Date Smarter!IntegratingCare and Justice: Moral DevelopmentPart One:The criticisms of Kohlberg’s moral developmentstages seem to center around three major points, his research methods,the “regression” of stage four, and finally his goals. The first criticism that I would like toaddress is that of his research methods. Kohlberg is often criticized fornot only his subject selection, but also the methods by which he triesto extricate data from those subjects. His initial study consisted of schoolboys from a private institution in Chicago. The problem with this is fairlyobvious, that this does not represent a significant portion of the populationto allow for generalized conclusions.
In other words, how can we test someboys from Chicago and ascertain that this is how all people develop worldwide?I believe that the answer to this criticismcomes from the theory that it relates to. Kohlberg’s moral developmentschema is highly dependent upon the idea that there are fundamental truthsthat cannot be dismissed. These ideas are “in the ether”, wound into thevery fabric that constructs human nature. Granted, his descriptions ofthe various stages also seem very dependent upon the surroundings and socialinstitutions that an individual would be subjected to.
Yet these institutionswould be have to be built upon people, all of whom would share these ideologicaltruths. It seems fairly obvious that all people have undeniable needs,survival and some group membership. Kohlberg’s stages are merely methodsby which one could fulfill these needs. For instance, Spartan societieswere adamant about maintaining the purity and strength of the civilization. Citizens saw no wrong in exposing a sick or lame baby to the elements sothat it might die.
Surely an act of cruelty today, but in that society,a necessary evil The prosperity and wealth of the whole was of greaterimportance than that of the individual. In addition to these justifications, additionalresearch substantiated Kohlberg’s claims. Different subjects were tested,from all ages and regions, and the same conclusions were drawn from thedata. Assuming that these conclusions are correct, and the data leads tothe same interpretation, is there any other possibility? This argumentseems most impressive, especially considering the differences between peoplethat are evident in everyday life. Similarities on such an abstract levelmust be supportive of Kohlberg’s claims.
Another criticism of Kohlberg assumes thathis subjects are biased, but proposes that his methods are even worse. To get the perspective of another person, he confronts them with seeminglyimpossible, unrealistic, and confrontational dilemmas. I, myself, had troublewith the Heinz dilemma because of my inability to believe that it was somethingthat could take place in the real world. Even more so, the situation wassomething that was very foreign, and very hard to relate to. Anyone whohas contemplated something very life changing, like a death in the family,then experienced it, understands how different it is to actually be facedwith the dilemma. When theorizing, it is hard to maintain the intimateconnection needed to truly react to a moral dilemma.
My defense of this situation comes froma lack of a suitable alternative. True moral dilemmas are not only rare,but extremely hard to document. When faced with a situation that demandsnot only one’s complete attention, but emotional vigor, it is really hardto find time to document or discuss feelings (let alone the motivationto do so!). For example, looking at the Heinz dilemma, it would be veryhard to explain why one was chasinga man around while he tried to finda cure for his dying wife. An even less enticing alternative would be tryingto sit him down and discuss how he was feeling.
So, the only proper and effective way toget a response is to propose a hypothetical situation, and document replies. It may not elicit the pure data that one desires, but according to theHeisenberg principle, it is impossible to measure anything without influencingit. Some research methods indicate that it is more important to followone’s thoughts through the reasoning process, rather than just asking forpossible solutions. However, I have to believe, and justify from personalexperience, that people have incredibly low attention spans. Asking someoneto explain how they think through a decision is almost as likely to yielduseful data as asking them to volunteer their PIN numbers. It seems asthough people are able not only to be influenced, but to influence themselvesinto making different decisions.
This can lead to the “endless circle”conversation. The criticism that I find most interestingis the supposed “regression” that occurs when going from stage three tofour. Personally, I must agree with the idea that it is, in fact, a prioritychange. I also believe that this comes from my undeniable faith in the”goodness” of humanity. I would like to believe that in their heart andsoul, everyone is good natured. So, to see that one must develop stagefour is disappointing.
