Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development Essay

1410 Words Oct 24th, 2005 6 Pages
Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Kohlberg's theory of moral development.

In this essay, following a brief outline of the theory, I will be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Kohlberg's theory of moral development. Morality comes from the Latin word for custom. It is a behaviour that one has been accustomed to due to the laws and customs in a particular society. By the time a person reaches adulthood, they should have a good idea about personal and social behaviour (Carlson, 2004)

Kohlberg's theory of moral development was originally an adaptation of Piaget's theory which was deemed to be unreliable because it was solely based on interviews of young children. Kohlberg's theory is based on the response to a ‘moral
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It is one of the most tested theories in child development and there have been over 1000 experiments carried out exploring its ideas. However there are some parts of Kohlberg's research that are stronger than others. In the next part of the essay I will be discussing these strengths, followed by the weaker aspects of Kohlberg's theory.

Firstly, Snarey (1985) was in support of Kohlberg's findings and suggested that contrary to belief, the theory of moral development could be universally applied to western and non-western cultures, industrialized and non-industrialized (p271, Bee). Snarey found that there was a consistent rise in reasonability in children as they aged. It was also reported that the development of moral reasoning was an irreversible process. The movement through the sequence of the stages is only ever upwards, and all subjects that were observed or interviewed developed in their moral reasoning and never seemed to reverse from for example Postconventional to Conventional. Snarey is a supporter of Kohlberg's theories and looked into the cross-cultural differences when applying Kohlberg's theory to dissimilar societies. Snarey found that stage 5 is the typical stage experience by industrialized societies, whether western or non-western. However in more native societies such as Aboriginal or Amazonian ("folk"), stage 4 is the
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