Dr. Daniel Vogel and Charles Kramer on Kohlberg

From: Dr. Daniel Vogel
Charles Kramer
Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: Piaget/Kohlberg
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 19:46:13 +0000

Dear Charles Kramer:

I read with interest your listing and discussion of Kohlberg's moral stages on the internet. Does Kohlberg propose what actually gets a person to go from one alleged stage to another, such as from the before last to the last stage of the Post-Conventional Stage? What mechanism is proposed, if any?
I am interested in how we move especially from one preserving and status quo social construct to a "higher" and liberatory one, and was curious to know if Kohlberg proposed any mechanism that would encourage growth from any one stage to another? I don't know if these psychologists propose any ideas on how people might adopt better societies? There are many great models for better societies, but people tend to continue to support the present one, even though it is violent and often does not meet our needs. I wonder if these psychologists have studied changes in our thinking that though not about political constructs, may nonetheless help shed some light on how people might move from less satisfying to liberatory ones? (without using, for example, Marxist ideas such as ideology, which certainly have their element of truth as well). Doesn't Piaget see a three-pronged interactive development between assimilation, accommodation and equilibrium that naturally moves one on to more complex thinking, though it is not clear why it should happen even in Piaget's model, at least I don't know what it would be.

Any ideas regarding Piaget's or Kohlberg's?


Daniel Vogel

From: Charles Kramer
To: Dr. Daniel Vogel
Cc: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
Subject: Re: Piaget/Kohlberg
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2002 23:34:31 +0100

Dear Dr. Daniel Vogel,

Sorry. I haven't followed the writings of Kohlberg closely enough to answer your questions. I know enough about Piaget's work from my stint in Switzerland (1960/1966!).

Later on, followers of Piaget's commented his stage theory. They supported the notion that the child development process should not be seen as a succession of stages but as interwoven, intermingling, overlapping phases.

I would agree with such interpretations and probably go a step further: One might possibly assume that any persons goes through personal development at a different tempo according to the personality dimensions one chooses to consider. Moral development gradually involves a set of changes, while development of oral or verbal skills follow a different course and timing, while calculation skills go through a faster or slower pace etc, not to mention aesthetic perceptions.

Transposing what psychologists, psychoanalysts, or epistemologists say about individuals to what others say about societies is a bold step I am not prepared to make.

The transposition of observations made of individual behavior to the understanding of groups behavior and of successive social organization features usually appear to me as far fetched.

It seems (to me) that the concept of the unity of psychological sciences is steadily loosing ground. Furthermore, I am not prepared to share the assumption that we might infer from what we think we know in Psychology to what we assume sheds light on sociology, small group interactions, and historical processes...

In my opinion, from the little I know, neither Kohlberg or Piaget have helped us in understanding that went on beyond their intellectual constructions in their own domain. This said, Piaget deserves full recognition for his early analysis of developing "intelligence" in children, in particular highlighting "social intelligence", a concept I had the privilege presenting in his presence at an annual conference of the Swiss psychological at Vevey in the mid sixties.

I know much less about Kohlberg's work. What I know seemed more "philosophical" to me (not a compliment, I am afraid to admit, in my language..).

Well, your questions will deserve more research and better answers than I am able to provide. But I will keep them in mind !

Thanks for your message, and my best regards,


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