Integrating Care and Justice: Moral Development

Part One:The criticisms of Kohlberg’s moral development stages seem to center around three major points, his research methods, the “regression” of stage four, and finally his goals.The first criticism that I would like to address is that of his research methods. Kohlberg is often criticized for not only his subject selection, but also the methods by which he tries to extricate data from those subjects. His initial study consisted of school boys from a private institution in Chicago. The problem with this is fairly obvious, that this does not represent a significant portion of the population to allow for generalized conclusions. In other words, how can we test some boys from Chicago and ascertain that this is how all people develop worldwide?I believe that the answer to this criticism comes from the theory that it relates to. Kohlberg’s moral development schema is highly dependent upon the idea that there are fundamental truths that cannot be dismissed. These ideas are “in the ether”, wound into the very fabric that constructs human nature. Granted, his descriptions of the various stages also seem very dependent upon the surroundings and social institutions that an individual would be subjected to. Yet these institutions would be have to be built upon people, all of whom would share these ideological truths. It seems fairly obvious that all people have undeniable needs, survival and some group membership. Kohlberg’s stages are merely methods by which one could fulfill these needs. For instance, Spartan societies were adamant about maintaining the purity and strength of the civilization. Citizens saw no wrong in exposing a sick or lame baby to the elements so that it might die. Surely an act of cruelty today, but in that society, a necessary evil The prosperity and wealth of the whole was of greater importance than that of the individual.In addition to these justifications, additional research substantiated Kohlberg’s claims. Different subjects were tested, from all ages and regions, and the same conclusions were drawn from the data. Assuming that these conclusions are correct, and the data leads to the same interpretation, is there any other possibility? This argument seems most impressive, especially considering the differences between people that are evident in everyday life. Similarities on such an abstract level must be supportive of Kohlberg’s claims. Another criticism of Kohlberg assumes that his subjects are biased, but proposes that his methods are even worse. To get the perspective of another person, he confronts them with seemingly impossible, unrealistic, and confrontational dilemmas. I, myself, had trouble with the Heinz dilemma because of my inability to believe that it was something that could take place in the real world. Even more so, the situation was something that was very foreign, and very hard to relate to. Anyone who has contemplated something very life changing, like a death in the family, then experienced it, understands how different it is to actually be faced with the dilemma. When theorizing, it is hard to maintain the intimate connection needed to truly react to a moral dilemma. My defense of this situation comes from a lack of a suitable alternative. True moral dilemmas are not only rare, but extremely hard to document. When faced with a situation that demands not only one’s complete attention, but emotional vigor, it is really hard to find time to document or discuss feelings (let alone the motivation to do so!). For example, looking at the Heinz dilemma, it would be very hard to explain why one was chasing a man around while he tried to find a cure for his dying wife. An even less enticing alternative would be trying to sit him down and discuss how he was feeling.So, the only proper and effective way to get a response is to propose a hypothetical situation, and document replies. It may not elicit the pure data that one desires, but according to the Heisenberg principle, it is impossible to measure anything without influencing it. Some research methods indicate that it is more important to follow one’s thoughts through the reasoning process, rather than just asking for possible solutions. However, I have to believe, and justify from personal experience, that people have incredibly low attention spans. Asking someone to explain how they think through a decision is almost as likely to yield useful data as asking them to volunteer their PIN numbers. It seems as though people are able not only to be influenced, but to influence themselves into making different decisions. This can lead to the “endless circle” conversation.The criticism that I find most interesting is the supposed “regression” that occurs when going from stage three to four. Personally, I must agree with the idea that it is, in fact, a priority change. I also believe that this comes from my undeniable faith in the “goodness” of humanity. I would like to believe that in their heart and soul, everyone is good natured. So, to see that one must develop stage four is disappointing.Yet, I will agree that it is necessary. It is a comprehensive step, and an improvement from the stage three point of view. No matter how enticing and supposedly noble stage three appears, it is lacking components necessary