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ETS Business Major Field Test: Ethics and Social Responsibility

Kohlberg's Six Stages of Cognitive Moral Development


Chart of Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development

Level One:
Pre-conventional Morality

Stage 1: Primitivism

Individual views right conduct as a means of avoiding negative consequences or punishment.

Stage 2: Reciprocity

Right behavior is determined by a mutually beneficial arrangement where each party’s self-interests are satisfied.

Level Two:
Conventional Morality

Stage 3: Empathy

Identification of the needs and interests of others.

Stage 4: Social Conscience

Empathy is expanded to include not just specific individuals, but society as a whole. 

Level Three:
Post-Conventional Morality

Stage 5: Social Contract

Rights, values and legal contracts to society are recognized as worthy of respect and preservation.

Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principle

Recognition of universal unalienable rights and ethical principles held to be true regardless of any society or legislative policy.

Moral Theories

DeontologyAn act is judged to be right based upon the subjective intentions of the agent committing the act, independently of the prospective consequences of the act.  The intentions are often motivated by some perceived universal moral standard.

Differential Association: The process of acquiring ethical or unethical behavior patterns due to the interaction with close co-workers, including peers, subordinates, and superiors.  Persons wuold be much less likely to transgress company policy if they had not observed such behavior in co-workers.

Relativism:  All moral standards are relative to person, place, time and/or culture.  There is no objective, immutable, universal moral standard.

Teleology:  An act is judged to be right based upon its propensity to produce certain kinds of consequences.  These consequences are often judged, predicted, or estimated using empirically gathered evidence.

Virtue Ethics: The view that the primary and fundamental moral foundation is to be found in a person's character.  Rather than rules of conduct to which an individual must adhere, an individual's personality is cultivated so that by nature and habit they will have a predisposition to behave in a morally righteous way.

Leadership and Ethical Decision Making