Moral Development

Intermediate—Fall

For thousands of years, philosophers have struggled with the questions surrounding the issue of morality. Over the past 100 years, psychologists have joined the fray. While many theories exist, a unifying theme centers upon the notion that childhood is the crucible in which morality is formed and forged. In this course, we will explore the major theories dealing with three aspects of the development of morality: moral thought, or reasoning (e.g., Piaget, Kohlberg); moral feelings (psychoanalytic approaches, including Freud, and the modern work on the importance of empathy, including the ideas of Hoffman); and moral actions, or behavior (behaviorism, social-learning theory). In addition, we will investigate the possible relations among these three aspects of moral development. Throughout the course, we will connect moral development theory to the results of research investigations into this crucial aspect of child development. Conference work may include direct experience with children or adolescents either in the form of detailed observations or direct interaction (interviews, etc.).