Yet, I will agree that it is necessary. It is a comprehensive step, and an improvement from the stage three pointof view. No matter how enticing and supposedly noble stage three appears,it is lacking components necessary to promote the functionality of theperson who holds it. A loss of innocence is not necessarily a detriment,especially when considering personal experience. Skin tends to thickenas one gets older. Therefore, is it necessarily a regression that someonewould tend to trust others less, and be more interested maintaining socialinstitutions?I believe that this in no way representsa regression, but rather a broadened scope and interpretation of surroundings.
At level three, you are totally interested in fulfilling the obligationsthat are expected of you. The world seems a very small place, one personand your surroundings, people, places, and things. If the requirementsthat are expected from day to day, from people who are very close to youcan be fulfilled, that is the absolute goal. As one grows older, you areexposed to more of the institutions and methods that are integral to therelationship and interaction of all people.
The rules have changed. Thereare more requirements, more expected of you. Unfortunately, every persondoes not have limitless resources with which to meet all of these goals. So, priorities must change.
New social institutions now appear to be thedriving force in happiness and security. So, they now encompass all thepriorities that drove a person at stage three. To fulfill the previousstage’s goals with this new scope, one must dedicate resources to it. Finally, I would like to discuss Kohlberg’spoint of view when considering what I call his “goals”.
Some have criticizedthat Kohlberg is trying to objectify morality to a Natural Law, or justiceperspective. Although he does seem to abstract characteristics to a societallevel, I do not believe that his is an honest attempt to undermine thegathered data integrity. In other words, although it seems he is drawingthe same conclusions over and over, he is not distorting it to do so. Kohlberg is often criticized for a libertarianideological bias in his conclusions of gathered data. In addition, it hasbeen observed that his conclusions are carefully explained, argued anddefended, but they can be twisted and contorted to fit any range of differentopinions. They mandate an agreement to social contract, that being usedas a philosophical base from which moral guidelines are built.
But socialsystems differ from region to region, and within regions by people. I believe that the criticisms themselvesdo not harm Kohlberg’s views, but rather enforce them. As I have discussedbefore, there are undeniable personal needs that every individual worksto fulfill, regardless of stated motives. Everyone needs to survive, andto be emotionally fulfilled by belonging. The systems by which people administertheir interaction are simply tools by which they meet those needs. However,I have also said that I have a flawless devotion to the goodness of mankind.
Thereby, I believe that people are trying to better their situation relativeto one another and the situation of society as a whole. Kohlberg may viewthese moral ideals as too socially interactive, but isn’t that what thetrue goal of any of this is? People truly feel good when they have mettheir desires, and one of those is to exist with other people in a cohesivesocial system. As unbelievable as it may sound, Kohlberg’s findings donot represent distorted data, but rather the incredible coincidence thatall people, on some level, are inherently similar. It would be unfair to try to enforce theideas that come with Kohlbergian justice without also defending Carol Gilligan’stheme of caring.
Therefore, I would like to address three criticisms: theparadox of self-care, the idea that care is a regressive movement, andfinally, the seemingly huge jump from stage one to two. I personally find the self-care characteristicof caring to be the most interesting to discuss. During class sessions,everyone seemed most interested with this perspective. It seems as thoughit is the ethical issue that plagues society. Where does the balance liebetween seeking to fulfill one’s own interests, and meeting the requirementsplaced upon one by others? I believe that we all recognize a need to initializeand solidify a healthy caring for oneself before it is possible to be outwardlycaring for others.
However, the way that this method is proposedmakes it appear as though it might be a cop-out. My perspective comes from the fact thatthere is no really appropriate way to show self-care without seeming self-centered. No matter how little one dedicates to oneself, no matter what the circumstances,someone will see it as too much. Yet, there is no effective way to showcompassion, respect, or contentment with the outside world without firstdeveloping all of these attributes within oneself.
When constructing thisself-persona, the goal is not to become conceited, but rather to developa foundation upon which more complex interactions can be constructed. Ofcourse, any well intentioned act can be construed into something that itis not. I truly believe that this is the case when critiquing self-care. I would also like to argue that self-careas a whole is not what it seems to be, nor is it what it’s name implies.
