Moral development Essay

            According to the Social Learning Theory, our moral behavior is shaped by the reinforcement and punishment stimuli through the process of learning. It means that if a child was punished in the past for a certain behavior and is faced with such a situation again, he/she will avoid this behavior. As a social being, a person lives within a group or a community and “tends to perform actions and behave in a manner conducive to community approval”. The greatest criticism of this theory is that “it does not provide a proper overall personality assessment”. “It focuses more on the factors perceived as negative by the learner – it does not account for what may be considered positive.

” (Social Learning Theory)According to Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, “there are six identifiable stages of moral development” which could be classified into three levels. (Kohlberg’s stages of moral development) The pre-conventional level. In stage 1, “people behave according to socially acceptable norms because they are told to do so by some authority figure”. “This obedience is compelled by the threat or application of punishment.” Stage 2 “is characterized by a view that right behavior means acting in one’s own best interests”.

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(Barger, Robert N. A Summary Of Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages Of Moral Development) The conventional level. In stage 3 individuals “seek approval from other people’. Stage 4 is “oriented to abiding by the law and responding to the obligations of duty”. (Barger, Robert N. A) The post-conventional level.

Stage 5 is “an understanding of social mutuality and a genuine interest in the welfare of others.” Stage 6 is “based on respect for universal principles and the demands of individual conscience.” (Barger, Robert N. A) It appears that people rarely reach stage 6 of this model and Kohlberg “had difficulty finding participants who use it”. (Kohlberg’s stages of moral development)            “One criticism of Kohlberg’s theory is that it emphasizes justice to the exclusion of other values” and “may not adequately address the arguments of people who value other moral aspects of actions.” Carol Gilligan has argued that the theory is “male-centric” and “did not adequately describe the concerns of women”. (Kohlberg’s stages of moral development) Kohlberg claimed his six stages are cultural-universal.

Simpson (1974) argues that “Kohlberg’s interview employs analytic and theoretical modes of thought and language such as “justice, equality and reciprocity at a high level of abstraction” which are not valued by many cultures”. According to Bergling (1981), Kohlberg’s stages 1 – 4 are “empirically supported in western industrialized countries but findings from the Bahamas and British Honduras fail to support even a stage 4”. (Ma, King Keung Problems In The Cross-Cultural Study Of Moral Judgment Development)BIBLIOGRAPHY:1. Barger, Robert N. A Summary Of Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages Of Moral Development, http://www.nd.

edu/~rbarger/kohlberg.html (August, 23 2005)2. Kohlberg’s stages of moral development,’s_stages_of_moral_development (August, 23 2005)3.

Ma, King Keung Problems In The Cross-Cultural Study Of Moral Judgment Development,;hl=uk   (August, 23 2005)4. Social Learning Theory, (August,    24 2005);


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