Revised Moral Development
Lawerence Kohlberg is famous for his research theory of Moral Development which was heavily inspired by Piaget’s’, Deweys’, and Baldwin’s theories of development in the mind and body. Kohlberg’s’ Moral development theory is a series of levels thought to be for when people go through when their morals are developing from a young age to adulthood, and are categorized into 6 levels and stages. Each stage is reached when a person reaches a certain age, though at times they do not reach said stage or level at all. Kohlberg’s’ Moral Development Theory helps us understand right from wrong and where someone lies in the latter of their mental development stage, showing us as to why their morals are at a certain stage because of age and/or how they were raised.
The levels and stages of Moral Development thoroughly explain the reason behind each stage and where a child, teen, and adult are categorized at. To explain Kohlbergs’ theory in a better light, I will be listing each stage and level with their respective definition with detail. The first level is Preconventional Moral Reasoning and stage 1-Obedience and punishment which takes place during elementary in a child’s life, their morals is to listen to a parent, guardian and/or adult when being told what to do and if they do not obey, they will be punished and therefore hold that in thought, scared of what would happen to them. Stage 2- instrumental and relativist orientation, a stage where a child wonders what they will gain if they are nice to other people, hoping to be gifted with something in return for being nice and helpful toward the other person/people. The second level is Conventional Moral Reasoning and found in a society mostly in parents and other adults, stage 3 is Good Girl and nice boy, a stage where the child just wants to please others instead of putting their own needs first. They are only nice to others so those would be kind to them in return, they have nothing to gain. Stage 4 is Law and Order, which is where a person follows the rules and believes everyone else should as well, they do not break said rules and want to be a model citizen. Level 3 is Postconventional Moral Reasoning, which is centered on one’s ideas and personal philosophy. In Robert N. Barger’s summary of “Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development,” he states “The third level of moral thinking is one that Kohlberg felt is not reached by the majority of adults” (Barger). The fifth stage is Social Contract, which is when a person understands and cares for everyone else’s well being and social. The last stage in Kohlberg’s theory is level 6- Principled Conscious, in which a person “has respect for universal principle and the demands of individual conscience.”- (Kohlberg, Barger.) These are the stages that almost everyone goes through in their development of the mind.
Meet Naruto Uzumaki, a 30-year-old man who lives with his wife Victoria and their two children. His birthday is October 10th and Naruto is the breadmaker in the family, he is the CEO of a semi-large corporation where he handles insurance. In his free time, he enjoys kickboxing, going out to eat at his favorite noodle restaurant, and loves to work out with his friends Guy and Lee at the gym and he is an outdoors person. His parents raised him to always respect the rules, follow the law, and to always be kind and understanding toward everyone, to stand up to himself against bullies as well. But ever since COVID-19 hit, he and his workers at the company had to be sent home to work for everyone’s health and safety and because of that, they haven’t been able to earn that much because of the low business, resulting in barely receiving any money to feed their families. While Naruto is at the store, he notices the area around him being empty beside himself, with no cameras either. With that, he debated whether he should steal a large box of ramen for his family, he did not want his wife and children to starve so there would be a good reason to steal, but there was also the chance of being caught because stealing was bad, something he would never do. This follows stage One- Might Makes Right, the reason why Naruto responded this way was because of what he was taught when he was young, stealing and getting into trouble always resulted in harsh punishment, which is something he feared but since no one was looking, he was debating on whether it would be a good idea, especially because his family needed food.
As Naruto debates on this, he wonders if he should call up his friend Saeyoung so he could ask to borrow money instead of steal, he was always nice to Saeyoung so maybe he will let him borrow money for the food for himself and his family. It sounded better than stealing from the store and if he had a little extra left, he could buy bread and eggs as well. He was always nice to Saeyoung, he gave him chips and in turn, Naruto gave him some ramen so he had to let him borrow money! When Naruto called Saeyoung, he explained the situation while holding the box of ramen in his arm, sadly Saeyoung couldn’t lend him the money, which Naruto understood and hung up. This follows stage two, Look out for number one, and stage three- Good girl and nice boy, Naruto was looking out for himself and his family, which is why he was being so nice to Saeyoung, to gain something. Though since he was always nice to Saeyoung, Saeyoung would owe him a favor sometime in the future since he was always nice and thought he would gain something from it. In Naruto’s P.O.V, it was better than stealing since he knew it was against the law but Saeyoung owed him because he was always nice to him.
After giving it a second thought, Naruto sighed and put the box of ramen back in its place, he didn’t want to disappoint his family if they found out he had stolen something from the store, something that he had taught and raised his children not to do. This follows stage 4- Law and Order. Naruto had to obey the law and follow it instead of breaking it, even if the reason why he would be stealing was for a good cause, for his hungry wife and kids at home.
As Naruto was about to walk away, he noticed a couple of people smuggling food under their shirts, in their jackets, and purses. “Hey, that’s stealing!” he mumbled to a man who passed by with a loaf of bread in his pants. The man shrugged, raising a brow at Naruto in turn and told him since everyone was breaking the law by stealing, he didn’t see why he should obey the law since it was now broken and with that, Naruto stuffed the box of ramen in his arms for his hungry family. This follows stage five- Social Contract, The reason why Naruto ended up stealing was that he saw that since everyone was now breaking the law, he was by no means bound to it anymore, he wasn’t breaking the law for his gain, he was doing it for his family at home, not being selfish.
As he exited and went home, he explained to his children how he got the food, though his wife was disappointed, she understood. Naruto finally understood why such laws exist, those rules were only mandatory only when it came to certain situations, not whenever it was necessary. Even though he understood the viewpoints of others who were only stealing food for their gain, even when they had the money for it unlike him, Naruto should not feel alone with his feelings and understands justice. He understood that it was complicated because it fought with his morals about breaking the law and understood how the others felt who were breaking them as well. They were all doing it for their families and to save money in these hard times where people weren’t working. They needed to do this to survive.
In conclusion, I learned that Lawrence Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development is very interesting and can be seen with every individual when asked about certain situations, what they would do in turn. I learned everyone is different when it comes to the same ethnic dilemmas they face, whether they would steal or wouldn’t, stand by and pay as they obey the law, or do nothing at all and watch the others. The implications the project had on me was more of an understanding of the actions and reasoning of the actions of others.
- “A Sy of Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Development.” A SUMMARY OF LAWRENCE KOHLBERG’S THEORY of Moral Development, www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/MEDICAL_ETHICS_TEXT/Chapter_2_Ethical_Traditions/Reading-Barger-on-Kohlberg.htm.