Seminar Paper, 1998, 84 Pages
[II] Background Ideas and Issues
(i) Kant, metaphysics of morals, and
critique of practical reason
(ii) Good will
(iii) Doubt of empirical usefulness
(iv) Categorical imperative
(v) Hegel’s challenge
(vi) A theory of justice
(vii) Recent developments
[B] Sociological Perspective
[III] Psychological Approaches – Theory
[A] Developmental Stages
[B] Piaget and Moral Development of Children
[C] Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development
[D] Kohlberg’s Critics
(i) Gender differences
(ii) Piagetian criticism
(iii) Value differentiation as stage transition
(iv) Objective measurement
[E] Response to Critics
[F] State of the Field
[IV] Psychological Approaches – Measurement
[A] Kohlberg’s Scoring System
(i) History of stage scoring
(ii) Structural issue scoring
(iii) Standard issue scoring
[B] Defining Issue Test (DIT)
(iii) Faking DIT scores
(iv) Relation to verbal ability
[C] Morally Debatable Behaviors Scale
[D] Moral Orientation Scale using Childhood Dilemmas (MOS)
[E] Moral Dilemma Questionnaire (MDQ)
[V] Moral Judgment and Beyond – Correlations with other Constructs
[A] Sociological Variables and Psychological Traits
(i) Socioeconomic status (SES)
(ii) Personality traits
(iii) Social perspective taking
(v) Grade point average
[B] Religious Aspects in Moral Reasoning
[C] Cultural Differences
[D] Applications of Moral Judgement Research
Psychology of morality as a whole, and moral judgement in particular, are two of the most discussed issues in psychology. When Kohlberg back in the 60s published his first writings about moral judgement and stages of moral judgement, he started an ongoing discussion that lasted for 30 years now, with no conclusion in sight yet.
The aim of this paper is not to settle this discussion by offering an ultimate solution for the problems and criticism. Neither is it the addition of another point of view that increases the dispute. I will try to follow the story of psychology of morality, and particularly of moral judgement, and to describe as value free as possible development, state and criticism in this field. For a better understanding of morality the first chapter, shall deal with so-called background origins and influences. This includes the philosophical ideas of morality, beginning with Kant and ending with Rawls, as well as sociological views on morality. Thus bordering disciplines of psychology shall be included in the ongoing struggle for morality as an issue in psychology.
(i.) Kant, metaphysics of morals, and critique of practical reason. Although there are certainly other philosophers earlier than Kant who tried to explain morality from a cognitive understanding, the age of enlightenment (at the end of the 17th century in Europe) with Rene Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Kant, set the social circumstances for broader acceptance of theories concerning moral judgement.
For earlier to Kant the church and its view dominated all kind of thinking therefore also the philosophy. This shall not be understood as a church criticism, since there have been many great philosophers among the church as well. Namely Thomas de Aquinas with his view of divine laws modified by human society set the climax of Christian philosophy.
However, the first comprehensive philosophical work in the age of enlightenment was Kant’s “Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals” in 1785. In 1788 he published the “Critique of Practical Reason”. These two publications contain Kant’s thoughts of morality and are regarded as one piece of work (Kant, 1990).
In Greek philosophy a division in three sciences was erected. This division was still in acceptance when Kant started his writing. These three sciences are physics, ethics, and logic (Kant, 1990). This division is based on the idea that all knowledge is either material, concerning some objects, or formal, occupied with the form of thinking only. The material sciences are divided into two groups: physics and ethics. This is because either laws of nature or laws of freedom are concerned, respectively. It is material, however, because not only form of the laws matter but their content as well. Herein Kant also sets the reason for empirical confirmation of the science of ethics. Because the science of ethics wants to understand the human will, it is determined to assess the effect of nature [environment, biological influences] on human will. This has to be done with empirical measures. Therefore this science may be called empirical. For the study of ethics, however, there are priori principles. Doctrines of theories in that field are based on such principles [stage sequence of Kohlberg is such a priori assumption]. When these principles are not dealing with the form of thinking only, in which case you would call this science pure philosophy, the science is called metaphysics. For Kant the detection of these hidden principles is the worthiest task to do. He states that these principles must be found and evaluated in rational thinking before anyone shall go the next step and try to link empirical knowledge to this science, because otherwise confusion arises and as Kant said “the combination of these … produces only bunglers” (p. 5).
