Is child labor ethical?

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
User avatar
Socrateaze
Posts: 131
Joined: July 25th, 2017, 8:07 am
Favorite Philosopher: George Carlin

Is child labor ethical?

Post by Socrateaze » September 7th, 2017, 12:46 pm

Around the world millions of children are dying of hunger. When we are faced with circumstances such as this, should we not suspend the law on child labor? Could these children not have a better future under the guidance of the same law that prohibits them to generate an income? Which is better; to starve to death or to be given the opportunity to better your lot? Is it possible to place this opportunity in their hands and avoid exploitation at the same time, or should they face the worse extreme of slowly withering away?
418


- If you can paint the wind, I will tell you the secrets of the soul.

Togo1
Posts: 535
Joined: September 23rd, 2015, 9:52 am

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Togo1 » September 10th, 2017, 7:36 pm

Socrateaze wrote:Around the world millions of children are dying of hunger. When we are faced with circumstances such as this, should we not suspend the law on child labor? Could these children not have a better future under the guidance of the same law that prohibits them to generate an income? Which is better; to starve to death or to be given the opportunity to better your lot? Is it possible to place this opportunity in their hands and avoid exploitation at the same time, or should they face the worse extreme of slowly withering away?
Depends on what the alternatives are. If the alternative is starvation, then work may be more ethical than non-work. But perpuating and stabalising a system that regularises child labour is very unlikely to be ethical, because it's very unlikely that, in the medium or long-term, there is no other way of organising things.

User avatar
Ranvier
Posts: 538
Joined: February 12th, 2017, 1:47 pm
Location: USA

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Ranvier » September 10th, 2017, 9:23 pm

Socrateaze

This is similar to asking if removing a child's arm is ethical, since it renders a child more likely to acquire money begging on the street. There is no practical reason in the modern world for any child to starve or anyone for that matter.

Spectrum
Posts: 4416
Joined: December 21st, 2010, 1:25 am
Favorite Philosopher: Eclectic -Various

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Spectrum » September 11th, 2017, 2:45 am

Socrateaze wrote:Around the world millions of children are dying of hunger. When we are faced with circumstances such as this, should we not suspend the law on child labor? Could these children not have a better future under the guidance of the same law that prohibits them to generate an income? Which is better; to starve to death or to be given the opportunity to better your lot? Is it possible to place this opportunity in their hands and avoid exploitation at the same time, or should they face the worse extreme of slowly withering away?
I believe the question of 'child labor' involve a set of moral standards and the related ethical questions in practice.

In the case of a child working for money, the following maxims should be deliberated and the negative be avoided;

1. The basic human dignity of each human being must be respected.
If yes, then OK.

2. No humans should be exploited by another.
If no exploitation, then OK.

3. No humans should be put in a position of suffering by another.
If no sufferings, then OK

4. Each child must attend be educated [general] for minimum of X [to be determined] years.

The above are the ideal moral standards.
In practice there will definitely be child labor that contravene all the above.

Making statements, presenting and demanding oughts will not help. What is needed is how can we reconcile "IS" with "OUGHT."

What is critical for humanity to establish ethical mechanisms to close the gap [moral] as much as possible between (1)moral, (2) ethical and (3)what is practiced.
This is the system approach to morality and ethics.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

Burning ghost
Posts: 1670
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Burning ghost » September 12th, 2017, 2:16 am

Ranvier wrote:Socrateaze

This is similar to asking if removing a child's arm is ethical, since it renders a child more likely to acquire money begging on the street. There is no practical reason in the modern world for any child to starve or anyone for that matter.
Not quite sure WHOSE quote this is?

Either way, the situation is what it is. It makes sense to amend it not apply a Band-Aid and let the wound on humanity fester. Slavery is what we are avoiding. I believe children should have a childhood. Some families are so poor that children have to take on responsibilities and earn wages.

Is slavery ethical? If you're asking that question then I think we're in quite a problematic situation. I understand what is being said, but the point of the law existing is to protect children from exploitation. How well this can be enforced is another matter, there will always be grey areas and we'll always be striving to eradicate them (I HOPE!)

