GROUNDING POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT
(2
nd [WWW] edition)

CHAPTER 9:

THE POLITICAL PRACTICE OF GENETIC EPISTEMOLOGY


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Both DPD and this book rely heavily on an extension of Lawrence Kohlberg's micro-level, genetic-epistemological theory of the development of moral reasoning (Colby and Kohlberg, 1987; Kohlberg, 1981, 1984) to the macro level of social aggregates, producing a definition of political development and atheoretical framework for studying it. This extension is accordingly subject to two sets of criticisms and misunderstandings: those attacking Kohlberg's work itself and hence the validity of any theory based on it, and those attacking the extension of Kohlberg's micro findings to the macro level. The first purpose of this chapter is to review and rebut these objections.

However, as noted in the previous chapter, more than a simple rebuttal is necessary. The objections arise in part because the works in question imply, but fail to describe clearly, a society structured in accordance with genetic-epistemological principles. Since theoretical perspectives can easily front for concrete oppressions, people are naturally reluctant to adopt a perspective without seeing something of its practical consequences. Accordingly, this chapter presses beyond theoretical issues to statements about the political practice implied by the genetic-epistemological perspective.

The description of this political practice will be tentative and incomplete. Definite descriptions of social forms depend on the existence of those forms, and we have as yet little experience with them. The extension of the genetic-epistemological perspective to the real world must therefore be seen as "work in progress," and the statements made in this chapter as my best guess.

The chapter is organized in three sections. The first describes the genetic-epistemological perspective and its differences from other structuralist perspectives. The second section states the most common objections to genetic epistemology and its extension to political development, and it replies to them. The third section turns directly to the political practice implied by the genetic-epistemological perspective-in particular, the nature of politics within a society and the nature of development policy.


I. Genetic Epistemology

Genetic epistemology(1) arises from the following observations:

1. Knowledge is not a direct apprehension or representation of the environment but is instead constituted in the interrelationship of physical actions or operations within an organized whole. This "structural" view of knowledge distinguishes genetic epistemology from the alternative epistemologies underlying stimulus-response theory, social learning theory, and the accumulation model (Hess and Torney, 1967). Such alternatives view knowledge as a set of associations between arbitrary elements, having no necessary logical structure. In these theories, "truth" is learned in the same manner as "falsehood" - assuming that such terms could even be given meaning within those theories. Genetic epistemology recognizes the abstract logical organization of knowledge.(2)

2. Structural forms of knowledge develop from the active construction of the world that arises during interaction with it; such knowledge does not develop from biological maturation (that is, such knowledge is not "wired in") or from associative learning (associative learning exists, of course, but it does not produce the logical structures we are speaking of). The world with which one interacts can be physical, social, or aesthetic. Interaction with the physical world produces a sequence of structures of physical-logical thought-structures that become increasingly stable in the face of shifts of perspective (Piaget).(3) Interaction with the social world produces a sequence of structures of moral judgment-structures that become increasingly stable in the face of shifts in one's position in the social situation (Kohlberg).(4) Interaction with the aesthetic world produces a sequence of structures of aesthetic judgment that become increasingly stable in the face of differences between different people's aesthetic experiences (Parsons).

This constructivist, interactionist genetic-epistemological theories, and distinguishes them both from nonstructuralist theories and from other structuralist theories.(5) Only in genetic epistemology are the structures constructed by the actor (as opposed to existing immanently) and yet constructed not by the actor alone but rather as the actor interacts with the environment.

3. These philosophical and theoretical foundations of genetic epistemology are reinforced by a series of empirical findings listed earlier in Chapter 5.(6)

4. The structures constructed by each (inter-) actor develop in response to conflicts among alternative perspectives by successively differentiating to reestablish mutual coordination with one another. That is, structures develop when an actor discovers that the current structure yields different conclusions when applied to different perspectives; new structures arise as the actor develops a more refined or comprehensive logical structure so that the separate, formerly conflicting perspectives are recoordinated with one another.

Consider the following example from the physical world. Children often believe that the reason they see the moon in the same position relative to themselves, even when they move around, is that the moon is following them. They discover the difficulties with this theory when they learn that their friends believe the moon follows them around, too. They are able to resolve this dilemma by differentiating their perspectives from others' and by coordinating these perspectives through an image of a Euclidean world.

Structural development is not inevitable, since it depends on the recognition that perspectives can conflict. This recognition may not occur, and may even be denied through psychological or sociological mechanisms. But development is always possible-for any person, at any stage, whenever she perceives such relativity (Flavell, 1963; Kohlberg, 1981, 1984a).

These processes also occur in the construction of moral and aesthetic knowledge, where one's moral or aesthetic perspective is repeatedly challenged by conflicting perspectives - others' perspectives, or one's own perspective at another time.

