Judgments of risk to children and parental culpability

It’s not that risks to children have increased, provoking an increase in moral outrage when children are left unattended. Instead, it could be that moral attitudes toward parenting have changed, such that leaving children unsupervised is now judged morally wrong. And because it’s judged morally wrong, people overestimate the risk.

This may seem to get things the wrong way around, but it’s supported by new research available Monday in the open access journal Collabra. In a series of clever experiments, authors Ashley Thomas, Kyle Stanford and Barbara Sarnecka find evidence that shifting people’s moral attitudes toward a parent influences the perceived risk to that parent’s unattended child.

Read on, for a fascinating collaboration between philosophers and psychologists.

One thought on “Judgments of risk to children and parental culpability

  1. Everyone I know who has kids at home complains but no one knows how to stop it. And from the article it looks like it’s unstoppable: moral opprobrium—>perceived danger—>more moral opprobrium, and even more unrealistic standards for parenting.

    In fact, it suddenly struck me: that neologism ‘parenting’ is symptomatic of both the obsession with safety and with endless ‘enrichment’. Parenting as an activity, a 24/7 job.

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