It seems insane to say we should allow slavery to save lives. In an ideal world citizens would be sustained through childhood and be given the ability and freedom to live in the world as best they can. If we compare countries like DRC, Nigeria, China, Russia, Germany and the US, the number one factor we see for exploitation and crime is in the social economic distribution (Gini Coefficient). Lessen the scale of wealth distribution from richest to poorest and life gets better for society.

It is in nobodies long term interest to force people into low wage jobs. The aim should be to create a narrower band of wealth distribution so society can flourish rather than being divided in two, which will inevitably lead to political revolution/war.
AKA badgerjelly

User avatar
Ranvier
Posts: 538
Joined: February 12th, 2017, 1:47 pm
Location: USA

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Ranvier » September 12th, 2017, 11:12 am

Burning ghost
Burning ghost wrote:
Either way, the situation is what it is. It makes sense to amend it not apply a Band-Aid and let the wound on humanity fester. Slavery is what we are avoiding. I believe children should have a childhood. Some families are so poor that children have to take on responsibilities and earn wages.

Is slavery ethical? If you're asking that question then I think we're in quite a problematic situation. I understand what is being said, but the point of the law existing is to protect children from exploitation. How well this can be enforced is another matter, there will always be grey areas and we'll always be striving to eradicate them (I HOPE!)

It seems insane to say we should allow slavery to save lives. In an ideal world citizens would be sustained through childhood and be given the ability and freedom to live in the world as best they can. If we compare countries like DRC, Nigeria, China, Russia, Germany and the US, the number one factor we see for exploitation and crime is in the social economic distribution (Gini Coefficient). Lessen the scale of wealth distribution from richest to poorest and life gets better for society.

It is in nobodies long term interest to force people into low wage jobs. The aim should be to create a narrower band of wealth distribution so society can flourish rather than being divided in two, which will inevitably lead to political revolution/war.
It does seem insane but that's what we are born into. Society is slavery
It took humanity millennia to develop the concept of society, which is based on slavery of servitude and extortion. One can't just say: Hey I don't like this, I will start my own tribe..." Such days are long gone because the society will not allow for such foolish freedom and because majority of people are willing to exist as slaves. What's hilarious is that there are many people, including people on this forum, who are in pursuit of some universal morality of society based on slavery. It's like inventing a code of ethics in a prison :lol:

Burning ghost
Posts: 1670
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Burning ghost » September 13th, 2017, 2:06 am

This comes down to the "meaning" of "slavery". So we're talking about the use of the word and the context.

In a colloquial sense we are all "slaves to society", but when we're talking about owning a human being and using them as a tool that is another kind of "slavery". So I can say by this specific definition of "owning humans" that it is not a good thing and that it is insane to use people as tools to save lives, to kill some to save others. It is not something I agree with.

Orwell's FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, SLAVERY IS FREEDOM does hold weight, I am not denying that. The whole point he was making in that novel was how language can be used to justify the worse crimes. Limitations on freedom is quite different from no freedom.

It is interesting to read Plato about this (or was it Aristotle?). Of course their culture of slavery was quite different. He did mention about a good master and good slave, the mutual benefit was his focus on any relationship, from husband to wife and teacher to student.

SOME people are born and forced into slavery. Not me. We are all born free, and once born we are vulnerable to being driven in this or that direction. Essentially though freedom is a state of mind as much as slavery. Of course I am not so naïve as to say such a thing to some poor child in Africa force to toil away in the mines day and night without pay, or be forced to wield guns and shoot their parents.

We should be careful to delineate between the context of the term "slavery" rather than use it with broad stroke of the brush which may well be used in the future to try and legitimize the evils I've mentioned above.

There are degrees of slavery. Some people are made to feel their choice doesn't matter. This is mental slavery. Mental slavery leads to slave labour, and in this sense "society" is our master to a large degree for most people, it is hardly a purely evil master though. If the "master" is good the "slave" is often happy to be relieved of the burden of responsibility.

