Morality, language use, and ontogenesis: Vygotsky and shotter revisited

John Ehrich*, Richard O’Donovan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    According to Vygotsky’s theory, language is the driving force behind the attainment of ontogenesis. Here, language is described as a psychological tool, and its invariable internalisation mediates the higher psychological functions. When combined with the biological lines of development, the fully developed human being emerges. However, it is not just language that drives ontogenesis. It is on this point that Vygotsky’s theory has come under criticism. Scholars, such as Shotter, have pointed out that Vygotsky’s theory neglects, to a certain degree, the importance of moral inculcation as a driving force behind language use. However, in response to this, it is argued that language is the driving force in ontogenesis, particularly in the early stages of development. Thus, as language is internalised and speech develops, moral behaviour only then begins to impact on language production, not before.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)195-205
    Number of pages11
    JournalLinguistics Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


    • Vygotsky
    • ontogenesis
    • shotter
    • morality
    • language


    Dive into the research topics of 'Morality, language use, and ontogenesis: Vygotsky and shotter revisited'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this