When people consider moral dilemmas, it is their reasoning that is important, not their final decision, according to Lawrence Kohlberg. He theorized that people progress through three levels as they develop abilities of moral reasoning.
I. Preconventional Level
II. Conventional Level
III. Postconventional Level
Rules are set down by others.
Stage 1: Punishment and Obedience Orientation. Physical consequences of action determine its goodness or badness.
Stage 2: Instrumental Relativist Orientation. What is right is whatever satisfies one’s own needs and occasionally the needs of others. Elements of fairness and reciprocity are present, but they are mostly interpreted in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” fashion.
Individual adopts rules and will sometimes subordinate own needs to those of the group. Expectations of family, group, or nation seen as valuable in own right, regardless of immediate and obvious consequences.
Stage 3: “Good Boy–Good Girl” Orientation. Good behavior is whatever pleases or helps others and is approved of by them. One earns approval by being “nice.”
Stage 4: “Law and Order” Orientation. Right is doing one’s duty, showing respect for authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake.
People define own values in terms of ethical principles they have chosen…