Kholbergs Stages Essay Sample

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The concept of justice has three components- interpersonal adjudication, law based on fault and an emphasis on procedures. Interpersonal adjudication is based upon the rights and duties of the individual person. The law based on fault on concept is a liberal concept of justice that a person should not be disadvantaged or punished except for fault. The due process concept is the emphasis on procedures. The liberal does not believe in the possibility of achieving equality, democracy, justice, and the public good and other ideals through legislative and prescriptive action. Explain three (3) ways Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development can be applied to the evaluation of three (3) types of criminals who are at different stages of moral development? Obedience and Punishment-The earliest stage of moral development is especially common in young children, but adults are also capable of expressing this type of reasoning. At this stage, children see rules as fixed and absolute. Obeying the rules is important because it is a means to steer clear of punishment. The type of criminal I feel would fall into this step would be a serial killer. Serial killers have a certain structure in order to commit their crime. Maintaining Social Order- at this stage, of moral development people begin to consider society as a whole when making judgments.

The focus is on maintaining law and order by following the rules, doing one’s duty and respecting authority. Crooked cops would fall into this category of criminals. I feel they follow the rules when it suits them and they break them when they can. Universal Principles- Kohlberg’s final level of moral reasoning is based upon universal ethical principles and abstract reasoning. At this stage, people follow these internalized principles of justice, even if they conflict with laws and rules. Vigilantes would be my type of criminal that I would pick for this stage. I picked this type of criminal because they think what they are doing will help society as a whole. Recommend three (3) effective and ethical methods of deterrence for the selected criminals. Specific deterrence focuses on the individual in question.

The aim of these punishments is to discourage the criminal from future criminal acts by instilling an understanding of the consequences. I would select the criminal vigilante for this deterrence option. General or indirect deterrence focuses on general prevention of crime by making examples of specific deviants. I would choose the crooked cops for this deterrence measure. Last but not least, marginal deterrence is intended to deter criminals to limit their criminal acts. Without marginal deterrence, a criminal could benefit from committing additional crimes, or using illegal methods to suppress law enforcement, witnesses or evidence. I feel a serial killer would benefit from this deterrence method.


Williams, C. R. & Arrigo, B. A. (2012). Ethics crime and criminal justice (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall / Pearson. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). (n.d.). General format. General format. Retrieved from Office of Justice Programs. (n.d.). General format. Retrieved from

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