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Chapter Ten: The Systems Stage

Section 5: Judgement and Acceptance



One of the choices one may make in the face of a judgment of non-optimal moral competence on the part of another is that one should educate the other. (One may also decide that one is not in a position to so contribute -- then one must have the serenity to accept what one cannot change.) Moral education requires both judgment and acceptance. Judgment is necessary to determine what needs to be accomplished. Acceptance is necessary to provide an atmosphere that will promote the openness and experimentation necessary to moral development.



Moral authoritarians can command obedience, but their lack of acceptance impairs their ability to contribute to moral development. Moral relativists can provide the acceptance (the humanistic psychotherapist, Carl Rogers, would call it "unconditional positive regard") to promote openness and experimentation, but have no objective basis for providing direction. People at the formal operations level are thus limited to mixing moral absolutism and relativism to promote development. The resulting conflicts and oscillations are less than optimally effective.



There is nothing in the morality of consequences that would prevent acceptance of individual or cultural variety. Even where developmental levels differ, one can maintain respect -- just as one can respect, and sometimes stand in awe of, the capabilities of one's (developmentally inferior) children. Thus, the direction provided by judgment, and the growthful atmosphere provided by acceptance, are fused to optimize moral development. In this way, the absolute v. relative opposition of formal operations is synthesized on a new and higher plane made possible by systems thinking.







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Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future


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