Integrating Care And Justice Moral Development Essay

Integrating Care And Justice: Moral Development Essay, Research Paper

Part One:

The criticisms of Kohlberg’s moral development

stages 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 to

address is that of his research methods. Kohlberg is often criticized for

not only his subject selection, but also the methods by which he tries

to extricate data from those subjects. His initial study consisted of school

boys from a private institution in Chicago. The problem with this is fairly

obvious, that this does not represent a significant portion of the population

to allow for generalized conclusions. In other words, how can we test some

boys from Chicago and ascertain that this is how all people develop worldwide?

I believe that the answer to this criticism

comes from the theory that it relates to. Kohlberg’s moral development

schema is highly dependent upon the idea that there are fundamental truths

that cannot be dismissed. These ideas are “in the ether”, wound into the

very fabric that constructs human nature. Granted, his descriptions of

the various stages also seem very dependent upon the surroundings and social

institutions that an individual would be subjected to. Yet these institutions

would be have to be built upon people, all of whom would share these ideological

truths. It seems fairly obvious that all people have undeniable needs,

survival and some group membership. Kohlberg’s stages are merely methods

by which one could fulfill these needs. For instance, Spartan societies

were adamant about maintaining the purity and strength of the civilization.

Citizens saw no wrong in exposing a sick or lame baby to the elements so

that 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 greater

importance than that of the individual.

In addition to these justifications, additional

research substantiated Kohlberg’s claims. Different subjects were tested,

from all ages and regions, and the same conclusions were drawn from the

data. Assuming that these conclusions are correct, and the data leads to

the same interpretation, is there any other possibility? This argument

seems most impressive, especially considering the differences between people

that are evident in everyday life. Similarities on such an abstract level

must be supportive of Kohlberg’s claims.

Another criticism of Kohlberg assumes that

his subjects are biased, but proposes that his methods are even worse.

To get the perspective of another person, he confronts them with seemingly

impossible, unrealistic, and confrontational dilemmas. I, myself, had trouble

with the Heinz dilemma because of my inability to believe that it was something

that could take place in the real world. Even more so, the situation was

something that was very foreign, and very hard to relate to. Anyone who

has contemplated something very life changing, like a death in the family,

then experienced it, understands how different it is to actually be faced

with the dilemma. When theorizing, it is hard to maintain the intimate

connection needed to truly react to a moral dilemma.

My defense of this situation comes from

a lack of a suitable alternative. True moral dilemmas are not only rare,

but extremely hard to document. When faced with a situation that demands

not only one’s complete attention, but emotional vigor, it is really hard

to find time to document or discuss feelings (let alone the motivation

to do so!). For example, looking at the Heinz dilemma, it would be very

hard to explain why one was chasing

a man around while he tried to find

a cure for his dying wife. An even less enticing alternative would be trying

to sit him down and discuss how he was feeling.

So, the only proper and effective way to

get a response is to propose a hypothetical situation, and document replies.

It may not elicit the pure data that one desires, but according to the

Heisenberg principle, it is impossible to measure anything without influencing

it. Some research methods indicate that it is more important to follow

one’s thoughts through the reasoning process, rather than just asking for

possible solutions. However, I have to believe, and justify from personal

experience, that people have incredibly low attention spans. Asking someone

to explain how they think through a decision is almost as likely to yield

useful data as asking them to volunteer their PIN numbers. It seems as

though people are able not only to be influenced, but to influence themselves

into making different decisions. This can lead to the “endless circle”


The criticism that I find most interesting

is the supposed “regression” that occurs when going from stage three to

four. Personally, I must agree with the idea that it is, in fact, a priority

change. I also believe that this comes from my undeniable faith in the

“goodness” of humanity. I would like to believe that in their heart and

soul, everyone is good natured. So, to see that one must develop stage

four is disappointing.

Yet, I will agree that it is necessary.

It is a comprehensive step, and an improvement from the stage three point

of view. No matter how enticing and supposedly noble stage three appears,

it is lacking components necessary to promote the functionality of the

person who holds it. A loss of innocence is not necessarily a detriment,

especially when considering personal experience. Skin tends to thicken

as one gets older. Therefore, is it necessarily a regression that someone

would tend to trust others less, and be more interested maintaining social


I believe that this in no way represents

a regression, but rather a broadened scope and interpretation of surroundings.

