Kohlberg/Gilligan TheoryEssayBeing a nurse places one in many difficult predicaments. Theynever know what they may face with each new shift or behind each curtain. Somedays may swift by with little thought to “what will you do if?”. Other days, itmay seem like every second is filled with a moral dilemma, nursing code ofethics, or nonmaleficence. When a nurse is required to report a child to a protectionagency, he or she may face many emotional and moral issues.

According toKohlberg (1972), how someone handles moral decision-making determines wherethey are in moral-development stages (Turiel & Rothman, 1972). When nursesare having to make moral decisions many issues come into play. Developmentwithin each stage of organized thought patterns of the moral dilemma is whatdetermines the outcomes and the stage of Kolhberg and Gilligan’s theories(Turiel & Rothman, 1972). There are three levels and six stages to Kohlberg’s stages ofmoral development and with Gilligan’s theory there are three stages thatcorrelate within his approaches (Blias & Hayes, 2015). During thepreconventional level of Kohlberg’s theory are two stages (Baxter & Boblin,2007). Stage one is the Punishment and obedience orientation (Tanabe, 1997).

This level is based on the right and wrong behavior that is determined by whatis punishable by authorities (Taylor, 1985). A nurse would relate to thistheory by responding appropriately to mandatory requirements that require all suspectedchild abuse to be reported to the appropriate agency. He or she would feel thatif they did not make the report they would be punished by either there employeror some other type of authority. Intrumentalism/self-interest orientation isthe second stage of Kohlberg’s theory. During this theory the nurse wouldrelate by thinking the right action is based on wanting his or her needs met (Baxter& Boblin, 2007). They would report the case because it was the fair andright thing to do.

To compare these stages to Gilligan’s theory which focuses oncompassion, responsibility, and obligation (Blias & Hayes, 2015). Her firstperspective is caring for one-self which correlates with stages one throughthree of Kohlberg’s stages (Taylor, 1985). In this stage the nurse reportingthe child abuse would have no feelings of concern.

He or she would bedisconnected from the emotional and moral aspects of the incident (Baxter , 2007). The nurse just goes through the motions to get the job done andclock out.For Kohlberg’s second level, the conventional level, stage 3 isthe good boy/nice girl stage (Tanabe, 1997). During this stage, social approvalis the motivational factors in conduct (Baxter & Boblin, 2007).

During thisstage the nurse will complete the report in a timely and appropriate manner toreceive approval of a job well done (Blias & Hayes, 2015). They workdiligently to maintain their level in the group of other employees. It is allabout law and order in stage 4 which really means showing respect for the rulesand the authority (Parr & Ostrovsky, 1991). The nurse would report thechild abuse as he or she had been taught to do so because most of all it is theright thing to do as a good nurse. During this stage of Gilligan’s theoryperspective 2, which is caring for others (Taylor, 1985). The nurse does whatis right for the child.

Someone has to look out for the one who cannot speakout for his or her self.   The nurse isacting unselfishly and understands that it is his or her responsibility to dowhat is best for the child. This perspective of Gilligan interacts with stage 5of Kohlberg’s theory, which is in His third and final level, thepostconventional level (Tanabe, 1997). It is within this theory that socialcontract exist (Blias & Hayes, 2015). One is aware of the right and wrongvalues and where the law comes into play, but the person is more concerned thatthe situation is taken care of in the legal and right way (Parr &Ostrovsky, 1991). The nurse will report and go above and beyond to make thelaws fit the situation at hand.

They feel that changes should be made to meetthe needs. In the final stage of Kohlberg’s theory is the universalethical-principle orientation (Tanabe, 1997). During this stage one has anincreased moral reasoning and believe the right is determined by “justice andequality of human rights” (Parr & Ostrovsky, 1991). They follow a standardthat is not their own but comes from a higher authority, for example followingthe Ten Commandments (Turiel & Rothman, 1972).

During this stage the nursewould do what is right not based on his or her feelings of what is the rightthing. They would not report the claim because their job or the government wasdemanding them to do it. They would do it based on their belief thatuniversally it is the right thing that all should do. Following perspectivethree to the finish line, caring for oneself and others, the nurse would feelthere is a responsibility not only to the child but also to the nurse. Caringbecomes the main topic of making a judgmental choice (Blias & Hayes, 2015).During each level, stage, and perspective of both theories thereis a pattern of thought processes that lead to the moral decisions one wouldmake. Whether it is fairness or compassion, or a combination of the two, one canmake the moral decisions that are needed in the everyday life of a nurse.          References Baxter, P.

, , S. (2007). The moral development of baccalaureate nursing students:understanding unethical behavior in classroom and clinical settings. JournalOf Nursing Education, 46(1), 20-27.

Blias, K. & Hayes,J. (2015) Professional Nursing, Practice, Concepts & Perspectives, 7th Ed.,Pearson NY, NY, 57-59.

Parr, G. D., & Ostrovsky, M. (1991).

Therole of moral development in deciding how to counsel children andadolescents. School Counselor, 39(1), 14.Tanabe, J. P. (1997). Stages of moraldevelopment and the family. Journal Of Unification Studies, 1109-126.Taylor, S.

(1985). Rights andresponsibilities: nurse-patient relationships…

models of moral development…

Gilligan’s and Kohlberg’s. Image (03632792), 17(1),9-13.Turiel, E., , G. R. (1972). The influence of reasoning on behavioral choices atdifferent stages of moral development. Child Development, 43(3),741-756.



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