In each of the three domains of discourse, the resulting observable, sequential construction of cognitive structures yields a sequence of philosophically more adequate positions. As Kohlberg expresses it for the domain of moral reasoning:

The scientific theory as to why people factually do move upward from stage to stage, and why they factually do prefer a higher stage to a lower, is broadly the same as a moral theory as to why people should prefer a higher stage to a lower.... [Although] psychological theory and normative ethical theory are not reducible to each other, the two enterprises are isomorphic or parallel(Kohlberg, 1981:179180).
Thus there is a simultaneous, mutually disciplining construction of both the hypothesized cognitive structures of morality and our understanding of the nature of morality itself.(7)

5. Genetic epistemology speaks of individual development, but its findings can be applied to macro social structures as well.(8) The application must be cognizant of emergent properties of social aggregates, but it nevertheless permits a definition of political development (and a theoretical framework for studying it) that flows from the genetic-epistemological perspective (DPD; Rosenberg, Ward, and Chilton, 1988). Briefly, the individual-level perspective of genetic epistemology is translated to the macro-level perspective of political development by noting that cultures are defined by the particular ways of relating that are employed in social interaction; that ways of relating constitute moral reasoning; and that the moral reasoning employed by a specific culture can be stage-scored (Chapter 6 of this book). The structural ambiguities Kohlberg identifies in each stage carry over to social conflicts, providing one mechanism for developmental dynamics. However, development can also be affected by hegemonic control over what ways of relating are invented; if invented, which become prominent; and, if prominent, which are chosen for use. The process of development then arises from the interaction of these two dynamic forces of structural ambiguity and hegemonic power (DPD, Chapter 5).


II. Criticisms, Misinterpretations, and Replies

A. Criticisms and Misinterpretations

Most philosophical criticisms of genetic epistemology (and its application to entire cultures) arise from critics' concerns about cultural relativism, since genetic epistemology explicitly judges reasoning structures as more or less adequate. Specific criticisms are as follows:(9)

1. Regardless of its empirical claims, the origin of genetic epistemology in the rationalist, male, Western, liberal tradition puts its normative claims out of court. This objection applies to both Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning development and, before that, Piaget's theory of both logical and moral development.

2. That this origin of genetic epistemology dictates its results can be seen in several areas: in the almost complete absence of "high-stage" thinking among certain cultures (especially nonliterate cultures); in the relative absence of high stage thinking among women; and in the scoring system's inability to recognize moral orientations frequently adopted by women. The highly skewed nature of the empirical results is held to falsify the perspective.

3. By arguing for the superiority of one form of reasoning over another, genetic epistemology is held to lack respect for the values of other cultures. It is no more than a scientistic justification for continued Western, capitalist, imperialist, and/or patriarchal oppression.

4. Kohlberg himself apparently denies any possible extension of his work to macro political structure:

A related confusion of the relativist is the notion that the function of moral principles is to judge cultures or societies as wholes, and, because one cannot legitimately make absolute moral evaluations of one culture as worth more or less than another, there are no nonrelative moral principles. Moral principles, however, prescribe universal human obligations; they are not scales for evaluating collective entities (Kohlberg, 1981:111; emphasis supplied).
We do not believe that the comparison of one culture to another in terms of moral development is a theoretically useful strategy for the growth of scientific knowledge.... Comparisons [of mean moral scores between cultures] have no scientific justification or value, since they would imply that it makes sense to speak of one culture having more moral worth than another. It is difficult to understand what a valid concept of "comparative moral worth of culture" might be, but in any case, such a concept could not be established on the basis of comparison of means on our moral judgment assessment scale. There is no direct way in which group averages can be translated into statements of the relative moral worth of groups.
Like most anthropologists, we would agree that cultures should be treated evaluatively as unique configurations of norms and institutions which help social organizations to adapt to local conditions as well as to universal normative problems. In this sense anthropological cultural relativism is compatible with our philosophic assumption of the universal validity of moral principles.... We do not understand how a "moral ranking" of cultures could either be done or be scientifically useful (Kohlberg, 1984:330-331).

B. Replies

The following replies are indexed to the objections listed above. The first three replies are based on Kohlberg, Levine, and Hewer (1984b); the second also owes much to Fraser (1986).

1. Arguments against a theory on the basis of its origin have no philosophical weight. Origins can make one suspicious of a theory, but to prove or disprove its assertions requires direct analysis. Philosophical or empirical claims made by a theory can only be challenged by philosophical counterargument or empirical disproof.

2. Moral development occurs most in those populations most exposed to wide-scale moral conflicts. Nonliterate societies tend to be small societies, where conflicts arise in the context of dyadic, face-to-face relations. Sex differences in moral reasoning levels appear in cultures where one sex is more restricted than the other. Studies controlling for education and occupational status reveal no sex differences in moral stage. (See Kohlberg, Levine, and Hewer, 1984b:345-348, citing Walker, 1982.)

However, it may be true, as Gilligan (1982), Benhabib (1986), Fraser (1986), and others have argued, that Kohlberg's scoring system does not recognize certain forms of moral discourse. It is certainly a theoretical possibility for any such cognitive development scoring system. Kohlberg (1984) himself grants the limitation of his own work by speaking of "justice reasoning" instead of "moral reasoning."

The problems of Kohlberg's specific scoring system are not relevant to the claims made in the present work, however. The heart of the genetic-epistemological perspective is the requirement for moral claims to be discursively justified. As Habermas (1983) points out, the abstract grounds explaining the normative power of any sequence of moral reasoning stages can only be determined retrospectively; such justification is always subject to new understandings. Because empirical studies of moral development must start from a philosophical position in regard to the nature of morality, they cannot be used to establish normative value, but they can be used to discipline such positions. Properly conceived criteria of moral judgment should produce empirical findings of invariant structural development. This interaction between philosophical argument and empirical discovery makes any specific view of morality subject to challenge on both philosophical and empirical grounds. The only ultimately defensible politics is, therefore, one in which such challenges are continuously and openly possible. Limitations of Kohlberg's (or any other system's) view of morality are a problem only to the extent that their provisions are used to justify coercive practices, especially the coercion of discourse. As will become apparent, the political practices outlined in the next section are not thus employed.

