Read the articles:


A Global Ethics for a Globalized World (Links to an external site.)


Virtue Ethics and Modern Society (Links to an external site.)


Classical Stoicism and the Birth of a Global Ethics: Cosmopolitan Duties in a World of Local Loyalties (Links to an external site.)


Responsibilities of an Educated Person (Links to an external site.)
 [Blog post] by jwood00


Moral Education for a Society in Moral Transition (Links to an external site.)


Decision Procedures for Ethics: DEAL Carrying on Without Resolution (Links to an external site.)




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Prior to beginning work on this discussion forum, review the Week 2 required resources that focus on ethics and morals. This will assist you in examining your own development of ethical and moral responsibilities.


Reflect: Take a deeper look at your own life and determine which experiences have inspired ethical and moral reasoning. Were there any huge influences in this process?

Write: For this discussion you will address the following prompts:

· Explain what it means to be ethical as it relates to personal, academic, and professional growth.

· Provide at least one ethical dilemma you have encountered, and describe how the issue was resolved.

· Describe how your general education courses have influenced your ethical values.

Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length, which should include a thorough response to each prompt. You are required to provide in-text citations of applicable required reading materials and/or any other outside sources you use to support your claims. Provide full reference entries of all sources cited at the end of your response. Please use correct APA format when writing in-text citations (see 

In-Text Citation Helper (Links to an external site.)
) and references (see 

Formatting Your References List (Links to an external site.)

Doing Good and Avoiding Evil
Part I. Principles and Reasoning
by Lisa Newton


II. Decision Procedures for Ethics: DEAL
Carrying on Without Resolution

We may note that we have been presupposing throughout that the parties to the dilemmas were all in agreement on what the problem was and that it must be solved. In the messy real world of human life, these presuppositions do not always hold. Sometimes problems are particularly resistant to solution, because the interests or moral or religious commitments of the stakeholders are resolutely opposed, because the parties simply cannot understand each other, or for some other reason. Consider the following case:

Michael and Maureen O’Connell are college educated young professionals; Mike is a physician with a practice in Brooklyn and Maureen teaches in the nearby elementary school. They live with their five children (ages 4-13) on the quiet block in Queens where Maureen was brought up, just two blocks from St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church, which they all attend. They are staunch Catholics, as is most of the neighborhood, and they uphold all the public teachings of the Church–including the prohibition of the use of contraceptives, the strict rules regarding any sexual relationship outside of marriage, and of course the absolute prohibition of induced abortion.

The neighborhood is mixed residential and commercial, so they are not surprised to find that a storefront three doors from their house is being renovated for use by a new tenant. “Surprise” does not describe their reaction, however, when finally the medical equipment is moved in and the sign is hung in the window: “Pregnancy Termination: Clean, Quiet, and Confidential.” They’re living virtually next door to an abortion clinic!

The neighbors want the clinic 
out: they all, men, women, and children, picket, obstruct patients and their companions, shout “Abortion is Murder!” sing hymns, pray loudly, threaten individual doctors and nurses, court the press, and plan a lawsuit. The clinic operators, on the other hand, led by two gynecologists, Dr. Alan Bennett and Dr. Rita Holmes, want the clinic to stay where it is and run successfully. They know that there is a good market for this service, they know that the women, pregnant against their will, will often resort to coat hangers and back alley butchers to get abortions if safe abortions are not available legally, and they know they have the law on their side. They too spend time explaining their side to the media, and they demand better police protection.

The neighbors bring the lawsuit. It loses. The clinic is entirely within its rights. The police are ordered to protect the clinic and its workers from violence, a job that they detest: many of them are from the Queens neighborhoods that produced Mike and Maureen, and attend St. Luke’s or some church of similar persuasions.

At this point the mayor becomes involved. The common wisdom has it that the elected officials lose three ways in these conflicts: they lose the votes of that and all similar neighborhoods, for “allowing the murder of infants a few yards from where our children play”; they lose the votes of liberals for not putting a more forceful stop to the demonstrations; and they lose the respect of the police department and those interested in law enforcement for diverting resources away from drugs and violent crime. Meanwhile the controversy itself, playing out through the newspapers, presents a very unfavorable view of the present administration. So the mayor wants peace among the parties, peace so quiet that the subject will disappear from the papers, but more importantly, since this is an ongoing issue, peace that will last. How can he, and the city, obtain this peace?

First, can he persuade the neighbors that the business will do them no harm, or the clinic managers to quietly move their clinic elsewhere? We do not usually honor neighborhood objections to a new business in their backyards; as above, not many neighborhood preferences are given enough weight to override the individual’s strong interest and prima facie right to live where he wants and work wherever the zoning laws will permit his business establishment. The neighbors should be used to that. But there may be many, and trivial, reasons for locating a business one place rather than another. Maybe the clinic won’t mind moving; his office could help with the moving expenses. Like any good politician, his first thought is to make a 

The mayor chooses Mike and Maureen, as knowledgeable citizens and leaders of the demonstrations, and the physicians, Alan and Rita, as principals in the clinic, to engage in 
discussions of the issue. There are two reasons for this move. First, they may be able to come to some accommodation that will satisfy both sides permanently (that would have been the purpose of discussion in the last section). But the politician also knows that 
dialogue is good for its own sake: as Winston Churchill put it, “as long as you `jaw, jaw’ you can’t `war, war.'” In the process of talking, the parties become less hostile and hateful with each other.

