Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

Scan 142400001 moral MORALITY DEVELOPS IN 6 STAGES.

Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987) believed that morality develops gradually throughout childhood and adolescence.

In the Pre-conventional level of moral reasoning ( first 9 years of life), moral behaviour is determined by the concepts of punishment, reward, and reciprocity. The rules are considered fixed and absolute.

Step A, the stage of obedience and punishment - we determine whether actions are right or wrong by whether or not they lead to a punishment.

Step B, the stage of individualism and exchange,  - right or wrong are determined by what brings rewards. The desires and needs of others are important, but only in a reciprocal sense. Morality at this level is governed by consequence.

In the Conventional level (starts in adolescence and continues into early adulthood), moral behaviour is consistent with doing what others believe to be right, upholding laws, and maintaining social order. We start to consider the intention behind behavior, rather than just the consequences.

Step C, called "good boy - nice girl" stage, is when we begin classifying moral behaviour as to whether it will help or please. Being seen as good becomes the goal.

Step D, the law and order stage, - we start to equate "being good" with respecting authority and obeying the law, believing that this protects and sustains society.

In the Post-conventional level, the individual is the ultimate judge of moral behaviour, based on his own concience and universal moral principles rather than social norms. We move beyond simple conformity. Kohlberg suggested that only around 10-15% of us ever reach this level.

Step E, the social contract and individual rights stage, we still respect authority, but there is a growing recognition that individual rights can supersede laws that are  destructive or restrictive. We  come to realize that human life is more sacred that just following rules.

Stage F, the stage of universal ethical principles, is when our own conscience becomes the ultimate judge, and we commit ourselves to equal rights and respect for all. We may even resort to civil disobedience in the name of universal principles, such as justice.

Children develop a moral code through interaction with others, and awareness of respect, empathy, and love ( Lawrence Kohlberg, Moral Stages and Moralization, 1976).

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