[extropy-chat] ethical issues with children

spike spike66 at comcast.net
Sun Jan 21 23:26:06 UTC 2007

> Ben Goertzel wrote:
> >As I recall, the primary values my mother attempted to instill in me
> were:
> >
> >-- be compassionate to others
> >-- warfare is bad [this was the Vietnam war era; I'm currently 40 yrs
> old]
> >-- creativity is good
> >-- dare to be different, and mistrust the consensus
> >
> >These seem to have held up reasonably well over time.

Yes, we are talking two different things here.  The list you gave are
ethics.  I do not expect ethics* to change much over the centuries.  But
when I asked about values, what I meant was what are the things we should be
teaching our children are of value to do with one's life?

Here is an example that has to do with children.  You probably saw the Toy
Story movies.  If not, they are a hoot.  (Each one is a hoot?  They are both
hoots?)  Think for a moment about the values that are in those movies.
There was a lot there, if you think it over.  For instance:

1.  The evil wicked brat next door always "broke" his toys, by which they
mean he experimented in "bizarre" ways, such as putting a doll head on a
mechanical spider, and other such horrors.  He wanted to tape Buzz Lightyear
to a bottle rocket and launch him into space.  The good kid just wanted to
play nice with his toys.

Well hell.  Experimentation is cool.  Buzz was after all a spaceman, so why
not put him on a rocket?  That doll head on a spider body, well, if you had
a choice, wouldn't it be kinda cool to have eight appendages instead of the
usual five.  Uh FOUR, I mean of course, four.  Ahem.

2.  In the second Toy Story, the toy collector was the evil wicked
antagonist, against which the toys rebelled, for they wanted to be owned and
loved by one single child.  (awww, how sweet).  

But both of these are examples of values, not ethics.  It is better to treat
the toys "nice" than to experiment and change them.  It is better to keep
the toys away from the guy who wanted to display, and perhaps (gasp) make
MONEY off of them.  

So what I am asking about is not ethics, which are pretty straightforward
after all this time, but rather values, which change a lot depending on the


*I can think of one ethical principle which is entirely new and important to
teach to children today: it is immoral and unethical to buy *anything* from
a spammer.  One should avoid all products that are advertised at no cost to
the seller, at the expense of others.

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