Kohlberg Dilemma Matrix

KohlbergDilemma Matrix

KohlbergLawrence’s developed six moral reasoning stages that individuals gothrough in their course of their lives. In these stage individualsrespond to moral dilemmas, and as stages progress a more refinedreasoning is attained. Kohlberg theory is pegged on the reasoning ofAmerican philosopher Dewey John and Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget(McLeod,2013). These scholars stressed that human beings develop psychologicallyand philosophically in a progressive fashion (McLeod,2013).Kohlberg theory will be applied to solve the dilemma of Emperor Neroand the Christians who opted to practice their faith in secretagainst his directive.


1.Obedience and Punishment Orientation

At this stage the focus is one self. Ages between 10-13 years. At the pre-conventional stage individual behavior is motivated by anticipation of pain or pleasure (McLeod, 2013).

In this stage a child avoids physical punishment. Punishment denotes the automatic reaction of physical retaliation. The immediate physical consequences of an action determine its badness and goodness (McLeod, 2013). The fact that Christians continued to practice their faith in hiding to avoid the punishment that would be imposed if they were discovered by Emperor Nero shows that under the threat of punishment adults together with children may function at stage one level. Evidently the might make right.

&nbsp The question that comes to the mind of the individual who want to continue practicing Christianity in the face of a ban is what must we do to avoid the emperor’s punishment.

2.Individualism and Exchange

In this stage individual do what is important and necessary to satisfy their desires. It is a stage where there is a trade of favor or blows. In this light, the right course of action and most important, and perhaps most instrumental is the one that satisfies individual needs (McLeod, 2013). In the case of the Nero Emperor and the Christians, the Christians have to find a way through which they can satisfy their spiritual desires. The Christians have to behave like young children when it comes to making a choice of what matter t them in respect to their religious needs. The only way to avoid pain and attain pleasure is to practices their faith in hiding, away from the eyes of the emperor.


3.Good Interpersonal Relationships

At the conventional morality stage (adolescents and adults) individual begin to internalize the prevailing moral standards in the society and recognize the values that form the basis of ethics. At this level authority is internalized but not questioned and reasoning is pegged on the norms of the group to which an individual belongs (McLeod, 2013).

4.Maintaining the Social Order

There are two main phases in this stage the good interpersonal relationship and maintaining social order. An individual has to do good so that other members in the group or community can see them as good persons (McLeod, 2013). In this vein the actions towards a given aspect in the community is viewed in relation to the approval of others. To be in a position to maintain social order, an individual as to well versed with the wider rules and regulations that govern the society so that a sound judgment can be made. Obeying the rules and regulation established by those in the society is meant to uphold the law and to avoid guilt (McLeod, 2013).

PostConventional Morality

5.Social Contract and Individual Rights

In this stage individuals verdict on various issues is pegged on self-chosen principles, and moral reasoning is pegged on individual justice and rights (McLeod, 2013). Kohlberg states that the extent of moral reasoning at this phase is as far as most individual get. Approximately 15% are have the capability to fathom this kind of abstract reasoning necessary for this stage (McLeod, 2013). This means that majority of the people adopt the moral view of those within their immediate surrounding and only a small minority think through moral values and ethical principles for themselves. In stage five an individual becomes aware of the fact that while regulations and laws may exist for the good of society, but there are many instances when they might work against the particular interest of an individual. The issues are not always straightforward. For example, in the dilemma involving Emperor Nero and Christians, the utility and satisfaction derived from practicing Christianity are much more important than the breaking the laws that have been established by Emperor Nero.

6.Universal Principle

In this stage individuals have already developed their own interpretation of moral guidelines that may not necessary fit the prevailing laws. An individual is ready and willing to defend these principles developed in the course of life even in the occasion where the principles conflict with the set rules and regulations and what the rest of the society adopts (McLeod, 2013). It means that individual are ready to pay the price of contravening set principles to exercise what they believe is right for them and their community. Christian in the kingdom are aware that any action that contravenes the Emperor guideline is punishable. Individual caught practicing Christianity are thrown to to the lions at the Circus Maximus. In this light the satisfaction derived from practicng their religion might have superseded the wrath of the punishment that the king imposed. In addition, these christians have developed their own set of ethical and moral guidelines that they are ready to defend at all cost.

Basedon the precepts of Kohlberg matrix the Christians made the rightchoice to practice their faith in secret. As mentioned in the matrixabove, it is expected that adults shall guide the the young ones andchildren and as such any decision made by children in respect toreligion is heavily influence by their parent and seniors. ManyChristians that opted to practice their faith in secret must havereached the conventional and post-convectional stage. In this veineven if maintain social order and stability is a noble goal, if itcontravene individual rights, and go against the what majority ofChristians believe is their alienable right, then opting to goagainst Nero orders was a not only a rational choice but also areasonable gesture. Most notably they practice their faith in secretwhere they would not influence other groups, and hence not anger theEmperor.


McLeod,S. A. (2013). Kohlberg.Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/kohlberg.html