A moral law therefore cannot be specific for circumstances or applied to some groups only. It must derive from pure reason only. In empirical situations evidence, however, might fail, because though man is theoretically capable of practical pure reason, there are many inclinations that can mislead his reason. Previous experience in pure reasoning must be considered, too.
(ii.) Good will. Kant declares that all positive and morally wanted traits (judgement, intelligence, wit, courage, self-control…) in humans are worth nothing, indeed can be harmful and pervert morality, if they do not base on good will. He calls this the step from common sense knowledge of morals to a philosophical understanding. The good will, however, is intrinsically good, it is not good for what it accomplishes but for itself. This will is regarded as good, even if there is no usefulness in it. For example, even if the person that possess good will is not capable of achieving anything good that person will be regarded as good, because of the good will. But if pure instinct will lead us more likely to a moral life, than reason does, why do we have the ability to reason, then? Kant concludes that reason is useful, otherwise we would not have it, and essential for producing good will in itself. Instinct would give us a life good in its means, but reason can give us the intrinsically good will. The production of good will shall always be in the first place.
Kant (1990) invokes an example that will reappear similarly as a moral dilemma in Kohlberg’s stage system assessment: the situation of a merchant, who overcharges an inexperienced customer. For the merchant, duty would be to sell the same product for the same price to everyone. This holds true for situations with strong competitions. But can we be sure that a merchant acting like this is morally good? Does the merchant behave in this way because of duty and principles of honesty? Selfish attitudes might have brought the same behavior as well. Moral merit might be seen instead in a person, who feels no sense in life and craves for its ending but does not end it him/herself because of duty. That is true moral merit. The moral worth derives from the maxim an action is determined by. The moral value therefore does not depend on its realization. It depends on the respect for law [not necessarily the human law] and the behavior according to this law even if inclinations might lead one astray. And since there shall be no other influences on a person’s behavior, except from that law, that individual must wish that everyone is respecting this law and therefore a universal conformity for that law must be desirable. If this fails, the law found, may not be the essential moral law. The essential law only should guide our behavior and thinking. This way of thinking often leads to common sense assessment of moral judgement. Thus philosophy’s greatest task in this area is to preserve and to maintain this way of thinking and to elaborate it. The finding of principles for easier use and distinction of these principles from confusing merely empirical based knowledge is the aim of the metaphysics of morals. To respect a law, that can hold true for all people is the essence of the first step Kant takes in his foundations of the metaphysics of morals. What he does next is to take the step from common popular philosophy to the metaphysics of morals.
(iii.) Doubt of empirical usefulness. Since there is always the uncertainty about whether an action is truly committed for moral reasons or for so-called “self-love”, philosophers doubted the existence of morality in human beings and described in regret the failure and corruption of human nature. Empirical understanding of duty and morality supports this attitude. You can never see duty and moral reason working alone. There is almost always the self and its wishes, which underlie duty. Kant admits that in relying on empirical experiences you probably will not be able to find moral actions. Only relying on reason you can find such actions and even then, they might only occur in your mind and never even be feasible to the real world. But the only thing that matters is the – cognitive – existence of a universal law. Therefore examples of moral behavior can never justify moral laws they merely are able to motivate us to behave alike. Only a completely isolated understanding of the priori principles can help us learn about morality. Example based philosophy might be popular, philosophy based on priori principles, however, is the only way to reach Ideas, where examples fail us. The will enables rational beings to act according to principles. However, reason is required to derive actions from laws, therefore the will to act according to law is nothing else but practical reason [the recognition of the law and the transition into proper actions]. This law, we have to obey in order to behave morally, is a constraint on our will [excludes the not good will] and therefore a command.
(iv.) Categorical imperative. The formula of a command is the imperative expressed by “ought”. This manifests a relation between an objective law and a not necessarily determined subjective will. If the will is perfectly good it is not constrained by the objective law because the individual behaves to the law in a unique unison with the law. His/her will is the law. The imperative used in morality is called categorical because actions are as of themselves objectively necessary, without regard to any end. This imperative is not material. It is not regarding certain ends and does not provide solutions for certain situations. It is universal and necessary for giving the most independence to all rational beings. The most important aim, pursued by all rational beings is their own happiness; hence this causes a lot of problems. Happiness is not easily defined. It varies among people and it even varies within one person. If there were certain actions, possessions or other material things that your happiness would consist of, the pursuing would be much easier. The imperative, a hypothetical then, would have to tell us how we could in our situation achieve these possessions. The reason is that happiness is to consist of empirical objects, while the Idea of happiness is an absolute whole of well being. Hypothetical imperatives might be seen as counsels or imperatives of the will. The categorical imperative alone might be seen as a practical law. The other imperatives are not clearly stated until the specific situations become clearer. The categorical imperative is clear the very moment you think about it. It has only to obey to universal using and strict using of that law. Thus it is: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Kant, 1990, p.38).
