Moral Development Research Paper Starter - eNotes - Moral...

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rows Navigate Study Guide Moral Development This article summarizes theories of moral development ­ including those proposed by Piaget, Kohlberg, Gilligan, and Neo­Kohlberg theorists ­ as well as the central tensions that exist in the field. Although Kohlberg is often credited with introducing the study of moral development to the field of psychology, he arguably introduced as many questions as he did answers. His focus on reason as the 'backbone' of moral development, his insistence that development proceeds through a series of fixed stages, and his preoccupation with justice to the exclusion of other 'types' of morality such as compassion and care, earned him a number of critics. His critics have subsequently either discredited his theory, or attempted to expand it. The summary also describes some of the personalities of the people involved in this field; Kohlberg and Gilligan have received as much attention for the supposed rivalry between the two of them as they have for the theories themselves. Because the field has been fueled by the nature of the people and relationships involved, their stories are worthy of mention. Keywords Autonomous Morality; Care; Developmental Stages; Gilligan, Carol; Heteronomous Morality; Justice; Kohlberg, Lawrence; Moral Action; Moral Judgment; Moral Motivation; Moral Sensitivity; Piaget, Jean; Schemas Overview More than any other single individual, Lawrence Kohlberg is responsible for bringing the topic of moral development to the study of psychology. Carol Gilligan, a Harvard colleague of Kohlberg's remembers his "...courage, his determination to talk about moral values in psychology, his bravery in countering the claim that psychology was a value­neutral social science" (Walsh, 2000, p. 39). Although Kohlberg was one of the first, he was certainly not the last; his work has inspired a new generation of scholars who ­ either by disagreeing with the central tenets of Kohlberg's theory or by expanding upon his ideas ­ have introduced new models of moral development. What will become clear as we review the various models are the tensions that exist in the field ­ is morality a function of reason, emotion, or both? Can morality be defined solely in terms of justice, rights, and responsibility, or does it also
include questions of compassion and care? Does morality encompass more than our interpersonal relationships, such as larger questions about how we ought to live? Further Insights Piaget Just as Kohlberg inspired a generation of scholars who followed in his footsteps, so too was Kohlberg inspired. Kohlberg had every intention of becoming a clinical psychologist, but after reading Jean Piaget's early work on moral development and religious experience, Kohlberg's career changed course (Walsh, 2000). Piaget is most well­known for his work on cognitive development, but he was interested in how people learn right from wrong as well; for Piaget, and for Kohlberg too, moral development was highly dependent on cognitive development. As an individual's cognitive structures

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