for Program Proposals - JPS 2002 - Philadelphia
Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society
Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development
The Embodied Mind And Consciousness: Developmental Perspectives
June 6 - 8, 2002, Philadelphia, PA
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Submission deadline December 1, 2001
interested in the development of knowledge are invited to participate,
whatever their discipline. The plenary sessions will be organized
around a general theme, but individual proposals do not have to
be related to that theme.
theme of this year's conference is, The Embodied Mind and Consciousness:
Developmental Perspectives. In ever widening circles of academic
and professional discourse, the body is being discussed as both
a physical structure and a form of lived experience. The concept
of embodiment is increasingly called upon to account for the contextualization
of perception, thinking, feeling, desire, and social relationships
as these and other processes emerge from a body actively engaged
in a world of sociocultural and physical objects. A panel of distinguished
plenary speakers and invited symposia will provide a forum for exploring
conceptions of the development of the embodied mind and consciousness
from biological, psychological, and cultural perspectives. The Nobel
Laureate Gerald M. Edelman will present the Keynote Plenary address
on Embodiment and Consciousness. A special feature will be a seminar
on Piagets The Origins of Intelligence in Children
led by several Piagetian scholars.
will be accepted in English only. Instructions and forms for program
submissions are available on the Piaget Society web site at: http://www.piaget.org.We
strongly encourage submission by electronic forms. If you are unable
to access the electronic forms, please contact Cynthia Lightfoot
at the address below. All proposals sent by surface mail should
be addressed to:
Lightfoot, Vice President
JPS - Program Planning
Penn State Delaware County
25 Yearsley Mill Road
Media, PA 19063-5596
To be considered, proposals must be received (not just post-marked)
by December 1, 2001.
submission deadline has passed, but more information about the
conference can be found at: JPS
Conference Page - Ed.]
Reflections On Post-Formal Thought
Faculty of Psychology and Education
University of Lisbon
Alameda da Universidade
1649-013 Lisboa, Portugal
Thirty years after the most important
conceptualizations of post-formal thought, there still remain
various questions about the nature of such thought. The aims of
this article are (1) to succinctly describe the emergence of these
conceptualizations and the most important characteristics of this
level of thought , (2) to put forth some considerations regarding
these characteristics and (3) to analyze wether it is now possible
to speak of a fifth stage of development, beyond formal operations.
all the phases of the life cycle, adult life is the longest and,
until very recently, the most unknown. For decades the terms
human development and psychological development were
seen as related to childhood and adolescence, that is, to the first
twenty years of life. Traditionally experts in developmental psychology
analyzed the growth of the child and of the adolescent, holding
that development ends before adult life begins. One of the authors
who defended this position was Piaget, when he wrote, referring
to the stage of formal operations, "this general form of equilibrium
should be understood as final, both in the sense that it will not
change further during the rest of the lifetime, even if it is integrated
into broader systems (multivalent logical systems), and in the sense
that it unites into a single system groupings which until now were
without operational connections among them" (Inhelder &
Piaget, 1955, pp. 294-295). He again expressed this view twenty-five
years later, when he wrote, "(formal thought) constitutes a
complex but coherent system, relatively different from the logic
of the child: it constitutes the essence of the logic of educated
adults, as well as the basis of the elementary forms of scientific
thought" (Piaget, 1970/72, p. 6). These comments, widely criticized,
brought a group of authors to raise the hypothesis that there could
be a stage (or stages) beyond the formal, which would better represent
the objective of expanding the Piagetian view of formal thought,
various theories arose (cf. Arlin, 1975; Basseches, 1980; Commons,
Richards & Armon, 1984; Commons, Sinnott, Richards & Armon,
1989; Kramer, 1983, 1990; Pascual-Leone, 1984; Riegel, 1973; Sinnott
1981, 1984, 1989, among others) which were based on the assumption
that the distinctive characteristic of adult thought was the acceptance
and integration of various, and at times incompatible, truths which
are highly dependent upon context and upon the way in which the
subject perceives them without the subject needing, as the adolescent
does, to look for and to find a single truth. Such theories provoked
great enthusiasm in the scientific community. According to Sinnott
(1993), we were in the presence of a "new area" of development,
the main criticism made of Piaget was directed at his affirmation
that the stage of formal operations constituted the last stage of
psychogenesis, the post-formal thought theorists furthermore questioned
(1) the lack of parsimony and of empirical adequacy of the Piagetian
tasks employed in the evaluation of adult subjects; (2) the separation
of thought from the processes of the Self, of context, and of history;
(3) the excessive value given, in the Piagetian conceptualization,
to the structural dimension, to the detriment of the dialectical
dimensions; and (4) the model of formal operations, which appealed
excessively to the logic of the truth tables.
