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Psychological Review 2005, Vol. 112, No. 3, 629 – 649

Copyright 2005 by the American Psychological Association 0033-295X/05/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.112.3.629

Toward a More Pragmatic Approach to Morality: A Critical Evaluation of Kohlberg’s Model
Dennis L. Krebs and Kathy Denton
Simon Fraser University
In this article, the authors evaluate L. Kohlberg’s (1984) cognitive– developmental approach to morality, find it wanting, and introduce a more pragmatic approach. They review research designed to evaluate Kohlberg’s model, describe how they revised the model to accommodate discrepant findings, and explain why they concluded that it is poorly equipped to account for the ways in which people make moral decisions in their everyday lives. The authors outline in 11 propositions a framework for a new approach that is more attentive to the purposes that people use morality to achieve. People make moral judgments and engage in moral behaviors to induce themselves and others to uphold systems of cooperative exchange that help them achieve their goals and advance their interests. Keywords: moral development, cognitive development, cooperation, moral judgment

After two decades of research on Kohlberg’s (1984) cognitive– developmental model of morality, we abandoned it in favor of a more pragmatic approach. In this article, we explain why. We identify problems with Kohlberg’s model, describe revisions aimed at solving them, and offer reasons why a new approach is necessary. We end with a new beginning, introducing a more pragmatic approach in a set of propositions that, we argue, is better equipped than Kohlberg’s model to account for the ways in which people make moral decisions in their everyday lives. This approach rests on the assumption that individuals invoke a variety of affectively and cognitively-based strategies to pursue goals and advance their…...

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