Skip to main content

Self-Identity and Moral Maturity

  • Chapter
Personal and Moral Identity

Part of the book series: Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy ((LOET,volume 11))

Abstract

The central discussion is about how a person grows into a mature moral being only to the extent that certain aspects of his general sense of self have developed first. Most importantly, I argue that the process of psychological identification that is so central in adult self identity formation is also the linchpin in coming to moral maturity; that is, that moral maturity presupposes that a person is already what I call a ‘full identificatory self’. I begin the discussion in section 1 by drawing a general picture of psychological development, starting from the most rudimentary attachment hunger (but relative agency poverty) of infancy to the more independent agency (yet continuing attachment hunger) of adulthood. I point out the importance that psychological identification has in this lifelong march toward independent agency. We see identification as the process of taking a valuational ownership of one’s developing character states, that being the central process in becoming an agency self. In section 2, I discuss how a person’s sensing of his self identity (i.e., his unfolding capacity for identification) is captured quite nicely by Bernard Williams discussion of `the personal point of view’ that a person brings to his central life projects and concerns. I suggest that Williams mistakenly thinks the personal point of view to be crucial to one’s moral identity. In fact, it is at the heart of one’s broader self identity — at the heart of one’s general capacity to identify. In section 3, I argue for the central thesis that moral maturity presupposes that a person identify with the moral perspective. A person who merely acts by moral dictates but doesn’t bring her full self identificatory capacities to bear on these actions is not a morally autonomous and mature individual. In sections 4 and 5, I compare my notion of moral development with competing theories. I also tackle the question of why persons identify at all with the moral life.

For developmental researchers of all disciplines, ‘internalization’ is the central issue for understanding morality.

Robert Emde (1988, p. 33).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  • Emde, R., Development Terminable and Interminable, International Journal of Psycho Analysis 69 (1988).

    Google Scholar 

  • Gilligan, C., In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kohlberg, L. and Turiel, P., Moral Development and Moral Education, in Lesser, G. (ed.), Psychology and Educational Practice. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1971.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nozick, R., Philosophical Explanations. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981.

    Google Scholar 

  • Piaget, J., The Moral Judgement of the Child. New York: The Free Press, 1965.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smart, J.J.C. and Williams, B., Utilitarianism: For and Against. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2002 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Kamler, H. (2002). Self-Identity and Moral Maturity. In: Musschenga, A.W., van Haaften, W., Spiecker, B., Slors, M. (eds) Personal and Moral Identity. Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy, vol 11. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-9954-2_6

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-9954-2_6

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-90-481-6080-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-94-015-9954-2

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive

Publish with us

Policies and ethics