Utilitarianism is the view according to which the only basic requirement of morality is to maximize net aggregate welfare. This position has implications for the ethics of creating and rearing children. Most discussions of these implications focus either on the ethics of procreation and in particular on how many and whom it is right to create , or on whether utilitarianism permits the kind of partiality that child rearing requires. Despite its importance to creating and raising children, there (...) are, by contrast, few sustained discussions of the implications of utilitarian views of welfare for the matter of what makes a child’s life go well. This paper attempts to remedy this deficiency. It has four sections. Section one discusses the purpose of a theory of welfare and its adequacy conditions. Section two evaluates what prominent utilitarian theories of welfare imply about what makes a child’s life go well. Section three provides a sketch of a view about what is prudentially valuable for children. Section four sums things up. (shrink)
This paper examines the complexity and fluidity of maternal identity through an examination of narratives about "real motherhood" found in children's literature. Focusing on the multiplicity of mothers in adoption, I question standard views of maternity in which gestational, genetic and social mothering all coincide in a single person. The shortcomings of traditional notions of motherhood are overcome by developing a fluid and inclusive conception of maternal reality as authored by a child's own perceptions.
Most people take it for granted that it's morally permissible to have children. They may raise questions about the number of children it's responsible to have or whether it's permissible to reproduce when there's a strong risk of serious disability. But in general, having children is considered a good thing to do, something that's morally permissible in most cases (perhaps even obligatory).
The children’s market has become significantly more important to marketers in recent years. They have been spending increasing amounts on advertising, particularly of food and beverages, to reach this segment. At the same time, there is a critical debate among parents, government agencies, and industry experts as to the ethics of food advertising practices aimed toward children. The␣present study examines parents’ ethical views of food advertising targeting children. Findings indicate that parents’ beliefs concerning at least some dimensions (...) of moral intensity are significantly related to their ethical judgments and behavioral intentions of food advertising targeting children as well as the perceived moral intensity of the situation. (shrink)
Some critics of same-sex marriage allege that this kind of union not only betrays the nature of marriage but that it also opens children to various kinds of harm. Same-sex marriage is objectionable, on this view, in its nature and in its effects. A view of marriage as requiring an unassisted capacity to conceive children may be respect as one idea of marriage, but this view need not be understood as marriage itself. It is not clear, in any (...) case, why government should prefer this one idealized view of marriage over other others, so long as recognition of other kinds of marriage do not stand in the way of government carrying out its core interests, such as the protection of children. The idea that children are necessarily harmed when conceived by and for same-sex couples cannot be sustained as a matter of psychological evidence or moral argument. No research shows that such children are routinely harmed or rarely-but-catastrophically. Comparative accounts of the welfare of children of same-sex couples cannot show either that children must be brought into existence only under ideal circumstances. (shrink)
For now, the best way to select a child's genes is to select a potential child who has those genes, using genetic testing and either selective abortion, sperm and egg donors, or selecting embryos for implantation. Some people even wish to select against genes that are only mildly undesirable, or to select for superior genes. I call this selection drift– the standard for acceptable children is creeping upwards. The President's Council on Bioethics and others have raised the parental <span (...) class='Hi'>love</span> objection: Just as we should <span class='Hi'>love</span> existing children unconditionally, so we should unconditionally accept whatever child we get in the natural course of things. If we set conditions on which child we get, we are setting conditions on our <span class='Hi'>love</span> for whatever child we get. Although this objection was prompted by selection drift, it also seems to cover selecting against genes for severe impairments. I argue that selection drift is not inconsistent with the ideal of unconditional parental <span class='Hi'>love</span> and, moreover, that the latter actually implies that we should practise selection drift – in other words, we should try to select potential children with the best genetic endowments. My endowment argument for the second claim works from an analogy between arranging an endowment prior to conception to fund a future child's education, and arranging a genetic endowment by selecting a potential child who already has it, where in both cases the child would not have existed without the endowment. I conclude with some programmatic remarks about the nonidentity problem. (shrink)
