Doing the Righ Thing - Essay Example

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As a child grows, that child's ability to process new information and make personal situational decisions increases. Whereas an infant cannot process that if his or her heel kicks a family pet that the pet will feel pain, the same child as a toddler, a year later, may think twice about doing something that has been labeled "no-no," yet still look around the room to see if an adult is surveying the scene to witness the misdemeanor…
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Doing the Righ Thing
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Download file to see previous pages Before Kohlberg, according to Thomas (An Integrated Theory of Moral Development, 1997, p. 8) the theories surrounding developing morality and a person's system of ethics were based primarily on the belief that a person's system of ethics is culturally and socially influenced. One important things about Kohlberg's research is that building on Piaget's research, Kohlberg developed a theory of morality that changed the direction of research in the field.
In summary, his theory is that at different ages, children's and adults ethical decisions are based on different ideas about justice, and that there are six stages of development with distinct characteristics: Obedience/punishment orientation and self-interest orientation, up to age 9; interpersonal accord/conformity and authority/social-order maintaining orientation, ages 9 to adolescence; and social contract orientation/universal ethical principles, adulthood. (Kohlberg, 1984).
Kohlberg used moral dilemmas to determine at which stage a child was. The important thing to note about the moral dilemmas was that it emphasized people's reasoning, not the actions or the people themselves. The point was not a single solution to the moral dilemmas that he proposed but using the person's solution to evaluate at which stage he or she was. Even though there has been criticism of Kohlberg's research and analysis, his intent was to apply theory in practical ways in the field of education. Furthermore, the study of his theories is beneficial to the understanding of people's moral decisions. (Gerwirtz and Kurtines, Handbook of Moral Behavior and Development, 1991, p. 374)
To observe this theory of stages of development, a ten-year-old boy with was interviewed in the presence of his eighteen-year-old brother and forty-five year old mother. (M. Henriques, personal communication, November 15, 2006). After relaying the details of the moral dilemma to the young boy, he said, "No! That would be stealing!" (To answer the question of whether or not it is acceptable for the husband to steal the $4,000 medication to save his wife's life.) The eighteen-year-old, incidentally, was very skeptical of the scenario, immediately saying, "That's not reality! There would be another way! This is just a contrived story!" The mother, who is familiar with Kohlberg's research, was grinning the whole time, even when the younger son started arguing that it is always wrong to steal and got very distressed with his older brother left the room in obvious disgust.
My perception of the older brother, as an aside, is that he is a principled person who is also very tender-hearted. There was conflict between a strong sense of not breaking the law and the discomfort of the husband (in the dilemma) not having any socially appropriate options to help his wife. The older brother could not stand the fact that to do something socially helpful would be ethically wrong. The disgust with which he left the room revealed the internal conflict between stages even though the dilemma was not meant for him. (Possibly indicating transition from stage four to five.) Meanwhile, the ten-year-old boy remained distressed that his older brother did not appear to be devoted to doing what was right "because if the man would steal something, he would go to jail and feel bad about himself all his life." The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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