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There are now 9 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. jansalterego says

    Well, yes, the parents can punish their child, but they shouldn´t. Since we have established that the child could not have known better, it won´t understand why it is being punished. Thus, any punishment would be, in effect, purely arbitrary.

    • It depends. You could say a scolding is punishment. The kid is told that what they did is bad, and it embeds a feeling of guilt in them. Things like a quick slap or a spanking also help ingrain that they shouldn’t do this by connecting the action with a feeling of pain

      • Or arguably teach them that getting caught is painful so don’t get caught.

        Or, again arguably, teach them that you can make people do what you want by hurting them.

        • OR teach the kid that anyone they know may spontaneously decide to hurt them!
          Trust issues, wheeeeeee!

  2. Prisoner's Dillema says

    A dog doesn’t comprehend right or wrong, but reward and punishment work on dogs anyway. For small children, it’s purely Pavlovian. The temporal proximity of their action to the response is enough to create a mental image of causality by the time the infant is old enough to even be able to grab something off a store shelf.

    • Pavlovian implies classical conditioning and it definitely has limits. It only really works for adaptable but unthinking kinds of responses – think emotional responses or reflexive responses – by chaining them to a repeated stimulus, positive or negative.

      Emotional responses such as fear of the person administering punishment or reflexive ones such as automatically checking that you aren’t observed before doing something for which you might be punished are more likely to occur than any sort of understanding of right or wrong or desire to do right rather than wrong.

      Also if all you’re trying to do with classical conditioning is train out is a reflex to grab things unthinkingly, a loud or unpleasant noise (telling off for example) would do just as well as a smack.

    • I think that you mean operant conditioning, not Pavlovian conditioning. Pavlovian conditioning is when you condition the subject to have certain emotional reactions to certain stimuli. Operant conditioning is when you condition the subject to act a certain way in response to certain stimuli.

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