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Moral development has been described to be developed through several stages, wherein moral logic is built in succession. These constructive stages are thus considered as the foundation for ethical behavior of individuals. Kohlberg’s (1958) stages of moral development were mainly founded on analyses of the reactions of individuals of varying ages to particular situations.
The theory of moral development describes that the decision-making process of an individual changes as one ages. Kohlberg’s theory thus defines that an individual’s morality is a constant growth that extends throughout a person’s lifespan.
However, recent research findings have shown that this theory has specific limitations because the theory was mainly based on a specific age group of children and does not transcend to the older ages (Peens and Louw, 2000).
In addition, a moral judgment test has been recently designed to evaluate an individual’s moral development and this has been observed to differ from the classic moral development stages described by Kohlberg, making comprehensive analysis more complicated than earlier perceived (Villegas de Posada, 2005).
It has also been recently suggested that each individual has two identities, one of which is based on the concept of emergence and the other is based on adaptation (Azzone, 2003).
Emergence involves the repetitive exposure and experience of an individual to specific situations of varying levels of intensity, resulting in the current moral condition of an individual. Adaptation, on the other hand, involves the gradual building of an individual’s moral development. It is thus important to understand that Kohlberg’s theory is only part of the adaptive identity of an individual and this moral condition of a person may still be influenced by other external factors.
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