chapter  6
Reflections on the Moral Self Construct
WithLarry Nucci
Pages 22

Accounting formoral agency has proven to be a complex and difficult problem

for moral psychology. How is it that we move from knowing right from wrong

to acting in relation to thatmoral understanding?Are differences in the tenden-

cies to engage in moral action a function of differences in kinds of people or

differences in kinds of knowledge that people have? Canwe even successfully

pose such a dichotomy?What I hope to accomplishwithin this chapter is to ex-

amine recent attempts to resolve these questions through work that is being

done onwhat is called themoral self. I explore whether the constructs of moral

self andmoral identity have utility orwhether in fact such constructs are redun-

dant with a structuralist moral psychology, or even reductionist andmechanis-

tic. Unlikemost chapters that one sets out to write, I did not approach this topic

with a conclusion in mind. In fact, some of what I have to say is inconsistent

with what I have written on this same topic in a recently published book

(Nucci, 2001), and it is at odds with some of the statements includedwithin the

Presidential Adress on which this chapter draws. This inconsistency in my

own writing reflects the struggle to avoid the dualism that results from the

disjunction of moral motivation from moral judgment (a disjunction that dates

back at least to Aristotle). As will become clear in the context of this chapter, I

take issue with the notion advanced by Blasi (1993) and supported by others

(Bergman, 2002) that it is the goal of maintaining self-consistency that moti-

vates individuals to act morally.