to promote the functionality of the person who holds it. A loss of innocence is not necessarily a detriment, especially when considering personal experience. Skin tends to thicken as one gets older. Therefore, is it necessarily a regression that someone would tend to trust others less, and be more interested maintaining social institutions? I believe that this in no way represents a regression, but rather a broadened scope and interpretation of surroundings. At level three, you are totally interested in fulfilling the obligations that are expected of you. The world seems a very small place, one person and your surroundings, people, places, and things. If the requirements that are expected from day to day, from people who are very close to you can be fulfilled, that is the absolute goal. As one grows older, you are exposed to more of the institutions and methods that are integral to the relationship and interaction of all people. The rules have changed. There are more requirements, more expected of you. Unfortunately, every person does not have limitless resources with which to meet all of these goals. So, priorities must change. New social institutions now appear to be the driving force in happiness and security. So, they now encompass all the priorities that drove a person at stage three. To fulfill the previous stage’s goals with this new scope, one must dedicate resources to it. Finally, I would like to discuss Kohlberg’s point of view when considering what I call his “goals”. Some have criticized that Kohlberg is trying to objectify morality to a Natural Law, or justice perspective. Although he does seem to abstract characteristics to a societal level, I do not believe that his is an honest attempt to undermine the gathered data integrity. In other words, although it seems he is drawing the same conclusions over and over, he is not distorting it to do so. Kohlberg is often criticized for a libertarian ideological bias in his conclusions of gathered data. In addition, it has been observed that his conclusions are carefully explained, argued and defended, but they can be twisted and contorted to fit any range of different opinions. They mandate an agreement to social contract, that being used as a philosophical base from which moral guidelines are built. But social systems differ from region to region, and within regions by people. I believe that the criticisms themselves do not harm Kohlberg’s views, but rather enforce them. As I have discussed before, there are undeniable personal needs that every individual works to fulfill, regardless of stated motives. Everyone needs to survive, and to be emotionally fulfilled by belonging. The systems by which people administer their interaction are simply tools by which they meet those needs. However, I have also said that I have a flawless devotion to the goodness of mankind. Thereby, I believe that people are trying to better their situation relative to one another and the situation of society as a whole. Kohlberg may view these moral ideals as too socially interactive, but isn’t that what the true goal of any of this is? People truly feel good when they have met their desires, and one of those is to exist with other people in a cohesive social system. As unbelievable as it may sound, Kohlberg’s findings do not represent distorted data, but rather the incredible coincidence that all people, on some level, are inherently similar.It would be unfair to try to enforce the ideas that come with Kohlbergian justice without also defending Carol Gilligan’s theme of caring. Therefore, I would like to address three criticisms: the paradox of self-care, the idea that care is a regressive movement, and finally, the seemingly huge jump from stage one to two.I personally find the self-care characteristic of caring to be the most interesting to discuss. During class sessions, everyone seemed most interested with this perspective. It seems as though it is the ethical issue that plagues society. Where does the balance lie between seeking to fulfill one’s own interests, and meeting the requirements placed upon one by others? I believe that we all recognize a need to initialize and solidify a healthy caring for oneself before it is possible to be outwardly caring for others. However, the way that this method is proposed makes it appear as though it might be a cop-out. My perspective comes from the fact that there is no really appropriate way to show self-care without seeming self-centered. No matter how little one dedicates to oneself, no matter what the circumstances, someone will see it as too much. Yet, there is no effective way to show compassion, respect, or contentment with the outside world without first developing all of these attributes within oneself. When constructing this self-persona, the goal is not to become conceited, but rather to develop a foundation upon which more complex interactions can be constructed. Of course, any well intentioned act can be construed into something that it is not. I truly believe that this is the case when critiquing self-care.I would also like to argue that self-care as a whole is not what it seems to be, nor is it what it’s name implies. Rather, it is a competence at a certain level personal and societal development. At earlier times in one’s life, the easiest