From Adolescence to Adulthood: The Rediscovery of Reality in a Postconventional World

  • Carol Gilligan
  • Lawrence Kohlberg
Part of the Topics in Cognitive Development book series (TOPCOGDEV, volume 2)


The formally operational adolescent lives in a world of possibility. Between the concrete and traditional structures that anchored his childhood world and the choices that will define his adulthood lies the expansive universe of the hypothetical. Fascination turns from what is to what might or could be, and as the alternatives proliferate, it becomes clear that formal operations can lead from adolescence to infinity or, perhaps, to adolescence infinitely. Standing at this peak of cognitive assimilation, the adolescent has been proclaimed both metaphysician and philosopher; no longer a child, he is not yet an adult, and our interest lies in the nature of the transition from adolescence to adulthood as it occurs in the moral realm. We begin at that place in development where the hypothetico-deductive mind of the adolescent turns to morality and questions not only the content but also the premises of a conventional moral philosophy. Our concern is with the nature of these questions and with the various forms of their resolution.


Moral Judgment Moral Philosophy Moral Development Moral Term Formal Operation 
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Copyright information

© Jean Piaget Society 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol Gilligan
    • 1
  • Lawrence Kohlberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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