Another theory on moral development was also looked at by Piaget. Piaget is a well known psychologist whose work on child development is still being used by Health professionals and in education. Piaget’s early work on children’s moral development focused on two aspects of moral reasoning. He studied developing respect for rules by playing marbles with Swiss children aged between five and thirteen. As they played he asked them questions such as, “Must everyone obey a rule? ” The children then had to work out the moral dilemmas from the games they were playing.
According to Piaget, preschool children show very little concern for rules. In Piaget’s theory, the first five years of life, when children are said to have little respect for or awareness of socially defined rules are known as premoral. These premoral children do not play systemically with the intent of winning. Instead they just make up their own rules to have fun. Between the ages of five and ten the child is entering Piaget’s stages of heteronomous morality. This is Piaget’s first stage of moral development for children, in which they view the rules from authority figures, such as the police and parents as unbreakable and sacred.
If you were to be speeding along the motor way with a seven year old child, the child will remind you that you are breaking the rules, even if it is for a medical emergency. By the age of ten or eleven the children enter Piaget’s second stage of moral development. This is known as the Autonomous Morality. This is where they know begin to realize that the social rules are arbitrary agreements that can be challenged and changed with the consent of other people. They are also in realization that rules can be broken in the service of human needs. Such as breaking the speed limit in a medical emergency.
The child realizes that even though a law is being broken, it is for the good of something. Right or wrong depends more on the actors intent to deceive rather than the objectives consequences of the act itself. Piaget believed that the change from heteronomous to autonomous morality occurred because of the shift at about seven from egocentric to operational thought. This suggests that cognitive development is necessary for moral development. Piaget argued that morality develops gradually during childhood and adolescence while these changes are usually referred to as different stages of moral development.
Piaget didn’t use the concept of developmental stages in relation to moral development. Instead of seeing morality as a form of cognition, Piaget discussed it in the form of feelings. Another theory in Morality was done by Kholberg, another psychologist. Like Piaget he was interested in peoples reasons for their moral judgements rather than the actual judgements. For example, our reasons for upholding the law, as well as our views about whether there are circumstances in which breaking the law can be justified, might change as we develop Kohlberg’s testing on moral development was done through a test of moral dilemma’s.
these involved a choice of two alternatives, both of which would be seen as socially acceptable. Both Piaget and Kholberg saw cognitive development as necessary for , and setting a limit on, the maturity of moral reasoning. Kohlberg’s theory attempt to produce a much more detailed theory of moral development by presenting individuals of all ages with his set of moral dilemmas. Kholberg proposed six universal stages, reflecting three major levels, which , he says everyone progresses through. Stage 0, Kholberg says is at the Preconventional Level.
It is known as the Egocentric judgement. This is where a child can make a judgement of good on the basis of what he likes or wants or what helps him, and bad on the basis of what he does not like or what hurts him. Stage one is known as the Punishment and obedience orientation. This is where the child obeys authorities to avoid punishment, but may not consider the act wrong if he goes undetected. Stage two is known as the Instrumental relativist orientation. A person at this second stage conforms to rules in order to gain rewards or satisfy personal objectives.
“you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” appears to be the guiding philosophy in this stage. In Level two, the Conventional Morality Kohlberg’s term for the third an fourth stages of moral reasoning are based upon a desire to gain approval or to uphold the laws that maintain social order. Stage three is known as the Interpersonal concordance. “Good boy- Nice Girl” stage. Moral behaviour that pleases, helps or is approved by others. People are often judged by their intentions and being nice is important and valued.
Stage four is known as the “Law and Order” orientation. At this stage the individual considers the perspectives of the generalised other, the will of society as reflected in the law. The reason for conforming is not for fear of punishment, but a belief that rules and laws maintain a social order. Level three is the Post conventional or Principled Morality. Kohlberg’s term for the fifth and sixth stages are based upon social contracts and democratic law or principles of ethics and justice. Stage five is known as the Social contract orientation.
Here the individuals view the law as instruments for expressing the will of the majority and furthering human welfare. Right action tends to be defined in terms of general individual rights and standards that have been critically examined and agreed upon by the whole of society. Outside the legal realm, free agreement, and contract, is the binding element of obligation. Stage six is known as the Morality of individuals principles of Conscience. At this height of moral stages the individual is now aware of the difference between right or wrong on the basis of the chosen ethical principles of his or her own conscience.
This is not to say they are concrete rules of the ten commandments, they are simply abstract guidelines of universal justice. It is clear that Freud’s theory is based very much upon sex and that Piaget and Kohlberg’s theory’s are based more upon the affects and feelings of an individual. The only contrast with Piaget and Kholberg being that Piaget supported his theory through moral stories being given to children and their understanding of rules in games and Kholberg used moral dilemmas.