way to contribute to surroundings is to not harm them. For instance, it would not be expected of a toddler to assist in the preparation of dinner. The best that he could hope to do is not destroy anything! At this level of development adequacy is defined by not harming something, not necessarily working towards it’s betterment. So, caring for oneself is not self-centered at all, it is the best method available. By caring for oneself, you are bettering your personal situation. In turn, this improves the quality of not only your life, but those around you. You are more presentable, easier to associate with, and more productive. With my previous point in mind, I would like to move onto the idea that the levels of caring are actually a regression from previous stages. This assumption comes from comparisons of Kohlbergian stage three attributes, with that of Gilligan’s care stages. Stage three (Kohlberg) seems to represent the “Prince Valiant” of personalities. One should work towards becoming a better person, fulfill societal requirements, forgive transgressions, and exhibit constant unadulterated pacifism. It truly seems to be a noble individual, the likes of which exist only in fairy tales and fantasy novels. Stage one of caring then comes along, representing a more introspective, self-interested individual. This new person is very afraid of hurt from others, and does everything within his/her power to avoid it. In fact, this includes not reaching out to others in any way, so that there is no chance of being scarred. It seems as though this is an almost childish, selfish response to harsh reality. But reality is the point! Reality does not allow for Prince Valiant to be effective. Instead, he is abused, stepped on, and taken for granted. These are not exactly prime rewards for someone who is dedicated to being a good person and helping others. However, this raises a conflicting point, when we now consider that society’s mistreatment of people leads them to lose their faith. So all people must be inherently abusive, right? I should hope not, but rather, that it is a case of poor timing. Granted, there will be cases where people are, in fact, not “role models”. They will be non-supportive, destructive, and frustrating. From personal experience (and thereby bias), I find that most people are not evil, but just not at the same stage. Everyone can remember back to grammar and middle school, where children are not only non-supportive, but cruel and incredibly hurtful. As they grow older, these characteristics disappear. In the meantime, however, they are busy dismantling the nave nobility of stage three. If, somehow, all people could be raised to the same levels at the same time, there is a chance we would never see the desensitizing that we do. So, it is not a regression, but a move forward, a better ability to deal with the real world.Finally, one of the biggest critiques of the caring system is the difference between the first and second stages. While stage one has been criticized for being a regression, stage two has been attacked for being a quantum leap from stage one. The morals and guiding themes of stage two are so diametrically different from that of stage one, that it seems almost an impossible move. Also, there is an argument that stage two admits that stage one was a regression, stage two merely brings us back up to par.Stage two, admittedly, is a huge step in personal thinking. Instead of the self-centered, protective nature of stage one, stage two is predicated on self-sacrifice, maternal instincts, and maintaining peace. To me, this is not a step back up to a stage that was lost during a stage one regression, but an incredibly comprehensive step forward. The key is that this stage does not even attack the same issues in a similar way. Rather, it depends upon using oneself as a tool to show interest and caring for others. In terms of conflicting views, this could be the most impressive point towards unifying them. Some view this entire stage as a complete change of heart, throwing out all ideals and starting anew. Instead of looking at it with the previous stage’s perspective, the way to attack this is to recognize that this way of thinking is an entirely new strategy.(The next section is assuming that one would naturally move from a Kohlbergian stage three to Gilligan’s stage one). Stage three was nice, but too nice. It allowed too many opportunities for those who did not share stage three to abuse someone who does. It was obviously inadequate. So, instead of rashly charging into a different mindset, one takes time to “rebuild the foundation” (Gilligan stage one). With a new base to build upon, one can put together another plan of attack. Those undeniable human goals are still there, it is just a matter of coming up with a good system to accomplish them. At stage two, with the scars of inefficient methods still showing, one can try to develop a new system that is comparable to all previous attempts, but slightly better. If hurt significantly by stage three’s inability to deal with conflict, caring stage two may not come about until much later. Stage one is a healing process that leads to a new outlook, and a greater ability to deal with the problems that plagued stage three. It seems silly to assume that people develop