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  July 8, 2012                  
Crisis: Kohlberg on moral stages


   "Enjoy and give pleasure, without doing harm to yourself or to anyone else - that, I think, is the whole of morality."
  "If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, 'to every good work reprobate.' "
   -- Hazlitt + Heidelberger Katechismus

This is one of two Nederlogs for today (I hope), of which this is the first, which is copied from the Kohlberg-file in ME in Amsterdam,
where I used it first 21 years ago, because it seemed to me to explain a lot that had happened to me, in Amsterdam, by implication, at least.

And completely apart from explaining much about the causes of my many and long pains since 21 years,
Kohlberg's theory of moral stages explains a lot about human degeneracy and beastliness, that were part of the subject of the earlier files in July 2012 in the Crisis series:
These quotes come from page 80-1 of Hilgard, Atkinson & Atkinson's "Introduction to Psychology" (a textbook that was widely used in universities in the 1980ies) and concern Kohlberg's (<- Wikipedia) ideas about the stages of moral development (<- Wikipedia).

The first quote is a table, and the rest accompanying text from the source I mentioned:

Stages in the development of moral values



Level I. Premoral


1. Punishment and obedience orientation

Obeys rules in order to avoid punishment

2. Naive instrumental hedonism

Conforms to obtain rewards, to have favors returned.

Level II. Morality of conventional role-conformity

3. "Good-boy" morality of maintaining good relations, approval of others.

Conforms to avoid disapproval, maintaining good relations, dislike by others.

4. Authority maintaining morality.

Conforms to avoid censure by legitimate authorities, with resultant guilt

Level III. Morality of self-accepted moral principles

5. Morality of contract, of individual rights, and of democratically accepted law.

Conforms to maintain the respect of the impartial spectator judging in terms of community welfare.

6. Morality of individual principles and conscience.

Conforms to avoid self-condemnation.

"Kohlberg's studies indicate that the moral judgments of children who are seven and younger are predominantly at Level I - actions are evaluated in terms of whether they avoid punishment or lead to rewards. By age 13, a majority of the moral dilemmas are resolved at Level II - actions are evaluated in terms of maintaining a good image in the eyes of other people. This is the level of conventional morality. In the first stage at this level (Stage 3) one seeks approval by being "nice"; this orientation expands in the next stage (Stage 4) to include "doing one's duty", showing respect for authority, and conforming to the social order in which one is raised.

According to Kohlberg, many individuals never progress beyond Level II. He sees the stages of moral development as closely tied to Piaget's stages of cognitive development, and only if a person has achieved the later stages of formal operational thought is he capable of the kind of abstract thinking necessary for postconventional morality at Level III. The highest stage of moral development (Level III, stage 6) requires formulating abstract ethical principles and conforming to them to avoid self-condemnation. Kohlberg reports that less than 10 percent of his subjects over age 16 show (...) kind of "clear-principled" Stage 6 thinking (...)"

"Kohlberg describes the child as a "moral philosopher" who develops moral standards of his own; these standards do not necessarily come from parents or peers but emerge from the cognitive interaction of the child with his social environment. Movement from one stage to the next involves an internal cognitive reorganization rather than a simple acquisition of the moral concepts prevalent in his culture."

"Kohlberg claims that moral thought and moral action are closely related. For proof he cites a study in which college students were given an opportunity to cheat on a test. Only 11 percent of those who reached Level III on the moral dilemmas test cheated. In contrast, 42 percent of the students at the lower levels of moral judgement ceated (...)".

I agree with Kohlberg, except that my own estimate about the proportions is perhaps a bit more pessimistic:
Then again, my own estimate was not based on experiments in social or cognitive psychology but only generalizes my own extensive experiences, as someone who had the courage not to pretend to be the same as everybody else, and the courage to oppose the destruction of Dutch education, that happened step by step, from 1965 to 2005, and now allows Dutchmen who would not have been able to finish a highschool in 1965, to become professor of psychology from 1995 onwards, all in the name of democracy, equality and equivalence of all. (*)

In any case, and regardless of the precise proportions, it is very likely that Kohlberg is right that at most 10% of human beings reach his level III (beyond the planet of the apes, for those needing moral guidance)- which does explain the prevalence of man's inhumanity to man, and Gibbon's and Chamfort's observations:

"History is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind"

"Presque toute l'Histoire n'est qu'une suite d'horreurs."

(*) This did not just happen in Holland - it happened everywhere in the West, that thus destroyed the very basis of its prominence and wealth, namely a highly educated adult population, that is, a population that allowed the intellectually most gifted 2-5% of its population to develop their talents in a university, thus enabling the nation to develop scientific technology on a high intellectual level, since it had the highly trained talent to do so.

And as happened in Holland, the main reason the destruction of the universities and higher education was pursued fanatically by democratic majorities of intellectually ungifted activitsts, in the name of equality: It was considered unfair - immoral, unjust, fascist, elitarian - to exclude the talentless, the lazy, the careerists, and especially the democratic majority, from "the right" to obtain an academic degree.

And while when I studied, the average IQ of students in the university where I studied was 115, which in 1965 was not enough to finish a high school or grammar school that allowed on to enter a university, by the time the new millenium arrived 
the average IQ of students in that same university seems to be hardly higher than 100, simply because these days nearly 50% of the 20 year olds attends - what are called - "a university" or "a college", and they nearly all get a degree in 3 or 4 years, that gives them and most of the population the illusion that they are intelligent and highly educated.

See my Mandarins with an IQ of 115, meanwhile 24 years old, and completely, and very bitterly, vindicated by what happened since then in the Dutch universities, in Dutch schools, and in Dutch politics:

ME+ me : Why my family was in The Dutch Resistance  in WW II a.k.a.
                                                  Dutch Norms And Values                       a.k.a.
                                     If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much                 a.k.a.
                                         A Real Dutch Treat

Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A  space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.


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