Moral Development: Between Principles and Sentiments
As we saw in chapters 5 and 6 the child's acquisition of the medium of the language of the culture in which the participants exist invite shifts from relating to others in immediate reciprocity to modes of mediated relations to others as characters in narratives and as objects for conscious reflection in terms of principles.
There is a complementarity between the modes of immediate and mediate understanding. Both are equally essential to human beings as sentient and social participants in the world in which they live and co-construct. This complementarity is relevant to the issue of moral development and moral understanding. In the immediate modus of dialogic and empathic closure one may feel directly the lifeforms of others in the reciprocal network which they mutually constitute and which makes them participate in each other. This provides the ground for moral sentiments. In the previous chapter it was suggested that the child's prosociality and capacity to feel care and concern for the other in need or distress are rooted in such interpersonal feelings.
But there is also the complementary cultural ground for morality, brought to bear upon the child through the processes of socialization and internalization of impersonal principles. In modes of reflective awareness and mediate communication in terms of the values, norms, symbolic means are offered by the cultural lifeworld in which the child exists. The child is invited to seek to in-form and re-form his world and himself and others in it as objects for re-presentation and co-construction, narration and control, emerging as a conscious and conscientious being.
In the latter domain moral consciousness emerges, literally together-knowledge of moral demands and principles, as studied in terms of moral judgments by Piaget, Kohlberg, and others. The capacity for making moral judgments when exposed to an ethical dilemma is in focus of the studies underlying their theories of moral development. Piaget takes care to point out that his studies of moral development concern moral judgment, not moral behavior or sentiments.1 These
studies concern stages in the development of mediate understanding, not domains of immediate understanding. His findings are partly based on children's replies to questions such as "who is the naughtiest?", "who should be punished?", with reference to stories they are told.2 Kohlberg has followed up with studies of responses to hypothetical moral dilemmas.3 A famous example is the dilemma of Heinz' stealing or not a drug that he cannot afford to buy in order to save his wife. On this basis he distinguishes three levels of moral development. The first is a pre-moral level, involving a centric obedience orientation and naive means-ends relations. The second is a conventional level of "good-boy" morality anchored in social conventions and respect of moral authority. The third and highest level involves self-accepted principles of human rights and justice.4 It is seen to emerge as a top-level modus of formal reasoning (Piaget) in a post-conventional manner (Kohlberg).
In the following I shall use the term "P-modus" for this kind of moral understanding in terms of impersonal principles and distinguish it from moral understanding in terms of moral sentiments, to be termed the "Q-modus", arising from interpersonal caring in the domain of immediately felt reciprocity. This distinction relates to Carol Gilligan's complement to Kohlberg's findings, based on her replicative and supplementary studies. I shall also report from a study of moral dilemma-processing that suggests that complementary modes of moral understanding are easily evoked within and between adults processing moral dilemmas. Towards the end of this chapter I shall consider the kind of moral principles that may be evoked in totalitarian logic and the way in which such a monolithic perspective may invite submittance.
Moral development through internalization of principles
Theories of moral development tend to conform to the ideal of enlightening brought forth by the rationalistic philosophers. They are consistent with the view of ascending path towards social reciprocity and responsibility that comes with rational enlightening and internalization of moral principles.
While concerned with the emotional and sexual aspects of development, even Sigmund Freud asserts such an ascending path towards rationality and reciprocity. It involves the increasing involvement of the reality principle and the fully development of the Superego representing the morality of the culture, even though Narcissus continues to play a certain role.
In sociology, Jürgen Habermas who otherwise insists on an intersubjective frame of reference for communicative action and rejects monological perspectives,5 follows in part Freud, Piaget and Kohlberg in his identification of stages in moral development and ego identity.6 There is natural identity, generalized pleasure and pain, and only incomplete reciprocity in a near-symbiotic manner during the first stage of moral consciousness development. Complete reciprocity is reached at the final and rationalized peak.
Another theoretician in sociology, Talcott Parsons, also considers that reciprocal alter-orientation emerges through a culturally mediated process that transforms the original nature of the child's mind. In his general theory of action, written with Shils, Tolman and others in social and psychological theory, Parsons proposes that the complementary relation between the orientation of the actor as ego and the expectation of the other as alter is a relation of double contingency of intentions and expectations.7 In line with Morris' suggestion that the organism does not become a person until certain symbols are operative in the individual, Parsons considers early socialization to destroy the primordial organization of the child, such as it is (monadically conceived), replacing it by such cultural and symbolic mechanisms.8
In contrast, the present thesis entails, in line with its implications considered in chapter 6, that this primordial organization is dyadic and reciprocal. Even though it may be perturbed and suffer collapse through interactional experiences, and comes to be complemented by domains of symbolic and mediate understanding, it remains a ground throughout life for relating to others in immediate reciprocity. It can be seen to provide a ground for moral sentiments (in the Q-modus) complementary to the impersonal moral principles (in the P-modus) that are acquired in the process of socialization and development as studied by Piaget, Kohlberg and others.
