Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Moral Development Part 4:

Today we will be talking about the highest level and the last two stages.

Level 3. Postconventional Morality:
Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights:
So in stage 4 we talked about society as a whole and how it is important to look at the bigger picture to truly have a mature Morality. In this stage the focus is more on the question of, “What makes for a good society.” There have been plenty of books on the utopian society that eventually break down. We can also read religious beliefs on the utopian society. In this stage a person is going to be looking at what are the responsibilities of society? What rights and values should be upheld by society? These people realize that there must be a contract between society and its members. They understand that individual groups will have differing views and standards but they agree on two points. First they would all want certain basic rights such as liberty, life, and to be protected. Second they would want to have a way to change unfair laws through a democratic procedure.
People in this stage make it clear that laws should not be broken generally and that these laws should be protected until they are changed through a democratic fashion due to their “wrongness.” They also say that the husband has a moral obligation to save his wife and in fact to save the life of a complete stranger. This is a stage where a person acts independently of his own group that he or she may belong to.

Stage 6. Universal Principle’s:
Stage 5 is looking at changing the laws based on a democratic process which at times may mean that the minority gets left behind. Stage 6 defines the principles by which we achieve justice. This stage we look at all as having universal rights whether we are the majority or the minority. This is very interesting to me because often times we and I mean society forgets the rights of the minorities but also we (society) at times justify taking from the majority for the sake of the minority. Society tends to try and play a balancing act that has to take from one side in order to give to the other side. Thus we have laws that often hurt one group whether they be a majority or a minority in order to help the other group. At this stage each party must look through each other’s eyes to  better understand one another.  All parties must be seen as equal and the people in the groups must consider each situation as if they did not know which side they would be on.
In the beginning of Kohlberg’s experiment he was rating more people at a level 6 but more recently he has not done this as often finding that people are not consistent in all situations. 

This is a long post but I hope that you have found it interesting. It is a hard thing to think through other people’s eyes and situations. I like the saying, “Don’t judge another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird.


  1. i find stage 6 interesting too as i dont know if many ever get it idealistic? i know some but...

  2. It is my belief that we can all achieve Stage six. And I will spend my writing career spreading the word that this is so.

  3. Yes, this is so absorbing to read, I enjoy each one, thank you,


  4. Hmmm. I have heard a trainer recently talk about social contracts to increase positive climate in a school. Most likely based on the same premise.

  5. I think the most difficult part of achieving stage 6 is doing it in such a fashion that it isn't forced but comes to people naturally. If you have ever read The Alliance by Gerald Lund you will see that unless a perfect society is able to reach perfection without any influence from another force it still isn't perfect. As is said in The Still Small Voice Of Trumpets "Democracy imposed from without is the severest form of tyranny."

    These posts have been great. Thanks, Josh.

  6. Fascinating, Josh, as always. Thanks.

  7. Another interesting post!

    Great quote. :)

  8. I went back and read the posts I missed, plus today's, of course. All are extremely intersting. You present some complicated material in a fashion that is easily understood. Thank you!


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