3. The desire for cultural relativity seems to arise from a concern that genetic-epistemological theories might devalue human beings. However, moral philosophers distinguish two forms of moral judgments: "deontic"judgments of moral obligation and "aretaic" judgments of moral worth (Frankena, 1963:810). Genetic-epistemological theories concern only deontic judgments: empirically, such theories demonstrate how deontic judgments develop; philosophically, they argue that later judgments are preferable (scientifically, morally, or aesthetically, depending on the domain) to earlier judgments.

People misinterpret genetic epistemology as an attempt to categorize people as better or worse (whether in intelligence, morality, or just plain value as human beings). According to this misunderstanding, genetic epistemology allows people who reason at a given stage to rule (at best) or to denigrate, dismiss, or silence (at worst) those reasoning at lower stages.

Unfortunately, the belief that genetic epistemology justifies aretaic judgments is found not just among genetic epistemology's critics but also among those who accept its cognitive-developmental framework of developmental sequences, structural stages, and so on. For example, Suzi Gablik (1977) misunderstands the larger implications of genetic epistemology in her otherwise illuminating attempt to understand art history from a cognitive-developmental perspective. Briefly, Gablik argues that the history of painting over the past several thousand years reveals the Piagetian developmental sequence of decreasing egocentrism and increasing coordination of viewpoints. Today's children are thus closer artistically to artists of two thousand years ago than they are to present-day adult artists. Her argument, supported by numerous historical examples, appears unexceptionable; the examples are clear, and the interpretation is plausible.

The problem, however, lies in the title of the book itself. Progress in Art. The implicit claim is that modern art is better art,(10) but Gablik fails to provide philosophical grounds for this aesthetic claim. The claim of a developmental sequence in artistic representation is an empirical claim, but the claim that higher is better is a philosophical claim requiring a separate justification. As with the so-called "naturalistic fallacy" in moral philosophy,(11) one cannot reach conclusions of aesthetic value by empirical arguments alone.(12)

Despite these misunderstandings by both supporters and critics of genetic epistemology, its theories provide no basis for aretaic judgments. As Kohlberg puts it (1984:324):

I explicitly state that my stage theory is not a theory claiming to aretaically grade individuals or cultures on some scale of moral worthiness.... Deontic judgments of rightness are more adequate and more likely to lead to consensus at Stage 5 or 6, but this does not mean that I assume that a morally conscientious and consistent actor using Stage 4 deontic reasoning to guide his actions is to be assigned lesser moral worth on some aretaic scale I explicitly say I do not have.(13)
In U.S. culture, deontic judgments are confused with aretaic judgments: to condemn someone's reasoning is to condemn that person. It is easy to see how this confusion would arise, since one's survival here depends on being "right." As a worker, to think accurately is to be assured of continuing employment and thus money for food, health coverage, and so on. As a citizen, to know and agree with U.S. cultural doctrines is to enjoy the respect of one's fellow citizens and (in the final analysis) to stay out of jail.

This identification of deontic and aretaic judgments is not inevitable, however. One can make intellectual judgments without personal condemnation, even indirect personal condemnation through loss of job and income, etc. In fact, there appears to be no rational basis for any aretaic judgment of humans.(14) As noted earlier in the discussion of deontic and aretaic judgments, genetic epistemology evaluates the moral adequacy or persuasiveness of moral judgments of rights and obligations; it does not evaluate the worth of the people making the judgments.(15)

The lack of aretaic judgments does not obviate discourse over development, however. The genetic-epistemological perspective is rooted in deontic judgments-in the present case, judgments of cultural practices. Discussions of development require deontic critique of cultural practices, but such discussions need not assert aretaic judgments of those practices' practitioners.

4. Because Kohlberg's work drives DPD's macro-level theory of political development, his comments would appear particularly damning, especially since Kohlberg always showed a determined nicety about what philosophical implications his work would and would not support. However, for two reasons-one trivial, the other deep-Kohlberg's objections do not apply to DPD's extension of his work to political development. Trivially, his objections do not apply because the extension does not use average moral maturity scores to classify cultures. Instead, I use the concept of political culture, defined as "all publicly common ways of relating," to enable analysts to stage-score a culture independently of its members' stage scores.(16)

But clearly this is the flimsiest of defenses: Kohlberg is objecting to the use of stage scores in any form to evaluate cultural practices. A deeper response to the objections is as follows: the developmental hierarchy of cultures is not an evaluation of the moral worth of the cultures (that is, not an aretaic judgment of them) but instead an evaluation of the reasons by which cultural organization and practices are justified (that is, a deontic judgment). Kohlberg himself recognizes the possibility of evaluating cultural practices, as he states in the sentences elided from those quoted above:

However, our agreement with relativism in this sense does not require us as moral agents to adopt an ethically relativistic position and so claim, for example, that Aztec human sacrifice is right. While it is true that the principles compatible with postconventional reasoning would lead one not to endorse the Aztec practice of human sacrifice, such a judgment constitutes a moral evaluation of a specific cultural practice, not of a culture per se (Kohlberg, 1984:331).
In DPD I frame the issue in terms of the distinction between structure and content:
[This theory of] development does not require a culture to become like any more developed culture, but instead requires that each culture resolve the structural ambiguities of its current stage in its own fashion. Even though there is a culturally universal sequence of organizing structures, there is no universal sequence of specific social forms (DPD, pp.75-76).
In other words, the stage-structural analysis of a culture allows us to recognize, through our knowledge of each structure's inherent ambiguities, the types of oppression to which a culture might be prone. Cultures relying upon Stage 4 reasoning, for example, will have difficulty dealing with other cultures or with internal dissent. To say this is not to condemn any particular culture; it is possible (if unlikely) that a culture has no dissenters and never comes into contact with any other culture. The theory gives no basis for condemning this fortunate culture for its practices; the theory only notes areas in which difficulties may arise. However, the theory does assert a natural duty for searching out those excluded from normative discourse.