Piaget describes the child's development in terms of a necessary sequence of stages. He focuses on cognitive modes of operations and the way in which they also come to be reflected in moral judgments. According to his theory the child will only be able to take the other's perspective after a long process of de-centration of its original ego-centric point of departure, passing from the initial sensorimotor stage (0 - 2 years) through the preoperational and concrete operational stages (2 - 7; 7 - 11 years of age). The centric self-regulating organization of the infant that evolves during the first stage permits it to relate to objects in its periphery. Feelings are focused only on own body and operations, since a distinction between the I and not-I or others is required for a shifting of emotional and cognitive centration to occur.9
Towards the end of the first 18 months the centre is shifted sufficiently for the child to see herself as an object in a world of enduring objects, which also includes other persons as objects with enduring qualities. She begins to operate with a primitive symbol system and can relate operationally to objects by virtue of her schemes for enduring objects. But she has no scheme for relating to the perspective of another subject. When she begins to talk, her speech reflects her initial egocentricity, which lasts through the preschool years. She will tend to attribute her own perspective to other until the concrete operational stage (from about 7 years of age) when she will be able to think in terms of different perspectives.
Gradually, after a long elaboration of new structures in the course of an epigenetic spiral of constructive development in which genetic and social participatory constituents play their part will the child come to reach a state where she is able to take complementary perspective of the other as a subject sharing intersubjective understanding. Through a socialization process of steadily increasing de-centration she finally overcomes the initial egocentricity.10 It means an increasing degree of de-centration until the initial egocentricity if finally conquered upon reaching the epistemic, moral and aesthetic level.There is a transition from a stage in which the child's sense of moral duty is heteronomous, with conflict between egocentrism and moral constraints from the outside conflict. This is a stage of moral realism, where the spirit of the moral law is observed in a literal sense irrespective of persons and relations. But as the capacity for mutual respect towards other individuals emerges, a stage of autonomous regard for moral rules as products of group agreements and cooperative means is reached. While at first relating to moral values and moral authority in a unilateral and absolutistic manner, the 8- to 12-year-olds will exhibit a mutual, reciprocal and relativistic respect. This presupposes the assimilation of the moral norms of the society in a manner that constructively transforms these standards from external sources of demands to internal principles of the self, enabling reciprocal considerations of others in a reflective manner.
The latter relates to what Kohlberg terms the post-conventional level.11 Only during late childhood and adolescence is the child able to see itself in a-member-of-society perspective, and makes judgments from awareness of how self and others fit in a social order of things. The final stage is reached when self is perceived as a member of a multiplicity of social contexts in a prior-to-society perspective.
Complementary modes of moral evaluation?
The findings underlying Piaget's and Kohlberg's theories of moral development are based on the child's linguistic and cultural competence to respond to adult questions. The key to the development is the initially attributed ego-centricity to the child which prevents it from taking the other's perspective, and which gradually comes to be de-centered. This relates, however, to de-centration in a mediate sense in relation to the adult culture in terms of which the stories are told. The socializing process of gradually learning how to imagine situations and reflect in terms of perspectives of characters in a story, as told by adults, may deserve the term "de-centration", if taken in the sense of reflection in terms of the culture mediated to the child. It may apply to the child's lacking the cultural means for imagination, interpretation, and expressions in terms of an adult storyteller in artificial contexts.
It is difficult, however, to attribute egocentricity in an immediate sense to a child that can engage in reciprocal interaction, and reacts an actual other, child or adult, in need or distress, in a way that indicates concern and want to help. True, the child's inability to interpret the investigator's situational set-up or story-telling may be termed "egocentricity", but relative to the investigator's culture to which the child is partly a stranger. It may apply to the child's inability to understand the investigator's story-telling or situational set-up. It may even apply to the investigator's inability to "de-center" and take the child's perspective in the lifeworld in which the child exists. But it need not apply to concrete situations in which the child is involved in interaction with actual others, inviting care and altruistic concern.