Young children interpret some acts performed by adults as normatively governed, that is, as capable of being performed either rightly or wrongly. In previous experiments, children have made this interpretation when adults introduced them to novel acts with normative language (e.g. ‘this is the way it goes’), along with pedagogical cues signaling culturally important information, and with social-pragmatic marking that this action is a token of a familiar type. In the current experiment, we exposed children to novel (...) actions with no normative language, and we systematically varied pedagogical and social-pragmatic cues in an attempt to identify which of them, if either, would lead children to normative interpretations. We found that young 3-year-old children inferred normativity without any normative language and without any pedagogical cues. The only cue they used was adult socialpragmatic marking of the action as familiar, as if it were a token of a well-known type (as opposed to performing it, as if inventing it on the spot). These results suggest that – in the absence of explicit normative language – young children interpret adult actions as normatively governed based mainly on the intentionality (perhaps signaling conventionality) with which they are performed. (shrink)
The large numbers of children working in developing countries continue to provoke calls for an end to such employment. However, many reformers argue that efforts should focus on ending the exploitation of children rather than depriving them of all opportunities to work. This posture reflects recognition of the multiplicity of needs children have and the diversity of situations in which they work. Unfortunately, research typically neglects these complexities and fails to distinguish between types of labor market jobs, (...) dismisses household chores as irrelevant, and conceptualizes children’s needs largely in terms of the education they require for successful careers. Based on data collected in schools in Franca, Brazil, where children often combine school with work in the shoe industry, this study first examined the implications of labor market jobs and household work for their health, life satisfaction, and education. Analyses suggested that both forms of work negatively affected children’s welfare, but the effects of household work were more extensive, especially for girls. The second part focused on children with labor market jobs and examined how facets of their jobs as well as their after-work household duties affected their welfare. A lack of discretion on the job undermined the health of both boys and girls, higher pay adversely affected boys’ education, and housework had detrimental effects on all indicators of girls’ welfare. This paper discusses the implications of these findings for further research and suggests the needs for attention to different forms of work activities within families. It concludes with suggestions for multinationals sourcing in developing areas that go beyond the usual calls for ridding their facilities and supply networks of child workers. (shrink)
I characterize the main approaches to the moral consideration of children developed in the light of the argument from 'marginal' cases, and develop a more adequate strategy that provides guidance about the moral responsibilities adults have towards children. The first approach discounts the significance of children's potential and makes obligations to all children indirect, dependent upon interests others may have in children being treated well. The next approaches agree that the potential of children is (...) morally considerable, but disagree as to whether and why children with intellectual disabilities are morally considerable. These approaches explore the moral significance of intellectual capacities, species membership, the capacity for welfare, and the interests of others. I argue that relationships characterized by reciprocity of care are morally valuable, that both the potential to be in such relationships and the actuality of being in them are morally valuable, and that many children with significant intellectual disabilities have this potential. (shrink)
This paper considers what are the appropriate limits of parental or guardian proxy consent for a child's participation in medical or social science research. Such proxy consent, it is proposed, is invalid in regards “non-therapeutic research.” The latter research may add to scientific knowledge and/or benefit others, but any benefit to the child research participant is but a coincidental theoretical possibility and not a primary objective. Research involving children, without intended and acceptable prospect of beneficial outcome to the individual (...) participant, even if with negligible risk, does not meet the test for “best interests.” Proxy consent for children's involvement in research is justifiable only when given for and on behalf of the child in his or her best interest to enhance the child's well-being. Only in the latter case is the parental proxy consent situation analogous in regards key criteria to a competent individual consenting to research participation. (shrink)
The ethics of advertising to children has been identified as one of the most important topics worthy of academic research in the marketing field. A fast growing advertising technique is product placement, and its use in children's films is becoming more and more common. The limited evidence existing suggests that product placements are especially potent in their effects upon children. Yet regulations regarding placements targeted at children are virtually non-existent, with advertising guidelines suggesting that it remains (...) the prime responsibility of the parents to provide guidance for children. This study measured the ethical evaluations of parents in the UK and Canada regarding product placements in children's films. After exposing parents to a four-type typology of product placements, results show that explicit placements of ethically charged products were perceived as the most unethical type of placements. Parents in the UK were more sensitive to the use of the technique and there was a significant difference in relativism between the two groups. Both sets of respondents would like to see more regulation on the use of placements, especially placements of alcohol, tobacco and fast foods. (shrink)
