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Kohlbergs Principles of Ethics - Essay Example

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This paper defines Ethics and deals in detail about Kohlberg's six basic stages of moral development followed by definition of honesty and relevance of honesty to dilemma situation as explained by Kohlberg and last but not the least references.
What is Ethics "Ethics is the philosophical study of Morality"…
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Kohlbergs Principles of Ethics
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Kohlbergs Principles of Ethics

Lawrence Kohlberg was one of the first serious thinkers to study and know about a person's ability to deal with ethical issues which could develop in later life and also whether education could affect that development (Source: Can Ethics Be Taught).
Kohlberg developed a theory of moral reasoning, which according to him was the basis for ethical behavior and has three major levels split into six identifiable stages of moral development as shown below:
The Stage 1 is a heteronomous orientation focusing on avoiding breaking rules that are backed by punishment, obedience for its own sake and avoiding the physical consequences of an action to persons and property (Source: Studies in moral development and education).
The Stage 2 orientation focuses on the instrumental, pragmatic value of an action. Reciprocity is of the form. The Golden Rule becomes, "If someone hits you, you hit them back". Thus one follows the rules only when it is to someone's immediate interests. What is right is what's fair in the sense of an equal exchange, a deal, an agreement with his (her) own interest (Source: Studies in moral development and education).
At Stage 3 individuals are aware of shared feelings, agreements, and expectations which take primacy over individual interests. Hence they define what is right in terms of what is expected by people close to their own self, and in terms of the stereotypic roles that define being good. Thus being good here means keeping mutual relationships, such as trust, loyalty, respect, and gratitude. The thinking is that of local community or family. There is no consideration of the generalized social system (Source: Studies in moral development and education).
The Stage 4 shifts focus from defining what is right in terms of local norms and role expectations to defining right in terms of the laws and norms established by the larger social system. Thus defining one's social responsibilities. One must obey the law except in extreme cases in which the law comes into conflict with other prescribed social duties. Obeying the law is seen as necessary in order to maintain the system of laws which protect everyone (Source: Studies in moral development and education).
While two stages have been mentioned in the third major level only one stage i.e., Stage 5, has received substantial empirical support. Stage 6 remains as a theoretical endpoint which rationally follows from the preceding 5 stages. This level is called the post conventional level and is characterized by reasoning based on principles, using a "prior to society" perspective. The individual's reason here is based on the principles which underlie rules and norms, but reject a uniform application of a rule or norm (Source: Studies in moral development and education).
According to Campbell and Bond (1982) Kohlberg's ideas of moral reasoning, moral realism and morality are based on the premise that at birth all humans are void of morals, ethics and honesty. Kohlberg identified the family as first source of values and moral development for an individual.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy being honest or generous is just not a tendency to do what is honest or generous, nor is it to be helpfully specified as a "desirable" or "morally ... Read More
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