As we have seen, actual caring conduct by children indicate a kind of altruistic and caring concern also before the child acquires the cultural means of expressing themselves. In chapter 6 findings and case reports on infancy and early childhood have been referred to that suggest prosocial and altruistic behavior. Gestures and actions in direct reciprocal interaction may be taken to reflect a naturally ground for a complementary kind of morality to the kind considered by Kohlberg and Piaget.12 In view of replicative and modified studies of children's understanding, Piaget's theory of cognitive development and his attribution of "egocentricity" to the child are subjected to modification and criticism - first by Lev Vygotsky, and later by researchers within and outside the neo-piagetian tradition (for example, Margaret Boden, Margaret Donaldsen, Karsten Hundeide, Ragnar Rommetveit, Hermina Sinclair, Jan Smedslund..............).
In terms of the present thesis, the domain (D1) of immediate reciprocity allows for the evocation of sentiments that may be termed altruistic and moral, even though such sentiments initially may emerge and be expressed in conduct without linguistic means to express them with reference to narratives in some language that is yet to come. Such a complementary kind may come to arise from interpersonal experience of communion and care in primary dyadic and network relations. That is, a mode of concern for particular others in interwoven webs of personal relationships and actualized personal contexts. There appears to be a basis, then, for asserting that there are grounds for competition between altruistic sentiments (the Q-modus) of an immediate interpersonal nature and moral principles (in the P-modus) of a mediated impersonal nature.
Are there other empirical grounds for asserting such a complementary ground of morality, even in the kinds of moral dilemma studies that Piaget and Kohlberg introduced? Gilligan's studies of moral understanding appear to point in such direction. In a constructive criticism of the hierarchical bias of Kohlberg's investigations she has focused on the differences in boys' and girls' responses to moral dilemmas. On the basis of interviews with samples of boys and girls, men and women, from 6 to 60 years, she finds grounds for a kind of moral understanding that backs away from the kind of principled morality that can permit indifference and unconcern. She contrasts the mode of moral understanding in terms of hierarchically ordered impersonal principles about autonomy, justice and rights, with the alternative mode of contextual and interpersonal moral understanding and concern for the particular other in which networks of relations replace a hierarchical order.
These two different modes of moral understanding may be called, respectively, the "masculine" mode or the P-modus, and the "feminine" mode, or the Q-modus, if one takes care to recognize such qualities within each sex. Gilligan points out that generalizing inferences about gender differences need not be justified:
"The different voice I describe is characterized not by gender but theme. Its association with women is an empirical observation, and it is primarily through women's voices that I trace its development. But this association is not absolute...In tracing development, I point to the interplay of these voices within each sex and suggests that their convergence marks times of crisis and change."(Gilligan, 1982:2)13
Gilligan reveals a mode and a domain of moral understanding and concern which has eluded theories and studies focused on development as the acquisition of an impartial and impersonal moral order. This she finds through interviews that transcend the constraints of hypothetical moral dilemmas. But even in the study of the differences of boys' and girls' responses to moral dilemma stories, she finds indications of complementary modes in operation.
The study of moral dilemma-processing to be turned to below has yielded results that may be interpreted in the direction of Gilligan's suggestion that different modes of understanding can be activated during moral judgments. She contrasts the mode of hierarchically ordered impersonal principles about justice and rights (the P-modus) with the mode of contextual and interpersonal moral understanding and careful concern for the particular other in webs of interwoven relations and responsibilities (the Q-modus). There may be may be cultural and socializing grounds for designating, as Gilligan does, the former as masculine and the latter as feminine. One should not discard the possibility, however, that the primordial domain of immediate reciprocity underlying the Q-modus has a genetic root in the infant's brain before it begins to diversify according to gender.14
Moral dilemma processing by adults in dialogue
Can such competition between rival views be found in adults' processing of moral dilemmas, of the approximately the same format that has been used by Kohlberg? A study of adults in pairs processing moral dilemmas (Bråten, 1981) suggests that different modalities of moral understanding may be concurrently operative within and between adult individuals of both sexes.
This is a study of moral dilemma-processing within and between persons coupled in pairs and given the task of being a "jury" on the ethics of two incompatible courses of action in a specified situation. Data on task input, initial state and conversational boundary conditions are used to specify the input values, initial states and boundary conditions for an object-oriented computer model, designed to simulate the processes and outcomes in the observed dyads.
Students of both sexes were recruited, two at a time, and shown the laboratory set up and facilities before they fill out a form on which each of them mark their positions (in terms of degree of (dis)agreement) on a number of normative statements. This defines the initial position of each of the participants in a norm-space of relevance to the moral dilemma to be processed.
A hypothetical moral dilemma is then presented to each pair of participants. They are given the task of being a moral "jury" with regard to two incompatible courses of action, each of which may be supported on some ethical grounds.
