The Six Stages of Moral Judgment
作者: Lawrence Kohlberg / 8515次阅读 时间: 2009年11月21日
来源: The Philosophy of Moral Development, 1981 标签: Moral Stages

from Lawrence Kohlberg, Essays on Moral Development Volume 1: The Philosophy of Moral Development, 1981

Preconventional Level

Stage 1: The Stage of Punishment and Obedience
Stage 2: The Stage of Individual Instrumental Purpose and Exchange

Conventional Level
Stage 3: The Stage of Mutual Interpersonal Expectations, Relationships and Conformity
Stage 4: The Stage of Social System and Conscience Maintenance

Postconventional Level
Stage 5: The Stage of Prior Rights and Social Contract or Utility
Stage 6: The Stage of Universal Ethical Principles

Level A. Preconventional Level

Stage 1. The Stage of Punishment and Obedience

Right is literal obedience to rules and authority, avoiding punishment, and not doing physical harm.


What is right is to  avoid breaking rules, to obey for obedience’s sake, and to avoid  doing physical damage to people and property.

The reasons for doing  right are avoidance of punishment and the superior power of  authorities.

Social Perspective
This stage takes an egocentric point of view. A person at this stage doesn’t consider the interests of others or recognize they differ from actor’s, and doesn’t relate two points of view. Actions are judged in terms of physical consequences rather than in terms of psychological interests of others. Authority’s perspective is confused with one’s own.


Stage 2. The Stage of Individual Instrumental Purpose and Exchange

Right is serving one’s own or other’s needs and making fair deals in terms of concrete exchange.


What is right is  following rules when it is to someone’s immediate interest. Right is  acting to meet one’s own interests and needs and letting others do  the same. Right is also what is fair; that is, what is an equal  exchange, a deal, an agreement.

The reason for doing  right is to serve one’s own needs or interests in a world where one  must recognize that other people have their interests, too.

Social Perspective
This stage takes a concrete individualistic perspective. A person at this stage separates his own interests and points of view from those of authorities and others. He or she is aware that everybody has individual interests to pursue and these conflict, so that right is relative (in the concrete individualistic sense). The person integrates or relates conflicting individual interests to one another through instrumental exchange of services, through instrumental need for the other and the other’s goodwill, or through fairness giving each person the same amount.


Level B. Conventional Level

Stage 3. The Stage of Mutual Interpersonal Expectations, Relationships, and Conformity

The right is playing a good (nice) role, being concerned about the other people and their feelings, keeping loyalty and trust with partners, and being motivated to follow rules and expectations.


What is right is living  up to what is expected by people close to one or what people  generally expect of people in one’s role as son, sister, friend, and  so on. "Being good" is important and means having good motives,  showing concern about others. It also means keeping mutual  relationships, maintaining trust, loyalty, respect, gratitude.

Reasons for doing right  are needing to be good in one’s own eyes and those of others, caring  for others, and because if one puts oneself in the person’s place  one would want good behavior from the self (Golden Rule).

Social Perspective
This stage takes the perspective of the individual in relationship to other individuals. A person at this stage is aware of shared feelings, agreements, and expectations, which take primacy over individual interests. The person relates points of view through the "concrete Golden Rule," putting oneself in the other person’s shoes. He or she does not consider generalized "system" perspective.


Stage 4. The Stage of Social System and Conscience Maintenance

The right is doing one’s duty in society, upholding the social order, and maintaining the welfare of society or group.


What is right is  fulfilling the actual duties to which one has agreed. Laws are to be  upheld except in extreme cases where they conflict with other fixed  social duties and rights. Right is also contributing to society, the  group, or institution.

The reasons for doing  right are to keep the institution going as a whole, self-respect or  conscience as meeting one’s defined obligations, or the  consequences: "What if everyone did it?"

Social Perspective
This stage differentiates societal point of view from interpersonal agreement or motives. A person at this stage takes the viewpoint of the system, which defines roles and rules. He or she considers individual relations in terms of place in the system.


Level B/C. Transitional Level

This level is postconventional but not yet principled.

Content of Transition
At Stage 4 ½, choice is personal and subjective. It is based on emotions, conscience is seen as arbitrary and relative, as are ideas such as "duty" and "morally right."

Transitional Social Perspective
At this stage, the perspective is that of an individual standing outside of his own society and considering himself as an individual making decisions without a generalized commitment or contract with society. One can pick and choose obligations, which are defined by particular societies, but one has no principles for such choice.


Level C. Postconventional and Principled Level

Moral decisions are generated from rights, values, or principles that are (or could be) agreeable to all individuals composing or creating a society designed to have fair and beneficial practices.

Stage 5. The Stage of Prior Rights and Social Contract or Utility

The right is upholding the basic rights, values, and legal contracts of a society, even when they conflict with the concrete rules and laws of the group.


What is right is being  aware of the fact that people hold a variety of values and opinions,  that most values and rules are relative to one’s group. These  "relative" rules should usually be upheld, however, in the interest  of impartiality and because they are the social contract. Some  nonrelative values and rights such as life and liberty, however,  must be upheld in any society and regardless of majority opinion.

Reasons for doing right  are, in general, feeling obligated to obey the law because one has  made a social contract to make and abide by laws for the good of all  and to protect their own rights and the rights of others. Family,  friendship, trust, and work obligations are also commitments or  contracts freely entered into and entail respect for the rights of  others. One is concerned that laws and duties be based on rational  calculation of overall utility: "the greatest good for the greatest  number."

Social Perspective
This stage takes a prior-to-society perspective – that of a rational individual aware of values and rights prior to social attachments and contracts. The person integrates perspectives by formal mechanisms of agreement, contract, objective impartiality, and due process. He or she considers the moral point of view and the legal point of view, recognizes they conflict, and finds it difficult to integrate them.


Stage 6. The Stage of Universal Ethical Principles

This stage assumes guidance by universal ethical principles that all humanity should follow.


Regarding what is right,  Stage 6 is guided by universal ethical principles. Particular laws  or social agreements are usually valid because they rest on such  principles. When laws violate these principles, one acts in  accordance with the principle. Principles are universal principles  of justice: the equality of human rights and respect for the dignity  ofhuman beings as individuals. These are not merely values that are  recognized, but are also principles used to generate particular  decisions.

The reason for doing  right is that, as a rational person, one has seen the validity of  principles and has become committed to them.

Social Perspective
This stage takes the perspective of a moral point of view from which social arrangements derive or on which they are grounded. The perspective is that of any rational individual recognizing the nature of morality or the basic moral premise of respect for other persons as ends, not means.

TAG: Moral Stages
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