o Name and describe Kohlberg’s 3 stages of moral development and give an example of each stage. o Define and give an example of the following defense mechanisms: Displacement Rationalization Projection
Kohlberg’s theory of moral development is a widely studied framework that examines how individuals construct their understanding of right and wrong. According to Kohlberg, moral development occurs in three stages, each characterized by increasingly complex cognitive processes and ethical reasoning. These stages are known as pre-conventional morality, conventional morality, and post-conventional morality. In this response, I will outline each stage and provide an example to illustrate the principles of moral reasoning within that stage.
The first stage of moral development is pre-conventional morality, characterized by an emphasis on self-interest and obedience. Individuals at this stage primarily make moral decisions based on fear of punishment or the desire to obtain rewards. Within pre-conventional morality, there are two substages: stage 1 (obedience and punishment orientation) and stage 2 (instrumental relativist orientation).
Stage 1, obedience and punishment orientation, is primarily focused on avoiding punishment. People at this stage perceive rules as fixed and absolute, and their moral decisions are guided by the fear of authority. For example, a child who refrains from stealing a candy bar because they are afraid of being punished by their parents is exhibiting stage 1 moral development.
Stage 2, instrumental relativist orientation, involves a shift towards self-interest and the consideration of others’ interests as part of an exchange. Individuals at this stage recognize that different individuals have different interests, and they act in ways that satisfy their own interests while still considering the interests of others. An example of stage 2 moral reasoning is when a person shares their toys with a friend in the hope that the friend will share their toys in return.
The second stage of moral development is conventional morality, characterized by an adherence to social norms and expectations. People at this stage make moral decisions based on maintaining social order and upholding societal expectations. Within conventional morality, there are two substages as well: stage 3 (interpersonal concordance orientation) and stage 4 (law and order orientation).
Stage 3, interpersonal concordance orientation, is focused on meeting the expectations of others and maintaining good interpersonal relationships. At this stage, individuals perceive moral decisions as being driven by the desire to gain approval and avoid disapproval from others. For instance, a person may choose to help someone in need because they want to be seen as a kind and helpful individual.
Stage 4, law and order orientation, emphasizes the importance of maintaining the functioning of society. People at this stage believe that society thrives when there is respect for authority and adherence to the laws and rules governing it. For example, an individual who pays their taxes promptly and follows traffic regulations because they believe it is their duty as a responsible citizen is exhibiting stage 4 moral development.
Finally, the third stage of moral development is post-conventional morality, marked by the recognition of the relativity and universality of moral principles. Individuals at this stage are guided by internalized ethical principles that may sometimes conflict with societal norms. Post-conventional morality has two substages: stage 5 (social contract orientation) and stage 6 (universal ethical principle orientation).
Stage 5, social contract orientation, involves an understanding of the importance of social agreements for maintaining a just and fair society. People at this stage view laws and rules as flexible and amenable to change. They recognize that some rules may be unjust and should be changed for the greater good. An example of stage 5 moral reasoning is when someone advocates for a change in a law that discriminates against a particular group.
Stage 6, universal ethical principle orientation, is characterized by a commitment to self-chosen ethical principles that are universally applicable. Individuals at this stage believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being and act in accordance with a set of universal ethical principles. For instance, someone who chooses to engage in civil disobedience to protest against an unjust law demonstrates stage 6 moral development.
In conclusion, Kohlberg’s theory of moral development provides a framework for understanding how individuals construct their understanding of right and wrong. The three stages of moral development, pre-conventional morality, conventional morality, and post-conventional morality, represent increasingly complex cognitive processes and ethical reasoning. Each stage is characterized by distinct principles of moral decision-making, as illustrated by the examples provided.