Monday, September 10, 2012

From Herbert Spencer's Ethics

Similarly of the education given to them, or provided for them. Goodness or badness is affirmed of it (often with little consistency however) according as its methods are so adapted to physical and psychical requirements, as to further the children’s lives for the time being, while preparing them for carrying on complete and prolonged adult life.

These ethical judgments we pass on self-regarding acts are ordinarily little emphasized; partly because the promptings of the self-regarding desires, generally strong enough, do not need moral enforcement, and partly because the promptings of the other-regarding desires, less strong, and often overridden, do need moral enforcement. Hence results a contrast. On turning to that second class of adjustments of acts to ends which subserve the rearing of offspring, we no longer find any obscurity in the application of the words good and bad to them, according as they are efficient or inefficient. The expressions good nursing and bad nursing, whether they refer to the supply of food, the quality and amount of clothing, or the due ministration to infantine wants from hour to hour, tacitly recognize as special ends which ought to be fulfilled, the furthering of the vital functions, with a view to the general end of continued life and growth. A mother is called good who, ministering to all the physical needs of her children, also adjusts her behavior in ways conducive to their mental health; and a bad father is one who either does not provide the necessaries of life for his family or otherwise acts in a manner injurious to their bodies or minds.
Herbert Spencer, Principles of Ethics (1887), Vol. I, p. 33.

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