Spanking Debate! Transcript


0:00 - Introduction
3:41 - Consequentialism vs. Moral Principles
6:06 - Power Relationships and Moral Responsibilities
8:05 - Treatment of Violent Parents
8:40 - Peaceful Parenting Book Offer

Long Summary

In a recent discussion, I engaged in a debate concerning the concept of peaceful parenting. My interlocutor, Bob, presented the argument that children, due to their inability to sign contracts, live independently or have control over their finances, are of lower moral standing than adults. He contended that advocating for children to be treated like adults is flawed. In response, I posited that children do not need to be treated like adults; rather, they merit higher moral considerations. I highlighted that while I am not obligated to feed everyone, I am obligated to feed my own children, emphasizing the increased moral responsibility towards them.

As the conversation progressed, the topic of consequences for parental actions such as spanking arose. I emphasized the importance of safeguarding the child's well-being in such situations. I asserted that punitive measures like incarceration may not always serve the best interests of the child. Instead, interventions focused on education and anger management could be more beneficial in mitigating such behaviors. Furthermore, I underscored the need to protect the vulnerable and ensure interventions aimed at preserving the child's welfare.

Expanding on the power dynamics within relationships, I highlighted the substantial power imbalance between parents and children. Drawing parallels to hierarchical structures in society, I explained how greater power differentials necessitate heightened moral considerations towards the less powerful party. By acknowledging the unique vulnerability of children and the significant power parents wield, I underscored the need for tailored approaches that prioritize the child's protection and well-being in challenging circumstances.

In conclusion, the discourse shed light on the nuanced considerations surrounding peaceful parenting and the ethical responsibilities tied to caregiving. By exploring the dynamics of power differentials and moral duties within parent-child relationships, the conversation underscored the complexity of balancing disciplinary actions with the welfare of the child. Ultimately, the discussion emphasized the importance of proactive interventions focused on education and support to uphold the best interests of the child in scenarios involving parental discipline.


[0:00] Introduction

[0:00] Hey, it's me. So I had a debate yesterday with someone, we'll call him Bob, about peaceful parenting. And Bob said that, he said, Steph, look, you're saying that the parent and the child have the same moral status or stature, which most political philosophy, particularly libertarianism, wouldn't accept because the child is of a lower status morally than the parent, right? And the child can't sign their own contracts, can't live alone, can't act independently, can't have their own control of currency, and so on, like when they're very little. So the child is of a lower moral status to the parent, and therefore saying that children should be treated like adults is invalid. And I said, I don't believe that children should be treated like adults, and my argument is not that children are lower moral status than adults.

[0:57] Or the same, but the children are higher moral status, that they require higher moral considerations. I said, look, I don't have to feed everyone, but I have to feed my own children. They are deserving of higher moral considerations and greater, they have greater moral requirements and should be treated with greater moral consideration. So I don't accept that. Then he said, so are you saying that if I spank my child, that you would approve of me or want me thrown in jail.

[1:28] And now I was dealing with people who were not exactly pro-status. So I said, look, jail is a status concept, right? So the question of whether you would deal with parents who hit their children with jail is saying, well, the only answer to a moral problem that involves coercion is jail. And that's sort of a status concept, right? And he said, well, oh, no, there would be jails in a free market society and so on. And I said, yeah, that certainly could be the case, but it wouldn't apply in particular to a parent who hit his child. And he's like, well, why not? I said, if I come and hit you, I go to jail. Why wouldn't I go to jail if I had a child? Well, I said, because we would want to protect the child as much as possible. The child has a higher moral status than the adult and the parent. And therefore, what is best for the child is the ideal. Steal and can you imagine a parent a father who spanks his child loses his temper or whatever it is spanks his child and then the authorities find out and you know they they beat the door down and and and drag the father away to jail with the child screaming and crying and so on well that would be very destructive for the child so that's not that's not what would happen i said you know the way that it would occur is if you you hit the child there would be interventions there would be be education, there would be anger management and so on, because.

[2:49] You wouldn't want to further traumatize the child. And he said, well, this is kind of consequentialism. So I'm looking at the moral principles here. And I said, okay, well, imagine this. Imagine that there's a guy who's locked you in the basement. Nobody knows you're there. He kidnapped you. He locked you in his basement. And then he gets arrested and taken away to jail for a month. Do you want him to be arrested and go to jail? Well, of course not. Because if he gets arrested and go to jail and nobody knows you're locked in the basement, you're going to die. He's run out of food or water or whatever it is, right?

[3:15] So the fact that children are trapped in the house of the parents, and that's not a criticism, it's simply a biological fact. So the fact that children are locked in the house with the parents and can't leave and don't have independence means that because the children are dependent upon the parents, the parents aren't independent agents in the way that if Bob would come and hit me, Bob would get arrested and go to jail. Well, that actually makes my life better and safer that a guy who's going around hitting people is in jail.