This paper discusses the use of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders in children. At present, deep brain stimulation is used to treat movement disorders in children and a few cases of deep brain stimulation for psychiatric disorders in adolescents have been reported. Ethical guidelines on the use of deep brain stimulation in children are therefore urgently needed. This paper focuses on the decision-making process, and provides an ethical framework for (future) treatment (...) decisions in pediatric deep brain stimulation. I defend a shared decision-making model in case of deep brain stimulation for neurological and psychiatric disorders in children. To protect the vulnerable child patient, a dual consent process is needed where parents or parental guardians give their consent, and the child gives his/her assent. (shrink)
When children are too young to make their ownautonomous decisions, decisions have to be madefor them. In certain contexts we allow parentsand others to make these decisions, and do notinterfere unless the decision clearly violatesthe best interest of the child. In othercontexts we put a priori limits on whatkind of decisions parents can make, and/or whatkinds of considerations they have to take intoaccount. Consent to medical research currentlyfalls into the second group mentioned here. Wewant to consider and ultimately reject (...) one ofthe arguments put forward for putting medicalresearch into the second category. We willargue that some objections to children'sparticipation in research are either based onan implausibly restrictive conception of whatis in fact in the child's best interests orthat there is an implicit and false premisehidden in this argument; i.e., the premise thatour children have so deeply fallen into moralturpitude that we must assume that they wouldnot want to fulfill their moral obligations,or, that they will grow up to be morallydeficient and will then wish not to have actedwell while a child. (shrink)
The paper explores challenges for the interpretation of the ideal toleration that arise in educational contexts involving children. It offers an account of how a respect-based conception of toleration can help to resolve controversies about the accommodation and response to diversity that arise in schools.
Ideas about child education are inevitably underpinned by particular views of children, including their nature and development. The purpose of this paper is to discuss C. G. Jung's account of child education in relation to his psychological theory and view of children. However, as Jung's theory predominantly concerns the psychological development of adults and not children, the current paper makes selective use of Jung's texts that focus on children, and examines what Jung calls ‘the other half’ (...) of education that works through the teacher's personality indirectly affecting the student's development of personality. From a close study of Jung's texts, the paper discusses the nature and the extent of children's involvement in ‘the other half’ of education and considers some problems with Jung's account of unconscious education. The paper identifies the active and autonomous roles played by children in unconscious education and suggests that Jung's account of ‘the other half of education’ could provide fresh insights about the meaning and quality of education. (shrink)
Social norms have played a key role in the evolution of human cooperation, serving to stabilize prosocial and egalitarian behavior despite the self-serving motives of individuals. Young children’s behavior mostly conforms to social norms, as they follow adult behavioral directives and instructions. But it turns out that even preschool children also actively enforce social norms on others, often using generic normative language to do so. This behavior is not easily explained by individualistic motives; it is more likely a (...) result of children’s growing identification with their cultural group, which leads to prosocial motives for preserving its ways of doing things. (shrink)
In this paper we provide a psychological account of the nature and development of explanation. We propose that an explanation is an account that provides a conceptual framework for a phenomenon that leads to a feeling of understanding in the reader/hearer. The explanatory conceptual framework goes beyond the original phenomenon, integrates diverse aspects of the world, and shows how the original phenomenon follows from the framework. We propose that explanations in everyday life are judged on the criteria of (...) empirical accuracy, scope, consistency, simplicity, and plausibility. We conclude that explanations in science are evaluated by the same criteria, plus those of precision, formalisms, and fruitfulness. We discuss several types of explanation that are used in everyday life – causal/mechanical, functional, and intentional. We present evidence to show that young children produce explanations (often with different content from those of adults) that have the same essential form as those used by adults. We also provide evidence that children use the same evaluation criteria as adults, but may not apply those additional criteria for the evaluation of explanations that are used by scientists. (shrink)