Moreover, even a culture facing difficulties (e.g., a Stage 4 culture facing internal dissent or external contact) deserves no aretaic reproach for the practices by which it attempts to end its difficulties. We can condemn the practices, but it is clear that the members of the culture (or the culture as a whole, if one can speak meaningfully of such a thing) are doing the best they can, given their current intellectual resources and the situation facing them. Choice lies in the future. Because genetic epistemology recognizes that developmental change is always possible, it is not a framework by which to reproach people for the dead past.


III. The Political Practice Implied By Genetic Epistemology

This section lays out the various aspects of social organization, and particularly political practice, that appear to flow from the perspective of genetic epistemology. It deals with two aspects of politics: the nature of politics in a genetic-epistemologically oriented society and how development should be fostered. This section does not present a complete vision of political life, however; it concentrates instead on those aspects of politics to which genetic epistemology seems directly applicable.

A. General Political Goals Implied by Genetic Epistemology

Open Discourse. The root of genetic epistemology is its view of development as originating in a process of "equilibration" between subject and object. At the most general level of abstraction-what Piaget saw as the biological basis of his paradigm-two functions underlie all life: organization and adaptation. Life is organized and attempts to adapt to its environment. Adaptation can take place through either of two functions (or both simultaneously): assimilating the environment to the organism's current organization, or accommodating the organization to the environment. Specific examples of assimilation include (in biology) chewing and digesting the environment, which reduces the complexity of the physical world to the category of food, and (in cognition) seeing every human interaction as an opportunity to make a buck, which reduces the complexity of the social world to the category of "marks." Specific examples of accommodation include (in biology) the development of teeth and jaws and salivary glands, which enable the organism to process a wider variety of food, and (in cognition) the development of different techniques to con different kinds of marks. In general, knowledge is constituted in the organization of an organism equilibrated to its environment.

Because the social world is constituted by language (and other symbolic communication), we need to look at what equilibration means in that domain. As Habermas has shown, language, and thus social life itself, is possible only when every utterance implicitly carries a series of validity claims: that the utterance is comprehensible, that its propositional content about the real world is true, that its expression of the speaker's experience is authentic, and that the utterance is right within the social context shared by the parties to it. This last claim is essentially a moralclaim: a statement that the moral universe within which the discourse is occurring makes sense from all the points of view involved. Moral reasoning has to do with the structure of mutual understandings and obligations in terms of which people make sense of their social action. Thus, from a genetic-epistemological perspective, an equilibrated moral position is one that is equally justified from every point of view in the moral relationship under consideration. In the moral domain, equilibration means that one's view of the moral issues involved does not change in response to different perspectives or in response to nonmoral alterations in the situation. "Different perspectives" means how moral questions look to different people (or to the same person under different but morally identical circumstances).(17)

The redemption of the different validity claims requires different means. Claims to objective truth require a philosophy of science; claims to self-revelation require psychoanalytic inquiry, etc. The present work is particularly concerned with the redemption of moral claims, that is, with the claim that the social actors participating in a relationship agree on its morality. To establish this claim requires open discourse among the various parties, and thus every moral claim must be acknowledged-indeed, sought out! Far from silencing people, genetic-epistemological politics demands a careful, equal, and complete attention to everyone's voice.

The necessity for "equal and complete" consideration may not be apparent; why isn't it sufficient to give merely "careful" consideration to everyone? This requirement arises from genetic epistemology's view of equilibration: a cognitive structure is equilibrated only if it is consonant with all possible perspectives. It is not equilibrated if it holds merely for the majority of perspectives, or for most of the perspectives, or usually: only for all, and all the time.

Such consideration of different perspectives has meaning only on the assumption that we can understand them. After all, if we cannot understand others' points of view, we cannot equilibrate our concerns with theirs. Genetic epistemology is therefore founded on the assumption that, as Terence said, "Nothing human is alien to me." Discourse is possible not just between closely related individuals but also between actors whose cultures differ widely from one another. 'Me assumption is that we are not condemned, ultimately, to merely strategic action. Strategic action may be employed as part of the ordinary conduct of life, or when our practical resources for discourse fail, but genetic epistemology assumes that the ground of our social existence is always open to meaningful, discursive challenge. This assumption is not susceptible to direct proof or disproof, of course, but it seems plausible that if discourse is possible within close relationships, it is possible within all. The gaps in understanding between two closely tied people differ only in degree from those between any two people. Granted, the less experience that people share, the more obstacles their discourse will encounter, but this would seem to be a problem only of time and determination, not an existential barrier to human relationships.

Genetic epistemology also implies an active search for, and honoring of, different perspectives. Genetic-epistemological politics is ceaselessly aware of the possibility that perspectives may differ, that our equilibrated social agreements will have broken down between one moment and the next. We an occasionally have social interactions in which an unsuspected gap in understanding or belief suddenly opens up before us. Genetic-epistemological politics treats such circumstances as an opportunity for discourse oriented to reestablishing a fuller understanding, not as a signal for strategic action to impose one's own perspective. The first fundamental requirement of genetic-epistemological politics, therefore, is the creation of forums and techniques to facilitate such discourse.