Should a child be burdened with the same responsibility of an adult? I don't think so. Children need to play and develop not strive for survival and have their horizons reduced.

The use is words is a very serious concern today given the extent of communications and media sensationalism. We've seen this discussed elsewhere no doubt regarding a number of terms spewed out across the airwaves. Think back to the Russian Revolution and Nazi Germany to see how words helped propel people to do horrific things. We find again a state of lack of responsibility, a readiness to leave the decisions to others, to buy into the ease of "self-slavery". I think we all, at some point in our lives, march to the rhythm of the drum willingly giving up responsibility.

In regard to the OP, it is dangerous to start thinking of forms of "slavery" that are "okay" or "justified". It is a slippery slope. What is being talked about is not complete slavery though, and more about enforcing responsibility onto children. In some ways this is beneficial and in others it is not. After the industrial revolution the aim was to stop children working in poor conditions for low wages. I wouldn't like to see a return to those kinds of days in western countries. In poorer nations far worse is happening and I see no need to encourage it whatsoever, if anything we should pressure our governments to help those countries develop (there is lies a whoel can of worms!!)
AKA badgerjelly

User avatar
Socrateaze
Posts: 131
Joined: July 25th, 2017, 8:07 am
Favorite Philosopher: George Carlin

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Socrateaze » October 10th, 2017, 6:58 am

Hi all - I'm having technical difficulties on my side, sorry for not returning sooner to the conversation. I just want to make sure everything is okay before I continue the conversation. I apologize for any inconvenience.

-- Updated October 11th, 2017, 4:17 am to add the following --

Hi, all,

Seems my technical issues are resolved now.

What I meant when I started this forum was not to suggest we allow children to become slaves, but rather to work, protected by law and be free from exploitation. I was actually thinking of the starving children in some of the African countries and other places when I began this conversation. The question is, is it possible to provide jobs for them so they can earn enough to make a fair life for themselves? I would not condone slavery or exploitation and these would be the very things that I would avoid; I'm thinking more of a project of empowerment for those that have nowhere else to turn.
418


- If you can paint the wind, I will tell you the secrets of the soul.

Alias
Posts: 2028
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Alias » October 11th, 2017, 9:02 am

Socrateaze wrote:Around the world millions of children are dying of hunger. When we are faced with circumstances such as this, should we not suspend the law on child labor? Could these children not have a better future under the guidance of the same law that prohibits them to generate an income? Which is better; to starve to death or to be given the opportunity to better your lot? Is it possible to place this opportunity in their hands and avoid exploitation at the same time, or should they face the worse extreme of slowly withering away?
Are children starving because of labour laws, or because there isn't any food?
What kind of job could an unskilled three-year-old get? Who would pay him?
Are any children starving where labourers are needed? Are there any countries with a worker-shortage?
Why are you mixing the laws of one continent with environmental degradation on another continent?

If you have a substantial question regarding the ethics of child labour laws, please put it in a coherent context.

Steve3007
Posts: 4268
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Steve3007 » October 11th, 2017, 9:10 am

Socrateaze:
The question is, is it possible to provide jobs for them so they can earn enough to make a fair life for themselves? I would not condone slavery or exploitation and these would be the very things that I would avoid; I'm thinking more of a project of empowerment for those that have nowhere else to turn.
I think your argument is essentially of the same form as the argument against a minimum wage (for adults).

The argument there is that a minimum wage actually stops people from being able to earn at least some kind of living. Opponents of the minimum wage often use a "reduction to absurdity" style or reasoning by rhetorically asking: "Why don't we put the minimum wage up to $50 per hour?".
"Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch."

Alias
Posts: 2028
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Alias » October 11th, 2017, 9:15 am

Socrateaze wrote: What I meant when I started this forum was not to suggest we allow children to become slaves, but rather to work, protected by law and be free from exploitation. I was actually thinking of the starving children in some of the African countries and other places when I began this conversation. The question is, is it possible to provide jobs for them so they can earn enough to make a fair life for themselves? I would not condone slavery or exploitation and these would be the very things that I would avoid; I'm thinking more of a project of empowerment for those that have nowhere else to turn.
Ah! That's much better.
It's not American labour laws that leave African children hungry: it's wars, AIDS, droughts, bad religions, a colonial system that deprived entire nations of their farm-land and resources, dumped toxic waste on them and locked ethnic minorities inside borders with their mortal enemies - those kinds of political and economic realities.

