Moral Dilemmas and Moral Reasoning
The incorporation of morals, beliefs when faced with dilemmas have a profound effect on the decision made and judgments of an individual. Moral development is greatly influenced by preconceived judgments, gathered mainly through cultural experiences.
Kohlberg based his theory upon research and interviews with groups of children (Cherrie, 2012). Scenarios of moral dilemmas were presented and participants were later interviewed to determine their reasoning behind their judgments (Cherrie, 2012). Kohlberg was concerned more with reasoning for each participant’s decision rather than their answer (Cherrie, 2012). Kohlberg’s research resulted in the following levels and stages of moral development;
Level 1. Preconventional Morality
• Stage 1 - Obedience and Punishment
The earliest stage of moral development is especially common in young children, but adults are also capable of expressing this type of reasoning. At this stage, children see rules as fixed and absolute. Obeying the rules is important because it is a means to avoid punishment.
• Stage 2 - Individualism and Exchange
At this stage of moral development, children account for individual points of view and judge actions based on how they serve individual needs. In the Heinz dilemma, children argued that the best course of action was the choice that best-served Heinz’s needs. Reciprocity is possible at this point in moral development, but only if it serves one's own interests.
Level 2. Conventional Morality
• Stage 3 - Interpersonal Relationships
Often referred to as the "good boy-good girl" orientation, this stage of moral development is focused on living up to social expectations and roles. There is an emphasis on conformity, being "nice," and consideration of how choices influence relationships.
• Stage 4 - Maintaining Social Order
At this stage of moral development, people begin to consider society as a whole when making judgments. The focus is on...