Study Guide Questions
Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development
Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development postulates that there are three levels of moral reasoning, divided into various stages.
Level I: Preconventional Morality.
Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment Orientation. Here, one begins to differentiate between right and wrong and the consequences of each. An individual acts in a manner to avoid punishment. This is commonly so in children, who obey reasons for the sole purpose of avoiding punishment. According to them, the rules they have been given are fixed.
Stage 2: Individualism and Exchange. Individuals start looking out for their own interests. The decisions they make are not based on right and wrong, but rather on the benefits one is likely to get. Each action is taken with the question “what’s in it for me” in mind. Children start to realize that rules are not absolute, and that there are various viewpoints, which are not necessarily wrong. For instance, if a child gets hungry, he may use this as a just cause for stealing fruits from a neighbor’s garden. It is no longer a question of right and wrong, but more of the reason behind the action.
Level II: Conventional Morality
Stage 3: Interpersonal Relationships. Here, an individual is concerned with the image he portrays to others. He tries to do what is socially expected of him. The virtue of being nice to people becomes an important one in an attempt to live up to the expectations placed on him.
Stage 4: Maintaining Social Order. At this stage, the individual thinks less of him and considers others more in the decisions and actions he takes. It is an attempt to keep peace in the family and/society, he takes the feelings of others into account before making a decision that may affect others. For example, one may wish to stay out late at a party. However, because coming home late will disturb those who are sleeping, the individual will opt to come earlier. It is at this level that an individual reaches autonomy in defining morality.
Level III: Post conventional Morality
Stage 5: Social Contract and Individual Rights. In this stage, the rules set to be followed by a society are subject to review. A totalitarian view of following rules to the letter is no longer practical. However, this is not to say that rules are completely done away with. Opinions from different people in a society are looked at to reach a consensus. In this way, rules are followed with the societal interests at heart. For example, a law may stipulate a speed limit for drivers. However, in case of an emergency, a driver may overstep this limit to rush a patient to hospital.
Stage 6: Universal Principles. In this stage, there is recognition of universal principles as being superior to other laws. In the event that a local law conflicts with a universal principle, the universal one is upheld. This is particularly important in matters of justice where a decision made by democratic means will not necessarily be just, and therefore, a universal law will be applied. A good example is if citizens in a predominantly Islamic country vote for the imprisonment of anyone found to be not Muslim. In this instant, the universal principle of freedom of religion will be applied, rendering the democratic process null and void. The stages are analyzed according to human development. As a human grows from a child to an adult, he realizes the need to consider others, not just himself, in whatever he does. This approach is a comprehensive one as in encompasses the entire human development from childhood to maturity at the adult stage.
Walter Brueggemann, in his book, Redescibing Reality: What We Do When We Read the Bible points out the misconceptions we have when it comes to reading the Bible. First, bible study is regarded as optional, only preserve of Christians. Bible study rooms are found to have many attendants but when it comes to business meetings, the room will be packed to capacity. He also warns of incorrect interpretation of scripture. He warns on the possibility of taking the bible as too simple or making it too complex to understand. Whereas it is important for one to be able to interpret the bible, it is important also to stay open to alternative interpretations of the same text. Brueggemann vies the bible as a source of truth; it calls things as they are rather than trying to cover up the truth like the human does. The bible is not ruled by greed and power; written from a different point of view from ours, it provides a reference point. In addition, most importantly, the Bible focuses on a hope filled relationship with God as opposed to despair that is characteristic of human-to-human relationships. An institution can be based on the constitution. As stated earlier, the bible gives views from a standpoint different from ours. The constitution however, looks at reality upon which it states the does and don’ts. Being a human devised law, the constitution is subject to amendment either in part or in whole to suit dynamic needs of the people. The bible on the other hand cannot be altered to accommodate man’s folly.
Sin vs. Sins
“Sin” is an action; doing something termed in the bible as wrong, for example sinning. An example is stealing. On the other hand, “sins” is a noun depicting what have been outlined as wrong. For the actions of stealing and lying, the corresponding sin is theft. This can be further explained using gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins. Gluttony, a sin, describes eating more than should eat. The action of sinning in terms of gluttony occurs when an individual eats more than he should.
The Justified War Theory
Generally, war is never desirable. However, the Justified War Theory gives provision as to when it may be applied. The theory goes to show that not every ethical issue can be categorized into right or wrong. There exists grey, ambiguous area which only war, apparently, can solve. War is therefore justified by the failure of diplomatic approaches in pursuit of a certain cause. The war in Iraq is both justifiable and unjustifiable. The country has been under bad leaders who have been refusing to negotiate to improve on their style of leadership, particularly Saddam Hussein. However, since his being sentenced to death, war should no longer be an option. Wars that are more diplomatic should be looked into.
Public involvement in decisions regarding Sex and Sexual Ethics
There are pros and cons in involving the public in this issue. Sex is part of human nature and therefore it is only prudent to involve the public in regards to this. In addition, because the public is involved in decision-making, they will be more willing to adhere to the resulting rules. A disadvantage however is the creation of more room for immorality in an attempt to accommodate as many divergent views as possible. A decision made by the democratic process is not always right but will be in force as a reflection of the will of the majority. In addition, decisions involving a large group of people take longer to make than those made by a smaller group. With public involvement, it will be a long time before a majority agrees on the ethics to be in force. On sexual issues, my take is to apply the bible; embrace what is allowed, and do away with what is condemned, with or without public involvement.