The Elimination of Hegemonic Limitations on Discourse. In practice, of course, our own or others' experience and understanding are regularly denied through a variety of means. People are oppressed directly: incarcerated or killed so that their views are not heard, or threatened so they are afraid to express them, or denied access to the public forum (Parenti, 1978, 1986). People are segregated from one another, so that one group is denied access to the other's perspective.(18)People are oppressed "internally," so that they come to deny the validity of their own experience (Lipsky, 1987). People are isolated from others with similar experience, so that little opportunity for social validation or development of their voice occurs. People are kept without the conceptual, linguistic, and discursive tools to express their understandings (Fraser, 1986).(19)Ideologies purport to prove the validity claims of a political system but simultaneously resist any examination of the discourse basis under which such claims are considered (Marcuse, 1965; Habermas, 1975:112-113).

Overcoming such practical difficulties is the second requirement of genetic-epistemological politics. As asserted in the previous chapter, we require a critical praxis that is both consistent with the precepts of genetic epistemology and effective against existing institutional and internalized oppressions. Our task as theorists is no longer solely theoretical; ultimately, we have to learn how to apply our universal truths in our own contexts-to learn, ourselves, and to teach others. Such a practical subject is where this work leaves off, however; my concern in the present work remains theoretical and philosophical. But having acknowledged the importance of the demand for such a praxis, I do want to indicate two general considerations for it.

First, it is clear that open discourse is only possible when all people have equal access to the public forum. This would seem to require relative equality among people's financial and educational resources.(20) Many different arrangements might ensure such relative equality; I will merely note that Rawls (1 97 1: esp. Sections 33, 36, and 43) presents a sketch of one such arrangement.

"Equal access to the public forum" means a positive public obligation to ensure that all people have the resources necessary to participate in the public forum. It seems to me that the major advance since John Locke in our theoretical understanding has been our recognition that the classical liberal freedom to participate-i.e., the mere absence of legal barriers-is insufficient to maintain open discourse. Marxists and, more recently, feminists have pointed out hegemonic processes distorting liberal discourse. Their respective emphases on the class and gender lines of hegemony sufficiently illustrate the existence of hegemonic forces, in my view, but by no means exhaust our analysis. Indeed, I would argue that our deepening perception of hegemonic forces and our developing invention of ways to surmount them are never-ending processes.

Second, our quest to establish equal access to the public forum cannot rest with institutional reform. The hegemonic forces cited above do not derive solely from unjust institutions, that is, from strategic considerations of effective individual action within a given institutional framework, even assuming that the participants arc aware of the nature of the oppression. Hegemonic forces also arise from oppression supported by erroneous beliefs held by members of the oppressed class themselves and from the very language within which claims are pressed. Since these institutional and internalized oppressions reinforce one another, the creation of a just society requires dealing with both simultaneously. Just institutions may be able to "generate their own support" (Rawls, 1971:177), but it seems unlikely that they can create support where none existed before. Some "pedagogy of the oppressed" (Friere, 1970) is clearly required.

Even leaving aside issues of internalized oppression, no set of institutions addresses all hegemonic forces forever. As in life itself, organization is always subject to developmental adaptation under the pressure of equilibration. In the social world, every institutional solution to existing hegemonies creates its own practical limits on discourse, thus requiring further development to pay heed to still-ignored perspectiveS.(21) Genetic-epistemological politics rejects the idolatry of any institutional solution and takes as its ultimate values only discourse itself and the emancipation arising therefrom.

Punishment and the Separation of Deontic and Aretaic Judgments. Although I argued earlier that genetic epistemology provides no basis for aretaic judgments, punishment would seem to be an exception to that. The legal process of formal charges, trial, and punishment seems specifically intended to establish an aretaic judgment of the accused: a judgment of that person's value as a member of society and the physical expression of that judgment. Certainly the common prejudice against former convicts is an aretaic judgment. Apparently, then, a society that punishes people-which, ignoring utopian fantasies, would seem to mean any society-is, at least in that respect, engaged in aretaic judgment. If this were so, then genetic-epistemological politics, denying such judgments, could only be seen as an impossible utopianism.

It is possible, however, to assert a theory of punishment free of aretaic judgment. Following Rawls (1971:240, Section 39), one can view punishment as merely a practice to ensure everyone's confidence in others' willingness to adhere to the just institutions.(22) This shifts the focus of concern away from aretaic judgments of the accused's value as a member of society and towards deontic judgments of whether her reasons for action are legitimate. It also shifts the assessment of punishment away from a focus on the miscreant's evilness (or to revenge); instead, punishment is assessed according to broader principles of social justice weighing a continuing respect for the accused's liberty against the loss of liberty to all (including the accused) arising from lack of punishment. Thus even for the domain of punishment, where one might think aretaic judgment would certainly be involved, genetic epistemology offers no hold for aretaic judgments about people's comparative value.(23) Each individual's value is absolute, even though the value of her vagrant wishes and reasons is not; people always have reasons that appear good to them to act as they do.

The refusal to make aretaic judgments is easily confused with certain "value neutral" or "value relativist" positions, whose adherents may easily conclude that genetic epistemology implies no basis for holding anyone to any contract. But this is a misunderstanding; while value relativism rejects the evaluation of both people and reasons, genetic epistemology only rejects the evaluation of people. One can evaluate people's reasons for their moral choices as more or less adequate, without implying that they are bad people for holding those reasons. In fact, the genetic-epistemological perspective is unavoidably concerned with those processes of discourse through which people broaden and reline their reasoning.