overcome such limitations, specific tasks were proposed to evaluate
adult thought; descriptions of adult thought were made in which
diverse dimensions (cognitive, subjective, intuitive, imaginative,
interpersonal) (Labouvie-Vief, 1992) were integrated; and alternate
models of formal thought, different from the Piagetian one, were
used. In the opinion of various authors, models existed which, better
than the model of the logic of binary operations, could portray
the complex, and at times contradictory, forms of thought which
develop at the end of adolescence and during adult life: the dialectical
model (cf. Basseches, 1984; Kramer, 1983; Riegel, 1973); the relativistic
model (cf. Sinnott, 1984, 1991); moral philosophy (cf. Armon, 1984);
the general theory of systems and Buddhism (cf. Koplowitz, 1984,
among the models which were alternatives to Piagets model
of formal operations, the dialectical and the relativist models
stand out, because of the influence they exerted on the bulk of
the conceptualizations of post-formal thought. Divulged by Klaus
Riegel, Hegels dialectic philosophy had a great influence
on the majority of the descriptions of post-formal thought. Riegel
(1973, 1975, 1976, 1978) was one of the first authors to criticize
Inhelder and Piagets affirmation (1955) that formal operations
constituted the level of final equilibrium. For Riegel, development
consists of continuous and constant changes in which contradictions
would be the motor of advances, there being--contrary to what Piaget
postulated--no stable levels of equilibrium. In his view, stability
and equilibrium would occur if the task of development would one
day be complete; but that never happens. According to Riegel (1973,
1975, 1976), the subject does not necessarily effect, such as was
postulated by Piaget, an equilibration of conflicts. On the contrary,
the dialectical thought which characterizes maturity consists in
living with contradictions, accepting them as such. It is the dialectical
interaction between equilibrium and disequilibrium that makes development
possible. The influence which the dialectical model had on the majority
of post-formal authors is notorious (for example, Basseches and
Kramer, who designate the last stage of development as the dialectical
stage; among others.)
relativistic model, based on axioms and properties of models from
physics, exerted, just as the dialectical model did, a great influence
on the majority of the conceptualizations of post-formal thought.
If Klaus Riegel was the great divulger of the dialectical model,
Jan Sinnott (1981, 1984, 1989, 1993) is the author who most dedicated
herself to the study of the properties of two models taken from
physics (the pre-relativistic model, namely that of Newton, and
the relativistic model of Einstein) and to the analysis of the repercussions
that these models had in the diverse conceptualizations of human
development in general, and of adult development, in particular.
According to Sinnott, the concepts postulated in each of the two
models reveal assumptions of differing natures regarding knowledge:
absolutistic assumptions, in the case of Newtons model; relativistic,
in the case of the more recent models.
the words of Sinnott (1993, p. 78), "one conclusion drawn from
the new physics is that sometimes multiple contradictory views of
truth are all 'true' simultaneously, although they appear contradictory
at first, and that reality is therefore the view of truth to which
we make a 'passionate commitment' (...)". This conclusion had a
great impact on the diverse conceptualizations of adult cognition,
in which it is postulated that different and incompatible truths
are accepted and integrated by the subject without his feeling the
need to seek and find a single truth. In her view, the Piagetian
analysis of formal operational thought was inspired by the Newtonian
perspective and, thus, would be insufficient to explain adult thought.
For Sinnott (1984), the "soft", relativist model, by containing
and co-ordinating the "strong" Newtonian logic in a broader
system of relationships among elements, would be a more adequate
model for representing post-formal thought than the bivalent logic
model of propositions.
defends a similar opinion (1984) when she affirms that the logical
relativist model combines, or synthesizes, various INRC groups,
and integrates hypothetico-deductive logic. This opinion is also
supported by Labouvie-Vief (1984), who distinguishes a "hard"
logic which, imposing limitations, shows itself insufficient to
explain post-formal thought, from a more "flexible" logic
which, although containing the former, would be less restrictive
and would better explain the complexity of adult thought. The "hard"
logic, proper to formal thought, would be manifested in the exhaustive
search for truth; in it reality is analyzed in terms of truths and
logical falsities, the latter being rejected. Consequently, subjects
can perform well in abstract, well defined tasks, but fail, however,
in tasks which are more complex and less structured, in which it
becomes necessary to take into consideration different and, at times,
conflicting points of view. For Labouvie-Vief (1984), the reference
to the Self and to others in more ample systems is only manifested
in the higher levels of development (the intersystemic and autonomous
levels) in which the expansion of logical absolutism (i.e., of the
logic of truth, or "hard logic") gives way to logical
relativism (i.e., to "flexible logic").