Rather, it is a competence at a certain level personal and societal development. At earlier times in one’s life, the easiest way to contribute to surroundingsis to not harm them. For instance, it would not be expected of a toddlerto assist in the preparation of dinner. The best that he could hope todo is not destroy anything! At this level of development adequacy is definedby not harming something, not necessarily working towards it’s betterment. So, caring for oneself is not self-centered at all, it is the best methodavailable.
By caring for oneself, you are bettering your personal situation. In turn, this improves the quality of not only your life, but those aroundyou. You are more presentable, easier to associate with, and more productive. With my previous point in mind, I wouldlike to move onto the idea that the levels of caring are actually a regressionfrom previous stages. This assumption comes from comparisons of Kohlbergianstage three attributes, with that of Gilligan’s care stages.
Stage three(Kohlberg) seems to represent the “Prince Valiant” of personalities. Oneshould work towards becoming a better person, fulfill societal requirements,forgive transgressions, and exhibit constant unadulterated pacifism. Ittruly seems to be a noble individual, the likes of which exist only infairy tales and fantasy novels. Stage one of caring then comes along, representinga more introspective, self-interested individual. This new person is veryafraid of hurt from others, and does everything within his/her power toavoid it.
In fact, this includes not reaching out to others in any way,so that there is no chance of being scarred. It seems as though this is an almost childish,selfish response to harsh reality. But reality is the point! Reality doesnot allow for Prince Valiant to be effective. Instead, he is abused, steppedon, and taken for granted. These are not exactly prime rewards for someonewho is dedicated to being a good person and helping others. However, thisraises a conflicting point, when we now consider that society’s mistreatmentof people leads them to lose their faith.
So all people must be inherentlyabusive, right? I should hope not, but rather, that it is a case of poortiming. Granted, there will be cases where people are, in fact, not “rolemodels”. They will be non-supportive, destructive, and frustrating. Frompersonal experience (and thereby bias), I find that most people are notevil, but just not at the same stage.
Everyone can remember back to grammarand middle school, where children are not only non-supportive, but crueland incredibly hurtful. As they grow older, these characteristics disappear. In the meantime, however, they are busy dismantling the naive nobilityof stage three. If, somehow, all people could be raised to the same levelsat the same time, there is a chance we would never see the desensitizingthat we do.
So, it is not a regression, but a move forward, a better abilityto deal with the real world. Finally, one of the biggest critiques ofthe caring system is the difference between the first and second stages. While stage one has been criticized for being a regression, stage two hasbeen attacked for being a quantum leap from stage one. The morals and guidingthemes of stage two are so diametrically different from that of stage one,that it seems almost an impossible move.
Also, there is an argument thatstage two admits that stage one was a regression, stage two merely bringsus back up to par. Stage two, admittedly, is a huge step inpersonal thinking. Instead of the self-centered, protective nature of stageone, stage two is predicated on self-sacrifice, maternal instincts, andmaintaining peace. To me, this is not a step back up to a stage that waslost during a stage one regression, but an incredibly comprehensive stepforward. The key is that this stage does not even attack the same issuesin a similar way.
Rather, it depends upon using oneself as a tool to showinterest and caring for others. In terms of conflicting views, this couldbe the most impressive point towards unifying them. Some view this entirestage as a complete change of heart, throwing out all ideals and startinganew. Instead of looking at it with the previous stage’s perspective, theway to attack this is to recognize that this way of thinking is an entirelynew strategy.
(The next section is assuming that onewould naturally move from a Kohlbergian stage three to Gilligan’s stageone). Stage three was nice, but too nice. It allowed too many opportunitiesfor those who did not share stage three to abuse someone who does. It wasobviously inadequate. So, instead of rashly charging into a different mindset,one takes time to “rebuild the foundation” (Gilligan stage one).
With anew base to build upon, one can put together another plan of attack. Thoseundeniable human goals are still there, it is just a matter of coming upwith a good system to accomplish them. At stage two, with the scars of inefficientmethods still showing, one can try to develop a new system that is comparableto all previous attempts, but slightly better. If hurt significantly bystage three’s inability to deal with conflict, caring stage two may notcome about until much later.