No significant accommodation or compromise will work, as it turns out. It doesn’t take the mayor long to learn

1. that Mike and Maureen and all their neighbors strongly believe that the human life of a baby begins at conception, that their belief is informed by medical and scientific knowledge (regarding the implantation of the genetic code, for instance) and firmly and rationally held, and that consequently, and quite logically, they really feel that each and every induced abortion is the murder of an infant. They feel that they are living next door to a Nazi Death camp and slave market rolled into one, and that they are bound by religious and moral obligations to speak up and protest the slaughter. They are especially horrified at the prospect of raising their children with this clinic next door, having to tell them what it is about, effectually rubbing their noses not only in state-approved slaughter but in the daily consequences of promiscuous sexual activity!

2. that for their part, Alan and Rita of the physicians’ group, the Women�s Health Cooperative, that bought the building and set up the clinic, know very well what they are doing and plan to do. They are very much aware of the sexual behavior (if not the sexual ideals) of Mike and Maureen’s neighborhood�one half of their first two months’ practice was young, unmarried, white, terrified, Roman Catholic girls, mostly from the neighborhood�and they feel very strongly not only that they are providing a desired service, but also that they are saving the futures of these girls, permitting them to finish their education, sparing their parents the shame, and the taxpayers the expense, of dealing with the illegitimate offspring, and most likely saving the child from abuse. In the remainder of their practice, mostly older working women of all ethnic backgrounds, they see themselves as permitting adults to carry on their work lives, plan their families and ensure proper provision and education for their children. In both cases, they are an available alternative to the astronomical rates of the offshore clinics, the back alley incompetents and the terribly dangerous self-induced abortion. Their rates are low; they are not in this for the money, but for the public service, and they belong right where they are.

When pushed to the wall, the mayor notices, the two sides argue very differently, apparently reflecting a difference in the way they see the world. Mike and Maureen cite moral rules and rights–the Natural Law, the Ten Commandments, the Right to Life, which hold regardless of situation or consequence. In short, they are reasoning 
deontologically or 
non-consequentially. Alan and Rita, on the other hand, call attention to the pain felt by the women contemplating unwanted pregnancy, the negative effects on employment, education and general life prospects of the woman, from bearing unwanted children, and the welfare costs and other negative outcomes from denying abortions. In short, they are reasoning 
teleologically or 
consequentially. While there are also deontological pro- choice arguments and teleological pro-life arguments, in general Alan and Rita are focused on the 
problems they are solving, while Mike and Maureen are focused on 
the nature of the act itself, and there is not likely to be any resolution between the two sides.

So the mayor proposes an 
experiment in peacemaking. One of the features of the clinic that troubles the neighborhood most is the mingling of the clinic patients and the children as they depart for or return from school. Could the clinic open at 9:30, a bit later than the morning rush, and take a late lunch break at 2:45, as the children return? In return, the demonstrators will not picket weekdays between opening and that break.

That concession–given that each side views the other’s work as fundamentally criminal–is strictly 
unethical, for both sides: any concession is incompatible with the moral beliefs that they have set forth and clearly defended.

After a week or so the mayor’s office does an 
assessment of how the experiment is working. The neighborhood seems quieter, and the newspapers have backed off. Good.

So two of his best mediators bring the four principals back together to attempt further progress. Will the clinic accede to even shorter hours in return for complete removal of the pickets? A few more grudging concessions are obtained; since the prospects for further progress are not good, and the situation seems stable as it is, the mediators back away and let the two parties live with the agreements reached so far.

By continuing the dialogue, even more than joining it to begin with–when each party could have claimed a genuine hope of converting the other–the two sides have acknowledged each other’s 
legitimacy. While there is no possibility of coming to agree with the other’s moral stand, there is no hope of destroying the other: neither one is going away. Distasteful as it is, each must live with the other in peace, even while retaining the conviction that what the other is doing is fundamentally wrong, immoral. This stage of the moral life, a necessity only in pluralistic societies like our own, could be called, possibly, 
live and let live, or 
leave people alone!

Change in the neighborhood, or the practice, could upset the unhappy peace that has descended; others must be prepared to step in, should violence break out again, to restart the dialogue. For 
DEAL, the peace process that we have just set forth:





is, like 
ORDER above, fundamentally an iterative process, continually restarting in slightly different conditions.

Let’s conclude the cases we started above:

Case A, with Dad unconscious as before, not expected to wake in this life, but occasionally in some discomfort. But this time the children (two of them, twins) do not agree as to what to do about him. One of the twins wants everything done, including surgery if necessary, to save Daddy’s life, and threatens to sue if treatment is “negligently” withheld; the other wants those increasing doses of morphine to “ease the pain” and incidentally to shorten Dad’s life, and has brought in a lawyer to argue against such “futile” treatment. No document signals which of the twins is to have the power to decide.

Case B, modified as above, but the pressures are worse: the company will have to close the plant, ending 10,000 jobs, unless productivity takes a marked turn for the better in the next quarter. It is possible that the weakened antibiotic could cause some harm, at least in some extended sickness, but it is not likely to cause death. On the other hand, it is entirely predictable that if the layoff takes place, dysfunction, sickness and death–divorce, alcoholism, mental illness, diffuse chronic illnesses, suicide–will claim a solid percentage of those unemployed 10,000. The solution to the manager’s dilemma is not immediately clear, and intermediate principles do not really solve the problem (for a thought experiment, try applying the Golden Rule to the case, letting first the workers and then the customers fill the role of “others”). Here the balance must be struck between the obligations to shareholders, workers, local community, and others with a stake in the continuation of the business enterprise, and obligations to customers, reputation, society at large, and others with a stake in the integrity of the procedures of that enterprise. (For instance, the public surely must be notified about the change in standard–but how?) The principles of concern for the welfare of those affected by a decision–primarily the employees, in this case–and of justice, in following the rules applicable to all no matter what the consequences, are logically independent, and there is no safe formula for deciding which shall take priority in a given case.

