Donnerstag, 8. Februar 2007

Children have inborn morality - and adults?

Some scientists claim (here Marc Hauser), that humans have an inborn morality. As far as we talk about children, I'm easily to convince, so the first part of the following story sounds very convincing for me:

Last week, Harvard professor Marc Hauser dropped in to his daughter Sofia's kindergarten class and presented the children with a moral dilemma. You must all keep your eyes closed for 30 seconds, he told them. If none of you raises your hand during that time, you will each get a sheet of stickers when it's over. But if one of you raises your hand, only that child will get all the stickers.

The task brought immediate cries of protest, Hauser recalled. "But that's not fair!" some children exclaimed, shocked at the idea that one child could hog all the stickers.

Some might say that the kindergartners, in their short lives, had already learned much about the nature of justice. But Hauser goes a step further: Morality, he argues, is influenced by cultural teachings but is also so deep and universal an aspect of human existence that it is effectively "hard-wired" into the brain, much like the instinct for language.

The last sentence is:

(...) As for the kindergarten class and the sticker dilemma, not a single child raised a greedy hand -- and they shared the stickers equally.

We know also, that children in the age of three "cannot" lie and they "have to learn" to lie until the age of five or so. The same may be true with their reaction "That's not fair!" here. And the same may be true some years later, when they will smile about such an experiment - as adults do. Adults are another species of humans.

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