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Table 6.2 Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development
Preconventional level
1. Punishment-obedience orientation
2. Personal reward orientation
Conventional level
3. “Good boy”-“nice girl” orientation
4. Law and order orientation
Postconventional level
5. Social contract orientation
6. Universal ethical principle orientation
Source : L. Kohlberg, The Philosophy of Moral Development , Vol. 1, Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA, 1981.
others forms the basis for the normative model we are proposing. Pursuing an
activity with the goal of obeying the law has as its driving force the avoidance of
punishment, and pursuing an activity with the goal of improving profitability is a
goal clearly in line with stockholders' desires; presumably customers', suppliers',
and employees' desires must also be met at some level. Finally, pursuing an activity
with the goal of “doing the right thing,” behaving in a way that is morally right
and just, can be the highest level of engineering behavior. This normative model
of ethical design and engineering is illustrated in Figure 6.2.
Engineering Exemplar :
Oriented to wardwisdom,
being a role model, and
setting tone for future
generations of engineers
Gray Beards,
founding members,
members of the Academy
Postconventional Level :
Concern for wider society;
universal ethical principles
Leader and Expert :
Oriented toward leading
customers, suppliers, employees,
and engineering profession
Partners, full members
of societies, mentors,
professional engineers
Conventional Level :
Concern about peers;
concern about community
Figure 6.2 Comparison of
Kohlberg's moral development
stages to professional
development in engineering.
From: D. Vallero, 2007, Biomedical
Ethics for Engineers , Academic Press,
Burlington, MA.
Legal, Career, Reputation :
Oriented toward staying out
of trouble, gaining
knowledge, making money
Future engineers (FEs),
engineers in training (EITs),
Preconventional Level :
Avoid punishment
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