Given the nature of the situations to which it is applied, 
DEAL does not really yield a conclusion that we can all accept as “ethical.” But 
DEAL has much to recommend it, from the ethical point of view. Without further elaboration at this point, we can point out that it accomplishes three tasks, all of which are required by general ethical imperatives.

1. It promotes the maximum social welfare obtainable, by preserving the peace and preventing violence. Whatever may divide the physicians, the anti-abortion activists, and the uninvolved neighbors–and there is much that divides them–they share a common interest in the preservation of life, limb, and property, and the grudging accommodation reached serves to protect those shared interests.

2. It enforces justice, by promoting an even-handed compromise. Both sides find the state of peace with the other, especially with regard to the concessions they had to make to obtain it, really repugnant. But the fact that they both had to make concessions, and that they are required to stick to the deal they made, makes it 
fair, even though the fairness may be much more evident to a dispassionate outsider than it is to the parties.

3. It insists on the dignity, worth, and conscience of every individual, worthy of respect even from those who are utterly convinced he or she is wrong. Neither group has the right to destroy the other, to keep it from the public space or public attention, to relegate it to a slavish state or second-class citizenship. It affirms, therefore, freedom of conscience, and the right and duty of every human being to develop and inform that conscience, to discern, articulate, and defend a moral position on serious matters, especially matters of life and death.

Those are not small accomplishments. Nor are those principles arbitrary. In the next section, we turn our attention to the fundamental principles that govern ethics.

Materials prepared by Lisa H. Newton, Ph.D. 1998

· Previous section: 

II. Decision Procedures for Ethics: ORDER

· Next section: 

III. The Principles of Ethics








I N 1969 the Association for Super-
vision and Curriculum Development held a
special conference on the hidden or un-
studied curriculum of the school. My friend
PhiUp Jackson organized the session with
papers by Friedenberg, Dreeben, Jackson,
and myself. 1 At the time I claimed Jackson’s
term, the “hidden curriculum,” referred to
the moral atmosphere of the school, and that
the function of the hidden curriculum was
moral education or perhaps miseducation. To
make the point, I took a trivial episode. My
son, then in the second grade, came home
from school one day saying, “I don’t want to
be one of the bad boys at school.” I asked,
“Who are they?” and he answered, “They are
the boys who don’t put their books away,
and they get yelled at.”

Praise, Crowds, and Power

Philip Jackson holds that the guts of the
hidden curriculum are the praise, the teach-
er’s use of rewards or punishments; the
crowd or the life in a crowded group; and the
teacher’s power. Our episode of the teacher
blaming kids for not putting their books
away is the natural exercise of teacher
power, the natural use of praise or blame in

1 Norman V. Overly, editor. The Unstudied
Curriculum: Its Impact on Children. Washington,
D.C.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development, 1970. 130 pp.

“Why are decisions based on universal
principles of justice better decisions?
Because they are decisions on which all
moral people could agree…, Truly moral or
just resolutions of conflicts requite principles
which are, or can be, universally applicable.”

a crowded setting where order is a necessary
preoccupation. To the teacher it is not moral
education, it is a natural reaction to the
classroom situation. To my son, however, it
was moral education or miseducation. It
defined the good boys and the bad. That is
what I meant by claiming that the school or
teacher’s methods of classroom management,
the unstudied or hidden curriculum, should
be approached from a theory of moral edu-
cation. This implies that not only did we
need to study the hidden curriculum, but to
take a moral position on it.

In 1969, Philip Jackson and Robert
Dreeben reported their excellent studies of
the hidden curriculum, done as value-neutral
scientists. I said their sociological view of
the functions of the hidden curriculum was
not really value-neutral, it was conservative.
In the Jackson and Dreeben view, the hidden
curriculum served the function of socializing

* Lawrence Kohlberg, Professor of Education
and Social Psychology, Harvard University,
Cambridge, Massachusetts

46 Educational Leadership

the student into the norms of the American
competitive bureaucratic industrial society.
Our example of putting books away, from
their point of view, would be said to aid the
child to adapt to a bureaucratic society of
crowds, praise, and power at office and fac-
tory. Edgar Friedenberg, the radical, im-
plicitly showed that Jackson and Dreeben
were not really value-neutral by taking Jack-
son’s ideas and turning them upside down.
The function of the hidden curriculum,
Friedenberg stated, was to wipe out indi-
viduality and impose the conformity and the
banal values of mass bureaucratic society on
the young.

Having rejected the possibility of value-
neutrahty, in 1969 I stated my own value
viewpoint on the hidden curriculum. My
viewpoint was neither radical nor conserva-
tive but progressive in John Dewey’s sense.
The conservative thinks that the hidden
curriculum of the bureaucratic academic
achievement school is good, it helps the stu-
dent to adapt to a bureaucratic academic
oriented society. The radical thinks it bad,
it stamps out individuality and sensitivity.
“Close down the academic achievement
bureaucractic schools,” say the Friedenbergs,
“and start alternative open schools.” To me,
neither the conservative nor the radical had
understood John Dewey’s progressive view-
point, or they would have taken Dewey’s
third position.

