What is moral development? It is the process in which children develop proper attitudes and behaviors toward others in society. Lawrence Kohlberg proposed that moral development is a continual process that occurs throughout the lifespan, his theory outlines six stages of moral development within three different levels.  

According to the article, “Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development”, it is stated that, “Kohlberg’s theory played an important role in the development of moral psychology. While the theory has been highly influential, aspects of the theory have been critiqued for several reasons: Moral reasoning does not equal moral behavior, Overemphasizes justice, Cultural bias, Age bias, Gender bias,”  

Carol Gilligan was critical of Kohlberg’s theory because of his gender bias. Gilligan’s focused primarily on the moral development of young women. She became Kohlberg’s research assistant in 1970 and over time she began to question his methodology. In the article, “Gilligan’s Theory of Feminine Morality”, it informs us that, “The participants in his studies were all privileged white men and boys. Gilligan felt that this biased his theory against women. Second, Kohlberg privileged the consideration of individual rights and rules over the consideration of the importance of caring in human relationships. Gilligan took this to represent the privileging of a male perspective over a female perspective,” 

Gilligan became one of Kohlberg’s most outspoken critics. She argued that his theory makes assumptions that don’t respect women’s experiences with prioritizing interpersonal relationships, meaning Kohlberg’s theory estranges women from the process of moral development. Gilligan argued that fact that women’s moral judgements necessarily include feelings of compassion and empathy for others. In the article, “Gilligan’s Theory of Feminine Morality”, it is stated that, “When faced with moral problems, males seek solutions that are just and fair; females seek solutions that are caring and benevolent. For males, moral wrongness is linked to the violation of rights and justice; for females, moral wrongness is linked to a failure to communicate and to respond. For males, moral interactions take place primarily at the political and legal level, in the realm of abstract laws and social contracts; for females, moral interactions take place primarily at the level of personal relationships, in the family and the social network of the community in which they live,” 


Cherry, K. (2021). Levels of Developing Morality in Kohlberg’s Theories. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/kohlbergs-theory-of-moral-development-2795071.  

Gilligan’s Theory of Feminine Morality. Psychology. (2017, March 20). http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/developmental-psychology/social-development/gilligans-theory-of-feminine-morality/. 

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