Lawrence Kohlberg's Stages Of Moral Development

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Utilitarianism is the theory that the moral worth of an action is only determined by its contribution to maximizing happiness or pleasure among all people. According to Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism threatens to alienate us from crucial aspects of our moral selves. He believes that our moral feelings, actions, and most importantly, our most fundamental 'group projects ' and commitments may be alienated while partaking in utilitarian principles due to its disregard to our feelings, in the case that they do not benefit the majority. Williams argues this by introducing the scenarios of George and Jim and guessing how a utilitarian would respond to such scenarios.
Through the use of these examples and hypothesising, Williams concluded that
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According to Utilitarians, we are responsible for negative outcomes that may arise from refraining from an action. Taking Jim 's scenario into account, Jim is a man given the choice to end the life of an innocent protestor in order to save nineteen others, or to allow all twenty protestors to die in the hands of another man. Because utilitarianism is only concerned with taking the course of action that maximizes total benefit, it is believed that the utilitarian would reply to this by insisting that Jim should kill the protestor; even if it may traumatize Jim in the end. That being said, I would like to take into account Lawrence Kohlberg 's stages of moral…show more content…
Kolhberg 's theory of moral development states that we progress through three levels and six stages of moral thinking that build on our cognitive development. In stage six of his 'post-conventional level ', Kohlberg explains that we reach a level of moral reasoning that defines the principles of justice. These principles apply to all which, practically speaking, leads us to "reach just decisions by looking at a situation through one another 's eyes" (Jahn, Unit 4, Slide 15). Keeping Jim 's scenario in mind, if anyone were to place themselves in his shoes, they could see that the decision is not as obvious as Utilitarians make it out to be. To do anything that goes against your morality would leave anyone pondering what the 'right decision ' really is. In most cases, there is never truly a universal 'right answer ' and because of this, an individual 's feelings should not be "[regarded as] objects of utilitarian value" (Williams, p.490). What this means is that no one should think of anyone 's emotions as invalid due to a decrease in happiness amongst all people. What may seem to be obviously correct to one, can easily be seen as wrong, or simply the lesser of two evils to another. For utilitarianism to assume that we should all comply to actions that go against our morality, solely because of maximum happiness to those around you, often jeopardizes ones '
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