ERIC Number: ED232894
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Kohlberg, Science and Indoctrination.
Wagner, Paul A.
The author argues that unless Kohlberg's theory of moral development can be demonstrated empirically, based on scientific evidence, his ensuing plan for a program of moral education amounts to no more than a systematic program of indoctrination. Kohlberg identifies the moral stage of a person by eliciting from a subject the reasons referred to in determining to act one way rather than another. While Kohlberg claims to study the structure of responses rather than their substance, it is questionable whether these are separable and whether relying on immediate utterances of responses is sufficient evidence for characterizing individuals into particular stages. Determining the scientific usefulness of a proposed theory depends upon the semantic clarity of the terms used in constructing the theory, and Kohlberg's description of "stages" as "organized systems of thought" is one example of the semantic insufficiency and ambiguity characteristic of Kohlberg's paradigm. It is fundamentally important to a theory that is grounded upon the linguistic behavior of its subjects to develop clearly constructed procedures for associating observation expressions such as "justice" with terms of less ambiguous nature. In conclusion, by constructing a particular nomenclature, Kohlberg has made his ideas appear to be actual, and appear, therefore, to be a legitimate object of scientific study. (LH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Developmental Theory; Indoctrination; Kohlberg (Lawrence); Moral Reasoning
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Studies Association (Nashville, TN, November 3-5, 1982).