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Moral Talk Across the Lifespan

Creating Good Relationships


Edited By Vince Waldron and Douglas Kelley

Grounded in path-breaking research but written in an accessible, engaging style Moral Talk Across the Lifespan explores how our most fundamental moral commitments are shaped by crucial conversations with family members, romantic partners, and friends. Taking a lifespan approach, the authors demonstrate that moral growth is a continual process, one stimulated by transitions (e.g., leaving home for university) and disruptive events (serious illness). With chapters penned by leading relationship scholars, the volume contributes original thinking, data, and innovative theoretical pathways for researchers. For instructors it explores pressing moral questions encountered by students in their own relationships with romantic partners, friends, parents, and other family members. When is revealing a secret the right thing to do? Is revenge ever a worthy response to an insult or sleight? Why are young adults persuaded to accept some of their parents’ values but not others? Is there a right (or wrong) way to support a parent facing a terminal illness?
Moral Talk Across the Lifespan offers a stimulating blend of social science research and moral reflection. It is a key text for courses in Relational Communication, Family Communication, Interpersonal Communication, and Communication Ethics.
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Epilogue: Good Relationship Talk


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Good Relationship Talk


This volume has focused on the discourse that makes relationships good. Each chapter author has examined how relationship partners negotiate moral aspects of their relationships. In light of these exploratory peeks into moral communication processes and various relationship phenomena, we offer three concluding questions regarding how we communicate about, and in, good relationships: What do relational partners understand as moral in their own relationships? How do relational partners engage in moral negotiation with one another? Is it useful to think of personal relationships in moral terms?


By framing this section as, “What is good …” or “What is moral …” we hope not to do several things. First, we do not mean to discuss what people typically think is “moral” regarding specific issues (e.g., on average how many parents think premarital sex is wrong?). Second, we do not mean to prescribe moral stances for partners or parents. Finally, we sincerely hope not to cast this epilogue as the final moral word.

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