Is bribery ethical?
Does it depend on circumstance? Some societies do not seem to be able to operate without wholesale bribes, often referred to as corruption. Those who disapprove declare bribery is dangerous. Does wholesale bribery have it’s roots in small insignificant acts of bribery, probably, a reward, a thank you for a favour done, which over the centuries develops into the corruption? Should we then refuse to partake in the bribery ourselves to prevent later corruption?
There are many who will not bribe, not even their pets as a training aid, rewards ,I have mixed feelings. Are bribes corrupt or are they rewards for deeds done or to be done. I train pets with the ‘reward’ system, it’s a bribe by any other name.
However, should children be bribed, especially should they be bribed with food? Should food (I am not counting sweets as food:) which is an essential to life be used in such a way?
Well, no, if the food is part of the daily rations.
Could the answer be a yes if the bribe is a treat, an extra to ration? That is where it becomes difficult. Should extra treats be added to the daily rations, as a bribe?
Some would consider the adage ‘Eat your bread and butter before you can have cake.’as bribery. There is a strong possibility this demand was born out of necessity. Cake would nearly always be more pleasurable, but empty calories do not sustain as well as ‘food’. The ingredients for the cake more expensive/rarer than plain ‘food. It would make sense to fill up on bread leaving less room for ‘cake’ or ‘pudding’. They were the treats not ‘needed’ for life, so fill yourself up on the healthy life-giving food and have the treat afterwards.
Just a matter of sense, then convention, and then. . . well now sweets or snacks have taken the place of those mealtime treats. Now there is certainly less common sense and more of a bribery feel to it. It was creeping in as I grew, as sweets and sugar came off rationing, as double working parenting came in, as aspirations grew.
So now I wonder should even ‘non food’ be used to spur children on.
I was certainly bribed sometimes, not as often as I would have liked:) The bribery used in the family was more in the line of something we wanted above what our pocket money would buy, such as a couple of shillings for a book. My mother didn’t use food, but we still had to eat the bread first, finish the meat course before the pudding. Based, by then, on convention and teaching us manners and self restraint. Occasionally as a ‘treat’ we would be rewarded with a ‘fancy tea’ when we out on a West End shopping trip or a trip to the zoo. However, it was never suggested that we would only receive it for good behaviour. If we didn’t behave we were punished. A smack on the bottom the usual form. The only time food became involved was ‘no tea’ if I hadn’t eaten my lunch and although I was never sent to bed hungry, supper never involved ‘cake or pudding’.
I did miss ‘the tea’.
So is it correct to bribe a child with food, with sugar, salt and fat? All of which are delicious, which humans are hard-wired to desire above everything. There is no doubt children respond to a plea to behave if sugar is on offer.
It is a subject fraught with argument, with conflicting opinions. A subject similar to ‘white lies’ and ‘black lies’, are all lies wrong or does social diplomacy allow a lie to become whiter than white? So runs the bribery and corruption argument. Should children be bribed, is it teaching them the wrong ethics?