The Moral Judgment of the Child

The Moral Judgment of the Child

The Moral Judgment of the Child

The Moral Judgment of the Child

Excerpt

Readers will find in this book no direct analysis of child morality as it is practised in home and school life or in children's societies. It is the moral judgment that we propose to investigate, not moral behaviour or sentiments. With this aim in view we questioned a large number of children from the Geneva and Neuchâtel schools and held conversations with them, similar to those we had had before on their conception of the world and of causality. The present volume contains the results of these conversations.

First we had to establish what was meant by respect for rules from the child's point of view. This is why we have begun with an analysis of the rules of a social game in the obligatory aspect which these possess for a bona fide player. From the rules of games we have passed to the specifically moral rules laid down by adults and we have tried to see what idea the child forms of these particular duties. Children's ideas on lying were selected as being a privileged example. Finally we have examined the notions that arose out of the relations in which the children stood to each other and we were thus led to discuss the idea of justice as our special theme.

Having reached this point, our results seemed to us sufficiently consistent to be compared to some of the hypotheses now in favour among sociologists and writers on the psychology of morals. It is to this final task that we have devoted our fourth chapter.

We are more conscious than anybody of the defects as of the advantages of the method we have used. The great danger, especially in matters of morality, is that of making the child say whatever one wants him to say.

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