Different Conceptions of Stage in Theories of Cognitive and Moral development

Journal of Moral Education 18 (3):208-217 (1989)
Abstract The concept ?development stage? seems to be going through a revival (cf. Commons and Richards, 1984; Levin, 1986). Three positions regarding the conceptualization of development stages can be distinguished. Piaget's original formulations are presented as a starting point (Piaget, 1960). Trends in the sub?discipline of developmental psychology concerned with the study of cognitive development are then shortly reviewed and contrasted with trends in the sub?discipline concerned with the study of moral development. In the field of moral development research, Kohlberg has proposed a hard structural stage model which subscribes to Piaget's criteria while in the field of cognitive development most of the stage criteria specified by Piaget are regarded as untenable and the weaker notion of ?sequence? has become popular. By relating this divergence in interpretation and appreciation to trends in the methodology and theory of research concerning moral development, reasons for maintaining a hard?structural stage model are made intelligible. Characteristic of the Kohlbergian stage concept is an interest in meaning structures, structured wholeness and hierarchical integration.
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DOI 10.1080/0305724890180305
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