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Moral Development: Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan

The term moral development most properly describes a natural, long-term process of psychological growth with regard to the individual’s capacity to think about moral problems. According to moral development theory, children start out with simplistic, local ideas about what counts as an acceptable moral reason. If social conditions favorable to moral development are present during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, moral reasoning will become more abstract, universal, and flexible. Understood in this sense, moral reasoning is indissociable from Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. Elaborated, tested, and applied in a research program spanning several decades and involving thousands of researchers and educators around the world, Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, also referred to as “cognitive moral developmentalism,” and its school-based application, the cognitive-developmental approach to ...

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