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Moral Development and Reality

Moral Development and Reality
Beyond the Theories of Kohlberg and Hoffman

June 2003 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
In Moral Development and Reality the author explores moral development through the theories of Kohlberg and Hoffman. The book should find a place not only as classroom reading, but also as a contribution to broader dialogues in the academic community on the question and nature of moral development and behaviour.
Daniel K. Lapsley
1. Introduction
Social Perspective-Taking and the Moral Point of View

The Right and the Good: The Moral Domain

Introducing Chapters Two Through Nine

2. "The Right" and Moral Development: Fundamental Themes of Kohlberg's Cognitive Developmental Approach
Early-Childhood Superficiality

Beyond Centrations and Superficial Judgment

Stages of Moral Reciprocity

Assessing Stages of Immature and Mature Moral Judgment

Concluding Comment

3. Kohlberg's Theory: A Critique and New View

Kohlberg's Overhaul of Piaget's Phases

Adult Moral Development in Kohlberg's Theory

A New View of Lifespan Moral Judgment Development


4. "The Good" and Moral Development: Hoffman's Theory
The Empathic Predisposition

Modes of Empathic Arousal

Empathy and Cognitive Development: Stages of Empathic Distress

The Empathic Predisposition, Cognition, and Affective Primacy

The Empathic Predisposition, Socialization, and Moral Internalization

Conclusion and Critique

5. Moral Development, Moral Sef-Relevance, and Prosocial Behavior
Prosocial Behavior: A Rescue

Individual Differences in Prosocial Behavior

Conclusion: Two Spurious "Moral Exemplars"

6. Understanding Antisocial Behavior
Limitations of Antisocial Youth

A Case Study

7. Treating Antisocial Behavior
The Mutual Help Approach

The Psychoeducational or Skills Training Approach

Evaluation of the Equip Program

Perspective-Taking for Severe Offenders

8. Beyond the Theories: A Deeper Reality?
Two Case Studies

A Deeper Reality?

Moral Insight and Inspiration


9. Conclusion
The Issue of Moral Motivation

Moral Perception and Reality

About the Author

It can be confidently ventured that the present work by John Gibbs will be one of the most widely discussed contributions to moral psychology in quite some time . . . The text is quite alive intellectually, a real page-turner for those who are animated by cutting-edge debates in the moral domain. This is a work of accomplished and assured scholarship. It offers the best analysis of the contribution of Kohlberg and Hoffman to moral development theory currently available.

Daniel K. Lapsley
Ball State University

"There is no one with a better understanding of how to help young people behave in a moral manner than John Gibbs. His EQUIP program, discussed in this book, is among the finest peer treatment programs available for antisocial youth. This book offers a far-reaching analysis of basic processes in moral development, and it should be read by anyone who is interested in the theory and practice of promoting positive behavior in even the most troubled young."

William Damon
Stanford Center on Adolescence, Stanford University

"Moral Development and Reality provides a most engaging journey through the terrain of moral and empathic development through the eyes of a seasoned guide. Gibbs’s extension and integration of his previous work offers a remarkably fresh, interesting, and provocative study, challenging traditional understandings of moral development."


"I have been using this book with my students and they love the research on the Near-Death Experience. So profound and pervasive. It has really connected with the students. The author's thoughtful synthesis was remarkable. The entire book is fantastic. . . . it clearly is a culmination of years of sophisticated and in-depth thinking of moral development and reality."

Ann-Marie DiBiase
Brock University

"The book was excellent for my course. The students really enjoyed reading it and it helped to stimulate discussion on Kohlberg's and Hoffman's perspectives. The integrative approach provided well-balanced and thoughtful insights on the complexity of morality and application. I will certainly recommend it for future use."

Gustavo Carlo
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

"Not only is this a major contribution to the scholarly literature but advanced undergraduate and graduate students will find it highly readable and accessible. I use the book in my graduate course on adolescent development and it really fits the course well. Students find it readable, interesting, and relevant. This is, I think, the best available overview and synthesis of the vast theoretical literature on moral development."

David Moshman
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

"Author John Gibbs engages with the most important and vexing questions of moral development in a profound and thoughtful way, showing a scholarly and deep appreciation of the fundamental assumptions that guide and divide the different theoretical perspectives. His approach is both critical and synthetic, offering the framework for a powerful model that can be applied to help us understand both prosocial and antisocial behavior. . . . Gibbs has written one of the most thought-provoking and widely appealing works to appear in the field. He has shown how it may yet be possible to fully integrate justice and empathy in a broader vision of morality, while respecting the unique contributions of each."


"Gibbs is one of the most highly regarded moral psychologists in the world today. No other psychologist has studied Kohlberg and Hoffman so assiduously over such a long period of time. Gibbs provides a profound insight into Kohlberg and Hoffman's achievements by reconstructing their major ideas within a highly original framework. Moral Development and Reality is a book that will inspire as well as inform. It will certainly have a significant influence on moral psychology and its applications to juvenile delinquency and criminal justice. Most importantly, it will challenge all of us as readers to take stock of our lives in the light of a reality beckoning us beyond our mundane sense of justice and goodness."


“His [Gibbs’] scholarship and broad perspective make the book a very rich, stimulating, and first-rate introduction to moral development and advanced undergraduate and graduate students.” 


Moral Development and Reality is such an amazing book!” 

Laura E. Berk
Professor of Developmental Psychology and author, Child Development

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