When I sat down to write my blog, my idea was too refute the criticisms of Laurence Kohlberg's ideas. The more I read, however, the more I supported the claims confronting him. Kohlberg tried to "identify how morality unfolds across the life span" (p395). He wanted to show that moral dilemmas don't have right or wrong answers and he expressed his theory with the use of the Heinz and the drug dilemma. In the Heinz scenario, a wife is deathly ill and there is one drug that could possibly save her, but the owner of the drug will not allow the husband to purchase it for anything under $4000. The husband is unable to scrape up enough money to purchase it, so he decides to steal the drug. Is the action of the husband steal the drug immoral? You can read more about the Heinz dilemma on page 395 in the textbook.
My first thought was, "Yes. It is wrong for him to steal the drug. It's stealing!" Then I thought for a little longer, "Maybe the holder of the drug is the immoral one. He should give the husband the drug. The husband is just doing what he ought to." Then I thought about our government's unbelievably expensive health care....... But that's a completely off-topic topic.
Anyway, as I pondered this question, I was forced to experience the different levels of morality that Kohlberg describes: pre-conventional, conventional, and post conventional. This is why I felt as though his theory was accurate at first. Then I got to reading the criticisms of his work and I chose to side with the critics. There are 5 main criticisms. First, cultural bias - it's obvious to me that different cultures work toward different things. Some cultures are selfish, driven and motivated for their own well-being. While others, are more caring and concerned with the well-being of society. These different mindsets will effect the moral decisions made by each country. Second, there is the sex bias. Women tend to be more caring than men, more empathetic. It's likely that women will approach moral dilemmas in a different manor that their male peers. Third, the falsifiable nature of Kohlberg's theory is questionable. When the correlation between action and moral thought is low he says that it is the way it should be, but he also claims that a high correlation doesn't prove anything against his theory. The method of testing his hypothesis is also questionable. It may just test one ability to convey their thoughts and emotions clearly and not the actual moral of their mind. Lastly, we don't have the same emotional reactions to dilemmas that we see second hand, like a photo of a car accident.
Wouldn't you have felt different seeing this accident in real life?
This means that our moral reasoning sometimes comes after our initial emotional reaction, which means we might not base our emotions and actions on our moral reasoning.
Overall, I find Kohlberg's idea of our moral quest questionable. There are findings to support it, but there are also several strong points of critique and it's important to take these into account. Perhaps the strong criticisms override the amount of supporting evidence.
-Referencing Psychology - From Inquire to Understanding