Moral Development and Moral Reasoning
Before the knowledge of Moral Development and Moral Reasoning is impacted on us, we sometimes assume that a person’s values are formed during childhood and do not change after that. A great deal of psychological research demonstrates that as people mature, they change their values in very deep and profound ways. Velasquez argues that just as people’s physical, emotional and cognitive abilities develop as they age, so also their Moral Development and Moral Reasoning grows as they move through life. Just as there are identifiable stages of growth in physical development, so the ability to develop in identifiable stages. Business Training in Kenya has more articles.
Human Perception on Moral Development and Moral Reasoning
As children, we are simply told what is right and what is wrong and we obey so as to avoid punishment. The child’s adherence to moral standards is essentially based on a self-absorbed avoidance of pain. As we mature into adolescence, these conventional moral standards are gradually internalized and our Moral Development and Moral Reasoning grows. Adherence to moral standards is now based on living up to the expectations of family, friends and surrounding society.
We do what is right because it is what is expected of us. It is only as rational and experienced adults with Moral Development and Moral Reasoning that we acquire the capacity to critically reflect on the conventional moral standards bequeathed to us by our families, peers, culture or religion.
We then begin to rationally evaluate these moral standards and their consequences and to revise them where they are inadequate, inconsistent or reasonable. We begin to be ethical and morality now increasingly consists of moral standards, Moral Development and Moral Reasoning that are more impartial and that take into account more of the influences of others, or that more adequately balance of taking care of others while taking care of ourselves.
There is a good deal of psychological research on Moral Development and Moral Reasoning that shows people’s moral views develop more or less in stages. Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg believed that some individuals are better prepared to make ethical judgments than others.
He built a comprehensive theory of moral development in which he claimed that moral judgment evolves and improves primarily as a function of age and education. He concluded on the basis of over 20 years of research that there is a sequence of six identifiable stages in the development of a person’s ability to deal with moral issues. Kohlberg identified six universal stages grouped into three levels:
Stages of Moral Development and Moral Reasoning
- Stage1: Obey rules to avoid punishment
- Stage2: Follow rues only if it is in own interest, but let others do the same. Conform to secure rewards.
Conventional level in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning (level2)
- Stage3: conform to meet the expectations of others please others. Adhere to stereotypical images
- Stage4: Doing right is one’s duty. Obeying the law upholds the social contract and order.
Post conventional or principle level in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning (level3)
- Stage5: Current laws and values are relative laws and duties are obeyed on rational calculations to serve the greatest number.
- Stage6: Follow self-chosen universal principles. In the event of conflict principles override laws.
At the post conventional level in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning, the individual is able to reach independent moral judgments that may or may not be in conformity with conventional social wisdom. Thus the level 2 manager might refrain from sexual harassment because it constitutes a violation of company policy and the law. A manager at level 3 in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning might reach the same conclusion, but her or his decision would have been independently defined, based on universal principles of justice.
Kohlberg found that many adults never pass beyond level 2 in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning. Consequently, if Kohlberg is correct, many managers may become unethical simply because they have not reached the upper stages of moral maturity.
According to Velasquez (2006), Kohlberg’s theory is useful because it helps us understand how we can become increasingly sophisticated and critical in our use and understanding of the moral standards we hold. Kohlberg found that many people remain stuck at one of the early stages of Moral Development and Moral Reasoning throughout their lives. For those who remain at the pre-conventional level, right and wrong always continue to be defined in the egocentric terms of avoiding punishment.
For those who reach the conventional level but never get any further, right and wrong continue to be defined in terms of the conventional norms of their social groups or the laws of their nation or society. However, for those who reach the post conventional level in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning, they take reflection and critical look at the moral standards, and they define moral right and wrong in terms of moral principles they have chosen for themselves as more reasonable and adequate.
Kohlberg implies that the moral reasoning of people at the later stages of moral development is better than the reasoning of those at earlier stages. People at the later stages have the ability to see things from a wider and further perspective than those at earlier stages.
The person at the pre-conventional level in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning can see situations only from the person’s own egocentric point of view; the person at the conventional level can see situations only from the familiar view points of people in the person’s own social groups; and the person at the post conventional point of view has the ability to look at situations from a perspective that tries to take into account everyone affected by the decision.
Conclusion on Moral Development and Moral Reasoning
People at the later stages have better ways of justifying their decisions to others than those at earlier stages. The person at the pre-conventional level can justly decision only in terms of how the person’s own interests will use affected, and therefore, justifications are ultimately perspective only to the person.
The person at the conventional level in Moral Development and Moral Reasoning can justify decisions in terms of the norms of the group which the person belong, and therefore justifications are ultimately perspective only to members of the person’s group. Finally the person at the post-conventional level and justify what the person does or the basis of moral principles that are impartial and reasonable and therefore can appeal to any reasonable person. Only the person who has reached the post-conventional level can be said to have attained Moral Development and Moral Reasoning.