“Research a significant historical event that presented an ethical issue.”5-page response that includes the following:
Describe the ethical dilemma you found in your research
Analyze how the dilemma was addressed
Explain whether the response was adequate and justify your explanation
Describe implications moving forward
Be sure to reference all resourcesAPA FormatVery helpful references: Neuroethics & the Trolley DilemmaA five-minute introduction to an intriguing moral problem and what it tells us about how we decide what is right and what is wrong.Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes (on youtube)http://moralmachine.mit.edu/Other aids:Public Service Ethics: Individual and Institutional ResponsibilitiesChapter 3, “Values, Ethics, and Dilemmas” (pp. 41-57)Chapter 4, “Moral Development Theory” (pp. 58-74)Bowman, J. S., & West, J. P. (2015).Blind SpotsChapter 2, “Why Traditional Approaches to Ethics Won’t Save You” (pp. 24-37)Bazerman, M., & Tenbrunsel, A. (2011).To Serve with Honor: Doing the Right Thing in GovernmentChapter 2, “Is There an Ethics Issue and Are You Responsible for Addressing It?” (pp. 22-31)Newell, T. (2015).https://www.huffpost.com/entry/are-we-all-potentia…Damon Horowitz: We need a “moral operating system”Damon Horowitz reviews the enormous new powers that technology gives us: to know more — and more about each other — than ever before. Drawing the audience into a philosophical discussion, Horowitz invites us to pay new attention to the basic philosophy — the ethical principles — behind the burst of invention remaking our world. Where’s the moral operating system that allows us to make sense of it?Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 16 minutesPhilip Zimbardo: The Psychology of EvilPhilip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge.Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 23 minutes
Human Morality – Marc Hauser – 1
This is the first part of an edited lecture by Marc Hauser. It moves from various philosophical theories of morality to social science research into moral dilemmas, leading up to the Trolley Problem.Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 6 minutesHuman Morality – Marc Hauser – 2This is the second part of an edited version of Marc Hauser’s lecture on human moral psychology.



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Moral Development Theory
James S. Bowman
Florida State University
Jonathan P. West
University of Miami
“The perfecting of one’s self is the fundamental
base of all progress and all moral development”
Approaches to Ethics
Approaches to Ethics
• Cognitive intuition
• Ethical infrastructure
• Social intuition
• Corruption control
This chapter focuses on an inclusive and hierarchical theory of
moral development that can be applied both to individuals and
organizations: Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory.
Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory
• The leading theory of moral development was
formulated by Lawrence Kohlberg
• Kohlberg posited that people may mature morally by
moving from stage to stage in each of three levels,
although they may stop progressing at any time
• Level 1: Stages 1 and 2 constitute pre-conventional
• Level 2: Stages 3 and 4 reflect conventional morality
• Level 3: Stages 5 and 6 represent post-conventional
• Kohlberg argues that most people reason at the
“conventional” level
Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory
Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory
• Kohlberg built on the work of Jean Piaget, developing an
empirically-based moral development theory based
solely on moral reasoning
• For Kohlberg, the levels at which people operate when
confronting moral issues may vary as they pass through
different phases of their lives
• Children, adolescents and some adults may predominate
at the pre-conventional level, while most of the adult
population operates at the conventional level, and a
much smaller percentage reach the post-conventional
• Upward movement from lower to higher stages in the
hierarchy can occur through a maturation process that
leads to a more sophisticated and complex
understanding of ethical problems and solutions
Level 1:
Pre-Conventional Morality
• Stage 1 is characterized by a punishment and obedience
orientation, wherein obedience is linked to externallyimposed punishment, deference to power, fear of pain or
loss of love. Morality is determined by avoiding
punishment and receiving rewards
• Stage 2 is characterized by instrumentalism and deal
making with negotiated exchanges of favors for personal
benefit (“you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”).