For any individual that wishes to follow this rule other conditions are necessary as well. Autonomy of will is one of these conditions and defined by Kant as a choice never to have to choose except in a way that the maxims of the choice are comprehended as a universal law. Freedom of will therefore has also to be granted to each other rational being, because only then all rational beings can act according to a supreme law based on reason and the categorical imperative. And only if all beings behave according to the categorical imperative, happiness for all can be pursued.
In the last step Kant actually seems to go half a step back by a critical examination of pure practical reason. He perceives the will of human beings as their cause for their behavior and as the one most important property that allows this causal relationship to work; he defines freedom of will as the absence of any other foreign cause determining one’s behavior. This negative definition [as the absence of something, not as a value judgement] is put in the background by a more fruitful positive definition, that defines freedom as autonomy. Autonomy in Kant’s writing means the property of will to be law to itself. This, however, means that we should behave to a maxim that can be universal law. Then a free will is equal to a will under moral laws. Free will can do everything without constraints, except those protecting other rational beings. Therefore you have to behave in a way that your behavior can be universal. Then it does not affect you negatively that all rational beings own free will. The Idea of freedom can only be presupposed; we cannot prove it. We assume that we are free in the order of efficient causes so that we can conceive of ourselves as subjects to moral laws in the order of ends. And then we think of ourselves to be subjects to these laws because we have ascribed freedom of will to ourselves. A circle evolves.
The way out of this circle is explained by an analogy. Kant distinguishes the world of senses and the world of understanding. He says that besides the world as we might perceive it [and each of us perceives it differently], a world in an objective way exists. Thus, each person has different interpretations of the world and besides these interpretations a real world exists as well. This difference makes us incapable to gain “real” understanding of the outer world as it exists. To employ different senses only leads to more confusing results as employing of reports from different persons provoke. But there is one faculty in us that might help us to find the way out – reason. This faculty enables man to distinguish perception from the knowledge that there is something different out there. It even enables him/her to distinguish himself from his self, when the self is affected by perceptions. Therefore man belongs to the world of understanding, not to the world of senses and the laws he has to follow are the laws of understanding, not the laws of perception. To think about himself free from outside effects autonomy must be within the individual. This is connected to the Idea of freedom. The universal principle of morality, however, is inseparable bound to autonomy and is ground for all actions of rational beings. Thinking of ourselves as free transports us in the world of reason and we learn to know about autonomy and all its consequences – morality.
Since the realm of reason is the basis of the world of senses everything in the world of senses must be justified by the world of reason. That is where the sense of “to ought” comes from: the world of reason points out the basic Idea of freedom. If I would live only in the world of reason my will would always be equal to this principle. However, I am also a member of the world of senses and therefore my behavior in this world “ought” to conform to the principles pointed out in the world of reason. To make this possible Kant points at the idea of freedom as a necessary condition for the principles to become will. He argues that pure reason – as the basic principle of the intelligible world – is conveyed into will and this will is supposed to guide your actions. However, there are empirical conditions – situations – that might influence the will in another way than pure reason does. Then pure reason would not be sufficient to guide our behavior. Kant employs the Idea of freedom to solve the problem. This property for the will exists; therefore pure reason can become behavior.
The word “ought” itself signifies a choice. So moral reasoning is only possible when freedom of choice is assumed. This choice, however, does not refer to different alternatives of actions. Essentially, Kemp (1967) points out, it refers only to the distinction between inclination (deriving from the world of senses) and reason (deriving from the intelligible world). Thus, morality only makes sense for at least partly reasonable beings (as Kant named human beings). Animals only have to follow their inclinations, objective laws, such, as moral principles have no meaning for them. This also led Kant to one of “his most important and characteristic theses” (Kemp, p.59): A rational being can think of its maxims as practical universal laws but only if the determining ground for these principles is their form and not their content.
