Moral Reasoning

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Business ethics is the behavior that business sticks to in its every day relations with the world. However, it applies not only to how the business interacts with the world in whole, but also to dealings with a single customer and even to internal actions. Every organization should include good business ethics. Moral reasoning is integral part of business ethics. L. Kohlberg determined three levels of moral development that consists of six stages. The stages of Kohlberg's model relate to the qualitative moral reasoning adopted by individuals. According to this model, a person can not skip any stages and make headway sequentially. So, in this essay I will analyze Kohlberg's levels of moral reasoning, my own development concerning this model, how to reach the highest stage and how internal culture of organization influence moral reasoning of its employees.

Moral reasoning is the process which develops proper attitudes and behaviors toward other people in society, based on social and cultural norms, rules, and laws. Moral reasoning is also called moral development. Lawrence Kohlberg is an American psychologist who studied this process in the mid of XX century. He based his ideas of moral reasoning on Piaget's moral reasoning and morality of cooperation. Kohlberg believed that a child is devoid of moral, ethics, and honesty at birth and the family is the first mine of moral development for an individual. His method involves asking people to try to solve moral dilemmas described in little stories, and after that he could follow their reasoning. He was not interested in particular answers; he was interested in how the person got to his or her answer. “Kohlberg’s observations regarding moral growth suggest a “quantum” approach: instead of a smooth transition toward full ethical maturity, Kohlberg observed moral growth occurring in stages where persons consolidate at one level before moving on toward another. Kohlberg’s original theory (1981) consisted of six stages, with each successively higher stage representing an improved capacity for moral judgment.” (Journal of Business Ethics (2007)76:397–412 DOI10.1007/s10551-006-9290-3) At the first level – preconventional – “a person’s choice between right and wrong is based on personal consequences from outside sources, such as physical punishment, reward, or change of favors.” (Stephen P. Robbins, Management 10th edition, chapter 5 p.99) Preconventional level contains two stages. First stage focuses on avoiding breaking rules that are backed by punishment. The second stage focuses on the value of an action. A person follows the rules only when it is in his immediate interests. At this stage an individual begins to understand that everybody grinds their own axe. At the second level – conventional – “ethical decisions rely on maintaining expected standards and living up to the expectations of others.” (Stephen P. Robbins, Management 10th edition, chapter 5 p.99) A person at this level of reasoning understands conventional morality and why it is necessary to society. This level consists of two stages as well. Third stage describes what is right and wrong through the expectations of people close to one's self. Fourth stage determines what is right and wrong concerning laws and norms established by the larger social system. A lot of people are at this stage. Finally, at the third level – principled – “a person begins to think in truly independent ways. Social norms are no longer uncritically accepted but must now serve moral purposes. One adopts personal moral codes and appeals to broad moral ideals and principles.” (Journal of Business Ethics (2007)76:397–412 DOI10.1007/s10551-006-9290-3) Laws and norms are estimated not only in terms of the place in social system, but also in term of basic principles of a person. Fifth stage looks out for understanding that the laws are flexible. A person becomes active creators of rules instead of merely passive recipients. Sixth...
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