Moral Reasoning

Lene Jensen, Jessica McKenzie and Niyati Pandya

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online November 2011 | | DOI:
Moral Reasoning

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Morality is fundamental to the human condition. From early on, children make distinctions between matters of right and wrong, and the people and institutions around them convey myriad moral messages in direct and indirect ways. A key part of morality is moral reasoning. It occurs within the individual, between individuals, and in myriad institutional and collective contexts. Moral reasoning is multifaceted. It serves, for example, to guide and determine one’s moral judgment and behavior, to prod and persuade others, and to defend and bolster behaviors to oneself and others that in fact are driven by other motives (including amoral or even immoral ones). From early on, social scientists addressed moral reasoning. They asked the kinds of questions that contemporary scholarship on moral reasoning has continued to address, such as whether or not the development of moral reasoning follows a universal pattern and what contexts are most important for the socialization of moral reasoning. Early social scientists also developed methods that have been extended by contemporary scientists, such as having research participants deliberate in response to hypothetical vignettes and observing children at play. But contemporary scholarship is also taking new directions. Whereas early scholars focused primarily on parents and peers, current work examines additional contexts such as afterschool and youth programs and the Internet. Due to improvements in neuroscience technology, neuroscientific research on moral reasoning and emotions has also emerged. And with more international exchange and globalization, the influence of culture on moral reasoning is also receiving far more attention in current scholarship. This bibliography first provides information on general overviews and then professional organizations and journals that focus primarily on moral reasoning. This is followed by a description of influential early scholarship in the social sciences and its impact on contemporary work. A section on Contemporary Theories, then, describes five approaches: Post-Piagetian Research, the Cognitive-Developmental Approach, the Domain Approach, work on Gender and Two Orientations Approach, and the Cultural-Developmental Approach. The section on theories, in turn, is followed by a section on current research topics (see Current Prominent Research Topics). Specifically, this work focuses on moral reasoning in relation to Culture, Religion, Contexts, Identity, Emotions, and Crime and Delinquency. Many of the theories and much of the current research described in these sections are rooted in psychological science. Thus, the final section of this biliography looks at emerging research on moral reasoning (see Moral Reasoning Research in Other Disciplines) in three other disciplinary areas: biology (see Research on Biology and Evolution), neuroscience (see Neuroscience Research), and anthropology (see Anthropological Research).

Article.  10628 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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