Three Stages Of Moral Reasoning

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Moral reasoning, as defined by Boyd & Bee in The Developing Child, is “the process of making judgments about the rightness or wrongness of certain acts” (Boyd & Bee, 2012, p. 305). The human development of this ability is largely dependent on one’s cognitive development, specifically concrete operational and formal operational thinking. Each of these is defined by Piaget: the first around age 7 – 11 when children begin to think logically about concrete concepts yet still struggle with abstract ones; and the second, beginning around the age of 11 and moving through and into adulthood which allows for abstract thinking and higher order reasoning. As human’s move through these stages they become able to see others’ perspectives as their egocentrism …show more content…
Children of elementary age function at Level I, or Preconventional Morality, wherein they make decisions based on the level of punishment that threatens them as a consequence for their behavior, or the degree to which the action makes them feel good. The first stage at this level, Punishment and Obedience, finds humans concerned with the physical consequences of their behavior, or punishment much like Piaget’s Moral Reasoning Stage. The second stage: Individualism, Instrumental Purpose and Exchange adds the element of humans acting in ways that are rewarded and avoiding what is punished. While many early adolescents find themselves in stage 2 of Level I, most humans typically reach Level II, Conventional Morality, by or near middle adolescence. This is the most common area in which humans function. It is to say that most decisions are based on the values of the groups within which people live and function. In this level, people are found to want to follow the norms determined by a family, class, society or larger group. At Stage 3, Mutual Interpersonal Expectations, Relationships, and Interpersonal Conformity, a human delights in their good behavior pleasing other people. It is within Stage 3 …show more content…
Further, there is an indication that lower levels of moral reasoning lend to a higher tolerance for violence and each of these tendencies can impact behavior. There is a relationship between moral reasoning and self-control. If self-control is the ability to not give in to one’s impulses without thought or reason, then one’s ability must advance through the levels of reasoning development. Children learn very early, whether through praise, punishment, or good feelings reinforcing their choices, that they cannot act on every thought or decision that comes to mind. Limits are set on a child’s behavior and around age one, humans begin to respond to and adhere to those limits. As they increase in age, limits set by parents or caregivers begin to give way to positive choices made when no one is watching, and then by age three, signs of self-regulation are

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