by trial and error, but I would like to meet the person who hasn’t! Everyone makes bad decisions, then tries to make sure that those events do not repeat themselves. This idea is integral to the stage two leap. Part Two: Integration of Care and JusticeThe major point of this part of the paper is to hypothesize and analyze Kohlberg’s stage three and four, along with the transition between the two. From what I have gathered from the assignment, the goal is to reanalyze both the stages, show their adequacies and inadequacies, then integrate the two to form a stronger quasi-stage four. I have discussed the stage three to four “regression” in the first part of my paper, but this segment will be more dedicated to the integration of the stage’s details, rather than the blatant defense of the perspective. My first job will be to show stage three’s adequacies. Stage three is a personification of what we all wish we could be. Noble, strong, and almost saintly, it represents all of the qualities that everyone wants to possess. The stage is almost entirely based upon the idea that all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of the previous actions, or outward complexion. I find that the word “faith” seems the best to describe this stage. Faith in people around you, and in their motives. However, some of the shortfalls of stage three are very aptly listed in the handout packet. It can be indeterminate, arbitrary, idealistic, indecisive, and localized. Indeterminacy has it’s root in the enactment of the “golden rule”. It seems so simple and easy to discuss, but in practice, it’s execution is questionable. “Do unto others as you would wish them to do to you.” But why does that indicate that it is the right choice? Isn’t it a matter of personal preference? Suppose I enjoy being beaten with a bat! Does that give me the right to do it to someone else? This rule assumes that all people share the same interests, likes, and dislikes. If the entire population has an aversion to physical harm, then this rule will work. However, can’t an assailant justify his actions by proving that he enjoys physical harm? Although morally enticing, the golden rule does not set down concrete guidelines that should mold people’s behavior. Localization and the in-group also propose a significant criticism of this view. Stage three almost mandates that those people who surround you are the most important in the world. One should fulfill their obligations to the in-group above and beyond all others. In other words, you must desensitize yourself to the rest of the world’s problems, and just deal with those that involve your direct family. How in the world can this be considered a moral competence? You are selecting those people for whom you will show compassion and caring, and excluding others by rule. Unfortunately, stage three has no allowance for integrating the social contract into moral development. Instead, it totally excludes it with this in-group system. To close this point, I would like to raise the hypothesis that stage three is theoretically the best stage that can be achieved. It assumes that people are moral by nature, and with a little guidance, can show this in their treatment of others. The assumption is made that regardless of perspective, there are undeniable rights and respects that every human deserves. No matter what the priorities of each individual, they will not infringe upon the rights of others. However, in practice it is simply not effective. Based upon the competence achieved up until the stage three level, it seems the best policy of interaction. But in practice, it stinks!. It just does not function on a level that would allow it to be the predominant method for interpersonal relations and ethical decision-making. The system is based upon trust and values, neither of which people tend to put much faith into. Stage four remedies many of the stage three inadequacies with the introduction and assimilation of a social contract. Many of the same ideas from stage three remain, given new functionality and definition. For instance, the golden rule has been replaced with social reciprocity, the idea that merit is given to good citizens. The social system itself takes over as the primary guiding focus of the people. Because of this new agreed upon social contract, the holes of stage three have been filled. There is no longer the indecisive, abstract nature of the previous stage, because a contract has been agreed upon by the masses. Not every little niche of the policy agrees with every person, but for the most part, it holds the beliefs of the population. A certain “golden rule” has been put into place, with designated actions that warrant punishment. If you do this, you will be punished accordingly. There is no chance for arbitration (although one is able to change the system itself, or prove their innocence through the proper channels). Rules have been set down, agreed upon, and now enforced. At the same time, the localization of stage three has also been removed. The system that works to enforce this “new golden rule” has to be agreed upon by all people. It’s flavor may change slightly from region to region, but generally, they must all follow the same guidelines. So, just to achieve stage four we must banish the localization of stage