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MORAL DEVELOPMENT Stages of Moral Development (Kohlberg)
Alternatives to Kohlbergs theory
Gender differences in moral reasoning
Dr. Mary Wong Siew Lian (Gilligan)
Jabatan PIPK

Moral issues begin in the classrooms over

Activity dividing and sharing materials

Distributive justice beliefs about how to

Give some examples of moral issues divide materials or privileges fairly
in the primary classroom
Children begin to be exposed to rules and
consequences of breaking them, in the

Moral realism stages of development Kohlbergs study (1958):

where children see rules as absolute
if a rule is broken, a child believes that Kohlberg carried out a study with boys from
punishment should be according to how age 10, 13, 16 years and then followed them
much damage is done, not by the intention longitudinally over a period of 20 years,
of the child/not the intention of the child re-interviewing them at 3-4 year intervals

Morality of cooperation a stage when He used clinical interviewing procedure

children understand that rules can be where he presented both children and adults
changed; when rules are broken, both the with moral dilemmas or hypothetical
damage done and the intention of the situations and evaluated their level of moral
person will be taken into account reasoning through their responses

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Kohlberg made the following claims Moral reasoning is promoted by factors:
regarding his six stages of moral change: Disequilibrium (actively trying to solve a
Kohlberg regarded his moral stages as dilemma)
invariant and universal (true for people
everywhere and occurs in a fixed order) Gains in perspective taking which enable an
individual to resolve moral conflicts in
Each stage is the foundation for the next increasingly complex and effective ways
stage of moral reasoning
An example of a moral dilemma:
Each stage was seen as an organized whole Study the following moral dilemma
a qualitatively distinct structure of moral What would you do if you were in the mans
that a person applies across a wide range of shoes?

Level Moral Reasoning

Kohlbergs Stages of Moral Development 1 Pre-conventional judgment is based on personal
needs and others rules; morality is externally
Based on his longitudinal study involving a controlled
group of males, Kohlberg put forward
the following levels and stages of moral
development: Stage 1: Punishment-obedience orientation
Rules are obeyed to avoid punishment. A good or bad
action is determined by its physical consequences

Stage 2: Personal reward / instrumental purpose

Personal needs determine right and wrong. Favors are
returned along the lines of You scratch my back, Ill
scratch yours

Level Moral Reasoning Level Moral Reasoning

3 Post-conventional or Principled Level
2 Conventional judgment is based on others approval, Move beyond unquestioning support for the rules and laws of
family expectations, traditional values, the laws of society; defines morality in terms of abstract principles and
society, and loyalty to country values that apply to all situations and societies

Stage 5: Social-contract orientation

Good is determined by socially agreed-upon standards of
Stage 3: Good boy-good girl orientation
individual rights; individuals regard laws and rules as flexible
Good means nice. It is determined by what pleases, instruments that cam be changed to suit the individual rights and
aids and is approved by others the interests of the majority

Stage 6: Universal ethical principle orientation

Stage 4: Law and order orientation Good and right are matters of individual conscience and involve
Laws are absolute. Authority must be respected and the abstract concepts of justice, human dignity and equality; right
social order maintained action is defined by self-chosen ethical principles of conscience
that are valid for all humanity regardless of law and social

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Development of moral reasoning is a slow Stage 1 and Stage 2 decrease from late
and gradual process childhood to early adolescence

According to Kohlberg, each moral stage Stage 3 increases and becomes more common
requires certain cognitive and perspective- by the end of teenage years, when
taking capacities adolescents begin reasoning at Stage 4

Individuals move through the first four stages Among college-educated young adults, Stage
in the predicted order, without skipping steps 4 is the typical response; few people move
or returning to less mature reasoning after beyond it. Moral reasoning at Stages 5 and 6
attaining a stage are rather rare

