person to person and culture to culture, but really the cornerstones remain similar. I had a hard time swallowing that idea when I first heard it--my kneejerk reaction was, "NO! We are all individuals and free to decide our own morals!" But by the end of the semester of reading through hundreds of pages of arguments, I think there is good reason to believe that a universal moral is fairly well etched into the psyches of humans--whether that is for survival of the species or whatnot.
 
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Wade8813

Registered Member
#3
I've only read part of it so far, but I find this article quite interesting.

Not only are babies possibly moral agents, they may have more of a grasp of physics, math, and even psychology than we thought.

* * *

Also, I thought the Onion article that was mentioned was hilarious, but also brought up some interesting points.

New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

You really do see a lot of that excessively self-centered behavior in kids (but at the same time, I can think of all sorts of anecdotal examples of babies doing things that seemed altruistic).
 
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yourwebcrafter

Registered Member
#4
I wonder if there is a difference between instinct, altruism and
A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life.
I have to admit myself a skeptic many times when research makes claims about this or that, it is well established fact that research through observation is often more telling of the observers own personality and perceptions than those that they are observing. We as humans have a propensity for misinterpretation of fact so as to more easily be able to accept or understand.

With that said, I thought perhaps a little Skinner behaviorism would fit with this subject perhaps...


[FONT=&quot]The Research of Skinner[/FONT]​
[FONT=&quot] Skinner held many beliefs that were obtained through observation, which led to further research by others as well as by Skinner himself.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] Animals were the favorite choice for observation when it came to Skinner’s observation and research. Animals display many similarities to humans. Anyone that has had the opportunity to be around animals knows that each animal has their own personality. Each dog given the situation that calls for the “fight or flight” instinct to react will in fact respond differently, according to their own personality make up.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] It was this knowledge and other observations that led Skinner, and others that followed him, to test behavioral practices on animals. The practice of operant conditioning, reinforcement, punishment, and superstitious behavior were used. [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] Many tests involve food, or other rewards. When dealing with mice food is one of the better ways of provoking a behavior. The conditioning method begins by making the food source known, whether it is attainable easily or obtainable requiring thought. Once the animal becomes familiar with the food then behavior is rewarded or punished by use of the food. [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] If you wish a mouse to walk the wheel, it may be best to place food on the wheel; this would allow the mouse to attach the thought of food to being on the wheel. If the mouse is not on the wheel either remove or refuse to give the mouse food. The giving of food for the desired behavior is known as reinforcement, while the removal of food is a form of punishment.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] According to Morris & Maisto, actions that are repeated but not for the same test are called superstitious behavior. In a test performed by Skinner a bird was given food at different times, regardless of action. Sometimes the bird was standing on one foot, others hopping around, or doing nothing. Eventually the bird would repeat what it was doing at the time the feed fell thinking that it was the reason it was getting food. This is an example of superstitious behavior (Morris & Maisto, 2005).[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]References[/FONT]
Morris, C.G., & Maisto, A.A. (2005). Psychology: An Introduction (12th ed.). Upper Saddle
[FONT=&quot] River, NJ: Prentice Hall. [/FONT]