three. Personal priorities then follow the system. Instead of prioritizing the in-group above all others, a new conglomerate is formed of everyone’s in-groups into one society. The survival of that society is supreme, since it is the chosen protector of all these familial microcosms. Laws, rules and regulations take over for individualistic judgement, helping to herd everyone into the proper behavior.With this new system, we obviously lose some of the aspects of stage three that were most attractive. We no longer have the family dedicated, honor above-all-else person that we did in the previous stage. He has been replaced with someone who is now, at best, a law abiding citizen. The principles of stage three have been incorporated, though not fully, into the pragmatism of stage four. For instance, a lawless or unconventional act that would not have been tolerated at stage three would be ignored at stage four so that the integrity of the social system would not be compromised. We lose the hardcore justice orientation, and replace it with a more flexible society-inclusive system. Increasing the size of anything to encompass more increases it’s complexity. Complexity means that this system is not only hard to maintain, but increasingly slow to acquiesce to the changing needs of the people. It takes a lot of time to change an entire society’s interpretations. Status-quo stagnation occurs very quickly, and reform seemingly takes forever. So, imagine that we could take stage four, plop in into a blender, add some stage three, and come out with an even better system. What would we do? This is the next question to be addressed. Looking at stage three’s and stage four’s adequacies and areas of lacking, we need to incorporate pieces of both into an entirely new system. The real goal is to somehow take stage three’s interpersonal nobility and faith, and give them to a stage four person. At the same time, we do not want to undermine the societal interactiveness of stage four! I believe that what we end up with is the theoretical model of a democracy. For instance, we take stage four’s society agreed upon contract (assuming that it is somewhat noble, as opposed to something from the Third Reich). We now assume that an act has been committed that borders between criminality and unconventionalism. How could we approach this? Stage three says: “If it isn’t a threat to my immediate person, or those who surround me, then don’t worry about it.” Stage four would reply: “What of it’s effect on the social system, is it against the law?” What we really need to do is combine the two perspectives. If this act is first viewed to warrant public action (an arrest, trial, or hearing), then that should be the course of action. It is what takes place next that is very important. During the proceedings, each and every person must come to terms with it in their own way. They must decide if it is destructive, constructive, or indifferent. As a group, they must decide on the best course of action. This way we have incorporated the individualistic judgement and nobility of each person and fused it with societal administration. In addition, we have allowed each person to place part of their own golden rule interpretation into the system. By carefully combining the features of two very different stages, we have come up with a system that is better suited to meeting the needs of a population. Unfortunately, it was invented hundreds of years ago, and implemented in the United States Constitution. Granted, it does not work perfectly, but it seems a suitable compromise when considering the alternatives. It may be a slow process, and one that can be abused to fit one’s needs, but it is the only one that incorporates the individual into the molding of the system. The final part of this paper will be dedicated to the combination of two very different arenas of thought, the moral development paths of justice and care. Some have argued for and against each, some have argued for and against both. What we will try to do is to build an entirely new moral system on the strengths of these two. Theoretically, we should come up with a super-competent solution, one that is better than the two individually. Rather than try to develop this step by step and point by point (which would be intolerable after about the second line), I’d like to just give my interpretation of what the final product would look like. One note: the most that can be possibly asked of any person in any system is that they give 100 percent all the time. Therefore, any theorizing that we do is subject to the fact that people only have the resources to accomplish certain things. To combine the best features of two diametrically different institutions of thought we have to first identify what those features are. Kohlbergian justice is the pragmatic, society oriented variety that is admittedly dedicated to preserving social systems. Gilligan’s caring is predicated on good interaction between people. Although they sound like they might be trying to achieve the same things, they are going at it in two separate ways. Kohlberg wants to invent a system by which all people know what is expected of them. Rules are proposed, agreed upon, set down, and enforced. Each and every person knows what is appropriate behavior. Even at