about how things are, such as believing in certain benefits and
limitations of education, medicine, science, or religions. Values are
our ideas about how things should be, i.e. the ideals we hope to strive
for. Values can be divided into desirable life goals (e.g. happiness or
success, see Table 3.2) and guiding principles (e.g. hard working or
honesty, see Table 3.3). Values could also be ranked in importance
from morally crucial, like honesty and freedom and justice, to slight
non-moral preferences, like a kind of music or style of dress we prefer.
For the rest of the chapter, I suggest you concentrate on deciding
the few crucial goals and most important guiding moral principles for
your life. Leave aside--for now--the great philosophical questions
about how the universe was created, whether or not there is a God or
life after death, whether you should seek the truth from authorities,
personal experience, or through experimentation, and so on. These
beliefs are much too complicated to be dealt with in an hour or so (if
You can, however, decide on the basic goals and ethical principles
that will direct your life day by day, moment by moment. You can do
this within a few hours. It could be a very important achievement. The
next section of this chapter will help you write your philosophy of life
and learn how to live by that philosophy. Here is an overview of what
we will be covering:
Become aware of Kohlberg and others' stages of normal moral
development. In what stages are you right now? Make notes.
Consider Morris's 13 ways of living. Which ways appeal to you
Rank Rokeach's values (Table 3.2, the end goals, and Table
3.3, the ways of getting there). What principles should guide
your life? Think about who has lived life closest to your ideals.
Buddha? Jesus? Albert Schweitzer? Lincoln? Martin Luther King?
A great scientist? A good leader? A caring, helpful person in
your community? One of your parents? Why did you make that
choice? What are the implications for your philosophy?
Resolve the conflicts among your basic values, such as between
seeking personal happiness vs. doing good for others. Does this
establish your top priority?
Write your own philosophy of life--a clear explicit statement of
important guiding principles. Not just something that sounds
lofty, but realistic, honest guidelines you will try to live by
every hour of every day.
Learn to live according to your highest chosen values, which
will test your "will" and require many of the skills described
throughout this book.
Kohlberg's stages of moral development
If you have an understanding of the normal stages of moral
development, it should help you to develop or improve upon your own
morals or values. This is especially true if the characteristics of highly