Extended Mind and Moral Development (an old draft paper)

Illustration depicting the development of brain power as a child grows.

Illustration depicting the development of brain power as a child grows available under a CC-By-NC-ND license

download paper here

Download paper here


I first discuss the relationship between moral theories, theories of moral development and perspectives on moral education. This discussion leads to a conclusion regarding the decision criterion for inclusion of an educational component into a model of moral education.
I go on to consider Kohlberg’s perspective on moral development. That is, development of the child’s cognitive facility in relation to moral judgements. This is critiqued with reference to the special issue of JME.
I then present some alternative perspectives on moral development including Tappan’s sociocultural perspective. Finally, I conclude that Clark’s ‘extended mind’ thesis offers a unifying model for moral development which gives us some crucial insights into moral education.


I’m uploading this as is. I first wrote it in 2010 as an essay on the Values, Aims and Society (VAS) module of my Philosophy of Education Masters (I got a distinction). I forget my thought process, but I think I then submitted to a competition (didn’t win) and then a journal (wasn’t accepted). I made one revision, but then life intervened and I just didn’t have time to ever consider submitting again.

So, very unconventionally, I’m posting the last version I have, with a summary of comments from the reviewers (I think they’re all very fair and I wish I’d had time to address them properly at the time). I’m doing this for two reasons:

  1. The paper might be moderately interesting to some people. I enjoyed writing it, and it’s probably the only thing I’ll ever write about moral education.
  2. It’s hard to find rejected manuscripts with comments. I’m not publishing all track changes or whatever (I don’t even think I have them! Although there is one note to self on here) but maybe someone will find the brief summary comments here along with the original manuscript useful.

It’s also worth just reiterating I wrote this four years ago. My writing has changed since then, etc.etc.

Reviewer comments:

  1. Felt I needed to link DSA and extended approaches better
  2. Felt I needed to elaborate Tappan and relationship to type 2 more (and more broadly, that the descriptions of Tappan, Clark and Lapsley & Hill were too cursory)
  3. Felt the section ‘sociocultural perspective’ was too close to stringing quotes together
  4. Felt importance of ‘language’ as a tool for morality needed further explanation particularly in light of animal research indicating strong reactions against perceived unfairness
  5. Felt Extended’s perspective to brain, and mind needed further elaboration, particularly given DSA appears to rely on brain
  6. Felt use of ‘internalisation’ and ‘representation’ were seemed very cognitive, given the claim for sociocultural/extended perspective made (which would seem to reject such internalist accounts)
  7. Felt it needed closer proofing (very fair).

To some extent some of these will have been worked on (I did revise after comments) but not fully.

download paper here

Download paper here

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