Moral learning as intuitive theory revision

Marjorie Rhodes, Henry Wellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We argue that moral learning, like much of conceptual development more generally, involves development and change in children's intuitive theories of the world. Children's intuitive theories involve coherent and abstract representations of the world, which point to domain-specific, unobservable causal-explanatory entities. From this perspective, children rely on intuitive sociological theories (in particular, an abstract expectation that group memberships constrain people's obligations), and their intuitive psychological theories (including expectations that mental states motivate individual behavior) to predict, explain, and evaluate morally-relevant action. Thus, moral learning involves development and change in each of these theories of the world across childhood, as well as developmental change in how children integrate information from these two intuitive theories. This perspective is supported by a series of research studies on young children's moral reasoning and learning, and compared to other developmental approaches, including more traditional forms of constructivism and more recent nativist perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalCognition
Volume167
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Keywords

  • Conceptual development
  • Intuitive theories
  • Moral learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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