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According to the cognitive-developmental theory, intellectual development is best understood in terms of age-related changes. This has been found to be a valid theory in the case of mentally subnormal subjects as well, although their development proceeds at a speed and up to a level different from their normal age-mates. The same theory has been applied to moral development and describes it, likewise, as a stage-like progress of moral reasoning with age. The present study tries to answer the following question: Does the moral reasoning of the subjects classified as subnormal change with age so that it can be said to develop? According to the results obtained (dealing with subjects nine-, 11-, 13-, 15- and 17-years-old), the cognitive-developmental hypothesis of moral development is only partially confirmed. Namely, there is a development from the less to the more mature forms of moral reasoning, but the course of that development is not entirely such as the theory assumes. Moreover, moral reasoning of the subjects in this study is more advanced than their intelligence level as expressed by the IQ score. © 1982, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Moral Education

Publication Date





233 - 246