The Nature of Respect for Reasoning at Different Levels. Genetic epistemology's psychological requirement of equilibration implies all people's claim to be heard, subject to their respect for others' like claims. From this point of view, genetic epistemology seems to provide no basis for paternalistic denial of people's equal rights. At the same time, its deontic evaluation of different arguments seems to provide a definite basis for ignoring "lower-stage" arguments. How is this apparent contradiction to be resolved?(24)

1. Under no circumstances can one restrict people's claim to be respected as persons, meaning their right to have their basic ("categorical") moral claims respected. A genetic-epistemological recognition that a person's arguments are not well cast has nothing to do with her implicit claims as a human being to just treatment. Categorical claims apply to all.

2. Under no circumstances can one restrict people's claim to equal consideration of their contingent ("hypothetical') interests, as long as such interests do not violate categorical imperatives.(25) Even if our arguments for our ends are not well cast, we deserve respect as human beings trying to forward our interests.

3. From the standpoint of genetic epistemology, cognitive development arises not from a passive acquiescence to some externally defined truth but rather from the active process of construction that occurs during the equilibration of the world and one's cognitive structures. It follows that under no circumstances can we restrict thinking and that we are justified in restricting actions only when they present a clear and present danger to the just claims of actors or of others. "The question of equal liberty of conscience is settled. It is one of the fixed points of our considered judgments of justice" (Rawls, 1971:206).(26)

4. Any inequality in the degree of attention given to competing arguments or in the degree of access available to desired positions must be justified on one of two grounds: (1) that an individual's reasoning, if followed, or occupancy of a position, if allowed, would violate the categorical imperative to give equal respect to everyone's moral claims; or (2) that an individual's reasoning (or occupation of a position) is inadequate to ensure her own good. Criterion (2) must be applied only charily, however, since it is subject to several problems. First, paternalism deprives people of the very experience necessary for them to observe the effects of their action and to modify it accordingly, or to occupy a position and learn its requirements. Only a very serious and direct threat to a person's well-being (e.g., preventing a child from running into a busy street) or a firm knowledge that the experience would not produce knowledge (e.g., for someone brain-damaged), can warrant a restriction of that person's experience. Second, we must recognize that no person can totally appreciate the rich, personal significance of another's aims. It is easy to make one's own distaste or misunderstanding into a speciously universalistic judgment about others' choice in an original position. Paternalism is notoriously employed to disguise exploitation, and one need not even assume exploitation to recognize that it is all too easy to assume that one's own ends are everyone's.

5. In DPD, pp.84-86, I assert that, other things being equal, regimes will tend to be more just, legitimate, and stable when political rank is proportional to moral reasoning stage. The problem of moral imperialism obviously arises.(27) The above points (1-4) show to what extent one would favor such rule. It is easiest to frame the issue in the Rawlsian terms of what would be agreed to in an original position. DPD's analysis points to certain aspects of cognitive psychology, communication patterns, and political activity that affect the ability of a regime to be just and, by retaining legitimacy, stable. These considerations would, it seems to me, be admitted into the original position as part of what Rawls (1971:137) terms "general facts about. .. political affairs,.. social organization and the laws of human psychology." These considerations would not affect the choice of principles of justice, I think, but would affect the choice among constitutions.

It is certainly possible that justice would not be served-liberty not protected and enhanced, or the least well-off position not advanced-by distinguishing people on the basis of moral reasoning level. Such distinctions may come to have aretaic connotations that make them marks of separation and inferiority, even if those connotations are not supported by the theory that creates the distinctions.(28) If so, then justice would demand that they not be recognized. Such concerns are both serious and legitimate and thus require careful attention. Properly understood, genetic epistemology does not force us to make distinctions that do not advance justice.

B. The Development Support Policy Implied by Genetic Epistemology

Being a developmental theory itself, genetic epistemology surely has lessons for how societies should support one another's development.(29) Many of the remarks below are unfortunately vague-mere guidelines when we would like clear decision rules-but guidelines are all that a general treatment like this can reasonably establish. In addition, I restrict myself to those considerations of development policy that arise from genetic epistemology. The important issue of when intervention is justified therefore remains unaddressed, because the complex questions it raises seem to me little illuminated by strictly genetic-epistemological considerations.

Anybody Can Play. We first return to the theme of distinguishing deontic and aretaic judgments. Like people, societies are free to critique the policies and practices of other societies: to note contradictions and make suggestions. Such deontic judgments of other societies' reasoning should stop short of aretaic judgments of blame and condemnation. The latter sort of judgments accomplish nothing except the degradation of relations. If we start with the assumption that every person is doing the best she can within the limits of her moral understanding and political power, then there can be no grounds for the aretaic judgments implicit in reproofs and reproaches.

Note also that criticisms by "more-developed" societies are not privileged; no society is above challenge. It may happen that society X, employing reasoning at a lower cognitive stage than that of society Y, may find it hard to challenge Y's beliefs. Regardless of this difficulty, Y still faces the necessity of taking X's perspective into account. Earlier I said that genetic epistemology implies an honoring of different perspectives. Honoring here does not mean remaining slavishly neutral toward others' perspectives, of course, but it does mean coming to grips with them. Our politics ought to allow us neither to dismiss others without full consideration nor to leave them in error if they are wrong.

