Kohlberg’s Three Levels of MoralityThis week’s lecture focused on moral development and ethical reasoning. As part of your readings for the week, Kohlberg’s three levels of morality were discussed. How would you have answered Heinz’s dilemma? (See readings for the week for the full dilemma). Which of Kohlberg’s three levels of morality do you feel you are in? Do you feel you are in a different level of morality in different settings (i.e. work vs. personal life?) How has your morality (if it has) progressed from your adolescence?Your work should be at least 500 words, but mostly draw from your own personal experience. This should be written in first person and give examples from your life. Be sure if you are using information from the readings that you properly cite your readings in this, and in all assignmentsGrading Criteria AssignmentsMaximum PointsMeets or exceeds established assignment criteria40Demonstrates an understanding of lesson concepts20Clearly present well-reasoned ideas and concepts30Mechanics, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling that affects clarity, and citation of sources as needed           10Total100Modes of Thinking
Logical Thinking
Thinking logically and identifying reasoning fallacies in one’s own and in others’ thinking is the heart of
critical thinking.
Reasoning is a process by which we use the knowledge we have to draw conclusions or infer something
new about the domain of interest.
There are a number of different types of reasoning:
•inductive, and
We use each of these types of reasoning in everyday life, but they differ in significant ways.
Deductive Thinking
Deductive reasoning derives the logically necessary conclusion from the given premises. Deductive
thinking is the kind of reasoning that begins with two or more premises and derives a conclusion that
must follow from those premises. The basic form of deductive thinking is the syllogism. An example of a
syllogism follows:
1.All squares have four sides.
2.This figure is a square.
3.Therefore, this figure has four sides.
Usually our thinking is not as formal as this but takes on a shorter form: “Because a square has four sides
and this figure also has four sides, it is a square.” To understand the logic behind our shortened thought,
we need to understand the structure that supports it: the syllogism. A syllogism is a three-step form of
reasoning which has two premises and a conclusion. (Premises are statements that serve as the basis or
ground of a conclusion.) Not all syllogisms are alike. We will look at three types: the categorical, the
hypothetical, and the disjunctive (Kirby,1999).
Categorical Syllogisms
The classic example of a categorical syllogism comes from the philosopher Socrates. Updated for gender,
it goes as follows:
1.MAJOR – All human beings are mortal.
2.MINOR – Ann is a human being.
3.CONCLUSION – Therefore, Ann is mortal.
We can see that categorical syllogisms categorize. In the example above “human beings” are put in the
“mortal” category. “Ann” is in the “human being” category. And in the last statement, “Ann” is in the
“mortal” category. If the first line of the syllogism above read, “some human beings are mortal,” then
only some human beings would be in the “mortal” category.
A categorical syllogism is a form of argument that contains statements (called categorical propositions)
that either affirm or deny that a subject is a member of a certain class (category) or has a certain
property. For example, “Toby is a cat” is a categorical statement because it affirms that Toby (the
subject) is a member of a class of animals called “cats” (Kirby, 1999).
“Toby is brown” affirms that Toby has a property of brownness. Similarly, “Toby is not a cat” and “Toby
is not brown” are categorical statements because they deny that Toby has the property of brownness
and that Toby belongs to a class of animals called “cats.” All valid syllogisms must have at least one
affirmative premise.
In the standard form of a categorical syllogism, the major premise always appears first. It contains the
“major” term (in this case “mortal”), which is the term that appears as the predicate in the conclusion:
1.MAJOR – All human beings are mortal.
2.MINOR – Ann is a human being.
3.CONCLUSION – Therefore, Ann is mortal.
What is a predicate? It is simply the property or class being assigned to the subject in the last line. In our
example above, the subject in the last line is Ann, and the property of Ann is that she is “mortal.” If a
syllogism concluded with the words “Robert is intelligent,” then “intelligent” would be the predicate
because in this sentence it is the property of the subject, “Robert.” “Intelligent” is also the major term
and would appear in the first (or major) premise:
1.MAJOR – Our faculty are intelligent.
2.MINOR – Kerry is one of our faculty.
3.CONCLUSION – Therefore, Kerry is intelligent.
Let’s look at the other parts of the syllogism and see how they combine to form a valid argument. The
minor premise introduces the minor term (in our examples, “Ann” and “Kerry”).
1.MAJOR – All human beings are mortal.
2.MINOR – Ann is a human being.
3.CONCLUSION – Therefore, Ann is mortal.
1.MAJOR – Our faculty are intelligent.
2.MINOR – Kerry is one of our faculty.
3.CONCLUSION – Therefore, Kerry is intelligent.
The minor premise makes a connection between the minor term and the major term. It makes this
connection through the “middle term,” which then disappears in the conclusion:
1.MAJOR – All human beings are mortal.
2.MINOR – Ann is a human being.
3.CONCLUSION – Therefore, Ann is mortal.
1.MAJOR – Our faculty are intelligent.
2.MINOR – Kerry is one of our faculty.
3.CONCLUSION – Therefore, Kerry is intelligent.
This diagram below summarizes the parts of the syllogism discussed in this section.
Moral Reasoning
Have you ever considered what has set the foundation for you as to what is right and wrong? What
drives your ethical decision making? Although not without some controversy and detractors, a man
named Lawrence Kohlberg set out to define and describe moral learning in people in the world. He
tested hundreds of men with a dilemma called Heinz’s dilemma.
The dilemma went something like this:
Imagine living 1000 years ago – and there was a guy named Heinz and his wife. Heinz’s wife had a very
rare form of cancer. A doctor in a town down the road has come up with a new medication that could
treat Heinz’s wife’s cancer and give her a shot at life. He charges 2,000 dollars for this – 10 times what it
cost him to make. Heinz did everything he could to come up with the money and he could only come up
with 1000 dollars. He begged and pleaded for the pharmacist to take $1000 dollars as a down payment
and let him pay the rest back in payments. The pharmacist declined. Desperate, Heinz broke into the
pharmacy and stole the medication. Should Heinz have done this – and why?
Kohlberg was not interested in whether or not you said yes or no to this dilemma. He was more curious
as to WHY you agreed or disagreed. Through his research, he gave people thorny moral dilemmas, and
broke up their answers into three different types of moral reasoning.
•Preconventional thought
•Conventional thought
•Postconventional thought
It is easy to keep up with the three stages – since the first one is “pre”, the last one is “post” and the
middle one is normal. If you take a future psychology course here at Grantham, you’ll learn more about
Kohlberg and how each level is broken up into two stages – but for the purposes of this course, we want
you to understand that Kohlberg had three levels of thought – which are stated above.
Preconventional thought occurs primarily in children, but it can occur in adults. This is when you
participate in a behavior because you get a reward or to avoid a punishment. Why did you donate to
that charity? Well, I got entered into a million dollar raffle to do it – and I wanted to get a chance! Why
did you volunteer at the homeless shelter? My coach said I would have to run 20 laps if I didn’t
volunteer. These are examples of preconventional thought. The method and reasoning why you do
something is to get a reward or avoid a punishment. In Heinz’s dilemma, the example answers might be
– well, of course you steal it – you get a free 2000 dollar drug! Or – no, if you steal, you go to jail – and
you don’t want to get in trouble, do you? If those were your thoughts about the dilemma, you are in
preconventional thought. Most adults are not in preconventional thought, but some still are.
Conventional thought is more advanced than preconventional thought, and it is a progression children
make as they get older and get more thoughtful. They start to consider – what would a good person do?
They haven’t internalized themselves that they are a good person – but they really focus on trying to be
good – and that is their justification for a behavior. Also – their justifications come into understanding
that laws are there to protect society – and one should honor laws. So the type of answers someone
might give to the previous dilemma in conventional thought would be – a good husband would protect
his wife at all costs; subsequently, stealing the drug is an appropriate behavior. Or someone might also
say that the law is the law – and it is wrong to steal – not because you are going to be punished – but
what type of society would we have if we do not obey the rules?
Finally, we advance to postconventional thought. Postconventional thought comes in when you
consider laws and rules, and you have your own belief system – and your belief system may actually go
outside the laws and rules – and you understand and respect them – but you are willing to fight for your
belief system at all costs. It is the highest level of thinking. The belief system may be the same as the
law – or it may be different. So examples of post-conventional thought to Heinz’s dilemma might be
things like Life is more important than property – and when deciding whether or not to do something –
you have to consider the value of each – and valuing life is a way more lofty endeavor. Or something
like – laws are grounded in justice, and there is no justice in allowing someone to die to make a 100%
profit with no consideration for a payment plan – so it is absolutely justified.
Part of critical thinking and understanding critical thinking is to learn how to become a stronger ethical
and moral thinker. Understanding the levels of thought help you to consider how you’re thinking. It’s
unlikely that we will always answer questions with post conventional thought. For instance, there may
not be some universal principal as to why you change your oil and rotate your tires – it may sometimes
be just to avoid having to pay costly car repairs down the road – but in life and death situations – or
thorny situations dealing with complex levels of thought – always keeping your own values and
principles in mind can help you become a more critical thinker. As part of your assignments and work
this week – consider these levels of thought – and if you’re not quite there yet – that’s absolutely okay.
Even thinking about higher levels of thought can assist you in achieving your critical thinking goals. One
final thought about critical thinking. As soldiers, you are taught to obey orders. But as thorny situations
in movies like Born on the Fourth of July teach us – “just obeying orders” does not stand up in court as
an affirmative defense to a criminal action – so understanding critical thinking always pays dividends.

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