According to Dewey, the progressive
educator identifies true progress with devel-
opment, the child’s development and the
development of society. If we are to evolve
or progress, we must know what progress or
development is. The development of the
child, the child’s standard of progress, is
something studied by the child psychologist.
We shall show that some of his or her con-
clusions are relevant to judging the progress
of the society. In this light we will look to
Watergate. The standard of progress for the
child or the society is not a standard that can
be purely scientific, however. Ultimately, the
standard for the development of the indi-
vidual or the society is to a higher level of
moral awareness and action. The funda-
mental way in which education helps social

progress is through aiding the moral devel-
opment of the individual and the society.

Here is how Dewey stated it:

The aim of education is growth or develop-
ment, both intellectual and moral. Ethical and
psychological principles can aid the school in
the greatest of all constructions—the building
of a free and powerful character. Only knowl-
edge of the order and connection of the stages
in psychological development can insure this.
Education is the work of supplying the condi-
tions which will enable the psychological func-
tions to mature in the freest and fullest manner. 2

Dewey and Tufts postulated three levels
of moral development which are: (a)
the premoral or preconventional level “of
behavior motivated by biological and social
impulses with results for morals,” (b) the
conventional level of behavior “in which the
individual accepts with little critical reflec-
tions the standards of his group,” (c) the
autonomous level of behavior in which
“conduct is guided by the individual thinking
and judging for himself whether a purpose
is good, and does not accept the standard of
his group without reflection.”

Movement Through Moral Levels

Education, said Dewey, is to aid devel-
opment through these moral levels, not by
indoctrination but by supplying the condi-
tions for movement from stage to stage.
Dewey’s conception of education as move-
ment through moral levels makes it clear
that the individual is not bom at the autono-
mous or self-directing level. Romantics like
Friedenberg or A. S. Neill see children as
born individual, creative, empathic, and as
crushed or limited by school and society.
Autonomy, however, is not born, it develops;
the autonomous level comes after the con-
ventional. Autonomy will not develop
through an education of “do your thing,”
but through educational stimulation which
leads first to the level of understanding the
standard of the group and then to autonomy,

2 John Dewey. “What Psychology Can Do for
the Teacher.” In: Reginald Archambault, editor.
John Dewey on Education: Selected Writings. New
York: Random House, Inc., 1964.

October 1975 47

to constructing standards held through re-
flection and self-judgment.

Here, let me discuss what I could only
theorize about in 1968, how to make a
school’s hidden curriculum good, that is, how
to make it a vehicle for stimulating moral
development. For the past six months I have
been working with a new small school within
the Cambridge, Massachusetts, public high
school whose unstudied curriculum is democ-
racy, and whose purpose is moral as well as
intellectual advance. The school, officially
called the Cluster School, we call a Just
Community school. To explain its working
requires a trip through moral psychology and
philosophy and a review of 20 years of re-
search I have done on moral development.

The research started with the concept of
moral stage. In 1955, I started to redefine
and validate (through longitudinal and cross-
cultural study) the Dewey-Piaget levels and
stages. I found two stages at each of Dewey’s
three levels. For instance, at Dewey’s pre-
conventional level there was a Stage 1 of
punishment and obedience and a Stage 2 of
instrumental exchange.

We claim to have not only found but
validated the stages defined in Table 1. The
notion that stages can be validated implies
that stages have definite empirical or re-
searchable characteristics (Kohlberg, 1975,
in press). The concept of stages (as used by
Piaget, 1948, and the writer) implies the fol-
lowing characteristics:

1. Stages are “structured wholes,” or
organized systems of thought. This means in-
dividuals are consistent in level of moral judg-

2. Stages form an invariant sequence.
Under all conditions except extreme trauma,
movement is always forward, never backward.
Individuals never skip stages, movement is
always to the next stage up. This is true in all

3. Stages are “hierarchical integrations.”
Thinking at a higher stage includes or compre-
hends within it lower stage thinking. There is
a tendency to function at or prefer the highest
stage available.

Each of these characteristics has been
demonstrated for moral stages. Stages are

defined by responses to a set of verbal moral
dilemmas classified according to an elaborate
scoring scheme. Validating studies include:

a. A 20-year study of 50 Chicago area
boys, middle- and working class. Initially inter-
viewed at ages 10-16, they have been reinter-
viewed at three-year intervals thereafter.

b. A small six-year longitudinal study of
Turkish village and city boys of the same age.

c. A variety of cross-sectional longitudinal
studies in Canada, Britain, Israel, Turkey,
Taiwan, Yucatan, Honduras, and India.

With regard to 1., the structured whole
or consistency criterion, we have found more
than 50 percent of an individual’s thinking
is always at one stage with the remainder at
the next adjacent stage (which he or she is
leaving or is moving into).

With regard to 2., invariant sequence,
our longitudinal results indicate that on
every retest individuals were either at
the same stage as three years earlier or
had moved up one stage. This was true in
Turkey as well as in the United States.

With regard to 3., the hierarchical in-
tegration criterion, we have found that:
adolescents exposed to statements at each of
the six stages comprehend all statements at
or below their own stage but fail to compre-
hend any statements more than one stage
above their own. They prefer (or rank as
best) the highest stage they can comprehend.

