Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
shame, children, behavior, reason, virtuous
Aristotle touts the importance of performing virtuous actions in order to have a virtuous character. Yet, reason is necessary for an individual to actively change their own behavior. Aristotle believes that children are too young to have developed reason, so we may wonder how are they to become virtuous. The answer I offer is shame. Shame is a painful emotion that causes one to believe that, by acting poorly, we have lowered our worth in the eyes of those we respect and admire. I argue that shame effectively changes behavior in children because it is attached to a stigma of dishonor and the pain of rebuke to activities, which they might otherwise do. Shame encourages children to reform their behavior by leading them to forgo the pleasure of one activity so that they do not have to experience the pain of displeasing those who they hold in high regard, their peers, and themselves. Remarkably, shame appears to be the only emotion within Aristotle's framework that has the ability to develop virtue and morality in children without reason.
Kokoska, Claire Amelia, "The Virtue of Shame in Moral Development An Aristotelian Perspective" (2015). Honors Theses. 343.