Moral Development

Topics: Morality, Jean Piaget, Kohlberg's stages of moral development Pages: 3 (819 words) Published: September 16, 2013
Our moral thought is not an innate and fixed property, but is a learnt attribute that changes in our lifetime with personal development. Personal development in turn, is dominated by cognitive development. And there are two main theories relating moral development with cognition: the first one is Piaget’s theory, and the second one is Kohlberg’s theory. The basic idea behind both theories is that our moral thought changes with cognitive development. What we are going to show next, is the relation between moral development and Complexity. Moral development depends on cognitive development. Cognitive development is the result of an increase in cognitive complexity. And Complexity is a universal natural phenomena (see Complexity). So we are going to show how moral development is a particular case of the universal phenomena of Complexity.

Piaget’s theory can be summarised in the following table.

In Piaget’s theory, moral thought has two stages: heteronomous morality, associated with moral realism (’being subject to another‘s laws or rules‘), and autonomous morality, associated with moral relativism (’being subject to one‘s own laws or rules‘). The stages are not mutually exclusive (e.g. most adults show a combination of both). The transition from one stage to the other is related with a transition from egocentric thought to a thought that contemplates other’s point of view. And it is also related with a change in social relationships, from unilateral respect (i.e. unconditional, absolute and one-way respect to authority) to mutual respect where compromises are reached.

Kohlberg’s theory can be summarised in the following table. kohlberg-table

Kohlberg’s theory is a more sophisticated theory based on six staged of moral development, which in turn can be more generally grouped on three levels: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional.

Both Kohlberg and Piaget agree that cognitive development is a necessary but not sufficient...
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