Child labor refers to the scenarios where children are employed to work hence depriving them of their childhood and interfering with their rights to attend school. This form of employment therefore, ends up being morally, physically, mentally and socially harmful to the concerned child. Many international organizations consider this behavior exploitative. Further, legislations across the globe consider child labor a form of exploitation.
Currently, more than 215 children work across the world. They neither go to school nor have a chance to play with their age mates. Some of these children work under extremely harsh conditions such as undergoing virtual slavery and prostitution (Kaushik and Hoang, 410).
Drug trafficking and armed conflicts are some of the forms of exploitation which these children go through. In the developing world, poor schooling activities and high poverty levels have meant that child labor is highly prevalent. In the year 2010, child labor was extremely prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa with several African nations noticing 50% of children aged 5-14 years engaged in active workforce. There have been steps towards the elimination of child labor across the globe (Kaushik and Hoang, 402). Tens of millions of young people are now in school thanks to efforts by the International labor organization (ILO).
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Relativism refers to the philosophical position that the various viewpoints are more or less equally valid, and that all truth depends on the concerned individual (Baghramian, 158). This is to imply that all religious systems, all moral positions and all art forms are just relative to the concerned individuals. There are several entire groups of perspectives. For instance, we have cognitive relativism, situational relativism and the ethical/moral relativism. The society today aspires to avoid the ideas of right and wrong (Baghramian, 158).
A plastic recycling plant owner in Africa can justify their employment of children to the effect that by employing them, they aid these children to support their poor families (Baghramian, 4). This remains a problem to many businesses. For instance, both the company policies and the governments of the western world have banned child labor (Baghramian, 145). However, this is not concern in several other nations such as Pakistan. Child labor is seen in these countries as contributing to the family income. As a result, child labor is an ethical issue for the American firms, but when children are left to room the streets, it is the ethical issue which counts to the Pakistan manager.
Egoism is the ethical doctrine to the effect that morality is founded on self-Interest. It also holds that a self interest is the proper and just motive for all the human conduct (Rachels, P. 536). It is usually associated with an inflated sense of self importance. This is usually accompanied by preoccupation with one’s interests and wellbeing (Rachels, 537). On the other hand, ethical egoism is that normative ethical ground which holds that the moral agents should do what is according to their own self interests. It is different psychological egoism which holds as the only truth the fact that people can only act out of their self interests (Rachels, 538). This can be used in some situations in order to justify hiring of child labor.
On the other hand, ethical egoism is different from ethical altruism which takes that the moral agent should serve and help others. In cases such as child labor, some employers can do nothing because they need labor and there is a willing workforce (Hendricks, 69). Altruism and egoism are different from ethical utilitarianism which states that the moral agent should not treat oneself with any higher regard than that which one has for the rest of humanity.
The theories which have been put forward by Kant and Mill deal with the moral qualities of choices or actions. None of the two theories is concerned in the virtue ethics on what constitutes a good human being. For instance, if we let a kid and her family to starve so that we are not blamed for engaging in child labor, are we doing what is best for humanity?
However, Kant’s theory is much deontological (Baghramian, 142). This means that it locates the moral worth associated with an action within the action itself, that is the intention behind it. Therefore, the main concern is not in the consequences associated with the specific action. Utilitarianism refers to a normative ethics theory which argues that the proper courses of action are the one maximizing utility, specifically; it is the reduction of suffering and increasing of happiness.
If the welfare of a society and children can be aided by engaging all available labor force even in those cases where this is not the acceptable norm, then it is justified (Thompson, 36). Classic utilitarianism, which was advocated by John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, is hedonistic in nature. However, currently, it is taken to be another form of consequentialism. By use of utilitarianism, the moral worth of any given situation is determined by the outcomes which result. Therefore, if we employ children and they surpass a chance to get an education, what we are doing is unacceptable.
On a more specific note, Kant’s point of view is that it is possible to have one duty or rule; which can be categorized/ characterized as being the categorical imperative. He arrived at three different formulations pertaining to this imperative (Allison, 102). The most fundamental formulation is that if it is impossible for all human beings universally to commit the same set or sets of actions, then concerned action is immoral. However, where child lady is concerned, ethical basis counts. This means that if one is a liar, he is incapable of willing that every person ought to lie because, in this case, the meaning of truth may end up becoming incomprehensible (Hendricks, 50). Then if an American company cannot employ children as part of their labor in USA, doing the same in Pakistan is immoral.
As a result, any advantage, which would have been gotten by use of child labor, can end up getting lost. The second imperative is a different way of underlining the golden rule. It states that if one is unable to will (desire) that a different person commit same action on your person, then the actual committing of the action or deciding mentally to do the same is an immoral endeavor. This implies if you would not want your child employed as part of child labor, then doing the same for others is illegal and immoral.
On the other hand, we can take Mill as being more of a consequetialist. This is due to his belief that the goodness of any action ought to be measured by its outcomes. The outcomes from child labor should be the determinants of evilness or appropriateness of the action. Kant is of the opinion that the good action is one which is in line with our duty. This becomes known depending on the fact which it apportions within the categorical imperative (Thompson, 27).
Mill can be categorized as being utilitarian. In his theory, goodness is located according to the happiness which it gives rise to all the concerned. Mill takes an issue with Kant over what can be called empty formalism (Hendricks, 114).
It is worthy noting, however, that both philosophers are passionately interested in personal liberty for all the concerned individuals. If one is of the opinion that giving a child a role in a factory is the right thing, then they have the liberty. For Kant, it is because the human autonomy is the very essence of morality. One part of it is due to his believe that when we allow people liberty, it will result to the best type of society which we can ever aspire to.
On the part of Mill’s utilitarianism, it is neither concerned with the means or intentions. It is entirely with the results. Mill’s opinion was that all event’s outcomes can be measured by use of units which he referred to as “utils” and which can be used to determine the existent to which an action was utilitarian. Mill argued that the higher the number of “utils” associated with an action portrayed how good an action was. If child labor is good to one person, then it should not be forced upon the others. Critics have pointed out that utilitarianism is not concerned about coming with rules to set up some form of a “straw man”. This is according to Rosen Frederick, (58).
On the part of Hare (45), he argues that utilitarianism is some form of a crude caricature act and that is the version which the philosophers appear to be acquainted. Further, Daniel Dennett has argued that it is not possible to do the calculations which are required by the utilitarianism theory simply because the incidents cannot be assigned a precise value in terms of utility (Hare, 39). This means that it is not possible to know if the near meltdown which occurred was bad or good thing. The other aspect in regard to child labor on the side of utilitarianism is that there is no specific definition of utilitarianism.
In contrast to many critics, I am in agreement with John Stuart Mill that we ought to seek the greatest good attainable for the highest number of people (Thompson, 156). The highest form of utilitarianism is in regard to what brings the highest happiness on all people. However, child labor denies children a bright future which they could otherwise enjoy. This is not just any other exotic notion and, as a result, several policy decisions have been made using the same (Thompson, 121).
When the children who are powerless are concerned, state legislations must come up with means of protecting this vulnerable group. For example, the decision to make use of atomic weapons, which resulted in thousands of deaths, has been defended using this theory. The argument for utilitarian has been that if the allied forces invaded the mainland Japan, the death toll would have been more than the 250,000 people who were killed in the two bombs. To this end, I respect the Utilitarian ethic. However in regard to the issue of child labor, it should not be limited to philosophical viewpoints. Children are special and vulnerable for exploitation and hence they ought to be protected.
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