Conscience - secular views



·         Expanded the idea of immature and mature consciences which develop as we grow up.

·         The ability to reason morally depends on cognitive development.

·         Two stages of moral development:

1.    Heteronomous morality: (approx. between ages 5-10) conscience still immature, the consequences of an action show whether it is morally right or wrong, e.g. if a rule is broken punishment can be expected.

2.    Autonomous morality: (approx. Ages 10+) children develop their own rules and understand how rules operate in and help society. Less dependent on others for moral authority.



·         Conscience = a result of social development

·         Expanded Piaget’s idea of stages of moral development

·         He suggested six stages:

·         (1) The first of these stages is ruled by punishment which encourages obedience as people want to gain approval.

·         (2) People then move to keeping the law, to caring for others

·         (3) The final stage is respect for universal principles - “right” and “wrong” is based on a set of self-chosen principles which a person follows in their day to day living and behaviour.

·         Kohlberg felt that most adults don’t get beyond the ‘keeping the law’ stage.



•           Conscience is “a reaction of


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