To understand moral stages it is impor-
tant to clarify their relations to stage of logic
or intelligence on the one hand, and to moral
behavior on the other. Mature moral judg-
ment is not highly correlated with I.Q. or
verbal intelligence (correlations are only in
the 3O’s, accounting for 10 percent of the
variance). Cognitive development, in the
stage sense, however, is more important for
moral development than such correlations
suggest. Piaget has found that after the child
learns to speak there are three major stages
of reasoning: the intuitive, the concrete
operational, and the formal operational. A
person whose logical stage is only concrete-
operational is limited to the preconventional
moral stages (Stages 1 and 2). A person
whose logical stage is only partially formal

48 Educational Leadership

I. Preconventional level *

At this level the child is responsive to cuiturai
rules and labels of good and bad, rigiit or wrong, but
interprets these labeis either in terms of the physicai
or the hedonistic consequences of action (punishment,
reward, exchange of favors) or in terms of the physical
power of those who enunciate the ruies and labeis. The
ievei is divided into the following two stages:

Stage 1: The punishment-and-obedience orienta-
tion. The physical consequences of action determine
its goodness or badness regardiess of the human mean-
ing or vaiue of these consequences. Avoidance of
punishment and unquestioning deference to power are
valued in their own right, not in terms of respect for an
underlying moral order supported by punishment and
authority (the latter being stage 4).

Stage 2: The instrumentai-reiativist orientation.
Right action consists of that which instrumentaiiy satis-
fies one’s own needs and occasionaiiy the needs of
others. Human relations are viewed in terms like those
of the mari

II. Conventional level
At this ievei, maintaining the expectations of the

individual’s family, group, or nation is perceived as
vaiuabie in its own right, regardiess of immediate and
obvious consequences. The attitude is not oniy one
of conformity to personal expectations and sociai order,
but of loyaity to it, of actively maintaining, supporting,
and justifying the order, and of identifying with the
persons or group invoived in it. At this ievei, there are
the foiiowing two stages:

Stage 3: The interpersonal concordance or “good
boy—nice girl” orientation. Good behavior is that
which pleases or helps others and is approved by them.
There is much conformity to stereotypicai images of

* Reprinted from: Lawrence Kohiberg. “The
Ciaim to Morai Adequacy of a Highest Stage of Morai
Judgment.” The Journai of Philosophy 70 (18): 631-32;
October 25, 1973.

what is majority or “natural” behavior. Behavior is
frequentiy judged by intention—”he means weli” be-
comes important for the first time. One earns approval
by being “nice.”

Stage 4: The “law and order” orientation. There
is orientation toward authority, fixed rules, and the
maintenance of the social order. Right behavior con-
sists of doing one’s duty, showing respect for authority,
and maintaining the given sociai order for its own sake.

III. Postconventionai, autonomous, or principled ievei
At this level, there is a clear effort to define morai

values and principies that have vaiidity and application
apart from the authority of the groups or persons hold-
ing these principles and apart from the individual’s own
identification with these groups. This level again has
two stages:

Stage 5: The social contract, legalistic orientation,
generaily with utiiitarian overtones. Right action tends
to be defined in terms of generai individual rights, and
standards which have been critically examined and
agreed upon by the whole society. There is a ciear
awareness of the reiativism of personal values and
opinions and a corresponding emphasis upon proce-
dural ruies for reaching consensus. Aside from what
is constitutionaiiy and democraticaiiy agreed upon, the
right is a matter of personal “values” and “opinion.”
The resuit is an emphasis upon the “iegal point of
view,” but with an emphasis upon the possibiiity of
changing law in terms of rational considerations of
sociai utiiity (rather than freezing it in terms of stage 4
“iaw and order”). Outside the iegai reaim, free agree-
ment and contract is the binding eiement of obiigation.
This is the “official” morality of the American govern-
ment and constitution.

Stage 6: The universal-ethical-principie orienta-
tion. Right is defined by the decision of conscience in
accord with seif-chosen ethical principies appeaiing to
iogicai comprehensiveness, universality, and consis-
tency. These principies are abstract and ethicai (the
Golden Rule, the categorical imperative); they are not
concrete moral rules like the Ten Commandments. At
heart, these are universal principies of justice, of the
reciprocity and equaiity of human rights, and of respect
for the dignity of human beings as individual persons
(“From Is to Ought,” pp. 164-65).

Table 1. Definition of i^orai Stages

operational is limited to the conventional
moral stages (Stage 3). While logical devel-
opment is necessary for moral development
and sets limits to it, most individuals are
higher in logical stage than they are in moral
stage. As an example, over 50 percent of
late adolescents and adults are capable of
full formal reasoning but only 10 percent of
these adults (all formal operational) display
principled ( Stages 5 and 6) moral reasoning.

In summary, moral development partly
depends upon the intellectual development
which is the schoors first concern, but

usually lags behind it. If logical reasoning is
a necessary but not sufficient condition for
mature moral judgment, mature moral judg-
ment is a necessary but not sufficient condi-
tion for mature moral action. One cannot
follow moral principles if one does not
understand (or believe in) moral principles.
However, one can reason in terms of prin-
ciples and not live up to these principles. As
an example, Krebs and Kohiberg (1974)
found that only 15 percent of students show-
ing some principled thinking cheated as com-
pared to 55 percent of conventional subjects

October 1975 49

and 70 percent of preconventional subjects.
Thus, mature moral judgment predicts moral
action. Nevertheless, 15 percent of the prin-
cipled subjects did cheat, suggesting that
factors additional to moral judgment are
necessary for principled moral reasoning to
be translated into “moral action.”

If maturity of moral reasoning is only
one factor to moral behavior, why does the
progressive approach to moral education
focus so heavily upon moral reasoning? For
the following reasons:

1. Moral judgment, while only one factor
in moral behavior, is the single most important
or influential factor yet discovered in moral

2. While other factors influence moral
behavior, moral judgment is the only distinc-
tively moral factor in moral behavior. To illus-
trate, the Krebs and Kohlberg study indicated
that “strong-willed” conventional stage subjects
resisted cheating more than “weak-willed” sub-
jects, only 26 percent of strong-willed subjects
cheated as compared to 76 percent of the weak-
willed. For those at a preconventional level of
moral reasoning, however, “will” had an oppo-
site efPect. “Strong-willed” Stages 1 and 2 sub-
jects cheated more, not less than “weak-willed”
subjects, that is, they had the “courage of their
(amoral) convictions” that it was worthwhile
to cheat. “WiU,” then, is an important factor in
moral behavior but it is not distinctively moral,
it becomes moral only when informed by mature
moral judgment.

