Locked History Attachments


Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg posited six stages of moral development:

Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)

  1. Obedience and punishment orientation

    (How can I avoid punishment?)

  2. Self-interest orientation

    (What's in it for me?)
    (Paying for a benefit)

Level 2 (Conventional)

  1. Interpersonal accord and conformity

    (Social norms)
    (The good boy/girl attitude)

  2. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation

    (Law and order morality)

Level 3 (Post-Conventional)

  1. Social contract orientation
  2. Universal ethical principles

    (Principled conscience)

Stages 1-3 are considered those of children and adolescents and it is to be expected that adults will be beyond them. Where we have a problem is stages 4-5, which are fine as a temporary stopping-place, but a terrible place to stay as an adult. However, they explain many statists who are stuck in stage 4, attempting to justify harm against someone because "it's the law". A fairly small percentage of individuals reach even stage 5, consideration of the functioning of society; and the ones that *remain* there may be even worse than the stage 4-lifers, especially when they *misunderstand* social contract as more than a thought experiment and pretend it is a real agreement that justifies theft and coercion. Stage 5 people will still hold an inconsistent "smorgasbord" of beliefs (e.g., it's acceptable to harm peaceful drug users but not use force to stop gay people from getting married, or vice versa) without consistent underlying principles.

Stage 6, moral reasoning, is almost a necessity for voluntaryists if they are able to explain their beliefs from fundamentals (e.g., SelfOwnership). It's possible that some may hold to voluntaryism by latching on to the external good ideas without yet having reasoned it through. However, given that voluntaryism is not preached in public schools and tends to require an individual to read and think for themselves, *and*, unlike statism, is compatible with moral reasoning, it is both the most likely political position of someone in this stage and it is likely that a voluntaryist will reach this stage.

So next time you're running into a brick wall with a statist, understand that it may not be you; they may just not be developmentally able to reason about rights and harm in a rational and consistent manner; and they may sadly never get there. This sadly does not bode well for general education in voluntaryist principles; however, revolutions have been won with only a small (but vigorous) minority being behind them and the rest following on.

See also: