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Ethical Development & Metaethics

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Does it seem that people are in the various stages (Preconventional level, Conventional level and/or a Postconventional level) that Lawrence Kolberg presents?
Do most people remain in the conventional stage of ethical development? In agreement with Kolberg’s stratification.

When considering arguments for ethical absolutism and ethical relativism, what side is most ideal? Is there a single ethical standard that can be applied to all?
Is it difficult to accept that people of other cultures do things that are contrary to one's ethical code? Is it difficult to live and let live? Is it possible to simply view them as being different?

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Does it seem that people are in the various stages (Preconventional level, Conventional level and/or a Postconventional level) that Lawrence Kolberg presents?
<br>[The questions are problematic; they don't give much guidance as to the sort of analysis the instructor is seeking. We might answer here, "yes it does"; I suppose the next implict question is, "Why or why not?", though it could also be, "What do you think of Kohlberg's analysis/state your reasons" As it stands it sounds as though the instructor is asking for your observations. Frankly, neither your observations nor mine are going to carry much weight, considered against an empirical study. So there's a bit of a problem with the suggestion that whatever you can come up with either way, off the top of your head, provides a good ground for your opinion. Our opinions on such matters, seems to me, should be developed over long periods of observation and interaction, coupled with information provided by relevant empirical studies, when we read the study results. So I'm going to answer the question a couple of ways here, give you my view of whether people are in these stages, with some evaluation of the stages themselves, Kohlberg's categorization. Roughly:
<br>Stage 1: Punishment and obedience orientation.
<br>Stage 2: Instrumental relativist orientation. right action consists of behavior that satisfies one's own needs.
<br>Stage 3: Interpersonal concordance (good boy - nice girl) orientation.
<br>Stage 4: Orientation toward authority (law and order).
<br>Stage 5: Social-contract orientation.
<br>Stage 6: Universal ethical principle orientation.
<br>This is just a quick reference point for the categories. It seems to me that most moral actions have one of these justifications. How do we determine which category to place an action? We hear the actor's explanation as to why he or she acted. In my opinion, based on my observations, most individuals pick and choose their moral reasons in a context specific way, not in accord with one of these categories. (Which, incidentally, is how they learn moral action in the first place; we learn to act in according to a certain taught principle or with certain motivating factors. To take an example, a child might obey his or her parents, or do some act, out of fear of punishment, because he or she genuinely desires their affection and approval, or to satisfy his or her needs. I suppose it's obvious that children are motivated by all three sorts of reasons from a very early age, perhaps instinctively. Among adults, I'll hear a more varied set of reasons, sometimes from the same person, and again, the analysis is context-specific. I might abide by the jaywalking rule out of fear of getting a ticket--stage 1 analysis, lend someone a helping hand, act with a degree of benevolence, with some interpersonal concordance rationale, the happiness that comes from generating good will (though you might also give the stated reason a stage 2 categorization); in the work environment I might have a series of motivations, I perform my end of the deal to get paid, the employer and I help each other out (stage 2), also supposing/believing such arrangements are part of the social order (stage 3), that such arrangements are good for everyone involved (stage 5) and because I have a universal principle of trying to achieve constructive results in the world (stage 6). So no, I don't think people are in one stage or the other, locked in, though it seems to me you can usually categorize their actions ...

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