The Gilligan-Kohlberg Moral Theory Controversy Essay

2156 Words Oct 30th, 2012 9 Pages
The Gilligan-Kohlberg Moral Theory Controversy

Ethics, or moral philosophy, as a field of intellectual inquiry developed in the west for well over two thousand years with minimal input from women. Women's voices have been virtually absent from western ethics until this century. The absence of female voices has meant that the moral concerns of men have preoccupied traditional western ethics, the moral perspectives of men have shaped its methods and concepts, and male biases against women have gone virtually unchallenged within it. Feminist ethics explores the fundamental effect of this imbalance on moral philosophy and seeks to rectify it. So the questions we face are: Do women have a distinct moral perspective? How if at all is gender
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According to Gilligan, she thinks that men are characteristically concerned with practical moral matters of justice and that women are more often concerned with the moral matters of care. Gilligan suggested, “Women spoke a language which was not decodable by Kohlberg’s system.” She thought that women were fundamentally unheard in the Kohlberg’s methodology.
In 1977 Carol Gilligan challenged Kohlberg’s model in saying that there was sex bias. In conducting interviews for a project with Kohlberg, Gilligan found what she called “a different voice,” the perspective, voiced mainly by women, that morality was not defined by justice, fairness, or universal rights, as Kohlberg argued. Instead, this perspective described morality based on care, on responsibility to others, on the continuity of interdependent relationships.
When one begins with the study of women and derives developmental constructs from their lives, the outline of a moral conception different from that described by Freud, Piaget, or Kohlberg begins to emerge and informs a different description of development. In this conception, the moral problem arises from conflicting responsibilities rather than from competing rights and requires for its resolution a mode of thinking that is contextual and narrative rather than formal and abstract. This conception of morality as concerned

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