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Moral Identity in Adolescents

'Research on advance cognition suggests that the major locus of diversity is within individuals rather than across individuals or groups. ...If this sort of diversity is universal, our focus on diversity has illuminated a universal aspect of human rationality: We all coordinate diverse strategies and perspectives. From this another human universal likely follows: Given the demands of cognitive coordination, we all, to varying degrees, develop metacognitive understanding and control of our diverse inferential processes.' (p. 34)


In Chapter 6, Moshman (2005) says that most adolescents along with adults are capable of 'multiple moral perspectives' (p. 69).


If morality is not important to you, then you are less likely to apply moral reasoning in your daily life and act on the basis of moral judgments. If being moral is central to your deepest sense of who you are, however, then you are more likely to construe issues in moral terms, to reflect deeply on what you ought to do, and to do what you deem morally correct-the alternative is to betray yourself and suffer the self-imposed emotional consequences of your lack of integrity. Thus, at the level of behavioral choice and associated feelings, questions of morality direct us to questions of identity. (p. 75)


Self-conceptions change across the lifespan, and some of these changes are developmental. Adolescents and adults, operating at levels of rationality not seen in childhood, often construct reflective self- conceptions of a sort that have come to be referred to as identities. Erik Erikson was among the first to use the term identity in this way and to provide a theory of how identities develop (p. 77).


Four standard domains of identity formation have been stressed in the Erikson/Marcia tradition: career, sexuality, religion, and political ideology. Although research shows that these are all important domains, there is no reason to think they are the only domains in which adolescents explore possibilities, make commitments, and construct theories of themselves. Additional domains that have been proposed and investigated in recent years include gender role, ethnicity, values, morality, marriage, parenting, and friendship (Kroger, 1993; Marcia et al., 1993; Schwartz, 2001) (p. 97) .


Moshman discusses the Harold Grotevant's construction of identity having two key processes: exploration of alternatives and commitment to choices (p. 99)


David Moshman (2005) in his book Adolescent rationality and Development: Cognition, morality, and identity states that identity 'may involve process of reflection and coordination that increased the level of agency, rationality, unity, and continuity manifested in one's behaviour. Somewhere at the border of metacognition and metaphysics lies the possibility that reflections and coordination involved in constructing and reconstructing my identity may change not only who I think I am but who I really am.' (p. 104)


Rationality is central to Kohlberg's theory of moral development (Arnold, 2000) and arguably central to any developmental conception of morality (Moshman, 1995b). If morality is nothing more than conformity to the norms of your social group, then moral change is simply the learning of those norms, whatever they happen to be. It is the rational aspect of morality, if there is one, that has the potential to develop (p. 1115).


'To be rational is to transcend your own perspective, and to be moral, in large part, the same thing. Thus the development of perspective taking connects cognitive and moral development (Gibbs, 2003) (p. 116)


Moral Identity - To have a moral identity is to see yourself as a moral agent - as one who acts on the basis of moral beliefs and values (p. 121).

False Moral identities - If your theory is false - if you do not really act on the basis of respect and/or concern for the rights and/or welfare of others, although you think you do - then you have a false moral identity (p. 122)

The development of identity, then, is not simply formation of whatever identity you happen to form. The development aspect of identity formation is the rational construction of theories that enable us to explain ourselves to ourselves and others (p.123).


Susan Silverberg and Dawn Gondoli (1996 highlighted the development of autonomy. An autonomous individual is not one whose behavior is never influenced by others, or whose thoughts are never influenced by emotions, or who has transcended the need for relationships and intimacy. Rather, to be autonomous is to be self-directed or self-governed that is, to make one's own choices and to be responsible for the consequences of those choices. This is central to what it means to be a rational and moral agent (Audi, 1997, 2001; Berlin, 1969), and your autonomy is enhanced to the ex tent that you are consciously committed to this vision of yourself (p. 123).


Moshman, D. (2005) Adolescent rationality and Development: Cognition, morality, and identity. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.



Taking into consideration the chosen excerpts from Adolescent rationality and Development: Cognition, morality, and identity by David Moshman, there is evidence to support my choosing of Chaotic Good as a way of instilling emotional resilience. Looking closely at the way false moral identity is described (p. 122), then it could be argued that the characteristics of Chaotic Good would fall under 'moral' values. This would also allow an adolescent to create a rational identity for themselves by rationalising nurture and nature including but not limited to family identities, peer group identities, community identities, and passed down (cultural or traditional or religious) identities.

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