Therefore, emptying all maxims from their contents and only regarding the form, the universal law remains. Only the law used to judge every rational being could be moral. And thus men must be able to act in a way prescribed solely by reason; empirical results do not matter. There is, however, as Kant admits, no direct proof for the Idea of freedom, as there is no proof for the Idea of God. But it is reasonable to assume this “entity”, since there is no counter-evidence either. The Idea of freedom is also the most important issue that divides Kant’s philosophical ideas from anthropology (Gram, 1967). Anthropology derives its laws from laws of man. These laws miss the Idea of freedom and therefore can never be moral laws.
(v.) Hegel’s challenge. Priest (1987) published a book with the intention to criticize Kant’s reasoning. Hegel, a contemporary challenger of Kant’s theories, doubts the foundations of some of Kant’s concepts. Kant always wanted to build up an understanding for what man can achieve or cannot achieve in science. Especially the metaphysics were problematic for Kant, since other sciences already dissolved their major problems. Mathematics as the first independent science left philosophical justification very early; also other natural sciences grew more independent by adopting the experimental method. Thus, for Kant only the metaphysics seemed to have no solutions for long-outstanding questions. The problem bases on the understanding – already mentioned by Plato – of “phenomena” and “noumena”. The later one was according to Plato the Idea of any object. Therefore a noumena of a table existed as well as a noumena of freedom. The phenomena are what we can perceive, and in Plato’s view they are always defective. Though Kant avoids the idea of defectiveness, he partly shares Plato’s view. Looking at the noumena – what is per definition impossible – would reveal a much clearer picture as looking at the phenomena only. To cut a long statement short: there is no absolute knowledge possible. Hegel heavily rejected this idea. In Priest’s book Hegel’s criticism concerning that point is cited as: “Knowledge must be true or of the truth, but appearances are by definition what is not true. Appearances are less than real: how then can they be objects of knowledge?” (Priest, p. 122). Another criticism Hegel brought forward was Kant’s idea of proving the limits of reasoning as well as its powers. Hegel stated that an examination of limits needs the transcendental knowledge of someone, who already crossed the borders and therefore exceeded the limits (by definition impossible to do).
Hegel also criticizes the categorical imperative as empty. The examples listed by Kant are not defensible for Hegel. Kant argues in one example, that cheating in a card-playing game is morally wrong, because I would not wish it to be a universal law. Hegel answered that I might wish so, as long as I am not in a card playing society. What Hegel wants to show is his idea that social influences determine my evaluation of any action as suitable to a universal law. As for most of Hegel’s objections the source is the often careless use of language by Kant. Most of Hegel’s criticism could have been answered by simply giving a consistent use of language and words. For the above-mentioned example Kant failed to integrate it into a broader view. Thus, cheating in card-playing games might be acceptable, but it is only a symbol for mistrust and suspicion and clearly no one wants to live in a society with the universal rule that to betray other persons is allowed.
Hegel’s concerns therefore can mostly be rejected. However, his detailed inquiry of Kant’s works led to many additional explanations and clarifications in Kant’s followers.
In the beginning of the 20th century other critics devaluated Kant’s notions of morality. In 1930 J.H. Muirhead (cited in Herman, 1993) introduced a classification of moral theories either into deontological or teleological. This distinction, with Kant’s theory falling into the first section, served the purpose to label any deontological system as misleading. Only in recent years a new interpretation came up that more carefully looked at the original readings of Kant. Thus Herman (1993) tries to restate some of the criticism and to show that Kant’s concepts are still of great worth, and go beyond the notion of deontology. Deontological systems do not recognize the idea of something inherently good. Thus friendship, love, passion, compassion … nothing is perceived as inherently good. This notion was heavily criticized at the beginning of this century. And Kant’s work was one of those receiving most criticism, though his work had something more than deontology to offer. It is the “good will” that Kant describes as good without qualification.
No matter how these discussion work on, Kant’s work has influenced more than 200 years of moral thinking and justifies its elaborate summary in this work.
With the political crises in America during the 60’s and 70’s, Individual Rights Movement, Vietnam War… perspectives even on fundamental issues were discussed. The Vietnam War caused protest against the American warfare in the own country. Broad movements for peace and an end of the war came up. The longer the war lasted the stronger these movements became. Particularly after details about American attacks were known such as the massacres in My Lai, the legitimacy of that war was discussed. The ideas of dominance in the South-Pacific seemed less appealing when thousands of American soldiers were killed or severely wounded (Microsoft Corporation, 1997).
