Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

What is meant by postconventional morality?

The third and final level is called postconventional morality. This level contains stages 5 and 6, which are termed social contract and individual rights and universal principles, respectively. In these stages, the person is interested in abstract concepts of justice and a just society. At stage 5, the person recognizes the necessity for social rules and laws, but also recognizes that laws themselves can be unjust. Therefore, there are times that a moral act may not be a legal act. At stage 6, the person considers the importance of abstract, universal principles of justice and believes that laws should be subordinate to general moral principles. For example the value of a human life should outweigh the law protecting private property. In his later research, Kohlberg abandoned stage 6, saying that too few people actually reached this stage.


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