In fact, there are some very good initiatives taking place. Women's and children's villages, for example, that operate autonomous enterprises on micro-loans; group homes and schools under the auspices of some foundations; energy and water and health projects, some even with the help of religious institutions. It's slow and hard going, but you can help by giving a kid a kid canadianfeedthechildren.ca/goats/buy-go ... christmas/
Democracy in Truth! Equal votes for fact and fantasy!

User avatar
Socrateaze
Posts: 131
Joined: July 25th, 2017, 8:07 am
Favorite Philosopher: George Carlin

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Socrateaze » October 12th, 2017, 4:05 am

Alias wrote:
Socrateaze wrote: What I meant when I started this forum was not to suggest we allow children to become slaves, but rather to work, protected by law and be free from exploitation. I was actually thinking of the starving children in some of the African countries and other places when I began this conversation. The question is, is it possible to provide jobs for them so they can earn enough to make a fair life for themselves? I would not condone slavery or exploitation and these would be the very things that I would avoid; I'm thinking more of a project of empowerment for those that have nowhere else to turn.
Ah! That's much better.
It's not American labour laws that leave African children hungry: it's wars, AIDS, droughts, bad religions, a colonial system that deprived entire nations of their farm-land and resources, dumped toxic waste on them and locked ethnic minorities inside borders with their mortal enemies - those kinds of political and economic realities.

In fact, there are some very good initiatives taking place. Women's and children's villages, for example, that operate autonomous enterprises on micro-loans; group homes and schools under the auspices of some foundations; energy and water and health projects, some even with the help of religious institutions. It's slow and hard going, but you can help by giving a kid a kid canadianfeedthechildren.ca/goats/buy-go ... christmas/
The largest problem we face is not the lack of charity, but rather as the saying goes, ..."teach a man to fish..." I would of course not condone children working, that are already weak from malnourished, just to put it out there. Neither would it be logical to allow children under the age of fourteen to work; I'm also not forgetting that there is little work to be had around the globe in general.

However, if we could somehow, (if circumstances allowed), provide them with jobs, they could gradually build a life for themselves and save some cash to attain better skills. One of the greatest impacts on communities such as those, is the fact that with the introduction of capitalism and the monetary system per se, robbed them from their natural lifestyle of living off the land - now everything costs money. Many cultures were not ready to adapt to this system and it still shows. Over population due to the change in life-style and the advances of medicine are not only affecting the population for these cultures, but has also made an impact on the Western culture itself. We would be foolish to think that only post-nomadic cultures are affected by the introduction of capitalism and the industrial revolution; however the cultures that depended most on "living off the land" are suffering the most.

Am I wrong in saying this? As I say, they don't need charity as much as they do independence, gained through employment opportunities. It's not the ideal, of course, but the alternative is much worse.
418


- If you can paint the wind, I will tell you the secrets of the soul.

Alias
Posts: 2028
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Alias » October 12th, 2017, 7:53 am

Socrateaze wrote: The largest problem we face is not the lack of charity, but rather as the saying goes, ..."teach a man to fish..."
Teach a man to fish.... and he gets arrested for poaching a richer man's river.
Note: I was not talking about charity, as in handing out sacks of rice, but initiatives, as in making start-up funds available and drilling a few wells. Remarkably, those tiny, local enterprises have a much better record of repaying their loans than do global corporations.
The problem is not lack of skills, but lack of opportunities and the freedom to exercise them.
However, if we could somehow, (if circumstances allowed), provide them with jobs, they could gradually build a life for themselves and save some cash to attain better skills.
Sure, but "employment", on the western industrial model, is the wrong way to go now. That always was a bad direction, from several points of view, but now, with robots and computers taking over blue, pink and white-collar jobs everywhere, it would be a bad investment, as well. In non-industrialized countries, what seems to work best is enterprises such as the small scale production of caschew nuts, cinnamon or mushrooms, or handcrafts like basket-weaving, wherein every member of a family or community, from age five to the most senile oldester, has some task to performs, something of value to contribute.