[3:41] Consequentialism vs. Moral Principles

[3:42] I go on with my day. It does interfere with interfere with my independence he's not my source of income he's not my source of food he's not a source of protection and emotional nurture and shelter and so on right so if some guy comes and punches me i get him arrested and he goes to jail my life is better and safer however if a father spanks a child let's say that a father spanks a child there's no mother around for whatever reason he's a single he's a single father the father spanks a child and then the father gets hauled after jail it's very traumatic for the child where does the child go well what does the child do who does the child stay with it's very very problematic right so you'd want to do everything to avoid that as possible and i said but but to your point if you kept beating your child yes you should go to jail like or whatever the equivalent would be in a truly free society so these kinds of considerations are important you can't say well.

[4:35] Children and adults have the same moral considerations because clearly they don't. Right. And sort of my argument has been that we have recognized for a long time in society that where there is a greater power disparity, higher moral considerations need to flow from the more powerful to the less powerful. Right. So the old argument is that if a boss asks his employee out, he's the CEO and he asks out his secretary on a date, well, the fact that he can make or break a career, that he can fire her and so on, means that he should not.

[5:09] There's too much of a power imbalance. So he has to have higher moral considerations for his employee than he would for just some person at a bar or some person at the gym or whatever that he happened to ask out. So where you have power over someone, you have higher moral considerations for that person based upon the disparity in power. I think we generally understand that a corrupt guy at his job is like some, just some Joe job or whatever, right? Some ditch digger or whatever. If he's corrupt, that's, that's bad. A corrupt cop is worse. And a corrupt judge is even worse. And a corrupt Supreme Court justice would be even worse, right? Because of the increased layers of power, the higher moral responsibility is reserved. As you go up in the hierarchy of power, you have higher moral responsibilities.

[6:06] Power Relationships and Moral Responsibilities

[6:06] So where parents...

[6:11] And their children in terms of power relationships the parents have the highest power disparity in their relationship to children than almost every other relationship in society there's almost no power i mean i've been a kid i've been an adult i've been a boss i've been an employee and so on, there is no power disparity in human relations greater than that between the adult and the child i mean maybe you could say you're thrown unjustly into some gulag or something like that but The parent and child is the greatest power disparity. I mean, as a kid, your brain is still being formed. Your body is still being formed. You're not able to leave. You don't have your own independence. You don't have your own rights. You can't sign your own contracts. You can't control your own money. Like, it really is the biggest power disparity. So we have this principle that says the greater the power disparity, the higher the moral considerations for the person lower on the hierarchy, right? Right.

[7:07] For an employee to yell at a boss is, you know, might be unwise or whatever it is, but it's not as abusive as the boss yelling at the employee. I mean, I remember this when I was a boss, I had about, I don't know, 30, 35 people working for me. And, you know, when I would need to talk to someone, I, I had to come up with some way so that it didn't say you, you know, I need to talk to you in my office because people, they get nervous. Right. So I just say, you know, so-and-so, can I just borrow you for a couple of minutes? I've got a couple of questions. And that way it's not like, ooh, you know, I'm scared of people. So you have to be more delicate about these kinds of things, recognizing the power disparity that's involved. So I thought it was a very interesting debate, and I really do appreciate having these kinds of pushbacks and conversations. But, yeah, it's not the same. It's not the same. And because the child is in a helpless and dependent situation, situation.

[8:05] Treatment of Violent Parents

[8:05] We would treat the violent parent with as much consideration for the benefit of the child as humanly possible, which would mean, you know, education, anger management, therapy, or whatever that would eliminate the spanking. We wouldn't just go and arrest someone because that would actually harm the child. And the purpose, of course, is for society to protect the most vulnerable, and arresting a spanking parent would not serve that purpose unless there was some significant violence involved, in which case some other situation would be better. So anyway, I just wanted to mention that. I hope that that helps.

[8:40] Peaceful Parenting Book Offer

[8:40] Please, please, please just remember that if you donate this month, May 2024, you get the Peaceful Parenting book in audiobook format, you get it in ebook format, and, and it's really, really, you got to try this. You really, really have to try this is absolutely amazing. You get the Peaceful Parenting Artificial Intelligence bot, multi-language, like 70 languages.

[9:05] And you can ask it any question. It's not just the Peaceful Parenting book that we've loaded it up with, but with like a hundred different articles and podcasts that I have about Peaceful Parenting. So any questions that you have about Peaceful Parenting, you can go and ask this bot. And that's just for this month. If you donate at slash donate, you get access to all of that sort of stuff. And it's really, really amazing stuff. And I hope that you will avail yourself of it. Thank you so much. Have a great night. Talk to you soon. Bye.

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