One such dilemma theme concerns euthanasia: A 70 year old hospital patient suffers from an incurable and unbearable fatal disease. He begs the hospital physician to be relieved of his pains forever. In this respect the situation is the same in two hospital cases where the physician in charge reacts differently. In one of the hospitals, the physician, A, refuses and continues treatment. After three years the patient dies. In the other hospital, the physician, B, acts according to the patient's wishes. His disease is assumed to be the natural cause of his death.15
The dialogue participants are asked to process this question: "Who was right, A or B, both, or none of them?"
A set of norm statements are responded to by the participants prior to the presentation of the moral dilemma, and again after the conversation has been concluded and the judgement delivered. The dialogues are observed (through one-way screen; later from the television control room) and recorded. Those that were videorecorded are played back to the participants in order to elicit their self-reflective comments. After they hand in their judgement(s), they again individually mark their positions on the set of norm statements which they initially responded to.16
(i) A medical doctor's first and fundamental duty is to help to reduce the amount of human suffering.
(j) Life is sacred and should be respected in all forms and under any circumstances through one's seeking to save life and actively preventing it from being threatened.
The recorded conversations, as well as self-reflective participants' comments, show frequent shifts between domains and different modes of moral understanding, indicated by their different ways of reference (Fig. 9.1):
Some such nodal points for shifting during the dilemma-processing in the conversational dyads are indicated above, when seen from the observers' point of view or commented upon by participants during self-reflective video playback of the dialogues. Two basic distinctions are running across the tree of different nodal points of reference: One is the between the impersonal and the personal; the other between the self-reflective unity and the participants as an it-object seen from the point of view attributed to the experimenter, and sometimes to "them", as in the utterance: "Maybe they want us to..."
The self-reflective participant comments on their dilemma-processing and responses to a set of norm statements before and after the dialogue suggest that different kinds of moral understanding may have been activated:
"...in replies to questions...things emerge which you really do not mean, but which are the products of things you believe you mean, for example, if you have a special view, politically, upon family in the society...you may use this meaning in a particular manner..."
"I argued from myself, from feelings."
"I had the feeling (that) this was very close to your heart. Was the situation you were in such that it was urgent to express precisely this? It wasn't your situation? I so easily becomes impersonal .. to distant from life.."
"The first time I put less emphasis on relations to the family than the second time...the first time,...the family as institution..
the second time...the family, the human beings you are linked to.."
"The second time I wrote on the sheet, I emphasized more the relations to the family...If we had discussed yet another time, then perhaps...maybe I'd put it differently..."
The above may be interpreted in the direction of Gilligan's suggestion about different modes of moral understanding, one mode in terms of impersonal principles, the other in terms of interpersonal responsibility and concern. In the above study both modes were expressed by both male and female participants. These two different modes of moral understanding appear to be complementary to each other,17 competing for activation in any actual context. If there had been no competition between contrasting modes, then one might expect that the moral jury and jury members would reach some degree of inter- and interpersonal consistency in the course of the conversation. The empirically generated conversation profiles (Fig. 9.2) do not support this expectation.18
There is no gradual decrease of inconsistency approaching or reaching a zero-level.19 Examples of some of the profiles are portrayed in the inconsistency space diagrams, where the horizontal axis permitting values for degree of intrapersonal (in)consistency and the vertical axis interpersonal (in)consistency. When portrayed in terms of a phase space diagram (with degree of intrapersonal (in)consistency on the horizontal axis, and interpersonal (in)consistency on the vertical axis), the dyads exhibit "wings" recurrently extended into the areas of inconsistency. These profiles are contrary to what could be expected from cognitive consistency theory. There is no gradual decrease of inconsistency and dissent towards a final zero-level of complete consistency and consent at which the dialogue could be dissolved.
The conversation profiles and above phase space portraits appear to reveal an on-going dialogue between the competing perspectives, A and B, within and between participants. While this cannot be expected by entailments of the principle of cognitive consistency, it may be accounted for the by the idea of a self-creative dialogue within and between minds.20
Furthermore, when seen in conjunction with self-reflective participants comments, such as exemplified above, they may taken as indicative of a possible competition between different modes of moral sentiments or moral understanding. There may be in operation modalities contextual and interperson-sensitive moral understanding and careful concern for the particular other that compete with modalities of hierarchically ordered impersonal principles about justice and rights. The most clearcut judgments were offered by participants who had been in contact with the problem situation of authanasia in their own family, or who related to a political or religous belief system. The latter also tended to respond more clearly than others in terms of impersonal principles.21
When principles invite a model monopoly
The self-reflective participant comments from the above study indicate the operation of different voices - a voice of principled and impersonal concern (the P-modus) and a complementary voice of interpersonal concern (the Q-modus). These results may be interpreted to be consistent with Gilligan's findings. As she suggests, actual contexts demanding a moral understanding may come to activate complementary voices in dialogue within the persons. The actualized profiles of the moral dilemma conversations suggest that different voices have been in operation within and between the participants.
