Universal Moral Principle and Wisdom

Sourses: Kohlberg moral development, Positive Psychology’s Foundation: Kohlberg and Moral Development.

Wisdom is one of the six virtues described by positive psychology along with justice, courage, and others. Wisdom can be perceived as the ability to follow inner moral principles and to apply these principles even if they contradict the social norms and laws. The concept of the can is reflected in Kolberg’s stages of moral development, compared to its last stage, as it includes a range of internalized qualities defining a person’s actions.

At the pre-conventional level, people act considering the direct consequences of their actions, such as punishment. Moral judgment is performed outside, and the person is oriented toward his egoistic interests. This level can be seen in children, but some adults act out of it as well. At the conventional stage, people act in a way that would allow them to seem a good person. People tend to follow social norms and to follow orders. At the third level, which is called post-conventional, people are directed by their own principles and understanding of good and bad. They may disobey the rules that are inconsistent with their own principles. People at this stage can have either social contract orientation, or follow universal ethical principles. Heinz’s dilemma is an example of the last stage, as Heinz has decided to steal the medicine in order to save the life of his wife.

According to Moss, wisdom is based on empathy and love toward others. It should be used to maximize the common good. Wisdom also includes such values as intelligence, love, and fairness which allow the person to achieve the good for themselves and for other people. Thus, wisdom can be seen as the last stage of Kolberg’s stage, as wise actions are based on the internal qualities of a person and the ability to recognize the most ethical and effective actions for each particular situation.

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