Criticisms Of Kohlberg's Moral Theory

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Kohlberg believed that there is 3 levels of morality which can be broken down into a further 6 stages:
1. Pre-conventional morality; At this stage, our moral codes are set by the adults in our lives. This generally depends on the consequences for going against the rules set out by our parents. Kohlberg stated that this level generally occurs up to and sometimes over the age of 9. This level can be broken down into 2 minor stages-
• Stage 1:”Pleasure/Pain Orientation” (Psychology and Life, 2013); The child is well behaved due to an awareness that there will be negative consequences such as punishment.
• Stage 2:”Cost-Benefit Orientation; Reciprocity” (Psychology and Life, 2013); Cost-benefit orientation is all about the idea of an eye for
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• Stage 6: “Ethical Principle Orientation” (Psychology and Life, 2013); The main aim of stage 6 is to create a fair and just world where justice can be achieved

Carol Gilligan’s Criticisms of Kohlberg
Gilligan had some major criticisms of Kohlberg’s theory which she addressed in her book ‘In A Different Voice’ (1982). One of Gilligan’s main issues was the fact that there was a male biased viewpoint due to the fact that he did not have any women in his research sample. According to Gilligan’s research, women tend to value caring over justice leaving Kohlberg’s study one sided or “biased”.

Culture and Morality
Gold et al. conducted a study in 2014 which involved the “trolley problem”. This study is one that has previously been conducted as a research method for morals and moral reasoning, such as Thompson, 1985, but in this case the aim was to study the way culture affects morals. They analysed British and Chinese participants.
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Psychologists nowadays research this through the use of theories from Piaget and Kohlberg to name a few. Piaget’s theory of moral development aimed to connect children’s cognitive development to their moral judgment. Kohlberg expanded on Piaget’s ideas and went on to name what he believes to be the 3 levels of morality. Gilligan’s criticism of Kohlberg’s theory shines a light on the fact that Kohlberg only used men as subjects for his study, this led to the study being biased. Gold et al. emphasised that cultural differences often lead to different moral reasoning in
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