descriptions of post-formal thought are based on a dialectical epistemology
and on an epistemology of relativity. Such descriptions look to
these two epistemologies for notions such as dialectical operations,
the study of the subject through the life cycle, problem finding,
logical relativism, contextualism, self-reference, and acceptance
first references to the eventual existence of a stage beyond the
formal were made by Bruner (1959). In Bruners opinion--and,
later, in the opinion of Gruber and Vonèche (1976) and of
Commons & Richards (1984a,b)--such a stage would not be universal,
as only a few scientists would manifest such a level of thought.
However, the majority of authors who postulate the existence of
a fifth stage dont hold to this view, and maintain that such
a stage characterizes adult thought in general, and not just that
of a small elite. Riegel (1973) was one of the first authors
to postulate the existence of a fifth stage of development, characterized
by dialectical operations. For him, dialectical operations, by their
capacity to integrate contradictions into broader systems, can explain
the creative dimension of adult thought. Following on Riegel, Arlin
(1984), for one, proposes a fifth stage of development, that of
problem finding, which is characterized by the progressive
substitution of problem solving (the dominant activity, in his opinion,
of adolescent thought) by the capacity for the discovery and formulation
of questions about oneself and about life (an activity which is
constant in, and distinctive to, adult thought). In the words of
Arlin (1984), "the argument for a fifth stage is based on this
definition of problem finding and on the observations that 'general
questions' are uncommon in adolescent thought" (p. 265). Labouvie-Vief
(1984, 1992) holds the position that adult thought is characterized
by logical relativism and by progressive reference to the Self.
Kitchener et al. (cf. Kitchener & Brenner, 1990; Kitchener &
King, 1981, 1990a,b) defend, in their reflective judgement
model, that in the highest stages, knowledge is conceived of as
relative, circumscribed, and resulting from a constant evolution
which is susceptible to being evaluated and re-evaluated. For Kramer
(1983) formal operational thought is dual and absolutist (i.e.,
it is very dependent upon a true/false logic), and it does not allow
for mutually incompatible systems. Post-formal thought, which is
of a relativistic and dialectical nature, is more independent from
bipolar logic (i.e., from the true/false dichotomy), allowing the
subjects to become conscious of the existence of mutually incompatible
systems arising from the subjective and arbitrary nature of knowledge
(Kramer, 1983, 1990). Commons and co-workers (cf. Commons, Richards
& Kuhn, 1982; Richards & Commons, 1984, 1990) describe stages
of development qualitatively distinct from and logically more complex
than that of formal operations, which develop in sequence to this
stage (the systematic stage, the metasystematic stage,
the paradigmatic stage, the transparadigmatic stage).
In these stages subjects become progressively capable of analyzing
and of co-ordinating diverse systems, creating supersystems of a
great diversity of theories, and of methodologies (e.g., Basseches
(1984), with the dialectical schemata interview; Commons and co-workers
(1984a,b), with the four stories and, more recently (1995, 1998),
with the balance beams task; Kitchener and King (1981, 1990a,b),
with the reflective judgement interview; Kohlberg (Colby & Kohlberg,
1987), with the moral judgement interview; and Kramer (Kahlbaugh
& Kramer, 1995), with the elaborated interview for the evaluation
of the relativistic and dialectical levels of thought) presented
by authors who postulate the existence of stages of development
beyond the formal operations stage makes it difficult, if not impossible,
to get a unified view of the characteristics of this level of thought.
However, it is possible to identify in the diverse descriptions
of post-formal thought (cf. Kramer, 1983, 1989) some features which
would be specific to this level: (1) the recognition and understanding
of the relativistic, non-absolutist, nature of knowledge;
(2) the acceptance of contradiction to the extent that it
is part of reality; and (3) the integration of contradiction
into comprehensive systems, i.e., into a dialectical whole (Kramer,
relativistic and non-absolutist nature of knowledge
thought--contrary to thought which is absolutistic and dichotomous
is characterized by two features: first, by the acceptance of
incompatible systems of knowledge (Kramer, 1983; Labouvie-Vief,
1980; Riegel, 1973; Sinnott, 1984, 1993) and, second, by the recognition
of the subjective and arbitrary nature of knowledge (Kramer,
1983, 1990; Riegel, 1973; Sinnott, 1984, 1993). According to
various authors (cf. Kramer, 1983, 1990; Labouvie-Vief, 1980), the
relativistic conception of knowledge develops during adolescence
and young adulthood, thanks to the growing expansion of social space
which confronts subjects with (1) different points of view and different
values (Kramer, 1989); (2) with the assumption of roles which, at
times, can be difficult to reconcile; and (3) with the choice of
one direction among many possible ones (Labouvie-Vief, 1980; Kramer,
is the dimension of post-formal thought which is most dependent
upon context. In relativistic thought knowledge derives from context,
and is understood in relation to this context. Given that context
is constantly changing, usually in a disordered way, it becomes
difficult to anticipate either what changes will take place, or
what directions these changes will take. In relativistic thought
knowledge depends on each ones point of view. Given the diversity
of points of view, the subject assumes that contradiction constitutes
an inherent property of knowledge and of reality. In a relativistic
view of the world, contradictory and incompatible phenomena or systems
can co-exist, since their meaning depends upon context and upon
separate points of view, unrelated to each other (Kramer, 1989).