Stage one is a healing process that leadsto a new outlook, and a greater ability to deal with the problems thatplagued stage three. It seems silly to assume that people develop by trialand error, but I would like to meet the person who hasn’t! Everyone makesbad decisions, then tries to make sure that those events do not repeatthemselves. This idea is integral to the stage two leap. Part Two: Integration of Care and JusticeThe major point of this part of the paperis to hypothesize and analyze Kohlberg’s stage three and four, along withthe transition between the two. From what I have gathered from the assignment,the goal is to reanalyze both the stages, show their adequacies and inadequacies,then integrate the two to form a stronger quasi-stage four.
I have discussedthe stage three to four “regression” in the first part of my paper, butthis segment will be more dedicated to the integration of the stage’s details,rather than the blatant defense of the perspective. My first job will be to show stage three’sadequacies. Stage three is a personification of what we all wish we couldbe. Noble, strong, and almost saintly, it represents all of the qualitiesthat everyone wants to possess.
The stage is almost entirely based uponthe idea that all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,regardless of the previous actions, or outward complexion. I find thatthe word “faith” seems the best to describe this stage. Faith in peoplearound you, and in their motives. However, some of the shortfalls of stagethree are very aptly listed in the handout packet.
It can be indeterminate,arbitrary, idealistic, indecisive, and localized. Indeterminacy has it’sroot in the enactment of the “golden rule”. It seems so simple and easyto discuss, but in practice, it’s execution is questionable. “Do unto othersas you would wish them to do to you. ” But why does that indicate that itis the right choice? Isn’t it a matter of personal preference? SupposeI enjoy being beaten with a bat! Does that give me the right to do it tosomeone else? This rule assumes that all people share the same interests,likes, and dislikes.
If the entire population has an aversion to physicalharm, then this rule will work. However, can’t an assailant justify hisactions by proving that he enjoys physical harm? Although morally enticing,the golden rule does not set down concrete guidelines that should moldpeople’s behavior. Localization and the in-group also proposea significant criticism of this view. Stage three almost mandates thatthose people who surround you are the most important in the world.
Oneshould fulfill their obligations to the in-group above and beyond all others. In other words, you must desensitize yourself to the rest of the world’sproblems, and just deal with those that involve your direct family. Howin the world can this be considered a moral competence? You are selectingthose people for whom you will show compassion and caring, and excludingothers by rule. Unfortunately, stage three has no allowance for integratingthe social contract into moral development. Instead, it totally excludesit with this in-group system. To close this point, I would like to raisethe hypothesis that stage three is theoretically the best stage that canbe achieved.
It assumes that people are moral by nature, and with a littleguidance, can show this in their treatment of others. The assumption ismade that regardless of perspective, there are undeniable rights and respectsthat every human deserves. No matter what the priorities of each individual,they will not infringe upon the rights of others. However, in practiceit is simply not effective. Based upon the competence achieved up untilthe stage three level, it seems the best policy of interaction.
But inpractice, it stinks!. It just does not function on a level that would allowit to be the predominantmethod for interpersonal relations and ethicaldecision-making. The system is based upon trust and values, neither ofwhich people tend to put much faith into. Stage four remedies many of the stage threeinadequacies with the introduction and assimilation of a social contract. Many of the same ideas from stage three remain, given new functionalityand definition. For instance, the golden rule has been replaced with socialreciprocity, the idea that merit is given to good citizens.
The socialsystem itself takes over as the primary guiding focus of the people. Because of this new agreed upon socialcontract, the holes of stage three have been filled. There is no longerthe indecisive, abstract nature of the previous stage, because a contracthas been agreed upon by the masses. Not every little niche of the policyagrees with every person, but for the most part, it holds the beliefs ofthe population. A certain “golden rule” has been put into place, with designatedactions that warrant punishment. If you do this, you will be punished accordingly.
There is no chance for arbitration (although one is able to change thesystem itself, or prove their innocence through the proper channels). Ruleshave been set down, agreed upon, and now enforced. At the same time, the localization of stagethree has also been removed. The system that works to enforce this “newgolden rule” has to be agreed upon by all people.
