Kohlberg’s Idea about Moral Development Essay

Kohlberg’s idea regarding moral development can be clearly seen in his proposed stages of moral development. Stages of moral development are said to be planes of moral adequacy that were developed by the author to provide the explanation of the moral reasoning.

Stages development was inspired by the work of Jean Piaget, as well as great interest and surprise how children reacted to moral dilemmas.

There are six stages assorted in three levels, which are pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional. There are two stages at each level. First level concerns obedience and punishment orientation and self-interest. It can most vividly be describe with two questions: how can I avoid the punishment and what is that into me? The bright example of the stage one regarding punishment avoidance, is when the bad action is judged in accordance with the fact how terrible I the punishment. The second stage reveals the interest in other people deeds only if they concern the person personally: you stepped on my foot and I will step on yours.

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This pre-conventional level is extremely common in children, even though adults can also show signs of this level. The morality of the action is judged by its direct consequences.

The next conventional level contains interpersonal conformity and accord and social-order and authority maintenance orientation. The third stage is tightly connected with social roles that people perform and their reactions to the approval or disapproval of their actions by other people. And according to which role person chooses to perform, he or she acts as a good or bad boy or girl. Respect and gratitude are very important notions. Stage four about authority is about the fact that it is important to obey laws, social conventions and dictums, because those play a great role in maintaining the functional society. The main idea is that the ideals should be stated and it should be definitely prescribed what is right and what is wrong. To violate the law is morally wrong, as if one person does- everyone probably would. Therefore the essential notion at this stage is culpability, which separates good things from bad ones.

Conventional level is most common for adults and adolescents. At this stage, actions morality is judged by comparing them to societal expectations and views.

And the final post-conventional level is also known as the principled level and concerns social contract orientation and universal ethical principles. Social contract orientation, or stage five, views individuals to have various values and opinions. Laws are viewed as social contracts. And the general idea is said to be: greatest good for the greatest number of people. This can be achieved through compromising and majority decision. An example is the democratic government.

And the last stage of the final level that is universal ethical principles driven concerns moral reasoning that is based upon abstract reasoning. It claims that law is valid just in case when it is grounded on justice and laws that are unjust can be disobeyed.

Even though the idea of Kohlberg’s moral development was rearranged into six stages, on practice, the author had difficulties finding people who used it, as well as it appeared that people rarely or never reach the final stage of moral development.

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