Thus, relativistic thought can, if contradiction is not integrated
into comprehensive systems, lead ultimately to immobility, and even
to chaos (cf. Kitchener & King, 1981; Kramer, 1990).
of contradiction and its integration into over-arching systems
and integration of contradiction are, for most authors (cf. Arlin,
1984; Basseches, 1984; Kramer, 1983; Labouvie-Vief, 1980; Sinnott,
1984; Riegel, 1973), the most distinctive and salient features of
adult thought, features which develop mostly in middle-age, though
there are great individual differences.
the post-formal theorists might speak in an undifferentiated manner
about contradiction, Kramer (1989) distinguishes contradiction which
is postulated according to a relativistic conceptualization (based,
as has already been said, upon contextualistic assumptions) from
contradiction postulated according to a dialectical conceptualization
(deriving from organismic assumptions). Organismic assumptions,
contrary to contextualistic assumptions, defend that change occurs
in a systematic (and non random) manner, results from the resolution
of conflicts (and not from their coexistence), and leads to greater
unity and coherence (and not to extreme multiplicity). Thus, to
avoid falling into immobility, to which extreme relativism can lead,
it becomes necessary to integrate contradiction into more inclusive
systems constituted by two or more formal systems. Integration of
contradiction is found in the highest levels by Kitchener and King
(1981), in the autonomous level by Labouvie-Vief (l980; l984; 1990),
and in the metaformal schemata of Basseches (1984; 1989), to mention
a few authors.
considerations regarding the characteristics of post-formal thought
that the principle features of post-formal thought have been described
(namely, comprehension of the relativistic nature of knowledge,
the acceptance of contradiction, and the integration of
contradiction into inclusive systems) they can be analyzed critically,
beginning with the notion of relativistic thought.
mentioned above, various authors, based on Einsteins theory
of relativity, contrast absolutistic thought with relativistic thought,
the latter generally seen as being characterized by the acceptance
of incompatible systems of knowledge, and by the recognition of
the subjective and arbitrary nature of knowledge and of its dependence
upon context. This characterization of relativistic thought raises
various questions, the first of which is whether such a characterization
reflects what Einstein meant by relativism. Various authors (cf.
Holton, 1998) question both the legitimacy of applying scientific
concepts to domains which are beyond the limits of the science in
which they arose, and the reliability of the interpretations of
these same concepts. According to Holton, the application of the
notion of relativism to non-scientific domains is generally based
on analogies which are not very convincing. The theory of relativity
doesnt reach the conclusion that truth depends upon the observers
point of view. On the contrary, the laws of physics are reformulated
such that they are valid for all observers, independently of the
way in which the observer is moving or of where he is located. According
to this theory, the most important truths of science are independent
of varying points of view. This being the case, it doesnt
seem legitimate to invoke Einstein to confirm that knowledge depends
upon diverse systems of reference, upon different points of view,
or upon different contexts. Relativity in physics, on the contrary,
teaches us that we can extract from different systems of reference
all the laws of physics, these being invariant. In Holton's words
(op. cit., p.154), "it is for this reason that, in contrast with
classical physics, modern relativity is simple, universal, and,
we can even say, 'absolute'. The cliché in fashion is, erroneously,
"everything is relative", when the important point is that, out
of the vast flux of all events, we can extract exactly the opposite:
some things are consistant.
interpretation of Einsteins theory of relativity reminds us
more of Piaget than of certain post-formal thought theorists.
