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Theories of the Development of
Moral Reasoning, Attitudes &
Beliefs: Kohlberg, Turiel, Gilligan
Mavee Cabrera
Joan Aoki
Fatima Carlotta
3 Basic Components of Morality:
• Cognitive Knowledge of ethical rules & judgments of what
is good and what is bad.
• Behavioral The person’s actual behavior, his response to
situations involving ethical considerations.
• Emotional It involves the person’s feelings and conduct in
reaction to situations that need moral and ethical decisions.
Lawrence Kohlberg’s Cognitive Theory
of Moral Development:
• Lawrence Kohlberg opines that the child’s
cognitive capabilities determine the growth of his
moral reasoning. Further, moral development
builds on concepts acquired in various stages,
such that attainment in each stage becomes a
product of the previous stages.
Lawrence Kohlberg’s Cognitive Theory
of Moral Development:
• Kohlberg experimented on this theory by
interviewing boys aged 10 to 16. They were
presented moral dilemmas and where made to
decide whether to respect and follow the
authority, obey the rules or ignore the rules, and
respond to the needs and welfare of other people.
Kohlberg’s Theory
of Moral
Level I – Preconventional Morality:
• Stage 1 (Obedience & Punishment Orientation) Individuals
focus on the direct consequences of their actions on
• Stage 2 (Naïve Hedonistic & Instrumental Orientation/ selfinterest driven) espouses the "what's in it for me" position, in
which right behavior is defined by whatever is in the
individual's best interest.
Level II – Conventional Morality:
Conventional Rules & Conformity
• Stage 3 (Good Boy Morality) The self enters society by filling social roles.
Individuals are receptive to approval or disapproval from others as it
reflects society's accordance with the perceived role. They try to be a
"good boy" or "good girl" to live up to these expectations, having learned
that there is inherent value in doing so.
• Stage 4 (Authority & Morality that Maintain the Social Order) It is
important to obey laws, dictums and social conventions because of their
importance in maintaining a functioning society.
Level III – Postconventional Morality:
Self Accepted Moral Principles
• Stage 5 (Social Contract Driven) The world is viewed as holding different
opinions, rights and values. Such perspectives should be mutually
respected as unique to each person or community.
• Stage 6 (Universal Ethical Principles Driven) Moral reasoning is based
on abstract reasoning using universal ethical principles. Laws are valid only
insofar as they are grounded in justice, and a commitment to justice
carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws. Rights are unnecessary,
as social contracts are not essential for deontic moral action.
Elliot Turiel’ Moral Rules:
“Even very young children can distinguish
moral rules from what are dictated by
conventions & are accepted ways of doing
- Elliot Turiel (1983; as cited by Cobb 2001)
• It is seen in standard of dressing and even in
• Moral rules manifest a concern for the welfare
of others and are not influenced by opinion.
Elliot Turiel’ Moral Rules:
“ Moral acts such as hurting someone or hitting
somebody as part of a game cannot be
legitimized actions. The youngest children
however were less clear about acts leading to
psychological harm, such as name calling as part
of game”
- Cobb, 2001
Carol Gilligan’s Theory of Moral
• Carol Gilligan (1989) of Harvard University.
• Speaks moral development which strikes a
balance between male oriented theories as
expounded by Kohlberg’s & Freud’s & insights
from interviews with female.
Carol Gilligan’s Theory of Moral
• Most female think of morality more personally
than males do.
• More ethical.
• Morality is to be treated in term of their
responsibility to others rather than as the rights
of individuals.
• Male and females have different responsibilities.
Carol Gilligan’s Theory of Moral
• Females are more compassionate by nature and are careful
and fair in their actions.
• Females tend to see themselves in term of relationships
with others.
• Male have the tendency to view themselves as distinct and
separate from others.
• The concepts of separation and connectedness translate
into their approaches to morality.
“ The assumption that one is separate from others
emphasizes the need for rules to regulate the
conduct of human behaviour and actions of each
with respect to others. The assumption that one is
connected to others recognizes the responsibility
each has for the other.”
-Gilligan, 1982 as cited by Cobb 2001
Males and Females look at
responsibility differently
• Male
- Conceived as not doing something that would
transgress on the right of others as when one is
guilty of a physical assault.
• Female
- Meeting the needs of others as in caring for the
3 Moral Development level in
• First Level
- Primary concern is with one self.
- When one sees caring for oneself as selfish and not
congruent to responsibility to others.
- Transition to next level occurs.
• Second level
- Female equate morality with goodness, selfsacrifice and caring for others.
- When they meet problems in their
relationships resulting from their exclusion
from their own care.
- Transition to next level occurs.
• Third Level
- Morality is equated with care for both
themselves and others.