The Nature and Nurture of Morality

Philip Costanzo

in In Search of Goodness

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780226306834
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226306858 | DOI:
The Nature and Nurture of Morality

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This chapter, which deals with the psychological origins of goodness in childhood, and the developmental origins of human morality, argues that the socialization model and cognitive maturation model give short shrift to the role of emotions as one of the multiple natural prerequisites for nurturing morality. The primary models of moral development in the field of developmental psychology considered moral acquisition as a derived and “nurtured” consequence of inborn tendencies to either seek knowledge or gain social connection. Morality could not possibly emerge out of hierarchical socialization. Socially constructed moral codes and feelings were derivative of natural emotional appraisal tendencies built on struggles for survival. Morality and convention were psychologically bound together, unified by the syntax of moral importance. The emotional transformation of socialized conventions into underlying moral competence can be likened to the transformation of everyday language performance into the innate syntactic structures indexing linguistic competence.

Keywords: goodness; childhood; human morality; socialization model; cognitive maturation model; moral codes; developmental psychology

Chapter.  4832 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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