empathic process is to find a "reversible" solution, one that would be
seen as equally just from each person's perspective and considered
fair by a high percentage of rationally thinking people. Example: (1)
Imagine the situation of a poor dying patient, her husband, and a
druggist who wants $1000.00 profit (10 times its cost) for an effective
drug and (2) imagine how each would feel in the other's shoes, e.g.
how the patient would feel as the druggist, the druggist as the dying
patient, the patient as the husband thinking about stealing the drug,
etc. A solution that might result from this process would be for the
druggist to give the patient the drug, and the couple, in turn, would
agree to pay for it by working part-time for the druggist after the
patient gets well. As we will see later, an 11-year-old girl in Gilligan's
study (1982) arrived at a similar solution.
Current theorists believe it takes time (40-50 years), experience
with different cultures and values, emotional maturity, self-control and
self-esteem, considerable thought about values, and/or moral
development training to acquire this kind of moral reasoning. I suspect
stages 5 and 6 will be achieved at age 12 or 14, when we know
enough to provide the proper training and experience at that age.
Good but extraordinary examples of stage 6 morality are Jesus Christ
(he spoke cogently of universal principles but he died at age 33!), St.
Francis of Assisi, Albert Schweitzer, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther
King (he became a civil rights activist at age 26!), and Sister Teresa of
Calcutta. Don't let this awesome list of saintly people scare you or
discourage you. Try to become a stage 5 or 6 person by finding some
good causes you are willing to argue for, decide what lifestyle you
most value, and start doing it.
As you understand these stages better, you may understand more
about why you have made certain moral decisions in the past. Also,
you will realize that you and everyone else operate on several levels at
the same time. For example, you may avoid shoplifting for the fear of
punishment (stage 1), you may watch your little brother carefully to
be sure he doesn't get more attention than you (stage 2), you may
want to impress your parents or a teacher (stage 3), you may
unthinkingly enforce school rules as a monitor (stage 4), and you may
be active in the women's movement or help support a child in India
through CARE (stage 5 or 6). Furthermore, you may find your moral
reasoning on one level and your behavior on another: 20% of the
people at stage 6 of moral reasoning still conformed (stage 3 or 4)
when asked by an authority to hurt another person (Kohlberg, 1984).
Likewise, my value system says I should share most of my worldly
possessions, but often I don't (partly because most people would think
I was weird and stupid).
Are women's values different from men's values?
This section is based in large part on a book by Carol Gilligan
(1982), who as a research assistant with Lawrence Kohlberg became
aware that women responded differently than men to moral dilemmas.
She decided to study these differences more closely rather than