Free Level One: PRE-Conventional Morality Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Law, Ethics, Crime, Police, Morality, Society, Duty, Principles

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/11

Incorporating Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development into the Justice System

Incorporating Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development into the Justice System
Ethics in different professionals is a significant aspect that requires special considerations to uphold integrity, transparency and accountability. The justice system includes law enforcement that is one of the highly affected areas when it comes to ethics. Kohlberg developed a model that helps in understanding the levels of moral development. This model can be used in ensuring that professional ethics is upheld at all times in the line of duty (McLeod, 2011). Therefore, this paper discusses how Kohlberg’s stages of moral development can be incorporated into the justice system. To arrive at conclusions case analysis and the use of illustrations were used in respect to the topic of discussion

Part One

At this level, an individual is almost nine years old, nine years old or slightly above nine years old (McLeod, 2011). Such individuals do not have a code of morality; instead, their morality principle is defined by standards that are created by adults and the effects of either abiding by or breaking the standards. First, there is obedience and punishment orientation where the individuals remain good to avoid punishment. They are punished if they wrong. Secondly, there is individualism and exchange where the individuals understand that there is not only one right view that is bequeathed by authorities (McLeod, 2011). At the department, based on this level, it is applicable to punish only if found guilty. It is also excellent to define the standards by which guiltiness can be evaluated and the extent to which punishment is applicable.

Level Two: Conventional Morality

At this stage, individuals are mostly adolescents and adults. These individuals now begin to understand the standards that are valued by adult role models (McLeod, 2011). Individuals understand the existence of authority but, do not question it. Normally, individuals base their reasoning and understanding on the different groups they belong to. First, there is the good interpersonal relationships stage where the individual remains good so as to be seen as a good person. His/her answers are linked to the approval they receive from others. Secondly, there is the maintaining the social order stage, where the individual now is now aware and understands the societal rules and standards. Reasoning is based on the need to uphold the authority and keep away from being guilty. In a police departmental context, charges should be based on the extent to which an individual understand law and if they were aware of consequences of breaking law. An evaluation of the individual regarding their comprehension of societal laws should be done to establish the context within which the law was broken.

Level Three: Post-Conventional Morality

Individuals are mostly between 18 to 35 years old (McLeod, 2011). Their judgment is based on self-driven interests and principles. Individuals understand their moral rights and justices. First there is the Social contract and individual rights stage where individuals understand that rights exist for the good of the society and not the individual, hence, sometimes there is need to go against the interest of other people (McLeod, 2011). Secondly, there is the universal principles stage where individuals have created their moral principles that may or may not fit into existing laws. Individuals defend these principles in any way even if it means acting against the rest of the society. At the department, such individuals are treated based on the fact that they are wary of the existence of laws and consequences of breaking the.

Part Two

In the first stage, the officers need to assess the extent to which the individual understands law and its consequences. There is need to establish the age bracket of such individuals and base judgment on how they understand the existence of the law, the consequences of breaking it and the need to uphold it. For the second stage, individuals should be evaluated based on the fact that they understand the existence of the law and the need to uphold it. For instance, one can be questioned why they broke a certain law when they knew that it was wrong to do so. The last stage is barely reached according to Kohlberg (McLeod, 2011). However, officers nee to assess and individuals based on their quest to uphold their principles that may be against the law. Individuals should be treated as fully aware of the societal rules and that these rules have no exceptions.

Part Three

First of all, by using the theory of cultural relativism, which states that individual self-interests cannot override other people preferences, officers need to uphold the law by denying the pleasure factor. There are many incentives that officers receive which imply that it is unnecessary to take more in the form of corruption. Secondly, one should consider the consequences of corruption to the larger society before they can put self-interest ahead. For instance, if a drug baron intends to get away by bribing an officer, what the officer ought to think about is the consequences of letting the baron go for some amount of money. If the drug baron sells the drugs to school children, the whole society becomes spoilt dues to increased crime rates. However, if they are to put their self-interest behind, then the whole society will be cleansed of such crimes and, therefore, create a better future for the next generation.

Part Four

The first prima facie duty of a police officer is to exemplify non-maleficence. This is where police officers at all times, should not cause any form of harm (Stonemans, 2013). Police code of conduct upholds this duty stating that police officers should not use unnecessary force even if in a situation that requires force (Stonemans, 2013). Police officers should not behave in an inhumane nature or in a cruel manner that will cause harm.

Self Improvement

This is the duty of personal, professional capabilities. Police officers should improve upon themselves. This is through advancing in their competence and knowledge as it regards to all elements in their position (Stonemans, 2013). It is aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of duty performance.

Duty of Fidelity

This refers to the need to be trustworthy, loyal and, above all, dependable. These aspects help in the preservation of integrity of the police officers when on and off duty (Stonemans, 2013). Integrity is the basic foundation of reliability and uprightness that is a significant aspect of upholding professional ethics.


McLeod, S. A., (2011). Kohlberg. Retrieved from <>. Accessed on 13th February, 2015.
Stonemans, B., (2013). Police Code of Conduct and the Ethics of W.D. Ross. Retrieved from <>. Accessed on 13th February, 2015.

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Free Level One: PRE-Conventional Morality Research Paper Example. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 11, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2023.

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