Definite But Reasonable Expectations. The general difficulty of cognitive development, particularly for a culture collectively, implies that we must have reasonable expectations for societies' development. This applies to both the problems we point out and the policies we suggest. Societies will not change stages overnight, and impatience is politically futile, not to mention forgetful of the Western world's prolonged and bloody developmental struggles.

This is not to propose a passivity of purpose on our part; we can still speak clearly and strongly about developmental challenges other countries face. It is' however, to suggest that we measure in clearer developmental terms the progress made against the progress we expect, and that we acknowledge, praise, and encourage measurable developmental advances, not merely criticize failures or inaction.

Distinguish Development from National Security Policy. A development policy is best targeted at developing moral reasoning, not at eliciting pro-United States attitudes, or trade concessions, or military bases. A nation's ability to maintain an effective development policy will certainly depend on its own security, so these attitudes, concessions, and bases have their place. We must recognize, however, that a development policy has goals separate from such considerations-including, in particular, the goal of eliminating hegemonic control.

The Cultural Relativism of Developmental Resolutions. Even if two cultures are at different developmental levels, development policy does not require that the less-developed culture become like the more-developed. Cognitive development only occurs when reasoners find and resolve ambiguities and contradictions within their own cognitive structure. Societal development therefore depends on a culture's widespread recognition of its own ambiguities and contradictions. Other countries' institutions may provide appropriate solutions to such problems, but the primary criterion of a development policy must be cultural appropriateness. Any other criterion simply reflects an exercise of hegemonic control. Development policy fosters indigenous developmental resolutions to a culture's indigenous problems; it does not impose particular (read: Western) institutions.

As a consequence, development policy should aid indigenous and progressive movements, not alien, regressive, or repressive movements. Development policymakers must take ideologies more seriously as reflecting the emergence into consciousness of certain cultural contradictions. This consciousness cannot be suppressed without moral violence; it would appear that the best we can do is stay out of the gears while they turn. Support of reactionary, repressive regimes against strong, popular movements pointing out real problems is shortsighted and unconscionable. Policymakers may gain a decade or so of stable repression, but their country loses its international reputation and, ultimately, its self-respect as an agent of development.

The issue is not whether we should refuse any connection with repressive governments; clearly there will be situations in which there is no reasonable alternative. The true issue is rather whether we are capable of abandoning such alliances when popular opposition to the government crystallizes.

C. Conclusion

My major concern in this work, particularly in this final chapter and more particularly in the description of genetic-epistemological politics, has been that the conceptualization of development presented in DPD be both coherent as a theoretical approach to the study of development and realistic as a practical model for development. In other words, I have tried to demonstrate that the approach to development advanced here, and in DPD is useful to both my academic and political colleagues.

I have tried to advance only arguments deriving from the genetic-epistemological perspective. The connection of this perspective with the later chapters (5-9) is clear, because these chapters discuss social processes whose dynamics arise from moral reasoning development, but the connection with the earlier, theoretical chapters (2-4) appears more subtle. For example, Chapter 2's lengthy discussion of the analytical method may seem to be far removed from Piaget and Kohlberg. Nevertheless, genetic epistemology and the analytical method are closely connected through their central concern with equilibration. Genetic epistemology sees development (including cognitive development) as driven by the need to coordinate different frames of reference, so that the organism's structure (cognitive structure) can maintain itself in its environment without the need for structural change. In the domain of moral development, equilibration means stability of the moral framework regardless of the actor. Similarly, the analytical method seeks to establish a theoretical framework that is invariant across people, so that different people agree on the framework used. The process of discourse in the domain of the analytical method is similar to that found in the domain of morality; in both cases, people make universal claims, reflect those claims against others' perspectives, and advance general criteria to resolve conflicts. In short, I see both the specifics of my conceptualization of political development and the analytical method through which I justify it as arising from the same underlying approach, an approach rooted in mutual respect for others' perspectives and practiced through open discourse.


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FOOTNOTES

1. Good overviews or illustrations of the genetic-epistemological perspective can be found in Flavell (1963), Kohlberg (1981, 1984), Parsons (1987), and Piaget (1970). 

2. The perception that elements take their meaning from their location within a larger context is not unique to genetic epistemology, of course. It is shared by the nonstructuralist Gestalt psychologists (e.g., Koffka, 1935) and by structuralists like Levi-Strauss (1963) and Chomsky (1975). 

3. Thus an early stage provides object permanence: one recognizes that objects exist even if they are taken out of sight. At such elementary levels, of course, the structures are coordinations of physical operations rather than of the internal representations of actions we come to call "thought." 

4. Thus, for example, the Stage 4 structure allows one to uphold a common set of laws regardless of one's personal affiliations. 

5. Vygotsky (1978) may provide the basis for another constructivist, interactionist theory. In comparison with Kohlberg's theory, however, Vygotsky's stages are much less clearly elaborated and their normative ground is not well established. 

6. Chapter 5, n.33. The empirical results cited in the text currently apply only to Kohlberg's scoring system, which embraces judgments of justice, not of morality as a whole. I discuss later the implications of this limitation; suffice it here to say that whatever the failings of Kohlberg's specific formulation, a suitably revised version would not alter the present argument. 

7. See also Kohlberg's (1984:217ff.) careful exposition of this relationship between philosophy and psychology, which he elaborated in response to Habermas's (1983) suggestions. 

8. Piaget recognized the role of social interaction in psychological development, but he did not speak of a development of macro social structures corresponding to the sequence of cognitive structures. 