Morality is seen as advancing self-interest and honoring
Level 2:
Conventional Morality
• Stage 3 highlights the approval of others (family, friends,
co-workers) as a determinant of behavior. Living up to
the expectations of others (the childhood desire to be a
“good boy/nice girl”) and winning the acceptance and
approval of one’s social group is a primary value
• Stage 4 emphasizes compliance with laws, policies and
legitimate authorities. Orientations focus on complying
with authority, doing one’s duty and maintaining social
• Reasoning at level 2 is conventional and not critical,
responding to pressures to conform to accepted
expectations, standards and rules
Level 3:
Post-Conventional Morality
• Stage 5 gives emphasis to due process, individual rights
and social consensus. Cognition at the fifth stage can
lead to challenges to legitimate authority
• Critical reflection, independence of mind, and a more
impartial view are evident
• Stage 6 is grounded in universal ethical principles,
wherein right actions are determined based on individual
conscience and commitments to abstract concepts such
as justice, care, and freedom
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development with
Behavioral Orientation
Outside Group
1. Punishment &
2. InstrumentalRelativistic
3. Good boy –
Nice girl
Inside Group
4. Law & Order
5. Social
Above Group
6. UniversalEthical
1. Avoid
defer to power
2. Satisfaction of
own needs
3. That which
4. Duty,
maintenance of
social order
5. In terms of
individual rights,
free agreement
6. Choice of
ethical principles
1. Physical
consequence of
2. Human
relations are like
a marketplace
3. Majority or
4. Authority &
fixed rules of
5. Constitutional
/ democratic
agreement, social
6. Universal
justice, human
Kohlberg’s Process
• Kohlberg posed case dilemmas to his research subjects,
asking them what they would do in such a situation.
However, he was less interested in their answers than in
their response to a second question: Why? He was
interested in the moral reasoning subjects used in
addressing the issue. Kohlberg’s question was why do
people behave in certain ways at each level of moral
• Kohlberg’s theory of cognitive moral development grew
out of the recorded responses to such hypotheticals
posed to different respondent groups
Kohlberg’s Process
• A well-known case used by Kohlberg involved a man,
Heinz, who had to decide whether to steal a drug he
can’t afford but that would save the life of his ailing
• Kohlberg observed variation in the way people
reacted to, interpreted, and dealt with Heinz’s and
other dilemmas
• The contemporary hypothetical case an ethically
challenging situation confronting military Private X
illustrates the varied thought processes using
Kohlberg’s three-level, six-stage schema
Case Study:
Level 1 Pre-Conventional Responses
A low ranking military serviceman (Private X) is ordered to
kill innocent civilians by his superior (albeit, crazed) officer.
How might the Private analyze his ethical requirements?
Stage 1: Comply with stated rules out of fear of
Stage 2: Affirm loyalty to peer group by conforming to
norms of other soldiers who will follow the given orders
(gratification from belonging)
Case Study:
Level 2 Conventional Responses
A low ranking military serviceman (Private X) is ordered to
kill innocent civilians by his superior (albeit, crazed) officer.
How might the Private analyze his ethical requirements?
Stage 3: Do what the Lieutenant and the other men
Stage 4: Obedience to directive from superior
Case Study:
Level 3 Post-Conventional Responses
A low ranking military serviceman (Private X) is ordered to
kill innocent civilians by his superior (albeit, crazed) officer.
How might the Private analyze his ethical requirements?
Stage 5: Reliance on own standards of social responsibility,
and knowledge that it is not moral to follow an illegitimate
Stage 6: Host of abstract ideas that, based on personal
morality, provide guidance toward dissention
Challenges to Kohlberg’s Theory
• Kohlberg’s presumption that careful moral reasoning affects
one’s ethical perspective, and that moral judgment has
cognitive features has been challenged on many fronts:
• Narrow focus on moral judgment
• Inattention to conflict of interest or confidentiality
• insufficient evidence of post-conventional thinking
• Over emphasis on macro- and under emphasis on micromorality
• Hard “staircase” approach to stage development
• Undue reliance on verbal responses
• Suggesting higher stages are morally preferable to lower
• Restriction of samples to males
Gender Differences
• Carol Gilligan, a student of Kohlberg, finds that while men may
pass through the developmental stages as described, the
moral thinking patterns of women are not the same
• The “male” approach to ethics is to address moral issues using
“impersonal, impartial, and abstract moral rules,” relying on
principles of justice and rights that Kohlberg associates with
post-conventional thinking
• Gilligan’s research identifies alternative “female” approach
wherein subjects see themselves as “part of a ‘web’ of
relationships with family and friends,” which gives emphasis
to addressing moral issues stressing “sustaining these
relationships, avoiding hurt to others…and caring for their
well being”
• Gilligan’s work suggests the need to be cautious in making
blanket generalizations about moral development
Classical Laboratory Trials
• Stanley Milgram’s “shock” experiment and Philip Zimbardo’s
Stanford prison experiment expanded Kohlberg’s theory of
moral development
• Milgram’s objective is to discover conditions under which people
would defy authority to honor the moral imperative not to inflict
harm on a helpless individual
• Two individuals are taken to a room where one (the “learner”) is
strapped in a chair and an electrode is placed on his arm. The
other (the “teacher”) is taken to an adjoining room where she
