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Kohlberg'S Moral Development

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Kohlberg's Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg was born in Bronxville, New York on October 25, 1927. He was born into a wealthy family and enjoyed all of the luxuries that the rich lifestyle had to offer including the finest college prep schools. However, Kohlberg was not too concerned with this lifestyle. Instead he became a sailor with the merchant marines. During World War II, Kohlberg played an instrumental role in smuggling Jews through a British blockade in Palestine. It was during these times that Kohlberg first began thinking about moral reasoning, a subject that would later make him famous. After this Kohlberg enrolled at the University of Chicago where he scored so high on admission test that he only had to take a limited number of courses to earn his bachelor's degree. This he did in one year. Kohlberg remained at the University Chicago as a graduate student. In 1958, Kohlberg completed his Ph.D. which dealt with moral decision making and was based primarily on the earlier work of Jean Piaget. The result was his doctoral dissertation, the first rendition of his new stage theory. Later he served as an assistant professor at Yale University from 1959 to 1961, began teaching at the University of Chicago in 1963. He remained at Chicago until his 1967 appointment to the faculty of Harvard University, where he served as professor of education and social psychology until his death in 1987.

Many of our inner standards take the form of judgments as to what is right and what is wrong. They constitute the moral and ethical principles by which we guide our conduct. Lawrence Kohlberg refined, extended, and revised Piaget's basic theory of the development of moral values. Like Piaget, Kohlberg focused on the moral judgements in children rather than their actions. The manner in which moral judgments develop has been studied extensively by Kohlberg, through the questioning of boys seven years old and up. Kohlberg presented his subjects with a number of hypothetical situations involving moral question like the following. If a man's wife is dying for lack of an expensive drug that he cannot afford, should he steal the drug? If a patient who is fatally ill and in great pain begs for a mercy killing, should the physician agree? By analyzing the answers and particularly the reasoning by which his subjects reached their answers. Kohlberg determined that moral judgments develop through a series of six stages. The Children in the two stages of what he calls the preconventional level base their ideas of right and wrong largely on their own rewards. Later, in the two stages of what he call the conventional level, they become concerned about the approval of other people, and finally, in the two stages of the postconventional level, they become concerned with abstract moral values and the dictates of their own conscience.

Kohlberg six stages of moral development from this study. Level 1 is Reconventional Morality. Stage 1 is Obedience and Punishment Orientation. The child powerful authorities hand down a fixed set of rules, which he or she must unquestioningly obey. Stage 2 is Individualism and Exchange. At this stage children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints. Level 2 is Conventional Morality. Stage 3 is Good Interpersonal Relationships. At this stage children who are by now usually entering their teens see morality as more than simple deals. They believe that people should live up to the expectations of the family and community and behave in good way. Good behavior means having good motives and interpersonal feeling such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others. Stage 4 is maintaining the Social Order. This stage works best in two-person relationships with family members or close friends, where one can make a real effort to get to know the other's feelings and needs and try to help. At this stage, in contrast, the respondent becomes more broadly concerned with society as a whole. Level 3 is Postconventional Morality. Stage 5 is Social Contract and Individual Rights. At this stage people start to ask what makes a good society. They begin to think about society in a theoretical way, stepping back from their own society and considering the rights and values that a society ought to uphold. They then evaluate existing societies in terms in terms of these prior considerations. State 6 is Universal Principles. This stage has the same ideas as stage 5 but stage 6 go a step forward, which defines the principles by which we achieve justice.

The Child's reasons for being good progresses from sheer self-interest to a concern of the approval of others and finally to a concern for the approval of his own conscience.

At stage 1 children think of what is right, as what authority says is right. Doing the right thing is obeying authority and avoiding punishment. At stage 2 children are no longer so impressed by any single authority they see that there are different sides to any issue. Since everything is relative one is free to pursue one's own interests although it is often useful to make deals and exchange favors with others. At stage 3 and 4 young people think as members of the conventional society with its values, norms, and expectations. At stage 3 they emphasize being a good

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