Incorporating Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development into the Judicial essay


IncorporatingKohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development into the Judicial System


Moraldevelopment stages and their application in law enforcementdepartments

Kohlberg’soutlines three stages of Moral Development that are crucial in thelaw enforcement departments as in each stage, offices employ highlysophisticated strategies of explaining and solving an ethicaldilemma. For instance, pre-conventional stage is the simple reasoninglevel where external consequences guide officers’ right and wrongsenses. They obey laws to avoid punishments and jail and at thisstage, officers have no internalized values and rules to direct theirconduct and self interest comes later where by judging morality ofaction on the basis on the satisfaction of personal needs.

Atconventional level, morality of the action based on (3rdstage), the expectations of the society and (4thstage) the need to maintain social order through respecting authorityand adhering to the set laws are observed, (Kohlberg,1987).Moral reasoning is determined through conformity to the expectations,rules and norms of the society. At conventional level, moralityjudgments is based on the desire for basic society’s libertiesprotection. In the 5thstage, officers uphold legal principles that enhance justice, equityand fairness. In 6thstage they follow ethical and moral principles that are self-selectedand promote respect for equality and dignity of human life. In caseof conflict between internal principles and laws of the society, theself-chosen principles overrule.

Applicationof the Kohlberg’s stages in criminal evaluation

Officerscan use the stages in evaluation of criminals in three differentstages. For instance, the children criminals are at apre-conventional level. They lack comprehensive comprehension of thelaw and are responsive to cultural morality, but can interpretactions based on the reward and punishment consequences or thephysical authority of the rules enunciators. At this level, theofficers should consider that the criminal understanding of thephysical consequences of their actions dictated by their badness orgoodness. The crime deterrence method would be beating to enable thecriminal to link the crime with its consequences.

Criminalat conventional stages are adolescents who perceives the family,group or nation’s expectations maintenance despite the immediateconsequences that may occur (Kohlberg,1987).The attitudes developed at this stage conform to the social order,personal expectation and demonstration of loyalty. Therefore,evaluation officers should understand that adolescent criminals areoriented towards right behavior demonstration through social orderand fixed national rules maintenance. The best deterrence method ispunishment in public to have the adolescents learn the consequencesof law breaking.

Thepost convenience stage criminals are the adults. They are able todefine moral values and principles based on their validity but not asdefined by the holding authority. Therefore, the officers shouldunderstand the overall human rights and standards as these criminalsclearly understand the democratic and constitutional laws around suchrights and standards. The best deterrence method is fines impositionthat is equal to the level of committed crime to prevent furthercrimes.

Addressingself-interest and pursuit of pleasure to prevent police corruption

Applyingstrict code of conduct with expectation on ethics and integritywithin the police department will prevent corruption, (Hindess,2013).The police will be held accountable for the actions and disciplinaryactions for any misconduct will apply amongst personnel. Removing anymisconduct temptations and setting high standards to abide by thepolice officers on or off duty and fulfilling the police civic dutiesthrough following various prima facie duties that demand morality andintegrity within the department and society will help preventcorruption.

PrimaFacie Duties

Variousprima facie duties correspond with the duties and responsibilities oflaw enforcements officers, (Stratton-Lake,(2012).For instance, the duty of fidelity implies that officers should beloyal, trustworthy and dependable to the societies they serve topreserve their positions’ integrity. For self-improvement, theofficers should seek for improvement through developing theirknowledge and competence aspects of their positions for effective andefficient performance. Police officers often find themselves inconflicting situations where the morality is at stake, therefore,ethics apply to judge the morality of the situation based on theconsequences of the actions taken. Therefore, self evident duty iscrucial to cultivate the reasonable sense of consideration to theperformance of the officer’s duties.


Hindess,B. (March 01, 2013). Democracy and Disenchantment.&nbspAustralianJournal of Political Science,&nbsp32,&nbsp1,79-92

Kohlberg,L. (1987).&nbspThepsychology of moral development: The nature and validity of moral stages.San Francisco, Calif: Harper &amp Row.

Stratton-Lake,P. (2012).&nbspKant,duty and moral worth.Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.