3. Moral judgment change is long-range
or irreversible, a higher stage is never lost. In
contrast, moral behavior as such is largely
situational and reversible or ‘loseable” in new

Psychology finds an invariant sequence
of moral stages. Moral philosophy, however,
must be invoked to answer whether a later
stage is a better stage. The “stage” of
senescence and death follows the “stage of
adulthood,” but that does not mean that the
later “stage” is the better. The tradition of
moral philosophy to which we appeal is the
liberal or rational tradition running from
Kant through Mill and Dewey to John Rawls
(1971). Central to this tradition is the claim
that an adequate morality is principled, that
is, that it makes judgments in terms of uni-

versal principles applicable to all people.
Principles are to be distinguished from rules.
Conventional morality is grounded on rules,
primarily “thou shalt nots” such as are repre-
sented by the Ten Commandments. Rules are
prescriptions of kinds of actions; principles
are, rather, universal guides to making a
moral decision. An example is Kant’s “cate-
gorical imperative,” formulated in two ways.
The first formulation is the maxim of respect
for human personality, “Act always toward
the other as an end, not a means.” The
second is the maxim of universaUzation,
“Choose only as you would be willing to have
everyone choose in your situation.”

Furthermore, moral principles are ulti-
mately principles of justice. In essence,
moral conflicts are conflicts between the
claims of persons and principles for resolving
these claims are principles of justice, “for
giving each his due.” Central to justice are
the demands of liberty, equality, and reci-
procity. At every moral stage there is a
concern for justice. The most damning state-
ment a school child can make about a teacher
is that the teacher is not “fair.” At each
higher stage, however, the conception of
justice is reorganized. At Stage 1, justice is
punishing the bad in terms of “an eye for
an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” At Stage 2,
it is exchanging favors and goods in an equal
manner. At Stages 3 and 4, it is treating
people as they “deserve” in terms of the con-
ventional rules. At Stage 5, it is recognized
that all rules and laws flow from justice,
from a social contract between the governors
and the governed designed to protect the
equal rights of all. At Stage 6, personally
chosen moral principles are also principles
of justice, the principles any member of a
society would choose for that society if the
person did not know what his or her position
was to be in the society and in which he or
she might be the least advantaged (Rawls,

Why are decisions based on universal
principles of justice better decisions? Be-
cause they are decisions on which all moral
people could agree. When decisions are
based on conventional moral rules people
will disagree, since they adhere to conflicting

50 Educational Leadership

systems of rules dependent on culture and
social position. Throughout history people
have killed one another in the name of con-
flicting moral rules and values, most recently
in Vietnam and the Middle East. Truly moral
or just resolutions of conflicts require prin-
ciples which are, or can be, universally

A Concern for Moral Education

If moral development centers on a sense
of individual justice, it becomes apparent
that moral and civic education are much the
same thing. This equation, taken for granted
by the classic philosophers of education from
Plato and Aristotle to Dewey, is basic to
our claim that a concern for moral education
is central to the educational objectives of
social studies.

The term “civic education” is used to
refer to social studies as more than the study
of the facts and concepts of social science,
history, and civics. It is education for the
analytic understanding, value principles, and
motivation necessary for a citizen in a
democracy if democracy is to be an effective
process. To understand and be democratic
is to understand and practice justice. It is
political education. Civic or political educa-
tion means the stimulation of development of
more advanced patterns of reasoning about
political and social decisions and their im-
plementation. These are largely patterns of
moral reasoning. Our studies show that
reasoning and decision making about politi-
cal decisions are directly derivative of broader
patterns of moral reasoning and decision
making. We have interviewed high school
and college students about concrete political
situations involving laws about open housing,
civil disobedience for peace in Vietnam, free
press rights to publish what might disturb
national order, distribution of income through
taxation. We find that reasoning on these
political decisions can be classified according
to moral stage and that an individual’s stage
on political dilemmas is at the same level as
on nonpoUtical moral dilemmas.

From a psychological side, then, politi-
cal development is part of moral develop-

ment. The same is true from the philosophic
side. In historical perspective, America was
the first nation whose government was pub-
licly founded on post-conventional principles
of justice and the rights of human beings,
rather than upon the authority central to
conventional moral reasoning. At the time
of our founding, post-conventional or prin-
cipled moral and political reasoning was the
possession of the minority, as it still is. Today,
as in the time of our founding, the majority
of our adults are at the conventional level,
particularly the law-and-order fourth moral
stage. (Every few years the Gallup Poll cir-
culates the Bill of Rights unidentified and
each time it is turned down.) The founders
of our nation intuitively understood this
without benefit of our elaborate social re-
search and constructed a document designing
a government which would maintain prin-
ciples of justice and the rights of all even
though principled people were not those in
power. The machinery included checks and
balances, the independent judiciary, freedom
of the press. Most recently, this machinery
found its use at Watergate. The tragedy of
Richard Nixon, as Harry Truman said long
ago, was that he never understood the Con-
stitution, a Stage 5 document, but the Consti-
tution understood Richard Nixon .̂

From Conventional to Principled

Watergate, then, is not some sign of
moral decay of the nation, but rather, of the
fact that understanding and action in sup-
port of justice principles is still the possession
of a minority of our society. Insofar as there
is moral decay today, it represents the weak-
ening of conventional morality in the face of
social and value conflict. This can lead the
less fortunate adolescent to fixation at the
preconventional level, the more fortunate to
movement to principles. Watergate, then, I

3 No public or private word or deed of Nixon
ever rose above Stage 4, the law-and-order stage.
His last comments in the White House were of
wonderment that the Republican Congress could
turn on him after so many Stage 2 exchanges of
favors in getting them elected.

