Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gilligan debunks Kohlberg's theory

July 13, 2012
Gilligan takes several jabs at Kohlberg’s theory of child development. To understand her points, one must understand Kohlberg’s.
Kohlberg's six stages can be more generally grouped into three levels of two stages each: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional.[7][8][9] Following Piaget's constructivist requirements for a stage model, as described in his theory of cognitive development, it is extremely rare to regress in stages—to lose the use of higher stage abilities.[14][15] Stages cannot be skipped; each provides a new and necessary perspective, more comprehensive and differentiated than its predecessors but integrated with them.[14][15]
Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)
1. Obedience and punishment orientation
(How can I avoid punishment?)
2. Self-interest orientation
(What's in it for me?)
(Paying for a benefit)
Level 2 (Conventional)
3. Interpersonal accord and conformity
(Social norms)
(The good boy/good girl attitude)
4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation
(Law and order morality)
Level 3 (Post-Conventional)
5. Social contract orientation
6. Universal ethical principles
(Principled conscience)
The understanding gained in each stage is retained in later stages, but may be regarded by those in later stages as simplistic, lacking in sufficient attention to detail.
[edit] Pre-conventional
The pre-conventional level of moral reasoning is especially common in children, although adults can also exhibit this level of reasoning. Reasoners at this level judge the morality of an action by its direct consequences. The pre-conventional level consists of the first and second stages of moral development, and is solely concerned with the self in an egocentric manner. A child with preconventional morality has not yet adopted or internalized society's conventions regarding what is right or wrong, but instead focuses largely on external consequences that certain actions may bring.[7][8][9]
In Stage one (obedience and punishment driven), individuals focus on the direct consequences of their actions on themselves. For example, an action is perceived as morally wrong because the perpetrator is punished. "The last time I did that I got spanked so I will not do it again." The worse the punishment for the act is, the more "bad" the act is perceived to be.[16] This can give rise to an inference that even innocent victims are guilty in proportion to their suffering. It is "egocentric", lacking recognition that others' points of view are different from one's own.[17] There is "deference to superior power or prestige".[17]
Stage two (self-interest 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. Stage two reasoning shows a limited interest in the needs of others, but only to a point where it might further the individual's own interests. As a result, concern for others is not based on loyalty or intrinsic respect, but rather a "You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours." mentality.[2] The lack of a societal perspective in the pre-conventional level is quite different from the social contract (stage five), as all actions have the purpose of serving the individual's own needs or interests. For the stage two theorist, the world's perspective is often seen as morally relative.
[edit] Conventional
The conventional level of moral reasoning is typical of adolescents and adults. Those who reason in a conventional way judge the morality of actions by comparing them to society's views and expectations. The conventional level consists of the third and fourth stages of moral development. Conventional morality is characterized by an acceptance of society's conventions concerning right and wrong. At this level an individual obeys rules and follows society's norms even when there are no consequences for obedience or disobedience. Adherence to rules and conventions is somewhat rigid, however, and a rule's appropriateness or fairness is seldom questioned.[7][8][9]
In Stage three (interpersonal accord and conformity driven), 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,[2] having learned that there is inherent value in doing so. Stage three reasoning may judge the morality of an action by evaluating its consequences in terms of a person's relationships, which now begin to include things like respect, gratitude and the "golden rule". "I want to be liked and thought well of; apparently, not being naughty makes people like me." Desire to maintain rules and authority exists only to further support these social roles. The intentions of actors play a more significant role in reasoning at this stage; "they mean well ...".[2]
In Stage four (authority and social order obedience driven), it is important to obey laws, dictums and social conventions because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. Moral reasoning in stage four is thus beyond the need for individual approval exhibited in stage three. A central ideal or ideals often prescribe what is right and wrong, such as in the case of fundamentalism. If one person violates a law, perhaps everyone would—thus there is an obligation and a duty to uphold laws and rules. When someone does violate a law, it is morally wrong; culpability is thus a significant factor in this stage as it separates the bad domains from the good ones. Most active members of society remain at stage four, where morality is still predominantly dictated by an outside force.[2]
[edit] Post-Conventional
The post-conventional level, also known as the principled level, is marked by a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society, and that the individual’s own perspective may take precedence over society’s view; individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles. Post-conventional moralists live by their own ethical principles—principles that typically include such basic human rights as life, liberty, and justice. People who exhibit post-conventional morality view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms—ideally rules can maintain the general social order and protect human rights. Rules are not absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. Because post-conventional individuals elevate their own moral evaluation of a situation over social conventions, their behavior, especially at stage six, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventional level.
Some theorists have speculated that many people may never reach this level of abstract moral reasoning.[7][8][9]