You're on the right track, just lagging a bit.

User avatar
Socrateaze
Posts: 131
Joined: July 25th, 2017, 8:07 am
Favorite Philosopher: George Carlin

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Socrateaze » October 12th, 2017, 1:39 pm

Alias wrote:
Socrateaze wrote: The largest problem we face is not the lack of charity, but rather as the saying goes, ..."teach a man to fish..."
Teach a man to fish.... and he gets arrested for poaching a richer man's river.
Note: I was not talking about charity, as in handing out sacks of rice, but initiatives, as in making start-up funds available and drilling a few wells. Remarkably, those tiny, local enterprises have a much better record of repaying their loans than do global corporations.
The problem is not lack of skills, but lack of opportunities and the freedom to exercise them.
However, if we could somehow, (if circumstances allowed), provide them with jobs, they could gradually build a life for themselves and save some cash to attain better skills.
Sure, but "employment", on the western industrial model, is the wrong way to go now. That always was a bad direction, from several points of view, but now, with robots and computers taking over blue, pink and white-collar jobs everywhere, it would be a bad investment, as well. In non-industrialized countries, what seems to work best is enterprises such as the small scale production of caschew nuts, cinnamon or mushrooms, or handcrafts like basket-weaving, wherein every member of a family or community, from age five to the most senile oldester, has some task to performs, something of value to contribute.

You're on the right track, just lagging a bit.
I find all your suggestions to be a good contribution to the conversation. What I have found is, that small enterprises sometimes won't succeed in giving people the nudge they need to get into the flow of economics that would eventually allow them to pay for higher education; small businesses, like weaving baskets, only pushes you up about one or two levels from starvation. Aren't we just creating a different level of poverty here? I certainly will not argue that it is a note worthy improvement, but could they move out of that level to a place where they could provide even better for themselves? Take Asia for example, there are billions of small business men, selling baskets and foods on the street, but they remain stuck in that groove.
418


- If you can paint the wind, I will tell you the secrets of the soul.

Alias
Posts: 2028
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Is child labor ethical?

Post by Alias » October 12th, 2017, 4:34 pm

Socrateaze wrote: . What I have found is, that small enterprises sometimes won't succeed in giving people the nudge they need to get into the flow of economics that would eventually allow them to pay for higher education; small businesses, like weaving baskets, only pushes you up about one or two levels from starvation.
Where have you found this? On which continent?
The economics, as well as the social structures, of North America are quite different from those of Asia, Africa and Central America. In many of those places, two levels up from starvation is a considerable difference. Also, "education" means different things. Learning business management or engineering might not yield any results at all in an economy with shaky infrastructure and unstable politics. The opportunities for furthering may not really exist in the USA anymore - indeed,is shrinking, and will continue shrinking rapidly, even for the classes that already occupy those levels of employment.
Trump's good-paying mining jobs are never coming back; nor are many of the skilled jobs in manufacturing - except possibly in the renewable energy sector and building trades, particularly the repair, renovation and retrofitting of older homes.
Anyway, you can't expand any kind of business without a customer base that has disposable income, so it's all a downward spiral.
.
Aren't we just creating a different level of poverty here? I certainly will not argue that it is a note worthy improvement, but could they move out of that level to a place where they could provide even better for themselves? Take Asia for example, there are billions of small business men, selling baskets and foods on the street, but they remain stuck in that groove.
The poverty has already been created. We need to reduce population with dramatically expanded and improved birth-control and health care (Reduction in infant and child mortality has consistently encouraged people to have smaller families, without resorting to coercive measures.) and especially the emancipation and empowerment of women.
At best, we can only hope to bridge the gap [vast chasm] between what we have and what we hope to achieve.

Post Reply