What develops in moral development? A model of moral sensibility

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Journal of Moral Education


The field of moral psychology would benefit from an integrative model of what develops in moral development, contextualized within the larger scope of social science research. Moral sensibility is proposed as the best concept to embody stated aims, but the content of this concept must be more finely articulated and conceptualized as a dynamic system. Moral sensibility is defined here as a developing dynamic interaction of (1) a host of developing capacities for morally relevant knowing (e.g. moral reasoning, self-awareness and means to other-awareness—compassionate caring, empathy, perspective taking); (2) one’s socio-cultural moral assumptions and expressions; (3) one’s idiodynamic ideology (the developing set of consciously chosen values and value-laden understandings gleaned from experiencing one’s unique life history); (4) one’s morally relevant identities and self-understandings; (5) all embodied in one’s moral being in-the-moment, the ability to enact one’s moral sensibility in each new instance of moral engagement.



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