It is true that some "post-formal" theorists identify
different levels of relativism, the first levels being of a more
radical character, while in the higher levels, besides the assumption
of idiosyncratic and contextual variables, more valid epistemological
justifications are sought. However, considering that these higher
levels, in which contradiction is integrated into more inclusive
frameworks, are not universal (i.e., few adults display them), it
can be said that adult thought could manifest an immobilizing and,
eventually, chaotic relativism, which has little or nothing to do
with Einsteinian relativism.
to acceptance of contradiction, and its integration into
inclusive systems, it is important to see whether these two
behaviors arent ever manifested in the highest level (level
B) of formal operations. Let us take, for example, the INRC group
(cf. Inhelder & Piaget, 1955), the structure which is subjacent
to formal thought. Upon resolving problems which presuppose the
co-ordination of an initial operation with its inverse, its reciprocal,
and its correlative, subjects not only are confronted with contradictory
situations, but will integrate this contradiction. If it must be
admitted that at the beginning of formal operations such co-ordination
is seen to be difficult, it is legitimate to suppose that at the
consolidated level (level B) of formal operations this co-ordination
is accomplished, is generalized, and is applied in an increasingly
greater number of possible instances. The following statement of
Inhelder and Piaget (1955) clarifies this: ". . .the beauty
of the new (INRC) system, which is now established and which demonstrates
the character of synthesis or of consolidation (waiting, naturally,
to be integrated into more encompassing systems), is that there
is not simply juxtaposition of inversions and of reciprocities,
but operatory fusion into a unified whole, in the sense in which
each operation will be from now on simultaneously the inverse of
another and the reciprocal of a third, this last being at the same
time the correlative (. . .) of the first" (Piaget & Inhelder,
1971, p.110). This being the case, these two characteristics considered
to be distinctive of post-formal thought can already be manifest
at the level of formal operations. The failure of certain post-formal
theorists to consider the levels of development (from genesis to
consolidation) within the formal operations stage constitutes a
significant lacuna which can lead to the undervaluing of the potentialities
of this level of thought. Consequently, it is not clear or empirically
confirmed that formal operations are insufficient for co-ordinating
the different references, nor that the eventual co-ordination of
various types of reference represents a structural development beyond
formal operations. By way of conclusion, it does seem curious that
Kramer, herself a defender of post-formal thought, should affirm
(1983, p.99) that "it is (...) not clear that the formal operational
and post-formal uses of contradiction are all that different, at
it now possible to speak of a fifth stage of development, beyond
is the nature of post-formal thought?
primary objective of the different descriptions of post-formal thought
was, as has been said, to expand the Piagetian conception of formal
operations. Not accepting that the stage of formal operations constitutes
the level of final equilibrium, theorists have postulated the existence
of a fifth stage which, better than formal operations, would explain
it is evident that everything leads us to believe that there can
be development during adult life, then it is important to know whether
the fifth stage of development which the bulk of theorists propose
as being beyond the formal, actually reveals a structural change
of a level above that of formal operations, or whether it is not
more than a group of competencies, of a practical and contextual
nature, relating to specific realms (cf. Labouvie-Vief, 1992).
study this question presupposes an analysis of what the authors
understand by stage. To be able to speak, in a Piagetian perspective,
of structural changes, it is necessary to keep in mind the various
criteria postulated by this author (Piaget & Inhelder, 1971,
p.121), namely, (l) each stage is characterized by a structure in
reference to which the principle individual reactions can be explained;
(2) the order of succession of the stages is constant; (3) the structures
are integrative: each new structure results from the preceding one,
integrating it as a subordinate structure, and prepares the next
new one by integrating itself into it; and (4) any one stage has
a level of preparation and a level of attainment. The passage from
an inferior, less general, structure to a superior, more general,
structure presupposes, according to the Piagetian conception, an
increase in abstraction. This generalizing abstraction obeys the
laws of equilibration, i.e., it reconstructs the operations of the
inferior structure into a system that is more balanced, more mobile,
and more encompassing. The majority of authors who postulate levels
of thought beyond the formal are not explicit about what they mean
by stage, or about what the criteria are which the hypothetical
fifth stage obeys (see Monnier & Wells, 1980). Some of them
have very restricted conceptualizations. For example, Arlin (1984)
characterizes the fifth stage of development by the change in the
way formal operations are used, which would be manifested as the
progressive substitution of "problem solving" by "problem
finding". Others, like Kitchener
and King (1990) defend a statistical conception of stage, and base
their theories on psychometric methods, yet never following "a
clearly delineated a priori logic of stages"(Commons
et al., 1998, p. 245). Commons and his co-workers are among those
authors of the post-formal movement who have done the most to analyze
questions regarding both the nature of stages and the way in which
to evaluate them. In a first phase of their work (Commons, Richards
& Kuhn, 1982) they justified the existence of a new stage beyond
the formal by the elevated levels of abstraction which, in their
opinion, were not manifested in formal thought. For Commons et al.,
in the systematic, metasystematic, paradigmatic and transparadigmatic
levels (contrary to the level of formal operations, in which subjects
were seen to be incapable of co-ordinating complex logical systems,
and of evaluating them from a point of view exterior to the system
itself), subjects became capable of analyzing and co-ordinating
complex logical systems with each other, creating supersystems of
a metatheoretical nature. In theoretical terms, all this suggests
that we are in the presence of a conception of abstraction similar
to that postulated by Piaget (i.e., reconstruction of the operations
of the previous system into a more balanced, more mobile, and more
encompassing system). The results obtained by Commons, Richards
& Kuhn (1982) confirm such reconstructions in that which relates
to the systematic, metasystematic, and paradigmatic stages (They
did not find such results at the transparadigmatic level). However,
these results were not confirmed in studies carried out by various
researchers who studied the relationships among formal thought and
systematic and metasystematic thought (Demetriou, 1990; Kallio,
1995; Kallio & Helkama, 1991; Kohlberg, 1990). For these authors,
systematic thought would be identical to that designated by Piaget
as "consolidated formal operations" (i.e., Formal B) and,
thus, could not be considered post-formal.
