Numerous developmental theories exist today that attempt to explain cognitive and physical changes in the body as we grow older. Some are vague and finite, while others go into extreme detail. Some of the leading psychologists relative to these theories are Jean Piaget (Beilin, 1992) with his cognitive developmental theory, Erik Erikson (Gross, 1987), who developed his psychosocial developmental theory, and Lawrence Kohlberg (Guthrie, 1984), with his moral development theory. It has taken many years for these scholars, as well as intelligent students to polish and critique these developmental theories. Kohlberg’s moral developmental theory best accounts for my moral, ethical, and personal development as well as potentially playing a large role in my future development as a senior adult.
I respect them all because they all are true in their own way. I just happen to have one theory which applies to me more than the others. As a child, I can remember being cognizant about the direct repercussions of my actions on myself as well as other children. Out of all the conspicuous developmental theories that are commonplace today, I believe that, as Kohlberg stated, it is like saying, “The last time I did that I got spanked so I will not do it again” (Kohlberg, 1974). That’s exactly the mentality I developed after wrongdoing. In other words, a behavior which is thought to be ethically incorrect usually results in the culprit being punished, driving children’s moral choices.
The reflection in terms of how and why Kohlberg’s portions of stage one of his theory relates to my childhood is because even though I was quite obsequious, I was surrounded by people who held what they thought were universal moral/ethical developments; these people had general principles to follow that would be deemed appropriate by the majority of citizens, as well as being able to have the moral fortitude to give instead of taking. I admit that I was quite selfish at this early age. Kohlberg devised that his theory was composed primarily of three major levels of development.
These primary levels are known as pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. In all, there are six sub-stages that are underneath his primary levels in regards to his moral developmental theory. I can attest that I judged moral acts based on their repercussions. When I was young, I would not steal food from drug stores because I knew if I got caught, they were not going to treat me well in jail. The main point with respect to Kohlberg and my childhood is that I did not grasp what it was to have broadly acquiesced moral values. This is what Kohlberg argued in his first stage of the preconventional level of development.
Furthermore in stage two of the preconventional level, which is defined by the self-driven person, proclaims “what’s in it for me,” where correct behavior is based on whatever is in the individual’s best interest (Kohlberg, 1974). A young child in the preconventional moral stage has not yet acquired or internally digested the conventions of society with respect to what is right or wrong. Instead, they concentrate on their convergence on the transcendent repercussions that specific states of affairs may bring to them (Kohlberg, 1971). This stage of development concurs with my lifestyle as a youngster. I was selfish and I thought I was completely free from any wrongdoing because I was a child. I failed to develop any rational moral belief system at this point in my life.
The conventional level of moral reasoning is typical of some adolescents and a great deal of adults. In the general consensus, people who justify their actions in a conventional way arbitrate the morality of behaviors by discerning them against society’s general views and ethically-guided behaviors. Persons in this stage of development either approve or decline from other individuals as it pertains to society’s accordance with the conceived role. As Kohlberg put it, they try to be a “good boy” or a “good girl” so that they can meet the expectations of society having apprehended the knowledge that there is intricate value in so doing (Kohlberg, 1973). During this broad conventional stage of Kohlberg’s theory, one must note that conventional morality is dependent by an acceptance of society’s assemblage related to what are right and or wrong.
In the fourth stage–in the same level as the third–it is the drive for authority, social order, and obedience that defines its presuppositions. In the fourth stage, it is absolutely essential to adhere to laws, dictums, and social conveyances due to the fact that they are vital in creating a stable and functional society. I can 100% relate to Kohlberg’s fourth stage when I was an adult. For example, I ended up picking up rank in the military and was in charge of hundreds of Marines that I was responsible for in every way. It was essential to obey what you were told to accomplish by your supervisor. If you did not finish by the time he or she returned, you can go to jail, lose your money, lose your rank, and even lose your house. The Marines take disobedience to its laws very seriously. Thus, Kohlberg’s theory is at work here during this phase of my life because I was dedicated to adhering to the rules that governed me, because it was my duty to protect the U.S. foreign and domestically.
With respect to stage five of Kohlberg’s theory, my life as I got older and travelled more often became committed to the social contract driven force. That is, I held the worldview and made myself respect that every culture-also known as cultural relativism-has its different views on what is acceptable in society and what is not. I had to learn to respect that because I was used to my own rules and regulations. But when my units in the military deployed overseas, we were under the jurisdiction of foreign governments. Such perspectives should be mutually respected as unique to each person or community.
