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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Our capacity for moral reasoning is in many ways what makes us distinctly human. We are born with shared moral sensibilities. As we develop from childhood into adulthood, our moral reasoning branches off in diverse directions shaped by culture. This chapter reviews developmental and cultural research on moral reasoning, which is understood to intersect with emotions. Moral reasoning is described as an intra- and interpsychological phenomenon that is important in moral judgments and actions. The chapter situates current research in the historical context of early scholarship. Then, there is a review of the foci and findings of four contemporary theories: the Cognitive-Developmental, Domain, Identity, and Cultural-Developmental approaches. This is followed by a section on two recurrent research topics: care and prosociality, and social contexts and processes of moral reasoning. The conclusion addresses the necessity of future research across the entire life course, and implications of globalization on moral development.

Keywords: moral reasoning, moral development, moral emotions, moral behavior, moral identity, culture, globalization, contexts, processes, life course

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