recently, in an appreciable effort to clarify the central question
of what is meant by a stage, Commons, Trudeau, Stein, Richards and
Krause (1998) defend a notion of stage based on the hierarchical
complexity of tasks and on the performance of subjects as they carry
out these tasks. In the authors words, " the resultant
definition of stage is that it is the highest order of hierarchical
complexity on which there is successful task performance"(p.238).
Such a notion of stage does not presuppose, in the opinion of Commons
et al. (1998), the abrupt emergence of the new performance and disappearance
of the previous performance; but it does presuppose the organization
and transformation of the actions of the previous level, these organizations
being characterized both by being new (in the sense in which they
cannot be carried out by lower-level actions) and by being carried
out in a non-arbitrary manner. According to these authors, the results,
when evaluated for tasks which are proper to a specific notional
domain and are presented according to a hierarchical order of complexity
(cf. Commons et al., 1995)--and not for tasks corresponding to diverse
notional domains--confirm the sequency which they had postulated
and already verified previously.
the recent conceptualization and methodology of evaluation proposed
by Commons et al. (1998) constitutes a conceptual clarification
and a rigorous methodological approach, so that what is of interest
now is to develop studies which empirically validate this new vision
of stages and which clarify the question of its sequency. For example,
it still remains to be clarified whether the tasks pertaining to
the systematic level which were successfully accomplished represent
the first stage of post-formal thought, or whether they are no more
than the expression of the consolidated formal operations level;
and, also, whether the metasystematic, paradigmatic and transparadigmatic
levels represent structural reorganizations of formal thought, or
whether they do not simply expand this same type of thought. Expand,
here, could mean merely the integration of formal operations into
more extensive systems, a hypothesis considered by Inhelder and
Piaget (1955, p.121), when they state, ". . . this general
form of equilibrium can be conceived as final to the extent to which
it does not change during the life of an individual (although it
can be integrated into more extensive systems)". The reorganization
of formal operations into higher structural levels presupposes the
reconstruction of the operations of the previous structure (and
not just of one operation, evaluated by means of one task, and presented
with various levels of complexity, such as is proposed by Commons
et al. [ 1998] ) into a more balanced, more mobile, and
more encompassing system. Both Commons and co-workers conceptualization--of
all of them the most logical and, in this authors opinion,
of all of them the most "post-formal" to the extent that
it fits, better than any of the others, into a Piagetian framework
both in theoretical terms and in methodological terms--and their
results suggest expansion more than reorganization. Be that as it
may, further study is necessary, both of a longitudinal (above all)
and of a transversal nature, to shed light on this question. Only
the results of such studies will allow, or not, for the attribution
of a truly structural and "hard stage" (cf. Kohlberg &
Armon, 1984) status to post-formal thought, as it is conceptualized
by Commons and co-workers.
to the remaining conceptualizations which accent the contextual,
self-referent, and pragmatic dimensions of post-formal thought,
and in which a more integrative view of adult thought is proposed
in which the " (...) subjective and objective, individual and
community, self and other, reason and emotion, mind and body all
partake in genuine interaction"(Labouvie-Vief, 1992, p.223),
these do not seem to constitute stages beyond the formal, but rather
developments parallel to formal thought. According Gruber (1984),
the web of interactions between the adult and the environment is
so complex that generalization is difficult, making the existence
of a general structure in post-formal thought almost impossible.
