Surprisingly, both relative and absolute moralities are at work within us.
Morality shows itself by its effect on our decisions, on our behavioral choices.
Each person develops a personal morality that is based on their biological inheritance (3S Imperatives–Satiety, Safety, Sex) united with their personal experience. Personal morality is idiosyncratic (relative) and descriptive. Your personal morality is a description of how you rate the morality of actions rather than a demand that you act contrary to your nature.
The Lawrence Kohlberg’s idea that personal morality changes as we age explains the progression we experience.
- First, as an infant, an act’s morality can only be pleasurable or unpleasant (good or bad). That is, satisfying our bodily requirements is the only functioning part of our decision-making in infancy.
- Between ages 3-7, we start to form long-term memories. With recall of past events and past consequences, we begin to develop a sense of our continuity and a desire to maintain it. In the nuclear family, our personal choices confront the family morality, where decisions are rewarded or punished. That is, a new standard of morality is enforced by power.
- With puberty, sexual consequences arise to prominence in our decision-making. As we experience life outside the house, we see that our understanding of right or wrong (good or bad) is not the only view. Others can see things differently.
- In school, we start to evaluate good and bad according to logic. Are the rules consistent? Are the rules applied to all? What are the exceptions?
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