Moral Autonomy is based on the psychology of moral development. The first psychological theory was developed by Jean Piaget. On the basis of Piaget’s theory, Lawrence kohlberg developed three main levels of moral development.
which is based on the kinds of reasoning and motivation adopted by individuals with regard to moral questions.
The Preconventional Level
It is nothing but self-centered attitude. In this level, right conduct is very essential for an individual which directly benefits him. According to this level, individuals are motivated by their willingness to avoid punishment, or by their desire to satisfy their own needs or by the influence of the power exerted by them.
This level is related to the moral development of children and some adults who never want to grow beyond a certain limit.
The Conventional Level
The level deals with the respect for conventional rules and authority. As per this level the rules and norms of one’s family or group or society has been accepted as the final standard of morality. These conventions are regarded as correct, because they represent with authority.
When individuals are under this level, they always want to please/ satisfy others and also to meet the expectations of the society and not their self-interest. Loyalty and close identification with others have been given much importance. No adult tries to go beyond this level.
The Post Conventional Level
This level is said to be attained when an individual recognizes the right and the wrong on the basis of a set of principles which are not based on self-interest or social conventions.
These individuals are called “autonomous”, because they only think by themselves and also they do not agree that customs are always correct.
They want to live by general principles which are universally applied to all people. They always want to maintain their moral integrity, self-respect and the respect for other autonomous people.
Kohlberg’s theory of moral development is very much related to the goals of studying ethics at college level. To become morally responsible, an individual must be able and willing to undergo moral reasoning.
Moral responsibility comes out of the foundation of early moral training given by an individual’s parents and culture. This early training helps to complete the above said three levels of moral development by an individual.
As per Kohlberg’s view only few people would reach the post conventional level which is based on the assumption that movement towards autonomy is morally desirable.