reads word pairs and asks the learner to read them back
• If the learner gets the answer correct, then they move on to the
next word pair. If the answer is incorrect, the teacher shocks the
learner, starting at 15 volts and gradually going up to 450 volts in
15 volt increments
Milgram’s Experiment
• Although the teachers believed they were administering
shocks, the learners were Milgram’s confederates and were
not harmed
• Psychiatrists, students, and middle-class adults interviewed by
Milgram prior to the experiment all predicted that only a
lunatic fringe, perhaps one in 1000 people, would go all the
way and administer 450 volts
• The experiment was conducted with 1000 individuals aged
20-50 from various walks of life
• 62% of “teachers” went to 450 volts; few meaningful
demographic variables were associated with obedience
• The key relationship was not between teacher and learner but
between teacher and experimenter—whether or not the
teacher would obey Milgram, who relied solely on verbal
Implications of Milgram’s Experiment
• It matters less the kind of person one is than the type of
situation s/he is confronted with that determines how a
person will act
• People can become an instrument of organizational
authority in the presence of an authority and may be
unable to free themselves from it
• Participants who carried out their tasks were dominated
by an administrative, rather than a moral, outlook. They
were a component of a system, “just doing their job” and
not autonomous individuals
• It is psychologically easy to ignore responsibility when
one is only an intermediate link in a chain of action
Implications of Milgram’s Experiment
• The participants were not perverted or sadistic. One critic
notes they were nothing more than “desk murderers” unable
to balance the two components of being a professional:
technical and ethical competence
• A professional cannot make moral decisions solely from the
self-interested Level One perspective
• The Level Two perspective may be inadequate because some
social roles are unjust (e.g., officials in the Jim Crow American
South and Nazi doctors)
• Level Three reasoning checks abuse of one’s skills for either
one’s own advantage or for the advantage of one’s social
Milgram’s Experiment and the
• The task of professionalism is not to eliminate self or
group interest, but to balance them in light of a higher
claim of human dignity
• Professional life requires a conscious commitment to
both the technical and moral standards of excellence
Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment

Philip Zimbardo investigated the pressures of social
conformity, arguing that situations can induce unexpected
responses to the extent that nearly any deed may be
committed by anyone
Milgram’s work emphasized short, one-on-one sessions,
whereas Zimbardo’s work involved the “total immersion” of
multiple subjects for six days and nights
In August of 1971, Zimbardo turned the basement of the
Stanford psychology department into a mock prison. 24
college students were arbitrarily assigned to roles as either
prisoner or guard by the flip of a coin
Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment
• Once they are arrested and processed, the prisoners are
stripped of all their clothing, given uniforms, and
identification numbers. Three small cells each housing
three of the nine total prisoners and a two-by-two closet
representing solitary confinement simulate harsh and
dehumanizing conditions
• The guards exert their power over the prisoners by
forcing them to endure physical activity when they
believe the prisoners have misbehaved
Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment
• The inmates began showing signs of emotional
distress to the point that one of them had to be
released. Soon the prisoners believed that they could
never leave the prison
• After only six days, Zimbardo had to call off his twoweek experiment because both the guards and
prisoners had completely fallen into their roles,
having forgotten reality and their personal identities
• He concluded individuals will subvert their ethics and
even their identities in pursuit of a task
Analysis of Experimental Findings
• Prime Time’s “The Science of Evil (ABC News, 2007) was a rare
replication of Milgram’s experiments conducted in
cooperation with Santa Clara University. Even though
participants were advised that deception was involved (the
only way the experiment could be legally redone), the findings
were similar to the original trials
• The common theme is that while people think that they know
how they would react to a given scenario, they often are
bewildered once they find themselves confronted with an
actual situation and submit to authority figures
• The results from the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments run
counter to Kohlberg’s findings that moral judgments are
settled upon by moral reasoning: clearly, contextual factors
influence behavior in moral dilemmas
Haidt’s Social Institutionalist Approach
• Kohlberg finds that moral judgments are settled upon
by moral reasoning and that reasoning progresses from
lesser to greater complexity in stages. Kohlberg’s
rationalism links morality to individual autonomy,
rights, and justice, while paying little attention to
authority, hierarchy and tradition
• Haidt views the dilemma (“Should Heinz steal a drug to
save his wife’s life?”) as one constructed by Kohlberg to
achieve an inevitable response: rational moral thinking
that involves weighing “concerns about harm and life
against concerns about law and property rights”
Haidt’s Social Institutionalist Approach
• Instead, Haidt chose a scenario involving a “taboo violation”
which would elicit a “gut reaction”:
A family’s dog is killed by a car in front of their house. They have
heard that dog meat is delicious, so they cut up the dog’s body
and cook it and eat it for dinner.
