Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development

Societal Level 1: Preconventional Level.  The actor believes that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by the authority who gives pleasure or pain to the actor.
Stage 1: Fear of Punishment.   The right action is the one that avoids punishment.
Stage 2: Hope for Reward.   The right action is the one that is likely to result in something good for the actor.
Societal Level 2: Conventional Level. At this level, the actor has shifted his/her perception from moral arbitrator as an authority figure to moral arbitrator as the community at large.
Stage 3: Peer Approval.   What is right is determined by the peer group.  The actor is seeking acceptance of others, rather than attempting to avoid pain or achieve direct pleasure.
Stage 4: It's the Law [Vd. Aristotle]. Loyalty to the system and adherence to its rules replaces the group as the basis of determining moral permissibility and moral prohibition.
Societal Level 3: Postconventional Level. This is the move from heteronomy to autonomy.  Actors at this level use reflective judgment to reason through to their own sense of what makes an action right.
Stage 5: Social Utility [Vd. Mill]. What makes an action 'right' is that it can be decided impartially, without specific loyalties, to bring about the greatest social benefit.
Stage 6: Justice [Vd. Kant]. The principles of justice (fairness, equity) are used in determining moral permissibility and prohibition.  Individual human beings are perceived to have equal and inviolate worth.

Gilligan's Levels of Moral Development

Level 1: Orientation to Individual Survival. At this level, the person is concerned solely with her-/himself, a self perceived as powerless.
Transition 1: Selfishness to Responsibility. During this transition, the person for the first time tries on the feelings of others.  She/He begins to think about others' needs in determining what is right or wrong, but tends to blame others when she/he fails, rather than taking responsibility for her own action.
Level 2: Self-Sacrifice. The person determines that being "good" is sacrificing her-/himself for others.
Transition 2: Goodness to Truth. Here she/he begins to see that considering oneself in moral decisions is not selfish, but honest.  She/He begins to realize that caretaking can include her-/himself.
Level 3: Non-Violence The person no longer perceives a conflict between caring for oneself and caring for others.  Non-violence is perceived as the unifying principle, with the moral objective of minimizing pain and harm for everyone.

Perry's Theory of Moral Development in College

Appeal to Authority Answers, which are discoverable, are right or wrong, good or bad.  The job of Authority is to teach the Absolute truths.
All is Relative Most knowledge and all values are contextual and relativistic.  Aside from science maybe, everything is a matter of personal opinion.
Commitment with Uncertainty Despite uncertainty, commitment is necessary.  Existing authorities are resources, and the plurality of views helps one identify one's own.  One is secure in stating and in confronting one's own views.
                adapted from Perry, William C. Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970.

See also: http://dhc.ucdavis.edu/fh/ct/kloss.html 



Reinhold Schlieper
adapted from: Deni Elliott
Practical Ethics Center
University of Montana
August 29, 2000