In Stage five (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. Laws are regarded as social contracts rather than rigid edicts. Those that do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”.[8] This is achieved through majority decision, and inevitable compromise. Democratic government is ostensibly based on stage five reasoning.
In Stage six (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. Legal rights are unnecessary, as social contracts are not essential for deontic moral action. Decisions are not reached hypothetically in a conditional way but rather categorically in an absolute way, as in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.[18] This involves an individual imagining what they would do in another’s shoes, if they believed what that other person imagines to be true.[19] The resulting consensus is the action taken. In this way action is never a means but always an end in itself; the individual acts because it is right, and not because it is instrumental, expected, legal, or previously agreed upon. Although Kohlberg insisted that stage six exists, he found it difficult to identify individuals who consistently operated at that level.[15]
[edit] Further stages
In Kohlberg's empirical studies of individuals throughout their life Kohlberg observed that some had apparently undergone moral stage regression. This could be resolved either by allowing for moral regression or by extending the theory. Kohlberg chose the latter, postulating the existence of sub-stages in which the emerging stage has not yet been fully integrated into the personality.[8] In particular Kohlberg noted a stage 4½ or 4+, a transition from stage four to stage five, that shared characteristics of both.[8] In this stage the individual is disaffected with the arbitrary nature of law and order reasoning; culpability is frequently turned from being defined by society to viewing society itself as culpable. This stage is often mistaken for the moral relativism of stage two, as the individual views those interests of society that conflict with their own as being relatively and morally wrong.[8] Kohlberg noted that this was often observed in students entering college.[8][15]
Kohlberg suggested that there may be a seventh stage—Transcendental Morality, or Morality of Cosmic Orientation—which linked religion with moral reasoning.[20] Kohlberg's difficulties in obtaining empirical evidence for even a sixth stage,[15] however, led him to emphasize the speculative nature of his seventh stage.[5]
One criticism of Kohlberg's theory is that it emphasizes justice to the exclusion of other values, and so may not adequately address the arguments of those who value other moral aspects of actions. Carol Gilligan has argued that Kohlberg's theory is overly androcentric.[10] Kohlberg's theory was initially developed based on empirical research using only male participants; Gilligan argued that it did not adequately describe the concerns of women. Although research has generally found no significant pattern of differences in moral development between sexes,[14][15] Gilligan's theory of moral development does not focus on the value of justice. She developed an alternative theory of moral reasoning based on the ethics of caring.[10] Critics such as Christina Hoff Sommers, however, argued that Gilligan's research is ill-founded, and that no evidence exists to support her conclusion.[21]
Kohlberg's stages are not culturally neutral, as demonstrated by its application to a number of different cultures.[1] Although they progress through the stages in the same order, individuals in different cultures seem to do so at different rates.[22] Kohlberg has responded by saying that although different cultures do indeed inculcate different beliefs, his stages correspond to underlying modes of reasoning, rather than to those beliefs.[1][23]
Other psychologists have questioned the assumption that moral action is primarily a result of formal reasoning. Social intuitionists such as Jonathan Haidt, for example, argue that individuals often make moral judgments without weighing concerns such as fairness, law, human rights, or abstract ethical values. Thus the arguments analyzed by Kohlberg and other rationalist psychologists could be considered post hoc rationalizations of intuitive decisions; moral reasoning may be less relevant to moral action than Kohlberg's theory suggests.[24]
July 13, 2012-Morality and Voice
Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development
Stages of Moral Development
By Kendra Cherry, Guide
"The Heinz Dilemma"
Kohlberg based his theory upon research and interviews with groups of young children. A series of moral dilemmas were presented to these participants and they were also interviewed to determine the reasoning behind their judgments of each scenario.
The following is one example of the dilemmas Kohlberg presented"
Heinz Steals the Drug
"In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug.

The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $ 1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug-for his wife. Should the husband have done that?" (Kohlberg, 1963).
Gilligan Responds
Kohlberg was not interested so much in the answer to the question of whether Heinz was wrong or right, but in the reasoning for each participant's decision. The responses were then classified into various stages of reasoning in his theory of moral development.
Gilligan spends a good deal of time attempting to debunk Kohlberg’s theory. She views the different ways that men and women make moral decisions and feels disappointed that Freud, Piaget, and Kohlberg view women as having delinquent morals.
Gilligan (1998) differs and claims that, “{t}his different construction of the moral problem by women may be seen as the critical reason for failure to develop within the constructions of Kohlberg’s system. Regarding all constructions of responsibility as evidence of a conventional moral understanding, Kohlberg defines the highest stages of moral development as deriving from a reflective understanding of human rights. That morality of rights differs from the morality of responsibility in its emphasis on separation rather than connection, in its consideration of the individual rather than the relationship as, primary…” (p. 19).
Gilligan states that the reason women are viewed as morally bankrupt is because the research that was used was skewed towards males. The male response was considered the only response. Once one views a woman’s position from the perspective that relationships are primary in their lives it becomes obvious that they are just a morally stable as men.

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