There may be a basis for assuming that the primordial ground for reciprocal immediacy and care considered in previous chapters remains as a source for moral sentiments in the adult that complement the kind of moral principles that are mediated and internalized through the process of moral development and socialization. Implicit in this internalization is the rational demand for cognitive consistency inviting resolution of any dialogue between rival or complementary moral perspectives.
As we saw above, however, the dialogue within and between minds is difficult to silence even when a moral judgment is required. But given a firm anchorage in a hierarcically ordered belief-system, the dialogue between complementary perspectives may be come to be silenced. What kind of moral behavior may come to be evoked in a "good" cause in terms of Aristotelian logical premises that demand judgments in terms of "either-or" and silence the dialogue between different perspectives? Consider, for example, the apparently innocent and moral claim: 'Let there be a world free of evil!' I shall proceed to show that when entertained in terms of a monolithic perspective in a manner that channel emotions and invites the kind of collapses considered in the previous chapter, such a moral dictum can have lethal consequences that defy comprehension. I shall first return to mechanisms promoting a model monopoly, touched upon in chapter 6, and then turn to Herbst's analysis of totalitarian logic.
The case of Leibniz and Aristotelian logic
One may sometimes submit to a single-minded perspective to such a degree that it is accepted as the final truth, as endgültig in a manner that rules out any rival perspective, including one's own and that of one's virtual other. Elsewhere this has been described in terms of model monopoly (Bråten, 1973; 1984, 1988b). For example, Anna Freud's submitting to the model monopoly of her father, even though her discoveries pointed in a divergent direction, is a case in point. Another example was mentioned in chapter 6. Leibniz was on the verge of introducing mathematical logic, but submitted instead to the syllogistic doctrine established by Aristotle. The errors he found he attributed to himself, because according to Russell, respect for Aristotle made it impossible for him to believe otherwise.22
Towards the end of chapter 6 we saw how creative preschoolers may come to silence their dialoging on own terms when entering school, submitting instead to teachers, textbooks, and computer programmes as sources of valid replies to questions formulated on their model-strong terms, not the schoolkids' terms. Relative to a particular universe of discourse, D, a participant B may be defined as model-weak compared to another model-strong participant A if all the elements and relations in D that are describable in terms of B's perspective are also describable in terms of A's perspective, which also permits descriptions of are elements and relations in D which fall outside of B's perspective. This idealtype situation is pictured in Fig. 9.3.
Now, assume for the conversation between B and A (or a symbolically mediated representation by A) a closed universe of discourse D for conversation between A and B that is well-defined on A's terms and which restrict even the scope of questions to be asked. In order to engage in conversation B will seek to take A's mediated perspective, that is, adopt A's models. As long as they are defined on A's terms, and A is considered by B to be the source of valid replies to questions about D, B may come to submit to the control of A's perspective. In line with (p1), as long as the domain is not redefined, B may come to submit to A's mediated perspective in a way that rules out any complementary perspective that may be applied to the universe, including any alternative that B otherwise might have come up with on his own. Even though the above is an ideal type situation, occurrences that resembles it may be seen in the class room, in the auditorium, and in science and philosophy (Kuhn, 19??, Bråten 1973, 1983, 1984). Submittance to the 'model-strong' perspective of such a dominant Other has elsewhere been accounted for in terms of model power mechanisms that may be operative in the board room, in the tight communication network, in socioeconomic planning institutions,23 and even under conditions conforming to what Habermas terms 'the ideal speech situation'.24
Certain ideal type pre-conditions may be seen to further submittance.25 A model monopoly presupposes
(p1.1) a stable universe of discourse which is well-defined by the "model-strong" source of knowledge,
(p1.2) who is present or (re-presented by symbolic artifacts) in a situation of closed interaction which excludes other perspectives and alternative sources of knowledge
(p1.3) than the source which has defined the domain and on whose premises the knowledge has been developed, questions may be asked and replies provided,
(p1.4) acknowledged as the supreme source of valid replies about the universe in question.26
The instance of Leibniz shows that even the holder of a pluralistic world view may come to submit to a monolithic perspective. In spite of his assuming a plurality of subjective viewpoints, he appears to have surrendered to the symbolic power of Aristotle's doctrine.