At level three, you are totally interested in fulfilling the obligations

that are expected of you. The world seems a very small place, one person

and your surroundings, people, places, and things. If the requirements

that are expected from day to day, from people who are very close to you

can be fulfilled, that is the absolute goal. As one grows older, you are

exposed to more of the institutions and methods that are integral to the

relationship and interaction of all people. The rules have changed. There

are more requirements, more expected of you. Unfortunately, every person

does not have limitless resources with which to meet all of these goals.

So, priorities must change. New social institutions now appear to be the

driving force in happiness and security. So, they now encompass all the

priorities that drove a person at stage three. To fulfill the previous

stage’s goals with this new scope, one must dedicate resources to it.

Finally, I would like to discuss Kohlberg’s

point of view when considering what I call his “goals”. Some have criticized

that Kohlberg is trying to objectify morality to a Natural Law, or justice

perspective. Although he does seem to abstract characteristics to a societal

level, I do not believe that his is an honest attempt to undermine the

gathered data integrity. In other words, although it seems he is drawing

the same conclusions over and over, he is not distorting it to do so.

Kohlberg is often criticized for a libertarian

ideological bias in his conclusions of gathered data. In addition, it has

been observed that his conclusions are carefully explained, argued and

defended, but they can be twisted and contorted to fit any range of different

opinions. They mandate an agreement to social contract, that being used

as a philosophical base from which moral guidelines are built. But social

systems differ from region to region, and within regions by people.

I believe that the criticisms themselves

do not harm Kohlberg’s views, but rather enforce them. As I have discussed

before, there are undeniable personal needs that every individual works

to fulfill, regardless of stated motives. Everyone needs to survive, and

to be emotionally fulfilled by belonging. The systems by which people administer

their 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 relative

to one another and the situation of society as a whole. Kohlberg may view

these moral ideals as too socially interactive, but isn’t that what the

true goal of any of this is? People truly feel good when they have met

their desires, and one of those is to exist with other people in a cohesive

social system. As unbelievable as it may sound, Kohlberg’s findings do

not represent distorted data, but rather the incredible coincidence that

all people, on some level, are inherently similar.

It would be unfair to try to enforce the

ideas that come with Kohlbergian justice without also defending Carol Gilligan’s

theme of caring. Therefore, I would like to address three criticisms: the

paradox of self-care, the idea that care is a regressive movement, and

finally, the seemingly huge jump from stage one to two.

I personally find the self-care characteristic

of caring to be the most interesting to discuss. During class sessions,

everyone seemed most interested with this perspective. It seems as though

it is the ethical issue that plagues society. Where does the balance lie

between seeking to fulfill one’s own interests, and meeting the requirements

placed upon one by others? I believe that we all recognize a need to initialize

and solidify a healthy caring for oneself before it is possible to be outwardly

caring for others.

However, the way that this method is proposed

makes it appear as though it might be a cop-out.

My perspective comes from the fact that

there 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 show

compassion, respect, or contentment with the outside world without first

developing all of these attributes within oneself. When constructing this

self-persona, the goal is not to become conceited, but rather to develop

a foundation upon which more complex interactions can be constructed. Of

course, any well intentioned act can be construed into something that it

is not. I truly believe that this is the case when critiquing self-care.

I would also like to argue that self-care

as 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 surroundings

is to not harm them. For instance, it would not be expected of a toddler

to assist in the preparation of dinner. The best that he could hope to

do is not destroy anything! At this level of development adequacy is defined

by not harming something, not necessarily working towards it’s betterment.

So, caring for oneself is not self-centered at all, it is the best method

available. By caring for oneself, you are bettering your personal situation.

In turn, this improves the quality of not only your life, but those around

you. You are more presentable, easier to associate with, and more productive.

With my previous point in mind, I would

like to move onto the idea that the levels of caring are actually a regression

from previous stages. This assumption comes from comparisons of Kohlbergian

stage three attributes, with that of Gilligan’s care stages. Stage three

(Kohlberg) seems to represent the “Prince Valiant” of personalities. One

should work towards becoming a better person, fulfill societal requirements,

forgive transgressions, and exhibit constant unadulterated pacifism. It

truly seems to be a noble individual, the likes of which exist only in

fairy tales and fantasy novels. Stage one of caring then comes along, representing

a more introspective, self-interested individual. This new person is very

afraid of hurt from others, and does everything within his/her power to

avoid 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 does

not allow for Prince Valiant to be effective. Instead, he is abused, stepped

on, and taken for granted. These are not exactly prime rewards for someone

who is dedicated to being a good person and helping others. However, this

raises a conflicting point, when we now consider that society’s mistreatment

of people leads them to lose their faith. So all people must be inherently

abusive, right? I should hope not, but rather, that it is a case of poor

timing. Granted, there will be cases where people are, in fact, not “role

models”. They will be non-supportive, destructive, and frustrating. From

personal experience (and thereby bias), I find that most people are not

evil, but just not at the same stage. Everyone can remember back to grammar

and middle school, where children are not only non-supportive, but cruel

and incredibly hurtful. As they grow older, these characteristics disappear.

