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Kohlberg's Stages of Morality

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Kohlberg's Stages of Morality

  1. 1. Kohlberg’s Stages of Morality
  2. 2. Lawrence Kohlberg <ul><li>Lawrence Kohlberg: a moral philosopher and student of child development, who served as the director of Harvard's Center for Moral Education. </li></ul><ul><li>Special area of interest was moral development of children - how they develop a sense of right, wrong, and justice. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observed that growing children advance through definite stages of moral development. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>From testing both children and adults, theorized stages of thought processing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>His stages of morality illustrate qualitatively different modes of thinking and problem solving. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concerned more with the reasoning behind actions, rather than with the actions themselves. That reasoning, when acted on, becomes motivation. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Stage One: Pre-Conventional Morality <ul><li>Decisions are motivated by the individual’s concern for himself or herself. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Immediate physical consequences of an action determine decisions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Often, individuals defer to power to avoid physical punishment. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power are valued in their own rights, not in terms of respect for any underlying moral order. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Stage One: Pre-Conventional Morality <ul><li>“ Right” actions satisfy one’s own needs – i.e., what’s in it for me? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If it’s good for me, it’s right. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it’s bad for me, it isn’t. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you’re nice to me, I should be nice to you. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you’re mean to me, I can be mean to you. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you eat your spinach, you can have a cookie. If you don’t, you have to go to your room. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nazi Germany </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cheating if you won’t caught. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Stage Two: Conventional Morality <ul><li>Decisions are motivated by the individual’s obligations to law, peers, or authority. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No one is above the law. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Belief that individuals must show respect for authority and maintain the given social order for its own sake. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Society is a system with fixed rules and laws. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any deviation from the rules will lead to social chaos. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Motivated by belief that to maintain law and order, the individual’s obligation to the law should override obligations to him/herself. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Stage Two: Conventional Morality <ul><li>“ Right” actions conform to the behavioral expectations of the law, the authority, peers, and society. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If the law says it’s right, then it’s right. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the law says it’s wrong, then it’s wrong. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Therefore, failure to punish is “unfair.” </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t speed, because it’s against the law. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MIAA Chemical Abuse policy </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Stage Three: Post-Conventional Morality <ul><li>Decisions are motivated by the individual’s concern for moral principles. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not concrete moral “rules,” but universal principles of justice, reciprocity, equality and human dignity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-chosen ethical principles should be consistent with general individual rights and standards that have been agreed upon by the society. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The individual values this principle over himself or herself AND over the law or authority. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Stage Three: Post-Conventional Morality <ul><li>Right actions are justified if they fight for and/or protect those greater principles. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Belief that while rules are needed to maintain social order, they should not be blindly obeyed but should be set up (even changed) based on protecting the greater good or greater principles. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Martin Luther King </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Key Ideas to Keep in Mind: <ul><li>Individuals do not always remain permanently at one level, but can shift between levels. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only a small percentage of the population ever reaches post-conventional levels of morality. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Of that small percentage, most individuals cannot remain at that level. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Key Ideas to Keep in Mind: <ul><li>It is possible for a human being to be physically mature but not morally mature. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Age and experience do not guarantee moral growth. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Key Ideas to Keep in Mind: <ul><li>Moral reasoning does not necessarily lead to moral action </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, immoral reasoning can sometimes lead to seemingly moral action. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kohlberg was interested in the process of reasoning, not necessarily in the action itself. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Example: a soldier fighting in a war </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-Conventional Morality? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventional Morality? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post-Conventional Morality? </li></ul></ul>