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the form and structure of moral arguments is independent of the content of those arguments…51 With this background as the basis of his studies, Kohlberg focused on the moral concept of justice as his index of moral development and came up with three levels of moral development as follows: Level 1: Pre-conventional 1. Obedience and punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?) 2. Self interest orientation (What’s in it for me?)52 He found that children at this pre-conventional level of moral development are largely motivated by consequences of their action in their behaviour. If an action is positively rewarded, then it is good. If it is followed by disapproval, it is bad. This means that if a child is commended for bringing home other peoples property from school, then the child thinks that it is good to do so. A higher stage of this level is that the child graduates from egocentrism to egoism, that is, if there are things to distribute, the child first takes his own, then, he asks to be given for his friend or classmate. At the egocentric level of reasoning he may take his friend’s pack because he expects to be given part of it. At the egoistic level, he is helping his friend because he expects his friend to help him some day. Translated into Yoruba wisdom sayings: the egocentric, when given a hoe, clears his own farm portion first (Ko si eni ti ao fun l’oko ti ko ni roko sodo ara re). For the egoist, there is no lost deed, we only have “saved/invested” deeds (Ko si asedanu, ase pamo lo wa). 51

Kohlberg’s stages of moral development w. development, retrieved 3/6/2009 52 Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, Wikipedia, the Free Press, retrieved 3/6/2009


Professor Oluremi Aina Bamisaiye University Lecture  
Professor Oluremi Aina Bamisaiye University Lecture  

University LEcture