A 7-year-old knows as much about what makes him or her happy as a 47-year-old. Sometimes more. But few of the guidelines are the same. We change as we age, as we should. At 77 I am different than I was at 17. Not better or worse, necessarily, but different.
Aged people are usually the avatars of philosophy – white beards and all (men are the dominant avatar.) All old people are happy to tell younger folks about their wisdom – often at odds with that of other elders who ignore each other’s advice.
Unlike science, philosophy seems conditional: “don’t kill anyone _ unless she is in another unholy tribe.” Anyone who seeks fixed, firm, and absolute guidelines to life and rules of conduct is doomed to failure. What is ethical, unfortunately, is like figuring out what is hot _ it depends.
And one of the situational conditions we cannot ignore is age. The right action for a young person is not the same as that for an old geezer. Ambitious at 25 is a good thing, Ambitious at 75 is pitiful.
Too many of our moral codes ignore that fact. They continue to treat each human as an identical commodity. With that attitude, nothing can go right in determining what is right.