In the meantime, however, they are busy dismantling the naïve nobility

of stage three. If, somehow, all people could be raised to the same levels

at the same time, there is a chance we would never see the desensitizing

that we do. So, it is not a regression, but a move forward, a better ability

to deal with the real world.

Finally, one of the biggest critiques of

the caring system is the difference between the first and second stages.

While stage one has been criticized for being a regression, stage two has

been attacked for being a quantum leap from stage one. The morals and guiding

themes of stage two are so diametrically different from that of stage one,

that it seems almost an impossible move. Also, there is an argument that

stage two admits that stage one was a regression, stage two merely brings

us back up to par.

Stage two, admittedly, is a huge step in

personal thinking. Instead of the self-centered, protective nature of stage

one, stage two is predicated on self-sacrifice, maternal instincts, and

maintaining peace. To me, this is not a step back up to a stage that was

lost during a stage one regression, but an incredibly comprehensive step

forward. The key is that this stage does not even attack the same issues

in a similar way. Rather, it depends upon using oneself as a tool to show

interest and caring for others. In terms of conflicting views, this could

be the most impressive point towards unifying them. Some view this entire

stage as a complete change of heart, throwing out all ideals and starting

anew. Instead of looking at it with the previous stage’s perspective, the

way to attack this is to recognize that this way of thinking is an entirely

new strategy.

(The next section is assuming that one

would naturally move from a Kohlbergian stage three to Gilligan’s stage

one). Stage three was nice, but too nice. It allowed too many opportunities

for those who did not share stage three to abuse someone who does. It was

obviously inadequate. So, instead of rashly charging into a different mindset,

one takes time to “rebuild the foundation” (Gilligan stage one). With a

new base to build upon, one can put together another plan of attack. Those

undeniable human goals are still there, it is just a matter of coming up

with a good system to accomplish them.

At stage two, with the scars of inefficient

methods still showing, one can try to develop a new system that is comparable

to all previous attempts, but slightly better. If hurt significantly by

stage three’s inability to deal with conflict, caring stage two may not

come about until much later. Stage one is a healing process that leads

to a new outlook, and a greater ability to deal with the problems that

plagued stage three. It seems silly to assume that people develop by trial

and error, but I would like to meet the person who hasn’t! Everyone makes

bad decisions, then tries to make sure that those events do not repeat

themselves. This idea is integral to the stage two leap.

Part Two: Integration of Care and Justice

The major point of this part of the paper

is to hypothesize and analyze Kohlberg’s stage three and four, along with

the 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 discussed

the stage three to four “regression” in the first part of my paper, but

this 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’s

adequacies. Stage three is a personification of what we all wish we could

be. Noble, strong, and almost saintly, it represents all of the qualities

that everyone wants to possess. The stage is almost entirely based upon

the idea that all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,

regardless of the previous actions, or outward complexion. I find that

the word “faith” seems the best to describe this stage. Faith in people

around you, and in their motives.

However, some of the shortfalls of stage

three are very aptly listed in the handout packet. It can be indeterminate,

arbitrary, idealistic, indecisive, and localized. Indeterminacy has it’s

root in the enactment of the “golden rule”. It seems so simple and easy

to discuss, but in practice, it’s execution is questionable. “Do unto others

as you would wish them to do to you.” But why does that indicate that it

is the right choice? Isn’t it a matter of personal preference? Suppose

I enjoy being beaten with a bat! Does that give me the right to do it to

someone else? This rule assumes that all people share the same interests,

likes, and dislikes. If the entire population has an aversion to physical

harm, then this rule will work. However, can’t an assailant justify his

actions by proving that he enjoys physical harm? Although morally enticing,

the golden rule does not set down concrete guidelines that should mold

people’s behavior.

Localization and the in-group also propose

a significant criticism of this view. Stage three almost mandates that

those people who surround you are the most important in the world. One

should 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’s

problems, and just deal with those that involve your direct family. How

in the world can this be considered a moral competence? You are selecting

those people for whom you will show compassion and caring, and excluding

others by rule. Unfortunately, stage three has no allowance for integrating

the social contract into moral development. Instead, it totally excludes

it with this in-group system.

