ERIC Number: ED348600
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Society and the Highest Stages of Moral Development.
Sonnert, Gerhard; Commons, Michael L.
Kohlberg has produced the most influential theory of moral development both within individuals and within society. As a cognitive-developmentalist, Kohlberg considered mathematical and logical intellectual operations to underlie both social and moral operations. The hierarchical arrangement of the stages was thus grounded in the hierarchical arrangement of those operations. Kohlberg's postconventional period (Moral Stages 5 and 6) begins sometime after adolescence; fully postconventional thinking and action appear after early adulthood. At Moral Stage 5, the Societal Universal stage, people justify actions on the basis on universal abstract principles. Kohlberg also posited a Moral Stage 6 but this proved to be the most problematic stage in his model for conceptual and empirical reasons. Conceptually, Kohlberg had difficulty in setting Moral Stage 6 apart from Moral Stage 5, and empirically, he found it difficult to identify subjects reasoning at Moral Stage 6. A meaningful Moral Stage 6 cannot be defined within individual moral development; it has to be understood as a discourse, as the property of a social enterprise. Thus Kohlberg was looking for Moral Stage 6 in the wrong place, and as a consequence, came up empty handed. At earlier stages, society is seen as a necessary environment for individual moral reasoning. At Moral Stage 6, moral reasoning is constituted by the social enterprise. Moral Stage 6 reasoning requires actual discourse, rather than monologically simulated discourse. (ABL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Kohlberg (Lawrence)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association (63rd, Boston, MA, April 3-5, 1992).