What can one expect to unfold when they choose to do a face-to-face study of children on the farm and their use of space in rural southwestern Ontario? The process of getting the research off the ground from an ethics point of view was one where it was anything but normative, and to a large extent, a grueling process. This article situates the researcher’s dilemma and lays out the unfolding of the research process with reference to the Tri-Council Policy (...) Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans and the major components found to trouble a research ethics board on a university campus. Last, academic freedom and the rights of researchers are considered in the context of undertaking the proposed research agenda. (shrink)
In recent years, issues of childhood obesity, unsafe toys, and child labor have raised the question of corporate responsibilities to children. However, business impacts on children are complex, multi-faceted, and frequently overlooked by senior managers. This article reports on a systematic analysis of the reputational landscape constructed by the media, corporations, and non-government organizations around business responsibilities to children. A content analysis methodology is applied to a sample of more than 350 relevant accounts during a 5-year period. (...) We identify seven core responsibilities that are then used to provide a framework for enabling businesses to map their range of impacts on children. We set out guidelines for how to identify and manage the firm’s strategic responsibilities in this arena, and identify the␣constraints that corporations face in meeting such responsibilities. (shrink)
The use of foster children as subjects in the pediatric HIV/AIDS clinical trials has been the subject of media controversy, raising a range of ethical and social dimensions. Several unsettled issues and debates in research ethics underlie the controversy and the lack of consensus among professional researchers on these issues was neither adequately appreciated nor presented in media reports. These issues include (1) the tension between protecting subjects from research risk while allowing them access to the possible benefits of (...) research; (2) the blurring of the potentially conflicting roles of investigator and physician and the boundaries between research and therapy; (3) the adequacy of Institutional Review Board oversight; and (4) trust and the relationships among physicians, investigators and industry. The media controversy about the pediatric HIV/AIDS clinical trials can be seen as a means of “manufacturing mistrust” in health care, research and social services that have not always met the needs and expectations of the public. In an era of emerging infections, it is critical to the public’s health that people understand the role of rigorous and ethical research in the development of safe and effective care. Investigators, journalists and the public need to become knowledgeable about major ethical issues in the conduct of research in order to engage in dialogue about balancing research risks and benefits and to be able to distinguish fact from distortion in an era of multiple and rapid transmission of information. (shrink)
I offer an account of theories useful in addressing the question of whether children are young theoreticians whose development can be regarded as the product of theory change. I argue that to regard a set of propositions as a theory is to be committed to evaluating that set in terms of its explanatory power. If theory change is the substance of cognitive development, we should see patterns of affect and arousal consonant with the emergence and resolution of explanation-seeking curiosity. (...) Affect has largely been ignored as a potential source of support or disconfirmation for the "theory theory" of development. (shrink)
In the Netherlands fertility doctors increasingly formulate protocols, which oblige patients to quit their unhealthy lifestyle before they are admitted to IVF procedures. We argue that moral arguments could justify parenting protocols that concern all future parents. In the first part we argue that want-to-be parents have moral responsibilities towards their future children to prevent them from harm by diminishing or eliminating risk factors before as well as during the pregnancy. This is because of the future children's potential (...) to become of a certain type, more specifically: a person that will be the want-to-be parents' child. Want-to-be parents intend to become pregnant and therefore have an additional moral reason to diminish the risks. Also, people who become pregnant unintentionally have the responsibility to prevent their children from harm, unless they become pregnant due to contraception failure. All people not wanting to become pregnant should use contraception methods carefully.In the second part of this paper we translate the want-to-be parents' responsibilities into practice. We distinguish four determinants of risk factors: modifiability, chance, severity and effort. We examine some evidence-based risk factors based on these variables and deduce levels of responsibility.In conclusion, formulating informal requirements for want-to-be parents is morally required and therefore also for want-to-be parents in need of medical assistance. The protocols developed by fertility doctors in the Netherlands could be seen as the precursor for a general, informal Parenting Protocol that could be developed on the basis of an extended and thoroughly debated risk-responsibility analysis. (shrink)
Introduction -- Descartes : purging the mind of childish ways -- Locke and Leibniz : understanding children -- Locke : children's language and the fate of changelings -- Leibniz : against infant damnation -- Wolff : the inferiority of childhood -- Baumgarten : childhood and the analogue of reason.
