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Moral Maturity
is marked by depth and consistency of moral judgment; by
recognition that any moral judgment may be fallible; that
moral judgment is complex, in that moral principles, if they
are to be applied to a specific case, may need to be
interpreted. Moral maturity is a requirement in the person
who is to apply a body of knowledge or a skill to the solution
of a problem, or to the understanding of a situation, if the
knowledge is not to remain abstract and the skill potential
Elements of Moral Maturity
Moral Agency and Sense of Self
Moral agency means that people see themselves as having the right
and the ability to make decisions, and to act on them. Developing a
sense of self and the authority of one's voice.
A morally mature person is not only a moral agent, but is also aware
that he or she is a moral agent.
Accepting moral agency helps people appreciate their responsibility
to act for the good. This naturally leads to the question of what "the
good" is, a search involving other aspects of moral maturity. However,
recognition that there is a self, the self chooses behaviors, and
behaviors affect the self and others, is fundamental to moral maturity.
Harnessing Cognitive Ability
Cognitive ability is the cornerstone of moral reasoning (Kohlberg,
1976). For instance, to resolve a moral dilemma, one needs to identify
stakeholders, evaluate their interests in a situation, appreciate
conflicts between principles, and often make tradeoffs.
A well-developed mind can better imagine the impact of various
courses of action. Further, mindfulness, where someone pays
attention to otherwise automatic activities (Langer, 1989), is a
cognitively intentional act.
Harnessing Emotional Resources
Emotions drive much of our behavior. Emotions supply goals for
rational thought, and rational thought redirects and sometimes
vetoes emotions (Plutchik, 2001). Morally mature people understand
this complex interplay. They take their own and other peoples'
emotions into account when interpreting events. They know, for
example, that initial emotional reactions do not always reflect
someone's deeper values.
Emotions are important in initiating and sustaining action.
Using Social Skill

Morally mature people have the skills to participate in the social

world. They can understand others, make themselves understood,
and sometimes persuade others to adopt their own point of view.
Morally mature people know that group norms affect behavior, and
that social pressure is used to encourage obedience. They can detect
untoward social pressure applied to themselves and others.
Using Principles
Morally mature people do not slavishly obey one principle, however.
They are aware of the conflicts between principles that underlie
moral dilemmas. They understand community standards and the
relationships that bind communities together.
Respecting Others
The morally mature person's respect for others shows itself in several
First, other people are valued.
Second, morally mature people know they are part of an
interdependent social network .
Third, a morally mature person recognizes that knowing is dependent
to some extent on the knower
Finally, a morally mature person can interact with others without
feeling that his or her own worldview is threatened.
Developing a Sense of Purpose
Finding life's purpose is a difficult philosophical task. It's easy to chant
someone else's slogans, of course. However, to choose one's own
goals - and to respect others while pursuing them, to use one's
cognitive, emotional, and social skills well, to keep fast to one's own
principles - is not so easy.
It might be a way of living life, a dedication to certain processes rather
than specific outcomes.