• Participants viewed consumption of dogs as wrong, but when
they were asked to explain why, they were flummoxed,
responding with explanations like, “I don’t know, I can’t
explain it, I just know”
• Haidt concluded that emotional reactions precede moral
judgments. Morality did not come primarily from moral
reasoning. Reasoning in these cases was simply an ex post
facto search for reasons to justify the judgments they had
already made
Social Institutionalism
• Haidt contends that two separate processes are at work in
thinking about ethics judgment (“seeing that”) and reasoning
why (describing how one reaches the judgment). According
to Haidt, Kohlberg neglected the “seeing that”
• In the Heinz dilemma, subjects can intuitively “see that”
stealing the drug to save his wife’s life was the preferred act
and that the case was constructed to enable good arguments
on both sides of the issue. In contrast, in the dog consumption
cases, strong gut feelings about right and wrong influence a
snap judgment that is later justified through moral reasoning
• For Haidt, ethical reasoning does not seem to play a decisive
role in formulating ethical judgments
Social Institutionalism
• Haidt maintains that rapid intuitive moral judgments
precede carefully reasoned justifications
• Haidt’s model is referred to as social intuitionist
approach, because in his work intuition is followed by
post hoc ethical reasoning
• According to Haidt, the primary purpose of ethical
reasoning is not to guide an individual to an ethical
judgment, but to provide support for an already held
ethical intuition
The Footbridge Dilemma
Footbridge dilemma: A runaway trolley can only be stopped from
killing 5 people by a by-stander pushing a heavy person off a
footbridge onto the tracks below. Would it be acceptable to
cause one death to save many?
• The dilemma is often used to contrast two cognitive schools of
thought regarding ethics: utilitarian and deontological theory
•Utilitarian theory seeks the greatest total good: push the man
off the bridge in order to save the lives of the five others,
assuming there is no other way to save their lives
•Deontological theory focuses on the duties we have to respect
individual lives and avoid harming others: pushing the man off
the bridge would be immoral and violate his rights
The Trolley Dilemma
• Most people respond to the footbridge dilemma by judging
the act of pushing the man off the bridge as ethically
unacceptable, justifying their judgment using deontological
arguments. Yet in the…
• …Trolley dilemma: A runaway trolley is racing toward 5
workmen standing on the trolley tracks. The men could be
saved if a switched were pulled to turn the trolley to a side
track where it would kill one person. Is it ethically
justifiable to pull the switch?
• Here the response of most people is that it is morally
justifiable. Believing that causing the death of five is worse
than killing one is a utilitarian justification focusing on
Implications of the Dilemmas
• Greene, Sommerville, Nystrom, Darley, & Cohen (2001)
suspected gut feelings led people to make deontological
judgments, while utilitarian judgments relied more on
• Absent the “bare-handed push” in the footbridge case, it was
possible in the trolley case to weigh the costs and benefits
and select the one that saved the five men
• Greene presented participants with the cases as they were
undergoing a MRI brain scan. He found that the portions of
the brain involved in emotional processing were immediately
activated, demonstrating a correlation between emotion and
moral decision making, offering support to the position of
social intuitionists about the central role of emotion
Moral Foundations Theory
• Haidt further finds the six stages of moral development to be
deficient because they reflect only a portion of a broader
domain of moral values
• Haidt’s ideas were influenced by Richard Schweder, a cultural
psychologist whose work criticized Kohlberg and rationalist
thinking on the grounds that Kohlberg’s theories were valid
only for individualistic cultures and not for others
• Shweder’s rival three ethics–autonomy, community, and
divinity—were found to have cross-cultural applicability
• Subsequent studies confirmed the same, leading to the six
foundations or intuitions of Moral Foundations Theory (MFT)
6 Foundations or Institutions of Moral
Foundations Theory
1. Care/harm empathizes with suffering and despises cruelty
2. Liberty/oppression opposes abuse of power, abhors tyranny,
and supports powerless groups
3. Fairness/cheating focuses on proportionality and people
getting their just deserts
4. Loyalty/betrayal helps to discern whether someone is or
isn’t a team player, and to reward loyal members of the team
while punishing those who betray us or others
5. Authority/subversion helps us discern rank or status and
whether people are behaving appropriately
6. Sanctity/degradation makes us sensitive to symbolic objects
or threats and makes it possible to give objects irrational
Enlarging the Scope of Morality
• Ko …
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