The Ethical Decision-Making Framework

Lawrence Kohlberg’s contribution to psychology cannot be underestimated. His development of Jean Piaget’s theory gives an insight to the world of ethics within the business world. In his theory, he specifies six stages that can be classified into three major categories. The categories include the pre-conventional level, the conventional level and the post-conventional level. In the pre-conventional level, the two stages include obedience and punishment orientation and self-interest orientation. At this point, one avoids an unethical act because of the likely punishment and his personal viewpoint as to what benefit it would be.

The second level includes the conventional level which involves an individual’s conformity to interpersonal relation and accord. This includes the norms of the society and the person’s attitude towards being good or bad boy. This stage also involves the individual’s desire to maintain the social order and obey the laws of society. Finally, Kohlberg identifies the post-conventional level which involves a person’s consideration of his rights and the social contract quo. The second level of this stage involves the identification of the highest level from which justice can be achieved. This goes beyond the society from which he lives.

There is great implication of this model on an individual’s decision-making process. In his model, he identifies personal and societal aspects that one considers before making a decision. However, the approach in the Western Culture and the Eastern cultures differ. While Westerners are brought up in environments where human rights are greatly advocated for, the Eastern side has the opposite. As a result, individuals from the West will base their decisions on all three levels including the post-conventional level which goes beyond the society within which the individual lives.

Contrary to this, Eastern justice is which is characterized by little human rights observation and totalitarian states where universal rules and other levels of justice that are beyond the state cannot be recognized. Individuals will therefore be forced to make their decisions based on the first and second levels of Kohlberg’s model.

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