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Kohlberg's theory of moral development: insights into rights reasoning

Kohlberg's theory of moral development: insights into rights reasoning

Medicine and Law 19(3): 351-372

Kohlberg's theory of moral development was based on extensive research done on the reactions of people of all ages to specific moral situational dilemmas. Kohlberg was specifically interested in reasoning processes involved in decision-making. The way in which children perceive their rights is also based on reasoning processes that are inextricably linked to their level of development and more specifically to their level of moral development since the area of human rights can be considered essentially moral. Since Kohlberg's theory is primarily concerned with development, a great deal of insight can be gained into the developmental shift that occurs in children's reasoning about the rights to which they feel they should be entitled. This article focuses on Kohlberg's six-stage theory, specifically as it pertains to reasoning processes similar to those that would be used in rights reasoning. At each stage the authors propose a potential view of how children at each developmental stage might perceive their rights based on the description Kohlberg gives of the developmental trends associated with each stage. A critical assessment of Kohlberg's work is also given in order to highlight certain considerations about the limitations of this theory that need to be considered for future research.

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Accession: 046508873

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PMID: 11143871

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