I did a little experiment this morning with my children, ages 8 and 13. It all started because the 13-year-old posed a question about world hunger and the morality of feeding a pet dog. So I challenged them with some harder problems, only involving humans, borrowed from Michael Sandel's Justice course at Harvard. Specifically, is it right to kill one person to save several others? The question is posed in various scenarios, all of which can have different answers.
Both kids had an inclination towards the simplistic 'greatest good for the greatest number' rule. The younger the child, the simpler the rule. The 8-year-old's rule was to choose the alternative in which the fewest people die. The older kid tried to make a more nuanced rule, backing away from simplistic utilitarianism. In other words, they were both guided by the philosophical underpinnings of socialism and animal rights, among other odious ideas. The anecdotal evidence is that children hold socialist views, but leave them behind as they get older, at least some of them do. The others become leftists. Reminds me of what P.J. O'Rourke said, "At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child - miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."
Has anyone else noticed this aspect of child development? If so, what does it mean for parents?