In the words of Labouvie-Vief (1992, p.221), herself na author of
the post-formal movement," the term postformal may not imply
a progression in formal complexity. Instead, it could mean that
for some individuals, formal thinking forms a base from which thought
branches out into more nonformal domains". This hypothesis
seems to have all the more basis when we look at studies which analyzed
the relationship (1) between cognitive development and the development
of personality, creativity, and reflective capacity (cf. Blasi &
Hoeffel, 1974), and (2) between formal thought and identity formation
(cf. Cauble, 1976; Leadbeater & Dionne, 1981; Rowe & Marcia,
1980; Wagner, 1987) in samples of adolescents, and which show that
such dimensions develop in parallel with formal operations. Along
this same line, Kohlberg & Armon (1984), after distinguishing
"hard" stages (in which development occurs in an invariant
and universal sequence, e.g., the Piagetian stages) from "soft"
stages (in which development is conditioned by particular experiences
arising from differences in personality, upbringing, social class,
and age), conclude that "soft" stage would be the conceptualization
most adequate to the particular features of adult development.
the heterogeneity of theories about thought beyond the formal level,
and given the inconclusiveness of the research carried out so far,
it is not possible, for now, to determine the true nature of the
type of thought referred to as post-formal. This being the case,
and it being necessary to defend the requirement that any scientific
and epistemological theory must be based on underlying presuppositions
such as conceptual clarification, parsimony, and simplicity, it
seems preferable to abandon the term "post-formal" (except,
possibly, in the case of the conceptualization put forth by Commons
and co-workers) and to speak simply of adult cognition, or adult
is notable that Einstein seemed to like the term "Invariantentheorie"
better than "theory of relativity", the title first
given to Einsteins theory by Plank and Abraham in 1906.
a matter of fact, Piaget knew Einstein personally and sometimes
referred to him in his books, as, for example, in A Childs
Conception of Time, in which, according to Piaget, he attempted
to answer a series of questions raised by Einstein.
It is not confirmed that "problem finding" is specific
to a level of development superior to the formal, or that it might
not be manifested in the formal stage. When Inhelder and Piaget
(1955) speak of the capacity that youngsters come to have to formulate
hypotheses, to construct theories and systems, or, further, to
elaborate life plans, they show that in formal operations the
subjects can display high levels of "problem discovery".
According some authors (Fakouri, 1976; Gruber & Vonèche,
1976; Monnier & Wells, 1980), "problem solving"
and "problem discovery" constitute two dimensions of
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of the Board of Directors Meeting - June 2001
SPRING MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
THE JEAN PIAGET SOCIETY:
SOCIETY FOR THE STUDY OF KNOWLEDGE & DEVELOPMENT
May 30, 2001; 6:30-8:30
Saturday June 2, 2001; 12:00-1:30
Radisson Hotel Berkeley Marina, Berkeley California
Eric Amsel (Recording), Terrance Brown, Nancy Budwig, Michael
Chandler, Colette Daiute (Saturday), Theo Dawson, Eleanor Duckworth
(Saturday), Kurt Fischer (Saturday), Peter Gillet, Susan Goldin-Meadow
(Saturday), Diana Jones (Elsevier Representative Wednesday only),
Monika Keller, Melanie Killen, Chris Lalonde, Jonas Langer, Cynthia
Lightfoot, Bill Overton, Henry Markovits, Connie Milbrath, Ulrich
Mueller, Larry Nucci (Presiding), Sue Taylor Parker, Geoffrey
Saxe, Judy Smetana (Saturday), Les Smith, Elliot Turiel, Cecilia
Apologies: Robyn Fivush, Artin Goncu, Rob Jaeger, Lino
de Macedo, Ellen Scholnick
Vice Presidents Report
Lightfoot (VP Program Planning) reported that 148 submissions were
received for Berkeley (down slightly from the 175 submissions to
Montreal 2000 and the 169 to Mexico 1999, attributed to fewer poster
submissions). The report included a detailed account of the review
process which led to the 11.5% rejection rate. An analysis of the
programs over the past 10 years demonstrated a recent increase in
number of presentations and sessions.
Lighfoot and Lalonde (W ebmaster) recounted the kind of time and
energy required to effectively schedule more presentations and sessions
in the traditional JPS meeeting schedule. A word of warning was
raised about the program size/scheduling constraints issue.