The Mathematics Education and Neurosciences project is an interdisciplinary research program that bridges mathematics education research with neuroscientific research. The bidirectional collaboration will provide greater insight into young children's (aged four to six years) mathematical abilities. Specifically, by combining qualitative ‘design research’ with quantitative ‘experimental research’, we aim to come to a more thorough understanding of prerequisites that are involved in the development of early spatial and number sense. The mathematics education researchers are concerned with kindergartner's spatial structuring ability, (...) while the neuroscientists are studying kindergartner's automatic quantity processing and its effect on mathematical development. The outcomes of these investigations should contribute to practical ways of fostering and supporting young children's mathematical thinking and learning. (shrink)
The topic of this article is morality among pre-school children.Two different theories of morality, morality as lived and morality asrationality of thought, are analyzed with a special view to exploringtheir respective consequences for doing research on small children'smorality. Children's lived morality is then interpreted and discussed interms of rights.
We study a generalization of the Muddy Children puzzle by allowing public announcements with arbitrary generalized quantifiers. We propose a new concise logical modeling of the puzzle based on the number triangle representation of quantifi ers. Our general aim is to discuss the possibility of epistemic modeling that is cut for specifi c informational dynamics. Moreover, we show that the puzzle is solvable for any number of agents if and only if the quanti fier in the announcement is positively (...) active (satis es a form of variety). (shrink)
This paper defends the Famine Relief Argument against Having Children, which goes as follows: conceiving and raising a child costs hundreds of thousands of dollars; that money would be far better spent on famine relief; therefore, conceiving and raising children is immoral. It is named after Peter Singer’s Famine Relief Argument because it might be a special case of Singer’s argument and because it exposes the main practical implication of Singer’s argument—namely, that we should not become parents. I (...) answer five objections: that disaster would ensue if nobody had children; that having children cannot be wrong because it is so natural for human beings; that the argument demands too much of us; that my child might be a great benefactor to the world; and that we should raise our children frugally and give them the right values rather than not have them. Previous arguments against procreation have appealed either to a pessimism about human life, or to the environmental impact of overpopulation, or to the fact that we cannot obtain the consent of the non-existent. The argument proposed here appeals to the severe opportunity costs of parenting. (shrink)
Margaret Mohrmann, Paul Lauritzen, and Sumner Twiss raise questions about my account of basic interests, liberal theory, and the challenges of multiculturalism as developed in "Children, Ethics, and Modern Medicine." Their questions point to foundational issues regarding the justification and limitation of parental authority to make decisions on behalf of children in medical and other contexts. One of the central questions in that regard is whether adults' decisions deserve to be respected, especially when they seem contrary to a (...) child's or adolescent's basic interests. Questions about respect, in turn, focus attention on others' decisions about what seems good for families and children, decisions that may be paternalistic or utilitarian. Such decisions are further complicated by a child's or adolescent's budding autonomy and need for respect and recognition. Pediatric bioethics grounded in an account of a child's basic interests produces a theory of negative and positive rights for assessing adults' actions in relation to children, especially (but not only) when adults demand respect in their expressions of care. (shrink)
Understanding what numbers are means knowing several things. It means knowing how counting relates to numbers (called the cardinal principle or cardinality); it means knowing that each number is generated by adding one to the previous number (called the successor function or succession), and it means knowing that all and only sets whose members can be placed in one-to-one correspondence have the same number of items (called exact equality or equinumerosity). A previous study (Sarnecka & Carey, 2008) linked children's (...) understanding of cardinality to their understanding of succession for the numbers five and six. This study investigates the link between cardinality and equinumerosity for these numbers, finding that children either understand both cardinality and equinumerosity or they understand neither. This suggests that cardinality and equinumerosity (along with succession) are interrelated facets of the concepts five and six, the acquisition of which is an important conceptual achievement of early childhood. (shrink)
