Moral and Immoral Child-Rearing

I want to propose a philosophical question and then answer it with a bit of counter-intuitive sociology, and then address why people persist in availing themselves of the usual philosophical conclusion. The philosophical question is the age at which children take on moral responsibility, the so called age of consent. The usual moral answer is that children reach the age of consent when they are capable of managing their own lives, at least in the sphere in which their ability to give consent is at issue. They are supposed to be able to evaluate information and their own emotions and so give informed consent to their own action and the action of others. The law in most states sets sixteen as the age at which people can agree to sexual relations and twenty one as the age at which people can purchase alcohol. But it proves impossible to give an accurate definition to this leaping off point for adulthood. Why a particular age for one thing and a different age for another? What changes in a person that they become morally responsible or is it just that age is just a rule of thumb for developmental processes recognized to happen but not very well understood?

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