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Ethics: Theory and Practice

Jacques P. Thiroux Keith W. Krasemann

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Chapter One
The Nature of Morality

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Kohlbergs Theory of Moral Development


Kohlbergs theory sets up three distinct levels of moral thinking, and each level is arranged in two stages
Preconventional Conventional Postconventional

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Kohlbergs Theory of Moral Development


Preconventional Level
The Punishment and Obedience Orientation The Instrumental/Relativist Orientation

Conventional Level
The Interpersonal Concordance The Law and Order Orientation

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Kohlbergs Theory of Moral Development


Postconventional Level
The Social Contract Orientation The Universal-Ethical-Principle Orientation

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Preconventional Level
Terms like good and bad, or right and wrong are interpreted in terms of either physical or hedonistic consequences of action
Stage One: Moral decisions are made in response to authority Stage Two: Moral decision making is conditioned primarily by self-interest

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Conventional Level
Similar to the customary or traditional morality, which is unreflective and consists in maintaining or conforming to the expectations of others

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Conventional Level
Stage Three: Conformity with the group, living up to others expectations, and earning the approval of others by being nice Stage Four: Concerned with maintaining social order for its own sake or as an end in itself

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Postconventional Level
Also called the autonomous or principled level Requires reflective morality and the ability to effectively engage ethical reasoning apart from, or independently of, group identification and authority

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Postconventional Level
Stage Five: Understand that there are ends beyond the law and that laws are crafted to bring about these ends; views laws as a social contract Stage Six: Right is defined by the decision of conscience in accord with self-chosen ethical principles appealing to logical comprehensiveness, universality, and consistency
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A Working Definition of Morality


Morality, or ethics, deals basically with human relationshipshow human beings treat other beings so as to promote mutual welfare, growth, creativity, and meaning as they strive for good over bad and right over wrong

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