"He (Leibniz) did work on mathematical logic which would have been enormously important if he had published it; he would, in that case, have been the founder of mathematical logic, which would have become known a century and half sooner than it did in fact. He abstained from publishing, because he kept on finding evidence that Aristotle's doctrine of the syllogism was wrong on some points; respect for Aristotle made it impossible for him to believe this, so he mistakenly supposed that the errors must be his own."27
Provided that Russell's recount is adequate, Leibniz himself appears to have submitted to a mono-perspective. Submitting to the symbolic control of a dominant perspective long since established, he thus leaves it to others, more than a century later, to come up with an alternative perspective in the domain of logic. This may illustrate how even the supreme intellect who regards reality as consisting of a multiplicity of perspectives, may come under the control of a mediated single-minded perspective that silences the dialogue in his mind pertaining to a given universe of discourse.28
In the domain of geometry, there is another classical case of model monopoly, generated by those who submitted to Euklid's fifth axiom for some 2000 years before it finally came to be questioned. When the Russian and Hungarian outsiders, Lobachevskij and Bolyai (the latter through his father) reported to Gauss that they had managed to construct an alternative geometry, assuming that through any point in a plane there are two lines parallel to any given line (and not one line, as stated in the fifth postulate), Gauss pointed out that he had realized this as well. But he had not published it. Irrespective of whether he conforms or not to the case of Leibniz, his predecessors during two millennia appear to have submitted to the model monopoly established by Euklid, who himself need not have been sure about his fifth axiom, collecting as he did the accumulated knowledge of his time.
In the case of Leibniz, he may himself have supplied some of the answer to why he submitted to Aristotle as the valid source of unquestionable truths in the domain of logic. When expressing his view on the nature of intelligible knowledge he refers to Plato, who, in Meno, introduces a boy, whom he leads by short steps, "to extremely difficult truths of geometry...merely drawing out replies by a well arranged series of questions. This shows that the soul virtually knows those things, and needs only to be reminded...to recognize the truths."29
With such an epistemological belief in the ultimate (Endgültig) truth it may be difficult to break a model monopoly and reactive the natural dialogue of the mind. Otherwise, modes of negating the promoting conditions (p1.1 - p1.4) listed above provide possible paths of resolving a model monopoly:
(-p1.1) Shifting the boundary of the universe of discourse or re-defining the domain in a manner which reveals the limit of the monolithic perspective. For example, if Leibniz had permitted himself to re-define the domain of syllogistic principles into a domain concerned with formal logic, not psycho-logic, that is, distinct from, or only intersecting with Aristotle's domain of necessary inferences of thought, he need not have submitted in the way in which Russell reports him to have done.
(-p1.2) Opening up for rival knowledge sources and admitting propositions in the terms of some alternative language, for example, in a language that permits values beyond the truth and false values of Aristotelian logic.
(-p1.3) Developing knowledge on own premises, taking a boundary position which allows for the crossing of boundaries and a reflective view on the relations between the premises of the mono-perspective and one's own perspective that has been passivated in the process. This Leibniz was on the verge on doing.
(-p1.4) Being aware of the kind of mechanims and epistemology that may promote submittance to a monolithic perspective as the only valid one, and of the strange way in which it silences the dialogue in oneself and others, preventing creative conversations in the individual and in the community.
There are many ways of cancelling or breaking submittance to a monolithic perspective, such as resorting to a meta-level, for example as suggested by Gregory Bateson in order to escape viscious circle of attribution;30 entering a dialectic modus,31 stepping back for reflection,32 or, just break off interaction while developing and consolidating your own perspective.33
The above modes may be said to re-activate processes that may involve what Habermas terms Critical Diskurs, as "inoculation" against totalitarian logic.
According to Aristotelian logic an object cannot both have and not have a given property. Implicit in this logic is also that the characteristics associated with a given object are permanent. When a model monopoly is established in some domain of moral principles, and linked to such a two-valued logic then moral understanding, and behavior rationalized in terms of the ruling moral principles may turn monolithic, and, ultimately, deadly. Herbst (1976) has considered the relationship between totalitarian logic and principles of behavior. In the following I shall stick close to his own formulations in a first draft.34 He shows what follows when combined with this apparent harmless moral injunction: Let there be a world free of evil! Herbst lists the these basic axioms in the Manichaen type logic that may be seen to generate the logical structure:
1) Persons are good or evil. They cannot be both. 2) A good person can only have good characteristics. An evil person can only have evil characteristics. The following subsidiary axioms may be seen to determine how the these principles may operate:
3) Personal qualities are permanent and not subject to change. 4) Personal qualities are identifiable without errors.