It’s flavor may changeslightly from region to region, but generally, they must all follow thesame guidelines. So, just to achieve stage four we must banish the localizationof stage three. Personal priorities then follow the system. Instead ofprioritizing the in-group above all others, a new conglomerate is formedof everyone’s in-groups into one society. The survival of that societyis supreme, since it is the chosen protector of all these familial microcosms.
Laws, rules and regulations take over for individualistic judgement, helpingto herd everyone into the proper behavior. With this new system, we obviously losesome of the aspects of stage three that were most attractive. We no longerhave the family dedicated, honor above-all-else person that we did in theprevious stage. He has been replaced with someone who is now, at best,a law abiding citizen. The principles of stage three have been incorporated,though not fully, into the pragmatism of stage four.
For instance, a lawlessor unconventional act that would not have been tolerated at stage threewould be ignored at stage four so that the integrity of the social systemwould not be compromised. We lose the hardcore justice orientation, andreplace it with a more flexible society-inclusive system. Increasing the size of anything to encompassmore increases it’s complexity. Complexity means that this system is notonly hard to maintain, but increasingly slow to acquiesce to the changingneeds of the people. It takes a lot of time to change an entire society’sinterpretations.
Status-quo stagnation occurs very quickly, and reformseemingly takes forever. So, imagine that we could take stage four,plop in into a blender, add some stage three, and come out with an evenbetter system. What would we do? This is the next question to be addressed. Looking at stage three’s and stage four’s adequacies and areas of lacking,we need to incorporate pieces of both into an entirely new system.
The real goal is to somehow take stagethree’s interpersonal nobility and faith, and give them to a stage fourperson. At the same time, we do not want to undermine the societal interactivenessof stage four! I believe that what we end up with is the theoretical modelof a democracy. For instance, we take stage four’s society agreed uponcontract (assuming that it is somewhat noble, as opposed to something fromthe Third Reich). We now assume that an act has been committed that bordersbetween criminality and unconventionalism. How could we approach this?Stage three says: “If it isn’t a threat to my immediate person, or thosewho surround me, then don’t worry about it.
” Stage four would reply: “Whatof it’s effect on the social system, is it against the law?” What we reallyneed to do is combine the two perspectives. If this act is first viewedto warrant public action (an arrest, trial, or hearing), then that shouldbe the course of action. It is what takes place next that is very important. During the proceedings, each and every person must come to terms with itin their own way. They must decide if it is destructive, constructive,or indifferent. As a group, they must decide on the best course of action.
This way we have incorporated the individualistic judgement and nobilityof each person and fused it with societal administration. In addition,we have allowed each person to place part of their own golden rule interpretationinto the system. By carefully combining the features oftwo very different stages, we have come up with a system that is bettersuited to meeting the needs of a population. Unfortunately, it was inventedhundreds of years ago, and implemented in the United States Constitution. Granted, it does not work perfectly, but it seems a suitable compromisewhen considering the alternatives.
It may be a slow process, and one thatcan be abused to fit one’s needs, but it is the only one that incorporatesthe individual into the molding of the system. The final part of this paper will be dedicatedto the combination of two very different arenas of thought, the moral developmentpaths of justice and care. Some have argued for and against each, somehave argued for and against both. What we will try to do is to build anentirely new moral system on the strengths of these two. Theoretically,we should come up with a super-competent solution, one that is better thanthe two individually.
Rather than try to develop this step by step andpoint by point (which would be intolerable after about the second line),I’d like to just give my interpretation of what the final product wouldlook like. One note: the most that can be possibly asked of any personin any system is that they give 100 percent all the time. Therefore, anytheorizing that we do is subject to the fact that people only have theresources to accomplish certain things. To combine the best features of two diametricallydifferent institutions of thought we have to first identify what thosefeatures are. Kohlbergian justice is the pragmatic, society oriented varietythat is admittedly dedicated to preserving social systems.
Gilligan’s caringis predicated on good interaction between people. Although they sound likethey might be trying to achieve the same things, they are going at it intwo separate ways. Kohlberg wants to invent a system by which all peopleknow what is expected of them. Rules are proposed, agreed upon, set down,and enforced.