9. This chapter concentrates on philosophical rather than methodological criticisms of Kohlberg's work. Kohlberg's most recent scoring system and the validity studies of it have answered the methodological objections, I believe; many of these objections arose from earlier formulations of the theory and scoring system.

The first three sets of criticisms below are taken from Shweder (1982), Simpson (1974), Sullivan (1977), Gilligan (1977, 1982), Gilligan and Murphy (1979), and Murphy and Gilligan (1980). The last set of criticisms appears in Kohlberg (1981,1984). 

10. One might infer an additional claim that historically later artists are better artists. Such evaluation seems pointless, however. Clearly, every artist does the best she can within the historical situation she encounters (materials, styles, tutors, and schools of thought, not to mention personal difficulties). In classical Greece an Einstein might have discovered ideas of great value, but not the theory of relativity! 

11. An argument makes the naturalistic fallacy when it attempts to derive moral conclusions solely from empirical premises. See Kohlberg (1981:101-189). 

12. Gablik does not specifically address this implication of her title. Michael J. Parsons's (1987) discussion of a developmental sequence of aesthetic judgment provides some philosophical support for the implicit claim of Gablik's tide, even though Parsons does not cite Gablik's work. 

13. The deontic-aretaic distinction also applies to the domains of science and aesthetics. In those domains, deontic judgments become judgments of the adequacy of standards of proof (science) or of aesthetic value (aesthetics). Aretaic judgments become those of the value of a discovery or a career (science) or of a work of art or an artist (aesthetics). 

14. As Harvey Jackins (1981) has put it: "Every single human being, when the entire situation is taken into account, has always, at every moment of the past done the very best that he or she could do, and so deserves neither blame nor reproach from anyone, including self. This, in particular, is true of you" (by permission of Rational Island Publishers). 

15. Indeed, Kohlberg holds that Stage 6 reasoning assigns equal moral worth to every human being. 

16. Simple aggregation of individual characteristics cannot define the characteristics of a society; this is the well-known problem of the "micro-macro connection." I raise this problem explicitly both in DPD and in Chapter 5 of this book. But even though Kohlberg's comments are not appropriate to the conception of stage scoring I employ, they must be examined to see if they might still apply. 

17. The preceding two sentences appear circular: one decides what a "moral" argument is by seeing if it excludes "nonmoral" circumstances. If this definition were indeed circular, it would be meaningless. However, the self-reference becomes successive approximation and not circularity. This issue is central to a class of works employing the very similar concepts of equilibration (Piaget), dialectical reasoning (Marx), reflective equilibrium (Rawls), critical theory (Habermas), etc. Habermas (1975:109-117) explicates the logic behind this apparent circularity.] 

18. Class stratification patterns in residence and education, for example, result in little contact between members of different economic, ethnic, or racial groupings. Thus, members of each grouping are relatively free to propound moral positions oppressive to the other grouping-and even to employ such positions, to the extent that it is within their power to do so. 

19. See the material from Fraser (1986:425) quoted in Chapter 8, note 4. Friere (1970) makes a similar point. 

20. It would also seem to require relative equality among corporations, since the latter are inevitably influential in establishing cultures conducive to their own products. 

21. Some institutions will be better than others, of course. It is possible that a utopia might eventually exist in which all perspectives receive full respect. But the statement that we cannot rest with any given structure certainly seems valid for the foreseeable future! 

22. "Others" in this case would include people who don't grasp the justice of the institutions and the consequent obligation to obey them. For an argument that Rawls in fact provides no justification for punishment see Brubaker (1988:829-831). 

23. It might appear that Rawls (197 1: Section 66) makes aretaic judgments in his theory of good applied to persons, in which he states the sort of virtues we rationally would like people to have: "the broadly based features of moral character that it is rational for the persons in the original position to want in one another" (p.437). However, the evaluations implied by this view of the good are not linked to people's right to liberty, distributive shares, or moral treatment in general. Saying what virtues it is rational to want people to possess is not the same as condemning people for failing to possess them. 

24. The following discussion draws largely on Rawls (1971: esp. Sections 37 and 40). 

25. In other words, we are bound to respect everyone's pursuit of their own ends, limited only by those universalizable considerations that would be accepted in an initial position occupied by free and equal rational beings. These limitations are of two types.

First, the ends themselves can be, judged rational or not. Thus Tommy's ambition to be the greatest pinball player in the world would be admissible, however odd it was, since it violated no one else's basic rights; but Hitler's ambition to kill the Jews would not be admissible, since it contemplated the violation of the prior, categorical right of Jews to life. Second, ends that are reasonable in small degrees can be limited by principles of justice that address the cumulative effect of these ends on others. Thus the ownership of property for personal use might be acceptable, while unlimited acquisition might be rejected as harmful to the least well off. 

26. It is therefore an argument for the genetic-epistemological perspective that it provides firm ground for liberty of conscience, and that it does so using an argument independent of Rawls's. In other words, the considerations adduced by genetic epistemology are not simply those of Rawls translated into a different language. 

27. For example, Palmer (1989) sees my genetic-epistemological orientation as the latest form of Plato's rule by the elite, defining the elite as the highest stage reasoners. 

28. We must also recognize the possibility that such difficulties will vary according to the society concerned. This is why l believe that the idea of developmental distinctions would not arise until Rawls's "constitutional convention" stage, where the occupants of the original position acquire some idea of the nature of the society to which their constitutional arrangements will apply. 

29. Several of these points also appear in DPD, pp. 109-111.


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