D. Post Conventional Transitional:   [ Moral decisions generated from rights values that are agreeable to all individuals ]

Stage 5: Prior Rights & Social Contract or Utility features:

  • 1. Behave appropriately in absence of law & order

  • 2. Right-wrong matter of personal values

  • 3. Emphasis on legal point of view

  • 4. Right is upholding basic rights, values & legal contracts of society

  • 5. Social contract: "greatest good for the greatest number."

  • 6. Morality = upholding values of group or culture

Example: " I will not speed on the freeway because it is the right thing to do!

Ages: Well educated westerners

Population: 10 % or less of US population

Moral action in a specific situation is not defined by reference to a checklist of rules, but from logical application of universal, abstract, moral principles. Individuals have natural or inalienable rights and liberties that are prior to society and must be protected by society. Retributive justice repudiated. Justice distributed proportionate to circumstances and need. "Situation ethics." The statement, "Justice demands punishment," which is a self-evident truism to the Stage 4 mind, is just as self-evidently nonsense at Stage 5. Retributive punishment is neither rational nor just, because it does not promote the rights and welfare of the individual. Only legal sanctions that fulfill that purpose are imposed-- protection of future victims, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Individual acts out of mutual obligation and a sense of public good. Right action tends to be defined in terms of general individual rights, and in terms of standards that have been critically examined and agreed upon by the whole society--e.g. the Constitution. The freedom of the individual should be limited by society only when it infringes upon someone else's freedom.