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Default Assumptions of Good Behavior

Morton, Adam (1996) Default Assumptions of Good Behavior. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This paper connects Turiel's discovery that small children distinguish between moral and conventional norms with the theory of mind debate and with contemporary work in moral philosophy. My aim is to explain both why pre-schoolers can easily make a moral/conventional distinction, and why at some later age it becomes harder to grasp such a distinction. My answer, in a nutshell, is that there is a simple moral/conventional distinction that is well within the capabilities of very small children, but this distinction is not the right one for adult use, for reasons which are explicit in contemporary work in moral philosophy. So when children begin to grasp these complications, we can expect their earlier simple certainty to vanish. Moreover, the contrast between the kinds of capacities needed to negotiate the earlier moral/conventional distinction and those needed to understand the reasons for its inadequacy are related to those on either side of the famous 'false belief' divide.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:moral development, theory of mind
Subjects:Psychology > Developmental Psychology
Philosophy > Ethics
Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
ID Code:236
Deposited By:Morton, Prof Adam
Deposited On:22 Jan 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:53

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