A transgender man legally married to a woman has given birth to two children, raising questions about the ethics of assisted reproductive treatments (ARTs) for people with cross-sex identities. Psychiatry treats cross-sex identities as a disorder, but key medical organizations and the law in some jurisdictions have taken steps to protect people with these identities from discrimination in health care, housing, and employment. In fact, many people with cross-sex identities bypass psychiatric treatment altogether in order to pursue lives that (...) are meaningful to them, lives that sometimes include children. Cross-sex identification does not render people unfit as parents, because transgender identities do not undercut the ability to understand the nature and consequences of pregnancy or necessarily interfere with the ability to raise children. Moreover, no evidence suggests that being born to and raised by transgender parents triggers the kind of harm that would justify exclusion of trans-identified men and women from ARTs as a class. The normalization of transgender identities by the law and professional organizations contributes, moreover, to the need to reassess pathological interpretations of cross-sex identities, and trans-parenthood puts those interpretations into sharp relief. (shrink)
This article argues that investigators doing developmental and social research with children have, for the most part, failed to acknowledge the inherent implications of their work for children's rights. The impact of these studies upon children's rights occurs at every stage; from hypothesis formulation to hypothesis testing to dissemination of findings. This paper addresses the issue in the context of developmental research on children's ability to report experienced events accurately. This particular research area has generated data (...) that has been extrapolated to legal contexts and created a foundation for assumptions about the credibility of child witnesses. This in turn has had profound effects on children's right to be heard and the weight given to their testimony. The argument is made that there is a need for social scientists to explicitly articulate how their work may impact upon children's rights and what is in fact the social agenda in this regard underlying their research. (shrink)
Arguing that everyone has a right to privacy as control overaccess to `intimate' aspects of one's life, this author draws on thework of Julie Inness to discuss children's rights to privacy inclassrooms. Even if it is agreed that pupils should exercise this right,a central point is that there may be moral or other value considerationsthat justify setting the right aside. Among selected complexities, animportant extension is the right to psychological processes throughwhich learners acquire new knowledge.
BackgroundBariatric surgery for children and adolescents is becoming widespread. However, the evidence is still scarce and of poor quality, and many of the patients are too young to consent. This poses a series of moral challenges, which have to be addressed both when considering bariatric surgery introduced as a health care service and when deciding for treatment for young individuals. A question based (Socratic) approach is applied to reveal underlying moral issues that can be relevant to an open and (...) transparent decision making process.DiscussionA wide range of moral issues with bariatric surgery for children and adolescents is identified in the literature. There is a moral imperative to help obese minors avoiding serious health problems, but there is little high quality evidence on safety, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness for bariatric surgery in this group. Lack of maturity and family relations poses a series of challenges with autonomy, informed consent, assent, and assessing the best interest of children and adolescents. Social aspects of obesity, such as medicalization, prejudice, and discrimination, raise problems with justice and trust in health professionals. Conceptual issues, such as definition of obesity and treatment end-points, present moral problems. Hidden interests of patients, parents, professionals, industry, and society need to be revealed.SummaryPerforming bariatric surgery for obese children and adolescents in order to discipline their behavior warrants reflection and caution. More evidence on outcomes is needed to be able to balance benefits and risks, to provide information for a valid consent or assent, and to advise minors and parents. (shrink)
Worldwide, many impoverished parents migrate, leaving their children behind. As a result children are deprived of continuity in care and, sometimes, suffer from other forms of emotional and developmental harms. I explain why coercive responses to care drain are illegitimate and likely to be inefficient. Poor parents have a moral right to migrate without their children and restricting their migration would violate the human right to freedom of movement and create a new form of gender injustice. I (...) propose and defend an institutional solution. Taxes levied on the remittances sent by temporary migrants ought to be used to provide migrants' children with psychological counselling in order to mitigate the harm resulted from discontinuity in care. (shrink)
Should parents be able to select the sexual orientation of their children, if that were possible through prenatal interventions? _Ethics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about Children_ reviews the history of this debate which started in the 1970s and has been invigorated by scientific reports about the origins of sexual orientation. This book describes the debate and offers an evaluation of key issues in parental rights, children's rights, and family welfare.
