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Required text: Williams, C. R., & Arriago, B. A. (2012). Ethics, crime, and criminal justice(2nd ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development


Based  on your readings for this week write a response in at least 250-300 words to the following prompt:

Chapter 7 introduces us to Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development. A provocative question is whether the system of law enforcement should, on any level, make distinctions between crimes motivated by more or less moral interests. For example, should we consider persons who violate the law for moral reasons less reprehensible and thus less legally blameworthy than others? Consider and answer the questions regarding the following hypothetical cases involving law-breaking behaviors. Which, if any, of these behaviors are immoral? Why? Based on Kohlberg’s model, at what level and stage of moral development would you place the person(s) in the following scenarios?

  • A recently laid-off husband and father of five steals several food items from a local grocery store to feed his hungry children.
  • A concerned mother drives 80 miles-per-hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone to get her child to the hospital. The child has 104 degree fever.
  • Two officers respond to the scene of a reported robbery at a convenience store.  While the first officer is interviewing the victim, the second officer is observed by the first officer taking candy without paying for it. The first officer does not say anything.

Now consider the following legal behaviors. Which, if any, would you consider to be immoral? Why? Given Kohlberg’s model of moral development, at what level and stage would you place the actor in question?

  • Passing by a dark alley late at night, a young man witnesses what appears to be a rape in progress. As he is unsure what is happening and somewhat afraid to get involved, he chooses to simply continue on his way.
  • A young couple has managed to accumulate $50.00 worth of late charges at a local video store. Upon their next visit, the store manager informs them that there has been a computer malfunction, resulting in the store losing track of all late charges on customer accounts.  The manager asks them if they had any outstanding charges, to which the couple replies, “No.”

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