In Europe, a woman was near death from Answer at Level 1:

cancer. There was one drug that the doctors It is wrong to steal because you might get
thought might save her. A druggist in the caught
same town had discovered it, but he was
charging ten times what the drug cost him to (Reflects childs egocentrism; I might get
make. The sick womans husband, Heinz, went caught and punished)
to everyone he knew to borrow the money,
Answer at Level 2:
but he could only get together half of what it
It is wrong to steal because it is against the
cost. The druggist refused to sell the drug for
less or let Heinz pay later. So, Heinz got
desperate and broke into the mans store to
It is right to steal because the man means
steal the drug for his wife. Should Heinz have
well but he will still have to pay the
done that? Why or why not?
druggist when he can or accept the penalty
(paraphrased from Colby et al., 1983, p.77)
for breaking the law

Moral reasoning for answer at Level 2: ALTERNATIVES TO KOHLBERGS THEORY

(Laws are regarded as absolute and
unalterable) Kohlbergs Theory has been criticized
(1) In reality the stages do not seem to be
Answer at Level 3: separate, sequenced and consistent, e.g.
It is not wrong to steal because human life when asked to reason about helping
must be preserved someone else versus meeting their own
needs, both children and adolescents
The worth of a human life is greater than reason at higher levels than when asked to
the worth of property
reason about breaking the law or risking
(Considers the underlying values that might
be involved in the decision)

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(2) In everyday life, making moral choices (3) Cultural differences in moral reasoning
involves more than reasoning. Emotions, Stages 5 and 6 are biased in favor of
competing goals, relationships, cultural Western male values that emphasize
norms, and practical considerations all individualism. Others question the
affect choices. People may be able to reason applicability of this stage. Kohlberg later
at higher levels but make choices at lower suggested Stages 5 & 6 be combined
levels based on these other factors. Kohlberg
emphasized cognitive reasoning about (4) The Stage theory was based on a
morality but overlooked other aspects of longitudinal study of males only; it cannot
moral maturity such as character and virtue be generalized to females as well


REASONING (GILLIGANS THEORY) Gilligan proposed a different sequence of
moral development: an ethic of care (ethic
Gilligan argued that Kohlbergs theory does - moral principles held an individual/group)
not adequately represent the morality of girls
and women
Gilligan suggests that morality in an
Gilligan believed that feminine morality individual progress in the following sequence:
emphasizes an ethic of care that is not A focus on self-interest
present in Kohlbergs theory Moral reasoning based on commitment to
specific individuals and relationships
She argued that there has been too much Morality based on the principles of
attention to rights and justice (a masculine responsibility and care for all people
ideal) and too little of emphasis on caring
and responsiveness (a feminine ideal)

Actually, studies (Eisenberg, Martin, & Fabes,

Men feel more guilty when they show violent
1996; Turiel, 1998) have found few
behaviors (fight or damaging property)
significant differences between men and
(William & Bybee, 1994)
women, or boys and girls, in their level of
moral reasoning as measured by Kohlbergs
Women are somewhat more likely to use a
care orientation, but both men and women
can use both orientations (Skoe, 1998)
Even though men and women both seem to
value caring and justice, there is some
evidence that in everyday life, women feel
more guilty about violating caring norms
(being inconsiderate or untrustworthy)

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Implications of Kohlbergs Theory and Example of moral issue:
moral reasoning Encourage perspective-taking: Mohan, how
Teachers should try to create a moral would you feel if someone stole from you?
atmosphere in the classroom When someone did something hurtful,
emphasize the harm done: Ahmad, that
Suggestions for creating a moral atmosphere really hurt Zainal
in the classroom:
Establish a community of mutual respect Rule or conventional issue:
and warmth with a fair and consistent
application of rules Reminder: Liza, you are not supposed to
Teachers responses should be appropriate talk when I am talking!
to the domain of the behavior moral or
rule / conventional issue Command: Julie, stop yelling!

Research suggests that peer interaction Facilitate moral reasoning in a warm, friendly,
during which they confront one another non-threatening way rather than using a
with differing viewpoints promotes moral
lecture, threats, or making sarcastic remarks

Peer discussions and role-playing of moral Moral values are caught, not taught
problems also improve moral understanding
Moral values, judgments and behaviors are
The teacher can achieve that by creating also deeply embedded in the individuals
learning situations where children get to faith
work together, discuss, simulate, and share

Religious and spiritual ideas often serve as

moral forces in their lives

Religious involvement provides children and

adults with expanded caring social networks
that foster moral maturity and opportunities
for social and civic engagements

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