To close this point, I would like to raise

the hypothesis that stage three is theoretically the best stage that can

be achieved. It assumes that people are moral by nature, and with a little

guidance, can show this in their treatment of others. The assumption is

made that regardless of perspective, there are undeniable rights and respects

that every human deserves. No matter what the priorities of each individual,

they will not infringe upon the rights of others. However, in practice

it is simply not effective. Based upon the competence achieved up until

the stage three level, it seems the best policy of interaction. But in

practice, it stinks!. It just does not function on a level that would allow

it to be the predominant

method for interpersonal relations and ethical

decision-making. The system is based upon trust and values, neither of

which people tend to put much faith into.

Stage four remedies many of the stage three

inadequacies with the introduction and assimilation of a social contract.

Many of the same ideas from stage three remain, given new functionality

and definition. For instance, the golden rule has been replaced with social

reciprocity, the idea that merit is given to good citizens. The social

system itself takes over as the primary guiding focus of the people.

Because of this new agreed upon social

contract, the holes of stage three have been filled. There is no longer

the indecisive, abstract nature of the previous stage, because a contract

has been agreed upon by the masses. Not every little niche of the policy

agrees with every person, but for the most part, it holds the beliefs of

the population. A certain “golden rule” has been put into place, with designated

actions that warrant punishment. If you do this, you will be punished accordingly.

There is no chance for arbitration (although one is able to change the

system itself, or prove their innocence through the proper channels). Rules

have been set down, agreed upon, and now enforced.

At the same time, the localization of stage

three has also been removed. The system that works to enforce this “new

golden rule” has to be agreed upon by all people. It’s flavor may change

slightly from region to region, but generally, they must all follow the

same guidelines. So, just to achieve stage four we must banish the localization

of stage three. Personal priorities then follow the system. Instead of

prioritizing the in-group above all others, a new conglomerate is formed

of everyone’s in-groups into one society. The survival of that society

is supreme, since it is the chosen protector of all these familial microcosms.

Laws, rules and regulations take over for individualistic judgement, helping

to herd everyone into the proper behavior.

With this new system, we obviously lose

some of the aspects of stage three that were most attractive. We no longer

have the family dedicated, honor above-all-else person that we did in the

previous 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 lawless

or unconventional act that would not have been tolerated at stage three

would be ignored at stage four so that the integrity of the social system

would not be compromised. We lose the hardcore justice orientation, and

replace it with a more flexible society-inclusive system.

Increasing the size of anything to encompass

more increases it’s complexity. Complexity means that this system is not

only hard to maintain, but increasingly slow to acquiesce to the changing

needs of the people. It takes a lot of time to change an entire society’s

interpretations. Status-quo stagnation occurs very quickly, and reform

seemingly takes forever.

So, imagine that we could take stage four,

plop in into a blender, add some stage three, and come out with an even

better 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 stage

three’s interpersonal nobility and faith, and give them to a stage four

person. At the same time, we do not want to undermine the societal interactiveness

of stage four! I believe that what we end up with is the theoretical model

of a democracy. For instance, we take stage four’s society agreed upon

contract (assuming that it is somewhat noble, as opposed to something from

the Third Reich). We now assume that an act has been committed that borders

between criminality and unconventionalism. How could we approach this?

Stage three says: “If it isn’t a threat to my immediate person, or those

who surround me, then don’t worry about it.” Stage four would reply: “What

of it’s effect on the social system, is it against the law?” What we really

need to do is combine the two perspectives. If this act is first viewed

to warrant public action (an arrest, trial, or hearing), then that should

be 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 it

in 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 nobility

of each person and fused it with societal administration. In addition,

we have allowed each person to place part of their own golden rule interpretation

into the system.

By carefully combining the features of

two very different stages, we have come up with a system that is better

suited to meeting the needs of a population. Unfortunately, it was invented

hundreds of years ago, and implemented in the United States Constitution.

Granted, it does not work perfectly, but it seems a suitable compromise

when considering the alternatives. It may be a slow process, and one that

can be abused to fit one’s needs, but it is the only one that incorporates

the individual into the molding of the system.

