Definitions of morality
Societal and ecological problems are considered to be a result of moral deficits, and in various scientific disciplines morality is an important subject . In developmental psychology, the notion of ‘development’ generally relates to permanent positive progress across the whole lifespan . Macklin (as cited in ) provides the principles of humaneness and humanity for a definition of morality. Rationalistic proponents of morality theories such as Kohlberg focus on reasoning as the facilitator of moral judgment and prosocial behavior. Kohlberg’s theory states that moral development passes through six sequential developmental stages. Internalistic views, which argue that reasoning is leading to moral behavior were proven flawed. Rather it was found that moral emotions and motivations are required as well .
Morality development across the lifespan
Morality is seen to develop from earliest childhood and research confirms observations of prosocial behavior as early as at age 2 . As the information processing capability of children increases, older children need to align their morality accordingly . In contrast to adolescence, intelligence, however, doesn’t seem to be related to moral development in childhood . Adolescence and early adulthood appear to be especially important for moral self-development . Initiatives to educate emerging adults for openness to diversity, for which moral reasoning has proven to be a predictive factor, are frequent and often fruitful . Strengthening the self as a means to achieve goals and as an end-goal in itself is typically starting to be more and more replaced from childhood to mid adulthood, albeit never completely, by the purpose for social connection .
Moral inclusiveness and education for moral engagement
Despite (or because of) any such communal motives, there are psychological limits for the reach of individuals’ moral justice, which causes the perception of moral dilemmas. Because people tend to judge outsiders more rigidly, it is important to develop an understanding of morality that values a global perspective of impartiality and universality to overcome the phenomenon of moral exclusion . It suggests integrating moral community, besides other aspects, within a complete model of morality as measured by the evidently reliable and valid Moral Identity Questionnaire .
Although moral progress is an inherent human capability, it needs to be individually and actively developed . Antisocial and aggressive behavior was found to interlink with moral disengagement and that the strength of these processes is much influenced by the immediate interpersonal social context . It is therefore critical to pay attention to what educative experiences an environment is intentionally or unintentionally cultivating . Dialogic teaching promotes moral learning by expanding learners’ capacity to capture a broader understanding of the oneness with the otherness and the potential for positive individual and collective change .
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