moral people are clearly described. The following six stages are taken
mostly from Piaget (1932), Kohlberg (1975), and Rosen (1980).
Stage 1: Respect for power and punishment.
A young child (age 1-5) decides what to do--what is right--
according to what he/she wants to do and can do without getting into
trouble. To be right, you must be obedient to the people in power and,
thus, avoid punishment. Motto: "Might makes right."
Stage 2: Looking out for #1.
Children (age 5-10) tend to be self-serving. They lack respect for
the rights of others but may give to others on the assumption that
they will get as much or more in return. It is more a matter of "you
scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," instead of loyalty, gratitude, or
justice. Motto: "What's in it for me?"
Stage 3: Being a "Good Boy" or "Nice Girl."
People at this stage (age 8-16) have shifted from pleasing
themselves to pleasing important others, often parents, teachers, or
friends. They seek approval and conform to someone else's
expectations. When they are accused of doing something wrong, their
behavior is likely to be justified by saying "everyone else is doing it" or
"I didn't intend to hurt anyone." Motto: "I want to be nice."
Stage 4: Law and order thinking.
The majority of people 16 years old and older have internalized
society's rules about how to behave. They feel obligated to conform,
not any longer to just family and friends, but also to society's laws and
customs. They see it as important to do one's duty to maintain social
order. Leaders are assumed to be right; individuals adopt social rules
without considering the underlying ethical principles involved. Social
control is, therefore, exercised through guilt associated with breaking
a rule; the guilt in this case is an automatic emotional response, not a
rational reaction of conscience based on moral principles (as in stage
6). People at this stage believe that anyone breaking the rules
deserves to be punished and "pay their debt to society." Motto: "I'll do
Stage 5: Justice through democracy.
People at this stage recognize the underlying moral purposes that
are supposed to be served by laws and social customs; thus, if a law
ceases to serve a good purpose, they feel the people in a democracy
should get active and change the law. Thought of in this way,
democracy becomes a social contract whereby everyone tries
continually to create a set of laws that best serves the most people,
while protecting the basic rights of everyone. There is respect for the