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Presentation on theme: "Lawrence J. Kohlberg STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT."— Presentation transcript:


2 Moral Development cognitive psychology roots (Piaget) Kohlberg’s focus on moral, not just cognitive, development 40 years research at Harvard

3 Moral Development Heinz has a terminally ill wife, and he’s desperate to help her. He visits his druggist friend, who says there’s a new cure, very expensive. He sets the drug on the counter and turns away to answer the phone. WHAT SHOULD HEINZ DO? WHY?

4 Heinz answers He should steal the drug because: He should NOT steal the drug because:

5 Moral Development To Kohlberg, it is the reason that is important, not the choice itself. Reasons indicate levels of moral development, from low to high.

6 Kohlberg’s Stages Pre-Conventional: Stage 1: OBEY OR PAY: authority, fear of punishment Stage 2: SELF-SATISFACTION: what's in it for me?

7 Kohlberg’s Stages Conventional: Stage 3: APPROVAL: group norms, loyalty, belonging Stage 4: LAW AND ORDER: duty to obey society’s rules and laws

8 Kohlberg’s Stages Post-Conventional: Stage 5: STANDARDS OF SOCIETY: abide by the complex relationships of the social contract Stage 6: DECISION OF CONSCIENCE: choose action based on ‘universal’ moral principles

9 Challenges to Kohlberg Carol Gilligan’s stages: (from research on abortion decisions) Self-interest (consequences to self only) Other-interest (consequences to others only) Self AND other interest (consequences to both self and others)

10 Challenges to Kohlberg Domain theory: an attempt to explain inconsistencies in Kohlberg’s research Domain of morality: learned from experience with pleasure & pain. Domain of social convention: arbitrary rules learned through teaching and observation. Moral conflicts occur when strong moral values rub against strong conventions.

11 Moral Reasoning and MyLai During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers massacred civilians in MyLai. (A recent article in the Star Tribune, Oct. 20, 2003, shows that the killing of civilians in Vietnam was not an isolated event.) Following are quotes from people involved in the MyLai massacre. Can you identity the stage of moral reasoning these quotes express?

12 Private Paul Meadlow admitted he was involved in the massacre of civilians at MyLai. During basic training if you disobeyed an order, if you were slow in obeying orders, they’d slap you on the head, drop-kick you in the chest and rinky-dink stuff like that. If an officer tells you to stand on your head in the middle of the highway, you did it. Why did I do it…we was supposed to get satisfaction from this village for the men we lost. They was all VC and VC sympathizers. I felt, at the time, I was doing the right thing because, like I said, I lost buddies. I lost a damn good buddy.

13 What seems to be driving Pvt. Meadlow? Egocentric concerns Desire for personal satisfaction Doesn’t want to get in trouble True, he’s grieving, so he’s not a psychopath. But what Kohlberg level would a person have to be to reason that killing babies is just retribution for losing friends, or is a satisfactory consequence of not getting in trouble himself?

14 Lieutenant William Calley the officer who was subsequently court- martialed by the army for ordering Meadlow & others to fire on civilians. I was a run-of-the-mill average guy. I still am. I always said the people in Washington are smarter than me. If intelligent people say Communism is bad, it’s going to engulf us. I was only a Second Lieutenant. I had to obey and hope that the people in Washington were smarter than me.

15 What seems to be driving Lt. Calley? Norms of his social position Following orders from legitimate authority Duty to obey I was ordered to go in there and destroy the enemy. That was my job on that day. That was my mission I was given. I did not sit down and think in terms of men, women and children. They were all classified the same and that was the classification we dealt with them, enemy soldiers…I felt, and still do, that I acted as I was directed to…and I do not feel wrong in doing so.

16 Private Michael Bernhardt refused to obey the orders to shoot at Vietnamese civilians. If I recognize something is right or wrong…this is the fist step to actually doing right. And this is the thing. I can hardly do anything if I know it is wrong. If I think about it long enough I am really in trouble, and I won’t be able to do it…I am just positively compelled. No matter whose law it is, no matter whose leadership I am following, It has never been as good as what I would have done myself…Since My Lai, I have had to follow my own decisions, I have had to follow my own way because nobody else’s has been right…Now this is what I try to do: I try and apply logic to it rather than anything else; logic to say, “Is this right, or should I do this.

17 What seems to motivate Pvt. Bernhardt? Universal standards and principles His own judgment on the law, orders, and right/wrong His ability to apply principles to a particular, concrete situation

18 “I was telling Captain Franklyn about an old woman that was shot. I couldn’t understand why she was shot because she didn’t halt. First of all, she is in her own country. We never found anything to indicate that she was anything but what she appeared to be-a non-combatant. It wasn’t a case like we had been wiped out by an old woman with a fish-bag full of grenades. I told him that she was shot at a distance. They said to shoot her was brigade policy. They couldn’t think of a better way of stopping her. I would have said, “No.” I just wouldn’t have stopped her at all. Nothing needs an excuse to live. The same thing goes for bombing a village. If there are people in the village, don’t bomb it… “

19 Bottom Line: Kohlberg Ethical conduct in business (or in war, or elsewhere in real life) is all about choices and the reasons for making them. People do develop morally as well as cognitively. (So, ethics education makes sense!)

20 How Do People Progress in Moral Development? Interact to discuss and resolve moral dilemmas. Listen and understand each other’s viewpoints. Discuss, argue, and defend one’s own views. Expand perspectives, deepen justifications for decisions. Interact with people who are at later stages of development. Practice thinking about ethics in principled ways.

21 Some Questions… if Kohlberg Is Right How can an organization encourage ethics if there are Meadlows, Calleys, and Bernhardts working in it? Which would you rather have working for you? Which type would you rather work for? What needs to happen so that each employee, regardless of stage of moral development, can contribute to an ethical climate?

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