This kind of totalitarian logic has to do away with any cognitive inconsistency and does not allow for any uncertainty. To safeguard against this the fourth axiom may be replaced by this inconsistency resolution axiom:
4') If a person appears to be the bearer of both good and evil characteristics (breaking with axiom 2), then either the positive or the negative characteristics are pseudo-characteristics.35)
Herbst finds that practically all modern totalitarian regimes based on mass support, began with the idealistic injunction that there should be a world free of evil, linked to a set of totalitarian axioms. The two-valued logic invites one to differentiate between good and evil people in an absolute and permanent sense. In Calvinistic theology, for example, the inherent characteristics are predetermined (Cf. Weber,????; Hernes, 1989).36 In Stalinist Russia they were determined by the parents' social class. In Nazi ideology they are determined by the parents' race.37
In conjunction, then, with a moral program for freeing the world of evil, these totalitarian principles do not only rule out the admittance of any personal concern. As impersonal moral principles, ruling out any inconsistent voice, they become murderous, demanding exorcisement, as in the witch burnings, or mass extermination, as by Red Khmer or in the Nazi extermination camps. How humans can turn themselves into servants of such causes and instruments of such deadly organized societal machines defies comprehension. They involve the converse of the innate human ground for immediately felt reciprocity considered in the first six chapters of this book. Yet we must continue to search for explanations, at the societal, the interpersonal and the intrapersonal levels, in the hope that they may contribute to reduce the probability of future recurrences. With this, perhaps futile, hope in mind let us turn to some studies of Nazi war criminals and to Milgram's electric chair experiments.
NOTES TO CHAPTER 9
1Piaget, op.cit., p.vii.
2Jean Piaget: The Moral Judgment of the Child London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1932.
3Lawrence Kohlberg: The Development of Children's Orientations Towards a Moral Order, Vita humana, 6, 1963, pp. 11-33.
4Kohlberg, op.cit., p.15.
5Cf. J. Habermas: Theorie des Kommunikativen Handelns---sjekk tittel etc...
6J. Habermas: Moral Development and Ego Identity. I: Communication and the Evolution of Society. London: Heinemand 1979, ss.69-94.
7T. Parsons and E.A. Shils (eds.): Toward a General Theory of Action, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1951.
8Roy Grinker (ed.) Toward a Unified Theory of Human Behavior, Basic Books, New York, 2nd ed. 1967, p.335.
9J. Piaget and B. Inhelder: La Psychologie de l'infant. Presse Universitaires de France 1966.
10In Piaget's words, "at the level of understanding,.. the action of the (epistemic) subject presupposes a conquering of the original intellectual egocentricity.. in submittance to an uninterrupted process of coordinations and reciprocal relations.." J. Piaget: Strukturalismen. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzel 1972, p.117.
12Piaget's theory of moral development, and the modified scheme of Kohlberg based on intra- and cross-cultural empirical enquiries, have been criticized for being centric in terms of gender and cultural ideal (by Carol Gilligan, Rom Harre, Susan Sugarman, and others.....). Some of the underlying assumptions are challenged by recent findings, for example on prosociality, referred to in the previous chapters (reported by Nancy Eisenberg, Marian Radke-Yarrow, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, and others). Underlying the view of moral development in terms of the ability to resolve moral dilemmas is also the assumption that formal moral reasoning evoke mechanisms of resolving inconsistencies. To this assumption I shall return.
13Caroll Gilligan: In a different voice. Psychological theory and women's development. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982.
14Cf. Ann Gibson (1991) in Science vol.253: 956-959: "The brains of human babies are the same size until age 2 to 3. After that, male brains grow faster until age 6, when the full brain size is reached. Many researchers think this pattern reflects the fact that the basic structure of the brain is female and it is modified when male sex hormones kicks in. She refers to Doreen Kimura, who states: "There is a large body of evidence, maily in rodents, indicating that the default brain in mammals is female, and that the androgens must be present very early in life to maskculize both genitalia and brain" (Encyclopedia of Neuroscience).
15This dilemma on euthanasia was presented and processed by students in the beginning of the 1970s. But the issue is still relevant. In a recent inquiry among Norwegian students, including medical students, Kari Vigeland (Nordisk psykologi, 1991), finds that 46 % of the respondents considered it morally acceptable for the doctor to actively commit euthanasia through giving a deadly injection to a suffering patient begging for it towards the end. As in the above study religions students are more restrictive.
