Kohlberg's Theory Of Moral Development Essay

1658 words - 7 pages

Lawrence Kohlberg began his collegiate career at the University of Chicago, in Chicago, Illinois. He was indeed a very brilliant man and a true scholar. He was so smart in fact, that he placed extremely high on the University’s entrance exam. This resulted in him only having to take a few classes towards graduation. In just one year’s time, he was able to receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. After graduation, he began working on his graduate coursework, thinking he would be a clinical psychologist. Instead, he became interested in the works of American philosopher John Dewey, as well as, a Swiss psychologist named Jean Piaget. This interest in their work, lead Lawrence to issuing his doctoral dissertation, which explained his theory of the development of moral reasoning. This was dependent on Dewey’s and Piaget’s way of thinking.) Lawrence not only taught at the University of Chicago, but also at Harvard University, where his theory became popular through research studies that were conducted at Harvard’s Center for Moral Education. His theory pioneered the world of science between both positivists and behavioralists by the presentation of a new theory of moral development that would bridge together science and moral values that were based on cognitive reasoning instead of behavior.
“In brief, Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development presents three levels: The Preconventional, Conventional, and Postconventional. Each level contains two stages. Stages one and two in the preconventional involve an “egocentric point of view” and a “concrete individualistic perspective” in which the person makes choices based on the fear of punishment and the desire for rewards. In stages three and four of the conventional level, persons make choices from a “member-of-society” perspective, considering the good of others, the maintenance of positive relations, and the rules of society. Persons in the final stage of the postconventional level, stages five and six, reason from a “prior-to-society” perspective in which abstract ideals take precedence over particular societal laws.” (Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Reasoning. Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood & Adolescence. Gale Research, 1998. For the purpose of this research, Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development Stages five and six will be examined and compared to

The elementary school age level is where we generally find the first level of moral thinking. Within this level, behavior is based on accordingly on social norms, because they are told to do so by authoritative figures such as teachers or parents. A threat or application of some form of punishment is what obedience is compelled by. The individuals within this stage continue to focus on the recourse of their actions. This relates to an action being seen as morally wrong if the person who committed the action is then punished in any way shape or form. In stage two, the “what’s in it for me” attitude is evoked. Kids...

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