The final part of this paper will be dedicated

to the combination of two very different arenas of thought, the moral development

paths of justice and care. Some have argued for and against each, some

have argued for and against both. What we will try to do is to build an

entirely new moral system on the strengths of these two. Theoretically,

we should come up with a super-competent solution, one that is better than

the two individually. Rather than try to develop this step by step and

point by point (which would be intolerable after about the second line),

I’d like to just give my interpretation of what the final product would

look like. One note: the most that can be possibly asked of any person

in any system is that they give 100 percent all the time. Therefore, any

theorizing that we do is subject to the fact that people only have the

resources to accomplish certain things.

To combine the best features of two diametrically

different institutions of thought we have to first identify what those

features are. Kohlbergian justice is the pragmatic, society oriented variety

that is admittedly dedicated to preserving social systems. Gilligan’s caring

is predicated on good interaction between people. Although they sound like

they might be trying to achieve the same things, they are going at it in

two separate ways. Kohlberg wants to invent a system by which all people

know 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 running

a society, but there is no question that there must be something running


Gilligan seems to agree that people need

rules by which they can relate to one another. However, she seems to delve

deeper into the actual motivations of those rules. While obeying the regulations

of society, you must also show some sort of compassion and caring for other

people. As a trivial example, Kohlberg’s system would say that it was rude

to interrupt someone who is speaking. Gilligan would say that merely not

interrupting is not adequate. Instead, you must show interest in what that

person is trying to say. You must somehow relate with the speaker on some

level. In doing so, you not only draw more from his words, but you show

that you can identify with him.

Another feature of Gilligan’s work that

I 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 maintaining

society. But balancing the needs of the many, and the needs of the few

is the hardest part about effectively administering any group of people.

Some individuals will have very menial needs, others will say they require

luxuries. The key is to provide a method by which all people can fulfill

those needs. Self-care will differ significantly between even similar people.

So, rather than trying to meet their needs outright, it is better to just

provide a chance by which they can provide for themselves. Thus achieving

a 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 framework

by which regulations maintain the necessities of people. If his guidelines

are followed, it can be said that everyone who lives by them will be at

least partially satisfied. Gilligan, on the other hand, shows us that there

is a much deeper level to which we can all aspire. Putting effort into

everyday interaction, from talking to listening, can greatly enhance every

experience. In doing so, we are not only improving the quality of our own

lives, but also the lives of those we interact with.

Another aspect of caring that I would like

to bring into the “justice world” is included in level three, the highest

level of caring. It states that there are absolutely no black or white

issues. What might be correct for one person, is not necessarily the same

for another. This would fill a huge hole in the Kohlberg moral development

system. Justice is largely criticized because it “forces” everyone into

a social group. It then slaps some rules down, and expects that they are

applicable to everyone. Gilligan states that this is not true, but rather,

everything is a shade of gray. Be careful though! This does not mean that

rules are now not applicable to anyone. Rather, it states that we must

use our judgement when considering transgressions of the law. There may

be special circumstances that need to be addressed.

Finally, Kohlberg’s critics have said that

stage five is too arbitrary. It is not easy to tell exactly how much one

owes to the social contract, or what to do with people who do not necessarily

agree with it. Gilligan would argue that there is a way to resolve this

conflict of interests through dialogue, attention, and compromise. Where

Kohlberg’s system leave opportunity for arbitration, Gilligan’s says that

there is no need. Instead of giving people a hard set of rules to live

by, or demanding their surrender to a contract, we could talk to them individually

and address the situation.

At the same time, justice maintains that

there are undeniable rules that must be obeyed. So, we are combining the

best of both worlds. Using Kohlberg’s justice orientation, we are guaranteeing

the sanctity of all those who have already agreed to the social contract.

Concurrently, we’re taking it upon ourselves to listen to a non-supportive

person, and possibly come to a small compromise to fit their needs.

In conclusion, it seems that there is definitely

a way to combine the Kohlberg justice theme and the Gilligan caring theme

of moral development. Mr. Kohlberg provides a method to police a society

that does not include 100 percent utopian citizens. Ms. Gilligan gives

us the ability to relate to each and every person, as a person. She indicates

ways that we can identify with their perspectives, understand their needs,

and compromise. Although the real world seems infinitely more complex than

either of these models, they bear a frightening resemblance to real societies

and real people. Maybe someday, a perfect model will be constructed, judged

by a perfect path of moral development. Until then, I hope that I have

found a good combination of these two ideas.

One last side note: I think I could spend

weeks typing a paper on this subject. There are thousands of facets of

each system that could fit into the other’s potential flaws. However, I

think I’ve been long-winded enough as it is. I have tried to make my points

as succinct and reasonable as possible, but without sacrificing exactly

what I wanted to say. Thank you for your patience.


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