Should doctors have the possibility to save children from incurable suffering and end their lives?. At first glance, the standpoints in the debate around this question seem translucent and well known and the debate intelligible. I contend that this is not the case and I will illustrate this in analysing the debate between Peter Singer and Ulrich Bleidick. Whomever wants to answer the question whether it is acceptable to end the lives of suffering small children will have to (...) do some careful reading and thinking about the different and differing moral arguments in the debate. This demands emotional restraint and intellectual honesty. Trying to understand Singer and his opponents is a challenging way of charting what exactly is at stake in this debate. (shrink)
Most legal analyses of selective nontreatment of seriously ill children centre on the question of whether it is in a child’s best interests to be kept alive in the face of extreme suffering and/or an intolerable quality of life. Courts have resisted any direct confrontation with the question of whether the child’s death is in his or her best interests. Nevertheless, representations of death may have an important role to play in this field of jurisprudence. The prevailing philosophy is (...) to configure death as a release from a futile or painful existence and/or as a dignified end in an objectively hopeless situation. However, there can be disagreement about the meaning of death in these settings. Some parents object that death would be premature or that it represents a culpable neglect of their child. A closer examination of these discordant interpretations allows for a better comprehension of the cultural understandings that underscore clinical and legal accounts of death following end-of-life decisions. (shrink)
Virtual reality (VR) is a powerful tool for simulating aspects of the real world. The success of VR is thought to depend on its ability to evoke a sense of "being there", that is, the feeling of "Presence". In view of the rapid progress in the development of increasingly more sophisticated virtual environments (VE), the importance of understanding the neural underpinnings of presence is growing. To date however, the neural correlates of this phenomenon have received very scant attention. An fMRI-based (...) study with 52 adults and 25 children was therefore conducted using a highly immersive VE. The experience of presence in adult subjects was found to be modulated by two major strategies involving two homologous prefrontal brain structures. Whereas the right DLPFC controlled the sense of presence by down-regulating the activation in the egocentric dorsal visual processing stream, the left DLPFC up-regulated widespread areas of the medial prefrontal cortex known to be involved in self-reflective and stimulus-independent thoughts. In contrast, there was no evidence of these two strategies in children. In fact, anatomical analyses showed that these two prefrontal areas have not yet reached full maturity in children. Taken together, this study presents the first findings that show activation of a highly specific neural network orchestrating the experience of presence in adult subjects, and that the absence of activity in this neural network might contribute to the generally increased susceptibility of children for the experience of presence in VEs. (shrink)
In this article I explore if and how very young children can be the educators of their early childhood educators. I describe and discuss a story constructed form a fieldwork done in one early childhood setting in Norway. The story is read with Levinas and his concepts Said and Saying. Further I discuss if and how this might be understood as education arguing that the children`s expressions are offering new beginning and change in the pedagogical thinking and praxis (...) within the early childhood setting. (shrink)
In German, nouns are assigned to one of the three gender classes. For most animal names, however, the assignment is independent of the referent’s biological sex. We examined whether German-speaking children understand this independence of grammar from semantics or whether they assume that grammatical gender is mapped onto biological sex when drawing inferences about sex-specific biological properties of animals. Two cross-linguistic studies comparing German-speaking and Japanese-speaking preschoolers were conducted. The results suggest that German-speaking children utilize grammatical gender as (...) a cue for inferences about sex-specific properties of animals. Further, we found that Japanese- and German-speaking children recruit different resources when drawing inferences about sex-specific properties: Whereas Japanese children paralleled their pattern of inference about properties common to all animals, German children relied on the grammatical gender class of the animal. Implications of these findings for studying the relation between language and thought are discussed. (shrink)
Low-level community based ethics committees staffed by teachers, parents and community representatives can readily review children’s science fair projects subject to the revision of two core assumptions currently governing children’s Science Fairs. The first part of the paper recasts the New Zealand Royal Society guidelines from its primary emphasis on risk to a new assumption, without benefit there can be no risk. Equally, this revision gives more prominence to the participant information sheet, allowing it to act as a (...) quasi application form which provides ethical transparency between student researchers, participants and a community based ethics committee. A second core assumption, more accurately labeled a cult of originality, produces a random, open-ended array of student topics taking ethics review beyond the confidence level of most community based ethics review committees. This paper reins in Science Fair coordinators recommending they make community level ethics review more manageable by providing a list of preapproved topics for those students wanting to conduct research involving human participants. These revised assumptions create a workable division of labour. Teachers’ preapproved topics involving human participants are more likely to be low risk, permitting community level ethics review to focus primarily on two aspects of the minimization of harm: first, for all participants, especially those with diminished autonomy, and second, for the child researchers themselves, as some participants may be unknown to the student. These revised assumptions make science and ethics more accessible to public education thus demonstrating how Science Fairs can lead students and the community into better understanding the role and function that ethics has in all scientific research human participants. (shrink)
