Genesis of the moral judgment: relationships between seriousness of offence and moral character
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In this paper debates and development of socio-moral domain theory and the author's own researches are presented. According to some critical assessments the socio-moral domain approach did not resolve the definition problems of moral transgression. Metaphysical background of morality and the role of rational consideration in moral judgement are unclarified problems, though these questions got an emphasis in researches, carried out in the 1990s by Turiel, Nucci and other researchers of socio-moral domain theory. In this paper I am presenting my own empirical researches. In the first stage I made standard experiments of socio-moral domain approach with children using the same methods which were originally applied. It was a methodological weakness of the method, applied in the research, that moral character of judgment and the 'seriousness' of transgression are inseparably melted in it. Another problem is that presumption of research does not reflect to the historical-cultural tradition according to which a real moral decision can be expected only from grown-ups, who are capable of complex rational reflection. In the second stage of research I investigated judgments of grown-ups, by verbal dilemmas, on the basis of methodological principles of socio-moral domain theory. With various formulations of dilemmas I could partly separate seriousness from moral character in the answers. Results also showed that moral judgements of grown-ups and children really do differ. Life experiences and weaker capacity in formal logic of children prevent them from complex evaluation of transgressions, and therefore they focus on the abstract value-content of the situation, whereas grown-ups in their judgements take into account the intentions of actor and the consequences of his transgression too.
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