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KOHLBERGS

MORAL
DEVELOPMENT

The Six Stages of Moral Judgment

Movement through the Stages


Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning is a stage
theory. In other words, everyone goes through
the stages sequentially without skipping any
stage. However, movement through these
stages are not natural, that is people do
not automatically move from one stage to the
next as they mature. In stage development,
movement is effected when a person notices
inadequacies in his or her present way
of coping with a given moral dilemma.

The stages include growth from


self-centeredness to
other-centeredness.

Self-centeredness

Other-centeredness

The Heinz Dilemma


Scenario 1

A woman was near death from a unique kind


of cancer. There is a drug that might save her.
The drug costs $4,000 per dosage. The sick
woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he
knew to borrow the money and tried every legal
means, but he could only get together about
$2,000. He asked the doctor scientist who
discovered the drug for a discount or let him
pay later. But the doctor scientist refused.

Should Heinz break into the


laboratory to steal the drug for
his wife? Why or why not?

Scenario 2
Heinz broke into the laboratory and stole
the drug. The next day, the newspapers
reported the break-in and theft. Brown, a
police officer and a friend of Heinz
remembered seeing Heinz last evening,
behaving suspiciously near the laboratory.
Later that night, he saw Heinz was
running away from the laboratory.

Should Brown report what he


saw? Why or why not?

Scenario 3
Officer Brown reported what he saw. Heinz was
arrested and brought to court. If convicted, he
faces up to two years' jail. Heinz was found
guilty.

Should the judge sentence


Heinz to prison? Why or why
not?

Level One:
Pre-conventional
Morality

Stage 1: Punishment-Obedience
Orientation
Persons in this stage obey rules to
avoid punishment. A good or bad
action is determined by its physical
consequences.

At this stage, the individual:


Obeys

rules in order to avoid


punishment
Determines a sense of right and
wrong by what is punished and what
is not punished
Obeys superior authority and allows
that authority to make the rules,
especially if that authority has the
power to inflict pain
Is responsive to rules that will affect
his/her physical well-being

Possible Stage 1
responses to Heinz
Dilemma:
Heinz

should not steal the drug because


he might be caught and sent to jail.

Heinz

should steal the drug because if


he doesn't then his wife might scold him.

Stage 2: Instrumental Relativist


Orientation
In this stage, personal needs
determine right or wrong. Favors are
returned along the lines of you
scratch my back, Ill scratch yours.

At this stage, the individual:


Is

motivated by vengeance or an eye


for an eye philosophy
Is self-absorbed while assuming that
he/she is generous
Believes in equal sharing in that
everyone gets the same, regardless of
need
Believes that the end justifies the
means
Will do a favor only to get a favor
Expects to be rewarded for every nonselfish deed he/she does

Possible Stage 2 responses to


Heinz Dilemma:
It

is right for Heinz to steal the drug


because it can cure his wife and then
she can cook for him.

The

doctor scientist had spent lots of


money and many years of his life to
develop the cure so its not fair to him
if Heinz stole the drug.

Level Two:
Conventional Morality

Stage 3: Good Boy-Nice Girl


Orientation

To a person in this stage, good


means nice. Ones behavior
Is determined by what pleases and
is approved by others.

At this stage, the individual:


Finds peer approval very important
Makes moral decisions on the basis

of
what will please a limited group and
make the person feel included
Thus models behavior on that of the
majority which is the behavior of
the in crowd or peer group
Feels that intensions are as important
as deeds and expects others to
accept intentions or promises in place
of deeds
Begins to put himself/herself in
anothers shoes and think from
another perspective

Possible Stage 3 responses to


Heinz Dilemma :
Yes,

Heinz should steal the drug. He probably will


go to jail for a short time for stealing but his in-laws
will think he is a good husband.
Brown, the police officer should report that he saw
Heinz behaving suspiciously and running away
from the laboratory because his boss would be
pleased.
Officer Brown should not report what he saw
because his friend Heinz would be pleased.
The judge should not sentence Heinz to jail for
stealing the drug because he meant well ... he stole
it to cure his wife.

Stage 4: Law and Order Orientation

When deciding the punishment for a


given wrongdoing, laws are
absolute.
In all cases, authority must be
respected and the social order
maintained.

At this stage, the individual:


Continues

past actions and


behaviors in tradition since the
maintenance of law and order is
supremely important
Is a duty doer who believes in rigid
rules that should not be changed
Respects authority and obeys it
without question
Supports the rights of the majority or
majority rule without concern for
those in the minority

Possible Stage 4 responses to


Heinz Dilemma:
As

her husband, Heinz has a duty to save


his wifes life so he should steal the drug.
But its wrong to steal, so Heinz should be
prepared to accept the penalty for breaking
the law.
The judge should sentence Heinz to jail.
Stealing is against the law. He should not
make any exceptions even though Heinz
wife is dying. If the judge does not sentence
Heinz to jail then others may think its right
to steal and there will be chaos in the
society.

Level Three:
Postconventional
Morality

Stage 5: Social Contract


Orientation
Good is determined by socially
agreed upon standard of individual
right.It is an understanding of social
mutuality and a genuine interest in
the welfare of others.

At this stage, the individual:


Is

motivated by the belief in the greatest


amount of good for the greatest number of
people
Believes in contracts in which both parties
compromise and yet both receive benefits
Believes in consensus (everyone agrees),
rather than in majority rule
Respects the rights of the minority
especially the rights of the individual
Believes that change in the law is possible
but only through the system
Has reached the same stage as the official
morality of the nation

Possible Stage 5 responses


Heinz should steal the drug because
toeveryone
Heinzhas
Dilemma:
the right to life regardless of

the law against stealing. Should Heinz be


caught and prosecuted for stealing then the
law needs to be reinterpreted because a
persons life is at stake.
The doctor scientists decision is despicable
but his right to fair compensation (for his
discovery) must be maintained. Therefore,
Heinz should not steal the drug.

Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principle


Orientation
What is good and right are matters
of
individual conscience and involve
abstract concepts of justice, human
dignity, and equality. In this stage,
persons believe there are universal
point of view on which all societies
should agree.

At this stage, the individual:


Loses

the ability to compromise high principles


and thus may forfeit his/her life in order to
uphold them
Believes that there are high moral principles
than those represented by social rules and
customs
Obeys these self-chosen high moral principles
Is willing to accept the consequences for
disobedience of the social rule he/she has
rejected
Uses only passive resistance and has no use for
violence in any form
Believes in granting justice and dignity to all
human beings as inalienable human rights
Respects justice for its moral nature and its
legal nature
Believes that the dignity of humanity is sacred
and that all humans have value

Possible Stage 6 response to Heinz


Dilemma:
Heinz

should steal the drug to save his


wife because preserving human life is a
higher moral obligation than preserving
property.

Assessment
DIRECTIONS:
Reflect

on all you have learned about Kohlbergs Moral


Development Theory

Consider

life.

events and decisions you have made in your own

Place

yourself within one of Kohlbergs Moral Development


stages

Write

a two-page paper about the stage you believe you


are currently in and why. Use situations and evidence from
your experience to support your claim.

Email

your paper to your teacher (jsetubal@brent.edu.ph)

Sources
https://www.google.com/search?

client=safari&rls=en&q=www.sim
plypsychology.org&ie=UTF-8&oe=
UTF-8&gws_rd=ssl
http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/ht
ml/kohlberg.htm