THE CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF THREE FUNDAMENTAL MORAL ETHICS: AUTONOMY, COMMUNITY, AND DIVINITY

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Abstract:

Abstract. 

In this essay, I describe my Cultural-Developmental Template Approach to moral psychology. This theory draws on my research with the Three Ethics of Autonomy, Community, and Divinity, and the work of many other scholars. The cultural-developmental synthesis suggests that the Ethic of Autonomy emerges early in people's psychological lives, and continues to hold some importance across the lifespan. But Autonomy is not alone. The Ethic of Community too emerges early and appears to increase in importance across the life course. Then, it also seems that in most places and at most times, the Ethic of Divinity has found a voice—and in some traditions this ethic may become audible in adolescence. Ethics of Autonomy, Community, and Divinity, then, may have universal roots in the human condition. However, they are also clearly culturally and historically situated. Cultural communities—whether defined by religious, national, or other boundaries—vary in how they prioritize the three ethics and the extent to which they reinforce their development.

Keywords: autonomy; collectivity; community; cultural psychology; cultural-developmental template; culture; developmental psychology; divinity; ethics; individuals; moral reasoning; plurality; religious conservatives; religious liberals; universality

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2010.01163.x

Affiliations: Lene Arnett Jensen is an associate professor of psychology at Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA, 01610, USA;, Email: LJensen@Clarku.edu.

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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