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6 Stages of Moral Reasoning

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Excellent analysis and explanation of the 6 stages of moral reasoning. You demonstrate your understanding and application of the concepts/

Moral Reasoning
By Christopher M Benco

Kohlberg defines moral reasoning to be decisions based on right and wrong. Kohlberg’s studies were founded on moral dilemmas, or theoretical events in which one must make a tough choice. He describes one’s stage of moral thought from the perceptive used to defend one’s situation while confronted with a predicament. Kohlberg believed this to be of greater importance than the actual choice, subsequently the choices one makes in some predicaments are not always clear or undeniably right. Here is an Example of a Dilemma Kohlberg studied. “Heinz Steals the Drug”
"In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $ 1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug-for his wife. Should the husband have done that? (Kohlberg, 1973)”.
Kohlberg noted that the growth of moral reasoning appeared to be associated with a person’s age. Kohlberg suggested that the development of moral reasoning is categorized by a series of six stages gathered into three basic levels of morality: Conventional, Post Conventional, and Pre-Conventional. Starting with Level one being Pre-conventional Morality: decisions are built merely on an individual's perceptions as well as their needs. Stage one, Punishment and Obedience. This early phase of moral growth is particularly mutual with younger kids; however grownups are also able of conveying this kind of thinking. With this stage, kids comprehend rules as absolute and fixed. Following rules are essential for it is a way of escaping being reprimanded. Stage two, Exchange and Individualism, at this point of moral growth, kids account for separate point of views and depict actions establishing on by what means aid an individual’s wants. In Kohlberg’s Heinz predicament, kids claimed that the greatest way was the decision that which best aided Heinz’s necessities. Reciprocity is probable with this stage of moral growth, however only if it aids one's own wellbeing.
Level two, is Conventional Morality, at this level the beliefs of society and its laws are taken into consideration in a decision about a moral dilemma. Stage three, Interpersonal Relationships, Frequently referred to for instance as the good girl/good boy scenario, at this point moral growth is concentrated on living up to societal beliefs as well as characters. Here is an importance on conformism, being nice, as well as having consideration of how decisions impact relations. Stage four - is Maintaining Social Order, with this point of moral growth, individuals begin to ponder civilization as a complete unit while making decisions. Attention is focused by preserving order by obeying the guidelines, with respect for higher authority.
Level three, Post conventional Morality, with this level judgment is founded on intellectual, more particular values that are not essentially well-defined by civilization's rules and laws. Stage five - Individual Rights and Social Contract, individuals begin to account for the different ethics, thoughts and principles of other individuals. Procedures of the law are vital to preserve a society; however individuals of the society have to reach a agreement with the standards that are needed. Stage six - Universal Principles, in this stage of moral thought it is centered on common moral values as well as intellectual thought. This phase being critical, individuals must follow these adopted values of integrity, although it may clash with rules and laws.
Kohlberg’s theory is concentrated on ethical thought, yet we ask ourselves does moral thought lead to moral actions? It is to my belief that being caring, having compassion the use of personal feelings play an important role in the decisions we make using moral reasoning. Some have criticized that his theory on moral growth goes over the top about the concept of justice while making moral decisions. None the less people in society do not just get to one level or stage and stay there. They simply move back and forth through the stages that best fit their situations in life.

Kohlberg, L. (1973). The Claim to Moral Adequacy of a Highest Stage of Moral Judgment. Journal of Philosophy, 70(18), 630–646.
University of Phoenix. (2013). Chapter 10. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, PHL/323—Ethics in Management course website.

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