Each and every person knows what is appropriate behavior. Even at stage five, the supposed highest known stage of Kohlberg’s development,the society rates very high. There may be different ways to approach runninga society, but there is no question that there must be something runningit. Gilligan seems to agree that people needrules by which they can relate to one another.
However, she seems to delvedeeper into the actual motivations of those rules. While obeying the regulationsof society, you must also show some sort of compassion and caring for otherpeople. As a trivial example, Kohlberg’s system would say that it was rudeto interrupt someone who is speaking. Gilligan would say that merely notinterrupting is not adequate. Instead, you must show interest in what thatperson is trying to say. You must somehow relate with the speaker on somelevel.
In doing so, you not only draw more from his words, but you showthat you can identify with him. Another feature of Gilligan’s work thatI feel should be integrated into the justice theme is that of self-care. When put down in words it seems somewhat egotistical and self-centered. Kohlberg would be interested in self-care only if it contributed to maintainingsociety. But balancing the needs of the many, and the needs of the fewis the hardest part about effectively administering any group of people.
Some individuals will have very menial needs, others will say they requireluxuries. The key is to provide a method by which all people can fulfillthose needs. Self-care will differ significantly between even similar people. So, rather than trying to meet their needs outright, it is better to justprovide a chance by which they can provide for themselves. Thus achievinga balance between self-care and still allotted care for others. (I know,I’m drawing the democracy parallelism again, sorry!)Kohlberg provides us with the minimal frameworkby which regulations maintain the necessities of people.
If his guidelinesare followed, it can be said that everyone who lives by them will be atleast partially satisfied. Gilligan, on the other hand, shows us that thereis a much deeper level to which we can all aspire. Putting effort intoeveryday interaction, from talking to listening, can greatly enhance everyexperience. In doing so, we are not only improving the quality of our ownlives, but also the lives of those we interact with. Another aspect of caring that I would liketo bring into the “justice world” is included in level three, the highestlevel of caring. It states that there are absolutely no black or whiteissues.
What might be correct for one person, is not necessarily the samefor another. This would fill a huge hole in the Kohlberg moral developmentsystem. Justice is largely criticized because it “forces” everyone intoa social group. It then slaps some rules down, and expects that they areapplicable to everyone. Gilligan states that this is not true, but rather,everything is a shade of gray.
Be careful though! This does not mean thatrules are now not applicable to anyone. Rather, it states that we mustuse our judgement when considering transgressions of the law. There maybe special circumstances that need to be addressed. Finally, Kohlberg’s critics have said thatstage five is too arbitrary.
It is not easy to tell exactly how much oneowes to the social contract, or what to do with people who do not necessarilyagree with it. Gilligan would argue that there is a way to resolve thisconflict of interests through dialogue, attention, and compromise. WhereKohlberg’s system leave opportunity for arbitration, Gilligan’s says thatthere is no need. Instead of giving people a hard set of rules to liveby, or demanding their surrender to a contract, we could talk to them individuallyand address the situation.
At the same time, justice maintains thatthere are undeniable rules that must be obeyed. So, we are combining thebest of both worlds. Using Kohlberg’s justice orientation, we are guaranteeingthe sanctity of all those who have already agreed to the social contract. Concurrently, we’re taking it upon ourselves to listen to a non-supportiveperson, and possibly come to a small compromise to fit their needs. In conclusion, it seems that there is definitelya way to combine the Kohlberg justice theme and the Gilligan caring themeof moral development.
Mr. Kohlberg provides a method to police a societythat does not include 100 percent utopian citizens. Ms. Gilligan givesus the ability to relate to each and every person, as a person. She indicatesways that we can identify with their perspectives, understand their needs,and compromise. Although the real world seems infinitely more complex thaneither of these models, they bear a frightening resemblance to real societiesand real people.
Maybe someday, a perfect model will be constructed, judgedby a perfect path of moral development. Until then, I hope that I havefound a good combination of these two ideas. One last side note: I think I could spendweeks typing a paper on this subject. There are thousands of facets ofeach system that could fit into the other’s potential flaws. However, Ithink I’ve been long-winded enough as it is. I have tried to make my pointsas succinct and reasonable as possible, but without sacrificing exactlywhat I wanted to say.
Thank you for your patience.