Social Interaction and the Development of Knowledge

By Jeremy I. M. Carpendale; Ulrich Miiller | Go to book overview

1
Social Interaction and the Development
of Rationality and Morality:
An Introduction
Jeremy I. M. Carpendale
Ulrich Miiller
Simon Fraser University & Pennsylvania State University

One of the most important questions that can be asked about development is how the psychological development of the individual is influenced by society. Any complete developmental theory must address this issue, and the task of conceptually clarifying the role of society in development raises many important epistemological questions. Chief among these are the multifaceted problems of how to conceptualize (a) the relation between the individual and society or collective, and (b) the contribution of society to the emergence of rational and moral norms. A major goal of (his book is to elaborate on the process of socialization and the epistemological issues involved in this process. These issues are the topics of a number of chapters of this book and are dealt with from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

Another goal of this book is to present and evaluate Piaget's (1977/ 1995) unique but still widely bypassed treatment of these issues (Kitchener, 2000). Piaget is considered one of the giants of developmental psychology, but his theoretical and empirical contributions are mostly placed in the domain of individual cognitive development. Serious consideration of the social dimension of development is not credited to Piaget. In fact Piaget's theory has been and still is considered by many psychologists (e.g., Bruner, 1997; Tappan, 1997) to be the avatar of an individualist approach to development. A number of chapters in this book (e.g., Amin & Valsiner, chap. 5; Boom, chap. 4; Dobert, chap. 7; Kitchener, chap. 3; Smith, chap. 9; Lourenco, chap. 12) show that Piaget's theory is funda-

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