Up to 90% of children with special education needs and about 40% of children in the general population show insecure or disorganized attachment patterns, which are linked to a diminished ability to use social support by others for the regulation of stress. The aim of the study was to investigate if children with insecure-avoidant/disorganized attachment can profit more from social support by a dog compared to a friendly human during a stressful task. We investigated 47 male (...) class='Hi'>children (age 7-11) with insecure-avoidant or disorganized attachment. Social stress was elicited via the Trier Social Stress Test for Children (TSST-C). For one group of children a friendly therapy-dog (N=24) was present, for one control group a friendly human (N=10) and for the other control group a toy dog (N=13). Stress levels were measured via salivary cortisol before, during, and after the TSST-C and subjective reports. The physiological stress response was significantly lower in the dog condition in comparison to the two other support conditions. Cortisol levels correlated negatively with the amount of physical contact between child and dog. We conclude that male children with insecure-avoidant or disorganized attachment profit more from the presence of a therapy-dog than of a friendly human under social stress. Our findings support the assumption that the increasing practice of animal-assisted education is reasonable and that dogs can be helpful assistants in education/special education, since stress interferes with learning and performance in students. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Dewey’s pragmatist aesthetics, and in particular, his concept of consummatory experience, should be engaged anew to rethink the merits of the Philosophy for Children (PFC) programme, which arose in the 1970s in the US as an innovative educational programme that aims to use philosophy to help school children (aged 6–18) improve their ability to become more conscious of and make judgments about the aspects of their experience that have ethical, aesthetic, political, logical, (...) or even metaphysical meaning. Although an international success, the PFC programme has attracted many criticisms from a variety of directions. I claim that Deweyan concept of consummatory aesthetic experience is broad and flexible enough to provide a robust framework to make sense of the pedagogical horizon of PFC and therefore fruitfully engage the various critics of the movement coming from religious and social conservatives, educational psychologists, critical theorists, postmodernists/posthumanists, and professional philosophers themselves. The goal of this paper is to offer in a preliminary fashion the basic elements of Deweyan pragmatist aesthetics, which was principally elucidated in his Art as Experience, to defend PFC as a viable pedagogy. (shrink)
Background: There is empirical evidence that the presence of a companion animal can have a positive impact on performance. The available evidence can be viewed in terms of differing hypotheses that attempt to explain the mechanisms behind the positive effects. Little attention has been given to motivation as a potential mode of action with regards to human-animal interactions. First we give an overview of evidence that animals might promote motivation. Second we present a study to examine the effect of a (...) therapy dog on exercise performance in children with obesity. Methods: 12 children, aged 8 to 12 years old, were randomly assigned to two groups in a crossover design: dog-group and human confederate group. Several types of physical activities via accelerometer and subjective ratings of wellbeing, satisfaction and motivation were assessed. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance for repeated measures on one factor. Results: The main effect of condition was significant for all performance variables. There was less passive behavior and more physical activity for all performance variables in the presence of the dog than in that of the human confederate. Between dog- and human- condition there was no difference in the subjective rating of motivation, wellbeing or satisfaction. Discussion: The results demonstrate that the presence of a therapy dog has the potential to increase physical activity in obese children. Task performance as a declarative measure was increased by the presence of the dog in comparison to a human confederate, but self-report measures of motivation, satisfaction or wellbeing did not differ between the two conditions. Therefore it stands to reason that a dog could trigger implicit motives which enhance motivation for activity. The results of our study indicate the potentially beneficial effect of incorporating dogs into outpatient training for obese children. (shrink)
It is hypothesized from within an evolutionary framework that females should be less invested in peer relations than males. Investment was operationalized as enjoyment in Study 1 and as preference for interaction in Study 2. In the first study, four- and six-year-old children’s enjoyment of peer interaction was observed in 26 groups of same-sex peers. Girls were rated as enjoying their interactions significantly less than boys. In the second study, six- and nine-year-old children were interviewed about the individuals (...) with whom they spend time in their homes and neighborhoods and about the individuals who participate in their favorite activities. The proportion of individuals named by children who were peers was significantly lower for girls than boys both in children’s neighborhoods and in children’s favorite activities. Results strongly support the hypothesis that females and males have evolved differential preferences for interaction with peers. (shrink)