October 1975 51

see as part of the slow movement of society
from the conventional to the morally prin-
cipled level. I will argue that our society has
been in this transition zone for the 200 years
since its founding. In the lives of youths I
have studied, the transition from conven-
tional to principled morality usually takes
10 years. In the life of a nation, a bicenten-
nial would not be long. I shall claim our
schools for 200 years have been essentially
Stage 4 law, order, and authority stage insti-
tutions though our Constitutional govern-
ment aspires to the Stage 5 social contract
democracy and the human rights.

In the high school today, one often hears
both preconventional adolescents and those
moving beyond convention sounding the
same note of disaffection for the traditional
school. This is partly because our schools
have traditionally been Stage 4 institutions
of convention and authority. Today more
than ever democratic schools systematically
engaged in civic and moral education are
required. Our approach to moral education
starts with the cognitive-developmental
theory as to how moral progress is made.
The theory suggests that the conditions for
moral development in homes and schools are
similar, and very different from the psycho-
analytic and Skinnerian or learning theory
views of the conditions for moral de-
velopment. According to the cognitive-
developmental theory, morality is a natural
product of a universal human tendency
toward empathy or role-taking, toward put-
ting oneself in the shoes of other conscious
beings. It is also a product of a universal
human concern for justice, for reciprocity or
equality in the relation of one person to

As an example, when my son was four
he became a morally principled vegetarian
and refused to eat meat, resisting all parental
efforts of persuasion to increase his protein
intake. His reason was, “It’s bad to kill ani-
mals.” His moral commitment to vegetarian-
ism was not taught or acquired from parental
authority, it was the result of the universal
tendency of the child to project his con-
sciousness and values into other living things,
other selves. My son’s vegetarianism also

involved a sense of justice, revealed when I
read him a book about Eskimos in which a
seal hunting expedition was described. His
response was to say, “Daddy, there is one
kind of meat I would eat, Eskimo meat. It’s
all right to eat Eskimos because they eat
animals.” This natural sense of justice or
reciprocity was Stage 1, an eye for an eye,
a tooth for a tooth. His sense of the value
of life was also Stage 1 and involved no
differentiation between human personality
and physical life. His morality, though
Stage 1, was, however, natural and internal.

Moral development past Stage 1, then,
is not an internalization, but the reconstruc-
tion of tendencies to role-take and concep-
tions of justice toward greater adequacy.
These reconstructions occur in order to
achieve a better match between the child’s
own moral structures and the structures of
the social and moral situations he or she
confronts. We divide these conditions into
two kinds, those dealing with moral discus-
sion and communication and those dealing
with the total moral environment or at-
mosphere in which the child lives.

In terms of moral discussion, the im-
portant conditions appear to be:

1. Exposure to the next stage of reasoning

2. Exposure to situations posing problems
and contradictions for the child’s current moral
structure, leading to dissatisfaction with his or
her current level

3. An atmosphere of interchange and dia-
logue in which the first two conditions obtain,
in which conflicting moral views are compared
in an open manner.

Drav^dng on this notion of the condi-
tions stimulating advance, Blatt (Blatt and
Kohlberg, 1974) conducted classroom dis-
cussions and conflict-laden hypothetical
moral dilemmas with four classes of junior
high and high school students for a semester.
In each of these classes, students were to be
found at three stages. Since the children
were not all responding at the same stage,
the arguments they used with each other
were at different levels. In the course of
these discussions among the students, the
teacher first supported and clarified those

52 Educational Leadership

arguments that were one stage above the
lowest stage among the children (for ex-
ample, the teacher supported Stage 3 rather
than Stage 2). When it seemed that these
arguments were understood hy the students,
the teacher then challenged that stage, using
new situations, and clarified the arguments
one stage ahove the previous one (Stage 4
rather than Stage 3). At the end of the
semester, all the students were retested; they
showed significant upward change as com-
pared to the controls, and maintained the
change one year later. In the various experi-
mental classrooms from one-fourth to one-
half of the students moved up a stage, while
there was essentially no change during the
course of the experiment in the control group.

Given the Blatt studies showing that
moral discussion could raise moral stage, we
undertook the next step, to see if teachers
could conduct moral discussions in the course
of teaching high school social studies with
the same results. This step we took in coop-
eration with Edvnn Fen ton, who introduced
moral dilemmas in his ninth and eleventh
grade social studies texts. Twenty-four
teachers in the Boston and Pittsburgh areas
were given some instruction in conducting
moral discussions around the dilemmas and
the text. About half of the teachers stimu-
lated significant developmental change in
their classrooms, their discussions leading to
upward stage movement on one-quarter to
one-half a stage. In control classes using the
text but no moral dilemma discussions, the
same teachers failed to stimulate any moral
change in the students. Moral discussion,
then, can be a useable and effective part of
the curriculum at any grade level. Working
with filmstrip dilemmas produced in coopera-
tion with Guidance Associates, second grade
teachers conducted moral discussions yield-
ing a similar amount of moral stage move-
ment. We also have achieved similar results
at the Harvard undergraduate level.