stage five, the supposed highest known stage of Kohlberg’s development, the society rates very high. There may be different ways to approach running a society, but there is no question that there must be something running it. Gilligan seems to agree that people need rules by which they can relate to one another. However, she seems to delve deeper into the actual motivations of those rules. While obeying the regulations of society, you must also show some sort of compassion and caring for other people. As a trivial example, Kohlberg’s system would say that it was rude to interrupt someone who is speaking. Gilligan would say that merely not interrupting is not adequate. Instead, you must show interest in what that person is trying to say. You must somehow relate with the speaker on some level. In doing so, you not only draw more from his words, but you show that you can identify with him. Another feature of Gilligan’s work that I feel should be integrated into the justice theme is that of self-care. When put down in words it seems somewhat egotistical and self-centered. Kohlberg would be interested in self-care only if it contributed to maintaining society. But balancing the needs of the many, and the needs of the few is the hardest part about effectively administering any group of people. Some individuals will have very menial needs, others will say they require luxuries. The key is to provide a method by which all people can fulfill those needs. Self-care will differ significantly between even similar people. So, rather than trying to meet their needs outright, it is better to just provide a chance by which they can provide for themselves. Thus achieving a balance between self-care and still allotted care for others. (I know, I’m drawing the democracy parallelism again, sorry!) Kohlberg provides us with the minimal framework by which regulations maintain the necessities of people. If his guidelines are followed, it can be said that everyone who lives by them will be at least partially satisfied. Gilligan, on the other hand, shows us that there is a much deeper level to which we can all aspire. Putting effort into everyday interaction, from talking to listening, can greatly enhance every experience. In doing so, we are not only improving the quality of our own lives, but also the lives of those we interact with. Another aspect of caring that I would like to bring into the “justice world” is included in level three, the highest level of caring. It states that there are absolutely no black or white issues. What might be correct for one person, is not necessarily the same for another. This would fill a huge hole in the Kohlberg moral development system. Justice is largely criticized because it “forces” everyone into a social group. It then slaps some rules down, and expects that they are applicable to everyone. Gilligan states that this is not true, but rather, everything is a shade of gray. Be careful though! This does not mean that rules are now not applicable to anyone. Rather, it states that we must use our judgement when considering transgressions of the law. There may be special circumstances that need to be addressed. Finally, Kohlberg’s critics have said that stage five is too arbitrary. It is not easy to tell exactly how much one owes to the social contract, or what to do with people who do not necessarily agree with it. Gilligan would argue that there is a way to resolve this conflict of interests through dialogue, attention, and compromise. Where Kohlberg’s system leave opportunity for arbitration, Gilligan’s says that there is no need. Instead of giving people a hard set of rules to live by, or demanding their surrender to a contract, we could talk to them individually and address the situation. At the same time, justice maintains that there are undeniable rules that must be obeyed. So, we are combining the best of both worlds. Using Kohlberg’s justice orientation, we are guaranteeing the sanctity of all those who have already agreed to the social contract. Concurrently, we’re taking it upon ourselves to listen to a non-supportive person, and possibly come to a small compromise to fit their needs. In conclusion, it seems that there is definitely a way to combine the Kohlberg justice theme and the Gilligan caring theme of moral development. Mr. Kohlberg provides a method to police a society that does not include 100 percent utopian citizens. Ms. Gilligan gives us the ability to relate to each and every person, as a person. She indicates ways that we can identify with their perspectives, understand their needs, and compromise. Although the real world seems infinitely more complex than either of these models, they bear a frightening resemblance to real societies and real people. Maybe someday, a perfect model will be constructed, judged by a perfect path of moral development. Until then, I hope that I have found a good combination of these two ideas. One last side note: I think I could spend weeks typing a paper on this subject. There are thousands of facets of each system that could fit into the other’s potential flaws. However, I think I’ve been long-winded enough as it is. I have tried to make my points as succinct and reasonable as possible, but without sacrificing exactly what I wanted to say. Thank you for your patience.