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Development of moral foundations of action: The role of the narrative function of language

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Abstract

A theory is presented that highlights the narrative role of language in moral development. Two stages in moral development are distinguished: the stage when children can speak and memorize events but are not yet capable of cheating, and the stage when they are capable of creating deceptive stories in order to protect themselves from punishment for non-compliance with moral rules. When children reach the second stage, they may encounter situations of free moral choice – the situations in which they can transgress on a moral rule and yet get away with this by presenting adults with a deceptive story. From the view of the presented theory, these kinds of situations are key for the emergence of the intrinsic moral motivation – motivation based on respect for moral rules rather then on the fear of negative consequences for non-compliance. Various scenarios of the development of this kind of moral motivation are considered, and experimental studies that aimed to test the theory are reviewed.