Remember: Our reaction to ethical dilemmas is primarily determined not by our sense of right or wrong, but where we are on Lawrence Kohlberg’s three levels of morality development. This week, we will examine the import of the first level;Pre- conventional Morality Development. At this level, we exhibit two reactions to any ethical dilemma. The first; stage 1, deals with the fear of consequence being the motive for an ethical decision, as opposed to a sense of right and wrong.
Let’s look at an example:
Kunle is newly promoted into the treasury department. He now has access to the company safe. He is tempted to temporarily use some money from the safe to pay off an urgent loan. Kunle decides not to take the money, therefore presenting himself as a person with high morals? Not exactly. Kunle has not taken the money due to the fear of being found out and the impact that would have on his career. This is the typical behaviour at stage 1 of moral development. Our actions at this stage look ethical, but our motives are not. Look forward to our discussion on stage two, next week.