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Kohlberg vs Gilligan

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By Jenifferrrr
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The dispute between Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan influenced the subject of moral development following Gilligan’s 1982 book, “In a Different Voice,” one of the first to question male-centered psychological research. The distinction between Kohlberg and Gilligan comes down to whether males and females define “morality” differently. Men focusing on justice concerns, according to Kohlberg, and females more focused on caring and relationship needs, according to Gilligan. Theories on how people grow morally became the center of attention of psychology when Jean Piaget first studied how people's reasoning and logical skills evolve throughout their lifetime. Kohlberg liked Piaget’s approach and his next step was to perform research studies in the 1960s, he used the concluding data to develop a model of six “universal” stages through which individuals develop morally. By the late 1970s, his representation of moral development was the dominant view. But females constantly achieved Stage 3 when tested with his model, while men constantly scored at Stages 4 and 5. Gilligan, an old- student of Kohlberg’s, observed that the research and data was based off of tests performed on boys only, and argued whether women were really “morally inferior,” as test scores suggested. So, putting together her own research, she created an alternative model. The dispute mainly focuses around Gilligan’s statement that female psychology and values, including how women come to define morality, contrast with those of men. She developed a relational theory that became known as an “ethics of care.” Kohlberg’s display of moral development focused on the capability to make choices based on universal, abstract principles of justice, duty and the use of fair-minded reason and logic. Gilligan declared, on the other hand, that because girls comprehend and define themselves more in regard to...

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