Naive Psychology

how a human who makes ai thinks humans think, feel and interact

Parent-blaming, Free Will, and Collectivism – East Asian vs. Western Perspective.

Parent Blaming on TV

East Asian and Western societies have very different perspectives towards the parents/guardians of criminals. Nowadays in East Asia, it's still very common –especially among older generations– to blame the parents of criminals and consider that they are responsible for raising a criminal. In Western societies however, there is a strong notion that once the kid turns 18, the parents are no longer morally responsible for their children's actions. You wouldn't usually see western society publicly shaming the parents of high-profile criminals.

Obviously, in both societies, the parents are no longer liable for their kid's actions once they turn 18. However, from a moral perspective, parent-blaming is way more prevalent in East Asian societies than in Western ones.

Moral values/societal pressure/cultural norms can be seen as "soft" laws and matter just as much as "hard" laws in the long term, since laws are just implementations of societal values, in a healthy state.

This is reflected in the media, but also in TV shows. Take the Korean TV show "Juvenile Justice" for instance, which I highly appreciated for its crisp (and at times caricatural) portrayal of the values of Korean society. In almost every episode, the parents take the blame with extreme seriousness.

Why parent blaming

So why is parent-blaming more prevalent in East Asia? I can attribute it to two causes: collectivism, and different views of free-will and the individual.

Collectivist values: people should strive to contribute to society, to fit in well in the existing game. Disruption is not.

Hierachy / patriarchal view: parents are literally "seniors", they deserve more respect, but also bear more responsibility. Children have a moral obligation towards their parents to not bring shame on them. Parents have a moral obligation towards society not to "raise criminals".

Emotion repressional ->

Actually parent blaming search results in Engliish turn out quite different results – blaming their parents in therapy. So how can we blame.

Who is right?

Western View:

  • People are free
  • Weakness – So why is there a moral double-standard for kids and adults?

Eastern View:

  • People are influencible and shaped by their environment.
  • Parents are responsible for . In fact someresearch argues that parents should be blamed on the basis of their duty to morally educate their children vs. ability to control them.

So is the western view flawed?

We don't have freedom to choose our values, but we have freedom to choose actions (including suboptimal ones w.r.t. our own values). Basically, we have freedom to comply with the law. Obiovusly this assumes that the law is perfect and it often is not. The law has often marginalized people in the past. The law needs to gradually evolve to include everyone.

Are we all progressive until our needs are met, then we start to be come conservative? Could every conservative become a progressive in another system, where there needs are marginalized by the law?


Published on 2022-02-27 by Gabriel Huang