You are on page 1of 20


Psycho-social Theories of
Moral Development

What is Morality.?
Morality, has been derived from the Latin word
moralitas, meaning "manner, character or proper
behavior. It
is the differentiation of intentions,
decisions, and actions between those that are "good" (or
right) and those that are "bad" (or wrong)

Morality is reflected in an individuals beliefs, emotions

and attitudes.
It is synonymous with goodness and rightness
In descriptive sense, morality can be defined as personal
or cultural values, codes of conduct or social norms. It
adheres to a set of established rules.
In normative sense, morality considers the merits of
actions themselves. For instance: Honesty is the best
policy .

But how does morality develops?

Lawrence Kohlberg's Stages of

Moral Development
What is moral development.?
Moral development focuses on the emergence, change, and
understanding of morality from infancy through adulthood.
In the field of moral development, morality is defined as
principles for how individuals ought to treat one another, with
respect to justice, others welfare, and rights.
The field of moral development studies the role of peers and
parents in facilitating moral development, the role of values,
socialization ,cultural influences, empathy and altruism

According to Kohlberg moral reasoning is the basis

for ethical behavior.
Kohlberg determined that the process of moral
reasoning/development is principally concerned with
justice or difference between right and wrong by using
logic and that it is continued throughout the individual's

Components of Moral Reasoning

1.Moral Sensitivity
2.Moral Judgement
3.Moral Motivation
4.Moral Character/Behavior
Kohlberg identified six developmental stages, each
more adequate at responding to moral dilemmas.

The Stages
Kohlberg's six stages can be more generally grouped into three levels , each:
Stage 1-Pre-conventional
1. Obedience and Punishment orientation
2.Self-interest driven (You scratch my
back and I will scratch yours)


Stage 2 -Conventional
1. Interpersonal accord and Conformity
2.Authority and social-order maintaining



Stage 3-Post-conventional

1.Social contract orientation

2.Universal ethical principles

Criticism of the Theory

The theory emphasizes justice to the exclusion of other
values. It fails to adequately address the other moral aspects
of actions
The stages are not culturally neutral
The theory frequently demonstrates inconsistency in the
moral judgement of moral actions. This often occurs in
moral dilemmas

Heinz Dilemma

A woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one
drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that
a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was
expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug
cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a
small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to
everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together
about $ 1,000, which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his
wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the
druggist said, "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money
from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the
drug for his wife. Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the
drug for his wife? Why or why not?

From a theoretical point of view, it is not important what

the participant thinks that Heinz should do. Kohlberg's
theory holds that the justification the participant offers
is what is significant, the form of their response. Below
are some of many examples of possible arguments that
belong to the six stages:

Stage one (obedience): Heinz should not steal the medicine because he would
consequently be put in prison, which would mean he is a bad person. Or:
Heinz should steal the medicine because it is only worth $200, not how much
the druggist wanted for it. Heinz had even offered to pay for it and was not
stealing anything else.
Stage two (self-interest): Heinz should steal the medicine because he will be
much happier if he saves his wife, even if he will have to serve a prison
sentence. Or: Heinz should not steal the medicine because prison is an awful
place, and he would probably experience anguish over a jail cell more than
his wife's death.
Stage three (conformity): Heinz should steal the medicine because his wife
expects it; he wants to be a good husband. Or: Heinz should not steal the drug
because stealing is bad and he is not a criminal; he tried to do everything he
could without breaking the law, you cannot blame him.

Stage four (law-and-order): Heinz should not steal the medicine because the
law prohibits stealing, making it illegal. Or: Heinz should steal the drug for
his wife but also take the prescribed punishment for the crime as well as
paying the druggist what he is owed. Criminals cannot just run around
without regard for the law; actions have consequences.
Stage five (human rights): Heinz should steal the medicine because
everyone has a right to choose life, regardless of the law. Or: Heinz should
not steal the medicine because the scientist has a right to compensation.
Even if his wife is sick, it does not make his actions right.
Stage six (universal human ethics): Heinz should steal the medicine,
because saving a human life is a more fundamental value than the property
rights of another person. Or: Heinz should not steal the medicine, because
others may need the medicine just as badly, and their lives are equally

Morality and Culture

Defining Culture
Culture is a system of control mechanisms which encompasses rules,
instructions, beliefs, common sentiments, values and attitudes.
Culture represents shared knowledge of personhood , society, and
meaning of life. It is sometimes leaned directly in the social situations and
sometimes learned ourselves intentionally.

Defining Morality
Morality, has been derived
from the Latin word moralitas,
meaning "manner, character or proper behavior. It
is the
differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that
are "good" (or right) and those that are "bad" (or wrong).
Morality is unique to humans and is grounded in human rationality. It is
uncompromising in its demands, irrespective of cultural demands and

Morality is a Culturally
Conditioned Response
One groups good can be another groups
Blood sports(Bullfighting, Cockfighting)
Killing for pleasure, such as: decapitation
Factory Farming

Morality in everyday context

We have set out to conduct a (very informal) survey of students and

ask them to answer in YES or NO honestly to some questions
about everyday morality.

Is it okay to use work supplies or mail for personal purposes? YES / NO

You find Rs.20 on a bus seat. Do you ask around to see if anyone dropped it?

Your partner has left his/her email open on your shared computer. Is it okay to take
a look at the inbox? What about at a specific email? YES / NO

The clerk at the grocery store gives you too much change. Do you tell him/ her?

Is it okay to take a free sample of something, even though you know you wont buy
it? YES / NO

The food at a restaurant is less than stellar. Do you let it affect your tip for the
waitress? YES / NO

You wear a new shirt once and decide you dont like it. Is it okay to return iteven
though its been worn? YES / NO

Some specific examples of morality

in everyday life

Not to lie and cheat

Not to make a false statement
Not to defame the reputation of others and then boast of your own goodness
Not to pass rumors about anything
Not to brag about your own achievement
Not to disclose the secret of others
Not to suppress the weak and help the violent
Not to violently use your force, capability and speech
Not to take credit for other people's accomplishment
Not to obstruct another from accomplishment
Not to make fun of others who are insane
Not to be irresponsible with your life

Not to use vulgar or obscene language

Not to insult others with what you think is correct
Not to be undutiful in your work
Not to argue habitually
Not to disrespect people who are young or old
Not to be arrogant and impolite