For example, in the United States, prostitution is not something very good to proclaim as a job, and is illegal in every state except for one. This is in direct contrast to other countries, where sex is actually a business industry and is widely promoted. People do it so they can make money and live. It was hard to accept at first, but once my selfishness went away and my mind widened, my morals changed to universal ones, as I will discuss lastly in stage six in Kohlberg’s post-conventional stage. After I served in the military, learned to obey and respect other cultures, along with my travelling experiences, I started to finally develop my own universal morals. This I believe started me in stage six of Kohlberg’s theory. For example, I believe that murder, adultery in any case, preemptive violence and war, and saying the Lord’s name in vain are all immoral and should be shunned. This is a mirrored reflection of Kohlberg’s, in particular stage six, of his moral development theory. It postulates that moral reasoning is based on abstract reasoning using universal ethical principles. Kohlberg and his peers developed the “just community” schools approach towards promoting moral development (Power, Higgins, & Kohlberg, 1989).
I thought that anyone in society would think it would be morally right because stealing does not always have negative connotations. This goes along with Kohlberg’s conventional stage of development. I tended to weigh the morality of things based on society. For example, I used to believe war was the right thing to do as a preemptive measure. But when I became an adult, my beliefs changed drastically and were more coagulated. I started becoming more diplomatic and resolving issues by negotiations, not by combat or any other physical altercations. In Kohlberg’s sixth stage, I believe that was the turning point to how I judge people and other things and situations.
Now I will address how Kohlberg’s moral theory applies to my current lifestyle as well as to contemporary world affairs. Reaching such a high stage was not noticeable to me for a long time, and it took a lot of hard work to reach it, but then I started giving large thoughts empathetic to lots of individuals. For example, I saw massive amounts of impoverished people in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. There should be no poor individuals in the world; there should be a more rigid attempt to completely eradicate HIV. But the results still have not satisfied me. Efforts to tame the HIV epidemic have only been haphazard (Kaiser, 2010). The key methods are using condoms or teaching individuals how to maintain abstinence. Recently the U.S. cut the condom program before President Bush left office, which was a death sentence to millions of Africans who were participating in the program. The former First Lady Laura Bush made an underrated attempt, which promoted the use of condoms and handed them out in African regions, which people thought was evolutionary. However, she did not advocate for abstinence as much as she could have (Kaiser, 2010).
Overall, I feel that such differential perspectives among cultures should be respected as unique to each person, group, tribe, culture, or community. I learned this after travelling overseas, interacting with differential people from diverse cultures, and seeing what really goes on in the world. I thought that every country loved America and that we were viewed as the benevolent country that came to the world’s aid when it needed us. I thought that most, if not all countries, wanted freedom, liberty, and justice as a lot of people incorrectly thinks.
When I was in Russia, many citizens were angered by our presence as Americans and hated the idea of complete freedom and looked at us Americans like we were the bad people. One Russian, out-of-the-blue, came up to me and said, “Iraqaˆ¦BIG MISTAKE.” I did not understand the anti-American sentiment. This is in no way a political statement nor does it reflect my beliefs, I just want the reader to be aware of how other cultures view the U.S. and its effect on moral systems. This point aforementioned regarding the Russians is directly consistent with what Kohlberg was saying regarding how society has different views. It is called cultural relativism.
Speaking in terms of the future, I would like to work for the FBI and catch criminals, whether they are bank robbers, fraudulent vices, computer hackers, or any criminal of any kind. Because of my developed and polished moral and ethical views, thanks to Kohlberg, I also plan to increase my voluntary practices with community organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. One of my academic goals is to graduate with honors and reach graduate studies. I am determined to succeed and at that I especially mean academically. I also want to get in better shape so I’ll feel better. After delving into Kohlberg’s moral development theory and also my experience through an adult, I believe that his theory best explains my moral/ethical development, adherence to laws and engage in obedience, and countless other tidbits.
Kohlberg’s moral developmental theory best accounts for my moral, ethical, and personal developments as well as potentially playing a large role in my future development as a senior adult. It also explains the rationale for punishment administered to me in the past, being of self-interest, and conjuring my own universal ethical principles. Although a lot of the developmental theories are well supported and studied, I believe that relative to my own life that none of them have the clout and or efficacy in its developmental explication that Kohlberg’s theory has. Ultimately, I found Kohlberg’s theory to be the best one that explains historical, contemporary, and very likely my future endeavors as well as I still mature as an adult. After rigorous delving into Kohlberg’s material, I am confident that his moral theory is extremely accurate and could be used as a guide to help in developing individuals.