Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development

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Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Kohlberg's theory of moral development.

In this essay, following a brief outline of the theory, I will be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Kohlberg's theory of moral development. Morality comes from the Latin word for custom. It is a behaviour that one has been accustomed to due to the laws and customs in a particular society. By the time a person reaches adulthood, they should have a good idea about personal and social behaviour (Carlson, 2004)

Kohlberg's theory of moral development was originally an adaptation of Piaget's theory which was deemed to be unreliable because it was solely based on interviews of young children. Kohlberg's theory is based on the response to a ‘moral dilemma' to which there is no correct answer. The dilemma posed the question of ‘Law against morality'. Is it right to steal a drug to keep someone alive even though the act of larceny is illegal? It was first issued to children, then people of all ages to assess the extent of their moral development. From his research using this dilemma and other similar ones, Kohlberg comprised three different levels and seven stages of moral development that people (should) experience from childhood through to adulthood. Here is a brief outline of Kohlberg's theory and what each level of moral development entails: The Preconventional level consists of stage one and two. This level is basic and highlights the avoidance of punishment and the egocentricity experienced in childhood. The second level – the Conventional level – includes stages three and four. This level focuses on the understanding of social influences and the interpretation of laws and the need to follow them. The Postconventional level consists of stages five, six and seven. These are, according to Kohlberg the most advanced stages of moral development. They deal with the obeying of rules for ‘the common good', ethical considerations when obeying or disobeying certain rules, and...
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