16Five alternative responses to each of 34 norm statements are allowed for, ranging from strong rejection to strong support. Below are listed two examples of norm statements of relevance to the euthanasia dilemma:
17See C. Gilligan: op.cit., and Carol Gilligan: Adolescent Development reconsidered, Prologue in: C. Gilligan, J. V. Ward, and J. Mclean Taylor (eds.): Mapping the Moral Domain, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988, pp.vii-xxxiv.
18While each dyad was given the task of being a "jury" that were to reach a judgement upon the rightness or wrongness of two incompatible actions, A and B, and, hence, a task that invited them to make up their minds through resolving the intra- and interpersonal inconsistencies that the dilemma might evoke, the empirical profiles and, in part, even the judgmental outputs, indicate that other mechanisms may have been in operation within and between their minds. Given the judgement task, it was expected that as the conversation in the dyad proceeded, the degree of intra- and interpersonal inconsistency would come to be diminished or resolved as the "jury" reached its verdict. This is what would be implied by the principle of cognitive consistency, and mechanism of this kind were implemented in a computer model for simulation of the processes. The results point in another direction. The consistency profiles generated upon finding the implemented inconsistency modes of the model inadequate for some of the systems released from high inconsistency, reveal an oscillating inconsistency pattern that re-creates itself.
19It is possible that the profiles, when values are specified on strength and distance, may conform to a description in terms of fractals.............
20One should, however, bear in mind the inconsistency bind that the participants of the moral juries were caught in, even though they were asked to try to reach a common verdict. In addition, the participants were university students, aware of the professor behind the one-way screen. As one of the participants remarked upon reply of the video-record: It would be embarrassing to reach an agreement to soon, wanted to show that one were capable of rational (saklig, sachlich) discourse...
21S. Bråten (1981)......See also....S.Bråten (1979.....
22B. Russell: History of Western Philosophy, George Allen & Unwin, London 1961, p.173 (underlined by me, S.B.)
23Stein Bråten: 'The Third Position - beyond Artificial and Autopoietic Reduction', Kybernetes 13 1984 (No 3),pp.157-163 (Reprinted in F.Geyer and J.van der Zouwen (eds.) Sociocybernetic Paradoxes, Sage, London 1986, pp.193-205.
24J.Habermas and N.Luhmann: Theorie der Gesellschaft oder Sozialtechnologie. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt a.M., 1971,p.137.
25Modes of resolving a model monopoly and reactivation conversation between complementary perspectives within and between minds follow from negation of these conditions. Cf. S. Bråten, op.cit. 1983, 1984....
26Cf. Stein Bråten: Dialogens vilkår i datasamfunnet (Conditions for Dialogue in the Computer Society), Universitetsforlaget, Oslo 1983, ch.8.
27B. Russell: History of Western Philosophy, George Allen & Unwin, London 1961, p.173 (underlined by me, S.B.)
28Stein Bråten: 'Model Monopoly and Communication: Systems Theoretical Notes on Democratization', Acta Sociologica 16 1973 (no 2),pp.98-107.
29G.W. Leibniz: Discourse on Metaphysics, XXVI, in Leibniz Selections, ed. by P. Wiener, Charles Schribner's Sons 1951.
30Gregory Bateson (In: Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Paladin, New York 1973) offers the recipe of resorting to a meta-level for breaking vicious circles.
31Herbst: Alternatives to Hierarchies, Martinus Nijhhoff, Leiden 1976, suggests resorting to Zen Buddhistic modes as a way of resolving the bind imposed by Aristotelian logic.
32Donald Schon: The Reflective Practioner, Basic Books, New York 1983.
33Arne Næss (In: I.Gullvåg and J.Wetlesen (ed.): In Sceptical Wonder: Inquiries into the Philosophy of Arne Næss, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, 1982, pp.126-127) recounts how resistance people in occupied Norway were given the advice 'Do not enter into discussions with the Germans' as a safety measure against being influenced by well-trained competent others promoting nazi ideas.
34In the text I adhere to a working paper by Herbst (1971) with the title: The Quest for Certainty: Totalitarian Logic and Principles of Behaviour, providing the basis for chapter 6 in Herbst (1976).
35) Collateral decision rule: If uncertainty arises from the implementation of axiom 4'), choose the assumption that the person is in fact evil.
36Max Weber: The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism,....; Gudmund Hernes: The Logic of Weber's Protestant Ethics. The latter analysis of Weber's classical work is a fascinating laying out of Weber's narrative in terms of the crime narrative. Hernes also reveals how Weber's basic reasoning may be interpreted as anticipations of game-theoretical models.
37The difficulty of creating an all-good world even invites a higher-order dialectic logic, in terms of which the "good" by the act of defining itself concurrently creates its opposite as that which it excludes. In the end, in practice, the lower-order logic will be regressed to.
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