Program Organizers Report
Langer, Milbrath, & Parker Taylor (Local Arrangements) reported
that there were 212 preregistered conference attendees. The meeting
budget was distributed which subtotaled (without plenary speakers
Finance Committee & Treasurers Report
(Treasurer) reported on income ($72,305) and expenditures ($55,210)
from 2000, leaving the society with a balance of $17,095. The
positive balance reflected a large increase in membership (503
members) from previous years.
Membership for 2001 as of June was 349. A breakdown by membership
type for this year is shown in Table 1.
1: Membership 2001 (Jan to May)
Discussion centered on what was being done with the surplus and
whether there is a
sufficient financial cushion for the society.
LEA Volume Series
Killen & Scholnick provided an update of the sales and royalties
of JPS volumes published since 1983. Additionally, it was noted
1. Amsel/Byrnes is behind schedule but will be out for this year
for 2001 members.
2. Brown/Smith is contracted and the ms. may be completed by June.
3. Lightfoot et al. needs to be contracted.
Genetic Epistemologist: Lalonde (Webmaster) reported that the
GE publication was up to date but its status needs to be fully
addressed. Discussion focused on a) killing it off, b) keeping
it as an electronic newsletter (no printing or distribution costs),
c) packaging it with the journal, or d) keeping it with a new
function (i.e., as a newsletter or as a student-run entity).
Web Site: With over 310,000 total hits (200 visitors a day) the
web site has been very successful, requiring some extra expenses.
A FAQ page is being developed to provide answers to fairly redundant
JPS Listserve A spirited discussion addressed the problem of one
person dominating the JPS listserve. The listserve has become
important for some society functions and its control by one person
is turning many off (literally) from using the service. Some noted
that perhaps general rules for listserve usage could be developed
or perhaps the one individual could be talked to. Still others
suggested the development of a listserve exclusively for JPS members.
Technology Proposal. To alleviate various problems of communication
between the VP Meeting Planning and the Webmaster, new software
needs to be purchased which will allow for secure multiple retrieval
of databases placed on the web. The software will allow other
interested parties to work from the same database (Membership,
Treasurer, Secretary, Production Manager etc.) and simplify various
functions (e.g., mailing, formatting the program). The vote (taken
Saturday) was unanimous in favor of the proposal
Special Issue Update
The 2002 double issue special edition of the Cognitive Development
is being prepared. There will be approximately 15 articles. First
draft of manuscripts are due by January 1 2002, with a deadline
of March for revisions. The special issue will be ready in June
Election of Editorial Board Members
The Journal Subcommittee voted on a slate of potential editorial
board members from among the board. The Slate was read and accepted
by the board. Individuals would be approached to serve as an in
order of the number of votes each received.
and Amsel reported that the outstanding membership numbers may
have been due to a successful conference in Montreal and to a
series of mailings to 1200 ex-members encouraging their rejoining.
Such mailings will continue next year.
Brochure and flyer distribution was effective at SRCD. Board Members
were encouraged to distribute JPS brochures, flyers, posters,
etc. at every conference they attend. Finally, once the dust settles
with the new journal, it was proposed that a new JPS brochure
Publicity and Outreach Committee
and Smith reported that allocated funds had helped to update the
databases for advertisements. The updated list of sites was broad
and international in nature. For 2002, the publicity would follow
the plan for 2001, including advertisements and posters, and brochures.
Meeting Planning Committee
was widely felt that the Symposium had been an intellectual and
financial success and all commended all those involved. Particularly
noted for its success was the special session on Biology and Knowledge
which was well attended.
Lightfoot presented the document, approved by the executive committee,
outlining the Submission Guidelines for program proposals. The
procedure requires some Bylaw changes which specify the board
meetings in which various decisions are made by the board.
Discussion of full proposals
Decisions about proposals
Review of next years symposium (themes, speakers, local
Review preliminary proposals
Discussion of full proposal
Report on long range plans
Next Years Meeting
Overton and Mueller reported on the 2002 Meeting, titled "The
Embodied Mind and Consciousness: Developmental Perspectives."
A number of speakers for invited plenaries and symposia have been
contacted. A number of suggestions were offered about invited
and symposia speakers. Piagets Origins of Intelligence was
proposed to be the topic of a special seminar session. Additional
discussion focused on the Hotel where the conference would be
3. Review of Proposals for 2003 and beyond
Long range planning included a presentation of the history of
attendance at meetings over the last 19 years. Finally, the board
was updated on future proposals.
New or Unfinished Business
Consideration of Dues or Honorary memberships for senior members.
No vote was taken.
B. Consideration of whether to purchase equipment for Powerpoint
No vote was taken.
next board meeting was set for October 13th for Chicago.