Moral discussion and curriculum, how-
ever, is only one portion of the conditions
stimulating moral growth. When we turn to
analyzing the broader life environment, we
turn to a consideration of the moral atmo-
sphere of the home, the school, and the

broader society, what we earlier called the
hidden curriculum. Central to this atmo-
sphere is, first, the role-taking opportunities
it provides, the extent to which it encourages
the child to take the point of view of others.
The second related condition is the level of
justice of the environment or institution. The
justice structure of an institution refers to
the perceived rules or principles for dis-
tributing rewards, punishments, responsibili-
ties, and privileges among the members of an
institution. As an example, a study of a
traditional prison revealed that inmates per-
ceived it as Stage 1 regardless of their own
level (Kohlberg, Scharf, and Hickey, 1972).
Obedience to arbitrary command by power
figures and punishment for disobedience
were seen as the governing justice norms of
the prison. A behavior-modification prison
using point rewards for conformity was per-
ceived as a Stage 2 system of instrumental
exchange. Inmates at Stage 3 or 4 perceived
this institution as more fair than the tradi-
tional prison, but not as really fair in their
Stage 3 terms. These and other studies sug-
gest that a higher level of justice in an
environment stimulates development to a
higher stage of a sense of justice.

A “Just Community” High Schooi

One year ago Ted Fenton, Ralph Mosher,
and myself received a three-year grant from
the Danforth Foundation to make moral edu-
cation a living matter in two high schools
in the Boston area (Cambridge and Brook-
line) and two in Pittsburgh. The plan had
two components. The first was the intellec-
tual or official curriculum. It involved train-
ing social studies, English, and counseling
staff in conducting classroom moral discus-
sions and making moral discussion an inte-
grated part of the curriculum. The second
was addressed to the unstudied curriculum.
Its focus was establishing a just community
school within a public high school.

The theory of the just community high
school postulated a participatory democracy
stressing solving school issues in a commu-
nity meeting through moral discussion
process. It assumes that treating real-life

October 1975 53

moral situations and actions as issues of fair-
ness and as matters for democratic decision
would stimulate advance in both moral rea-
soning and moral action. A participatory
democracy provides more extensive oppor-
tunities for role-taking and a higher level of
perceived institutional justice than does any
other social arrangement. Most alternative
schools strive to establish a democratic gov-
ernance, but none we have observed has
achieved a vital or viable participatory

Our theory suggested reasons why we
might succeed where others failed. First, we
felt participatory democracy had failed be-
cause it was not a central commitment of a
school, rather, it was a humanitarian frill.
Democracy as moral education provides that
commitment. Second, democracy in alterna-
tive schools often failed because it bored the
students. Students preferred to let teachers
make decisions about staff, courses, sched-
ules, than to attend lengthy complicated
meetings. Our theory said that the issues a
democracy should focus on were issues of
morality and fairness. Real issues concerning
drugs, stealing, causing disturbances, grad-
ing, are never boring if handled as issues of
fairness. Such moral issues are often evaded
in alternative schools because of the per-
vasive “do your thing” ideology. Third, our
theory suggested that if democratic decision-
making meetings were preceded by small-
group moral discussion, higher stage thinking
by students would win out in town meeting
decisions, avoiding the disasters of mob rule.

Our Cambridge just community school
started with a small summer planning ses-

sion of volunteer teachers, students, and
parents. At the time the school opened in the
fall, a commitment to democracy and a
skeleton program of English and social stud-
ies for the half day given over to the new
school had been decided on. The school
started with six teachers from the regular
school and 60 students. One-third were from
academic/professional homes, one-third from
working-class homes, one-third were drop-
outs and troublemakers in terms of previous
record. The usual mistakes and usual chaos
of a beginning alternative school ensued.
Within a few weeks, however, a successful
democratic community process had been
established. Rules were made around press-
ing issues, disturbances, drugs, hooking. A
rotating student discipline committee or jury
was set up. Our democratic system of rules
and enforcement has been relatively effective
and reasonable but we do not see fairness or
reasonableness as an end in itself. Rather,
the democratic process is a vehicle for moral
discussion and the cause of an emerging
sense of community.

Our successes in these ends can be docu-
mented as yet only by anecdotes. An example
is Greg, who started in the fall as the greatest
paragon of humor, aggression, light-fingered-
ness, and inability to sit still known to this
writer. From being the principal disturber of
all community meetings, Greg has become an
excellent community meeting participant and
chairman. While ahead in his willingness to
enforce rules on others rather than to observe
them himself, Greg’s commitment to the
school has led to a steady decrease in his
exotic behavior.


Moshe Blatt and Lawrence Kohlberg. “Effects
of Classroom Discussions upon Children’s Level of
Moral Judgment.” In: Lawrence Kohlberg, editor.
Recent Research, 1974.

Lawrence Kohlberg. “Moral Stages and Morali-
zation; The Cognitive-Developmental Approach.”
In: Thomas Lickona, editor. Man, Morality, and
Society. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston,
in press.

Lawrence Kohlberg, Peter Scharf, and Joseph
Hickey. “The Justice Structure of the Prison: A

Theory and an Intervention.” The Prison Journal,
Autumn-Winter, 1972.

Richard Krebs and Lawrence Kohlberg. “Moral
Judgment and Ego Controls as Determinants of
Resistance to Cheating.” In: Lawrence Kohlberg,
editor. Recent Research, 1974.

Jean Piaget. The Moral Judgment of the
Child. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1948.

John Rawls. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1971. Q

54 Educational Leadership

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