Morality, Ethics and Good Work: Young People's Respectful and Ethical Minds*

  • Scott Seider
  • Katie Davis
  • Howard Gardner


We contend that the formation of the contemporary mind should emphasize the development of respect and ethics. Individuals with respectful minds welcome differences between themselves and other individuals and groups and seek to work effectively with all parties. Individuals who possess ethical minds acknowledge their membership within numerous local, national, and international communities; they consider the effects of their actions upon these communities. The multiple intelligences of human beings – particularly logical–mathematical intelligence and the personal intelligences – are the core capacities upon which policymakers and practitioners must call when seeking to foster young people's respectful and ethical minds. Here, we offer a number of experiences that can enhance relevant facets of young people's logical–mathematical and personal intelligences and help them to employ their intelligences in prosocial ways.

It is difficult to turn on the news or open a newspaper in twenty-first century America without learning of yet another high-profile ethical lapse. The millennium began with the demise of Enron, Arthur Andersen and WorldCom in some of the largest cases of corporate fraud in our nation's history. Since that inauspicious beginning, dozens of our nation's top athletes have been caught using illegal drugs to gain a competitive advantage in sports such as baseball, cycling, and track; leading academics and intellectuals have published books with passages plagiarized from other sources; and congressmen, senators, and cabinet members have been implicated in a bribery scandal involving illegal lobbying and campaign contributions. In The Cheating Culture, David Callahan (2004) described these and more mundane examples of unethical behavior as having become routine over the past 2 decades. Likewise, interviews with hundreds of young professionals by our colleagues at the Good Work Project have revealed that, as they enter the real world, many young adults believe the competition to get ahead necessitates such ethical compromises (Fischman et al. 2004). Scholars have found a similar mindset to be prevalent amongst high achieving high school students as well (Howard 2007; Pope 2003).


Moral Judgment Young Worker German Citizen Multiple Intelligence Moral Exemplar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aboud, F. (1988). Children and prejudice. New York: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  2. Augoustinos, M., & Rosewarne, D. L. (2001). Stereotype knowledge and prejudice in children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 19(Pt 1), 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, S., Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D., & Damasio, A. (1999). Impairment of social and moral behavior related to early damage in prefrontal cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 2, 1032–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ashe, A., & Rampersad, A. (1993). Days of grace: A memoir. New York: G.K. Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Barendsen, L., & Gardner, H. (2008). Good for what? Young workers in a global age. In A. Linley, S. Harrington, & N. Page (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology and work. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (in press).Google Scholar
  6. Callahan, D. (2004). The cheating culture: Why more Americans are doing wrong to get ahead. New York: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  7. Clark, W., & Hankins, N. (1985). Giftedness and conflict. Roeper Review, 8, 50–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Colby, A., & Damon, W. (1992). Some do care: Contemporary lives of moral commitment. New York: Free Press/Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Damon, W. (2008). The path to purpose: Helping our children find their calling in life. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  10. Davey, A. (1983). Learning to be prejudiced: Growing up in multi-ethnic Britain. London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  11. Dunham, Y. (2007). Assessing the automaticity of intergroup bias. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Harvard Graduate School of Education.Google Scholar
  12. Fischman, W., Schutte, D., Solomon, B., & Lam, G. (2001). The development of an enduring commitment to service work. In M. Michaelson & J. Nakamura (Eds.), Supportive frameworks for youth engagement (pp. 33–45). New York: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. Fischman, W., Solomon, D., Greenspan, D., & Gardner, H. (2004). Making good: How young people cope with moral dilemmas at work. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  15. Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  16. Gardner, H. (2006a). Multiple intelligences: New Horizons. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  17. Gardner, H. (2006b). Response to my critics. In J. Schaler (Ed.), Gardner under fire (pp. 277–344). Chicago, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
  18. Gardner, H. (2007). Five minds for the future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gardner, H., Kornhaber, M., & Warren, K. (1996a). Intelligence: Multiple perspectives. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  20. Gardner, H., Kornhaber, M., and Wake, W. (1996b). Intelligence: Multiple perspectives. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  21. Gibbons, P., & Gomes, P. (2002). A call to heroism: Renewing America's vision of greatness. Boston, MA: Atlantic Monthly Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gibbs, W., & Lyall, S. (2007, October 13). Gore shares peace prize for climate change work. The New York Times, p. A1.Google Scholar
  23. Greene, J. (2001). From neural “is” to moral “ought”: What are the moral implications of neuroscientific moral psychology? Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4, 847–850.Google Scholar
  24. Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hauser, M. (2006). Moral minds: How nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong. New York: Ecco.Google Scholar
  26. Hersh, R. (2007). Terms of engagement. AACU Peer Review, 9, 30–31.Google Scholar
  27. Hollingworth, L. (1942). Children above 180 IQ: Origin and development. New York: World Book.Google Scholar
  28. Howard, A. (2007). Learning privilege: Lessons of power and identity in affluent schooling. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Kohlberg, L. (1981). The philosophy of moral development. Cambridge, MA: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  30. Kohlberg, L. (1984). The psychology of moral development: The nature and validity of moral stages. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  31. Lovecky, D. (1992). Exploring social and emotional aspects of giftedness. Roeper Review, 15, 18–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mendaglio, S. (1995). Sensitivity among gifted persons: A multi-faceted perspective. Roeper Review, 17, 169–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Moran, S., & Gardner, H. (2006). Extraordinary achievements: A developmental systems analysis. In W. Damon, R. Lerner, D. Kuhn, R. Siegler, N. Eisenberg, A. Renniger, & I. Sigel (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, 6th Ed. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  34. Oliner, S., & Oliner, P. (1988). The altruistic personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  35. Pianta, R. (1992). Beyond the parent. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  36. Pope, D. (2003). Doing school: How we are creating a generation of stressed-out, materialistic and miseducated students. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Roeper, A. (2003). The young gifted girl: A contemporary view. Roeper Review, 25, 151–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Seider, S. (2006). Frame-changing experiences: A key to the development of a commitment to service-work and social action in young adults. Journal for Civic Commitment. Fall.Seider, S. (2006). Frame-changing experiences: A key to the development of a commitment to service-work and social action in young adults. Journal for Civic Commitment. Fall.Google Scholar
  39. Seider, S. (2007). Catalyzing a commitment to community service in emerging adults. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22, 612–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Seider, S. (2008a). “Bad things could happen”: How fear impedes the development of social responsibility in privileged adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research (in press).Google Scholar
  41. Seider, S. (2008b). Overwhelmed and immobilized: Raising the consciousness of privileged young adults about world hunger and poverty. International Studies Perspectives (in press).Google Scholar
  42. Seider, S. (2008c). Resisting obligation: How privileged adolescents conceive of their responsibilities to others. Journal of Research in Character Education (in press).Google Scholar
  43. Silverman, L. (1994). The moral sensitivity of gifted children and the evolution of society. Roeper Review, 17, 110–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Singer, P. (1981). The expanding circle: Ethics and sociobiology. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.Google Scholar
  45. Terman, L. (1925). Genetic studies of genius: Mental and physical traits of a thousand gifted children, Vol. 1. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boston University School of EducationTwo Sherborn Street or Two Silber WayUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Graduate School of Education

Personalised recommendations