Presidential Morality

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In chapter 10, Lawrence Kohlberg's findings on how morality unfolds across the life span are explored. His research judged participants on what kind of reasoning process they used to decide what was right or wrong in moral dilemmas. What he came up with was that morality develops in three different stages. The first is preconventional morality, which focuses on punishment and reward. Second deals with conventional morality, or the impact of societal values of morality. And the third is postconventional morality which is about whether or not something goes with or against fundamental human rights and values.


One place in popular culture that I thought this particularly applied to was the US presidential elections. Each candidate has to take a stance on very important societal issues, which could be seen as moral dilemmas. In order to choose where they stand they must analyze each on at least one of the levels that Kohlberg spoke of. In particular, the second level seems like it plays a pretty big role on their decisions. This level is a focus on societal values. What is right is what society agrees with, and what is wrong would be something that society believes is wrong. But, in the US, society is split on essentially all of these issues. So, do they go with something that may contradict their own opinion to conform to society, or might they try and think about things in different terms?


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good blog about moral, I am very agree with your about morality develops in three different stages. You used the example about US presidential elections to prove your points. good job!

This is a very interesting blog, and you bring up a relevant question at the end. "So, do they [political leaders] go with something that may contradict their own opinion to conform to society, or might they try and think about things in different terms?" There's the common saying that politics will be politics, and I think your question relates to that. No one really knows if they will think about things in different terms, but one needs to realize that most candidates have one single common goal: To win by getting the most votes. In order to get those votes, they need to conform with society. So when it comes to morals, maybe the saying should be "politics will be politics, and morals are ignored in politics."

I agree completely with your response to the question. In order to be well liked by society, political leaders must act and speak in a manner favorable to them. One can't really express what they really intend to do and expect to win nowadays, so they must conform. Morals, like you stated, are definitely ignored in politics.

My first response to this was thinking of party politics. Obviously, the different interpretations of moral dilemmas is divided almost exactly down party lines, with each party having the same decision on nearly every single issue. It is entirely possible that politicians completely change at least one of their personal beliefs in order to get votes. This could be a good thing if it is what the constituents want, but if it isn't then it is the duty of the representative to change his standpoint to fit the people who elected him.

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This page contains a single entry by hann0217 published on April 1, 2012 9:52 PM.

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