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Moral Development and RealityBeyond the Theories of Kohlberg, Hoffman, and Haidt$
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John C. Gibbs

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190878214

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190878214.001.0001

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“The Good” and Moral Development

“The Good” and Moral Development

Hoffman’s Theory and Its Critics

(p.111) 5 “The Good” and Moral Development
Moral Development and Reality

John C. Gibbs

Oxford University Press

Social perspective-taking and development beyond the superficial also entail caring or feeling. Accordingly, we shift in this chapter from the right to the good, from justice to empathy, from the primarily cognitive to the primarily affective strand of moral motivation and development. We draw heavily on Hoffman’s theory, even as we also consider recent refinements, issues, and challenges (de Waal, Decety, Zahn-Waxler, Bloom). Much more than did Haidt, Hoffman has focused our attention on the role of empathy in moral development. Thanks to cognitive development, language development, and moral socialization, empathy progresses from biologically based responses to surface cues to a more complex and veridical emotional responsiveness to the joys, sufferings, and life situations of others. Attributions, inferences, and biases influence whether empathy eventuates in prosocial behavior. Within moral socialization, Hoffman focuses on parental practices of discipline (especially, “inductions” that make salient the perspectives of others hurt by the child’s transgression). The chapter concludes that Hoffman’s theory withstands recent challenges, and argues for co-primacy (both empathy and justice) in moral motivation.

Keywords:   Frans de Waal, empathy, Martin Hoffman, inductive discipline, mimicry, moral identity, socialization, parenting

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