(vi.) A theory of justice. This situation led Rawls to the publication of “A Theory of Justice” in 1971 after working on it since 1958. His book received general acknowledgement and criticism. Three important elements are covered in this book: (1) vision of men and society as they should be; (2) conception of moral theory; (3) derivation of principles according to earlier developed and justified methods.
More than Kant, Rawls relies on the notion of interaction between theory and empirical observation. He states that ethics cannot derive from self-evident axioms or from definition. Substantive moral judgement is the empirical part you have to consider in this interaction. Moreover he claims the existence of underlying moral principles that are plausible for the majority of us. A theory should also explain how particular judgements derive from these general principles. If there is no controversy between the two levels, general principles and particular judgements, than the state is called: reflective equilibrium. This state, however, is subject to change at any time. It is only a temporal phenomenon. Thus Rawls perceives his own statements as temporal limited as well, but as the most appropriate for this time. The substantive doctrine in Rawls’ work is a form of egalitarian liberalism. Controversial elements in his theory are egalitarianism; anti-perfectionism; anti-meritocracy; The justice of social institutions is measured by their tendency to counteract the natural inequalities deriving from birth, talent and circumstances (Daniels, 1974). An inequality in the distribution of any economic or social advantages is allowed only, if everyone benefits from them, even the worst-off. Liberty is the most fundamental right; it cannot be sacrificed for other values. A problem for the prompted set of general principles is the diversity of opinions. According to Rawls the hypothetical choice can be made on the basis of reasons that all men have in common. In the original position he restricts possible opinions by the following facts: all parties are mutually disinterested (no envy, no altruism); people only know what they want and what everyone needs (general knowledge about economics, politics, sociology…); sense of justice that helps them to adhere to the selected principles. He also does not allow them to bring in their conceptions of good, because people are too diverse in their notions of what good is. The principles of justice are objective and interpersonally recognizable in a way that conceptions of good are not.
The parties in the original situation, however, are allowed to bring in their own life plans. And these differ between parties. Rawls argues that in this situation the most justified moral way would be: let all parties follow their own ways, as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others. Rawls also rejects the “original situation” in Kant’s work. For Kant the beginning choices are made in full information about everyone, every group, moral laws, except from the position the person, who chooses, has in this society. Rawls rejects this notion because the parties would each maintain their conception of good and no unanimity could be reached or they would have no aims on their own and are asked to choose in terms of the aims of all the people they might be.
But Rawls’ theory is not without faults and criticism either. His theory is attacked as subjective and intuitional instead of scientific. It seemed that every time he left the way shown by Kant, he lapses into faults. For example he states that he is satisfied when only the reader agrees to his arguments. On page 50 he writes: “So for the purpose of this book, the view of the reader and the author are the only ones that count”. This form of subjectivity clearly violates every scientific approach. His book is one of the most famous books on moral theory, but I would like to say that it couldn’t be compared to the analytic and proper work provided by Kant. Recently other philosophers tried to order the philosophical approaches instead of creating new ones. The criticism provoked by Rawls’ book certainly is trying to solve problems detected in Rawls’ positions but yet there is no satisfying solution available that incorporates the whole idea of moral reasoning in one working theory.
(vii.) Recent developments. Even more recently philosophers emphasize the use of language. Tugendhat (cited in Noam & Wren, 1993) tells us that moral rules uses the words “ought”, “should”, “may not”, and “cannot”. As evaluations the words “good” and “bad” are used. This is remarkable compared to other evaluations you use. Often evaluations are of the following construction: “good skier”, “bad swimmer”… An area in which the evaluation took place qualifies the evaluation. For morality the evaluation is only “good” or “bad”. This indicates the incorporation of the whole self into this category. If you fail morally, than you are “bad”. Thus additional to education in different areas you have to acquire one fundamental skill, whose scale ranges from good to bad. The rules of morality are the rules applied to that scale. A failure in that skill should then lead to moral shame, which is the feeling of being devaluated in the core of one’s entire social existence. The problems coming from this view are psychopaths. People, who do not feel ashamed by any deed they commit, however morally disgusting this might be.
Oksenberg-Rorty (cited in Noam & Wren, 1993) takes a step away from this unidimensional view. An unmoral deed has not to be unmorally in all cases. To watch the behavior alone is not good enough for the evaluation. Moreover you have to take the character of the actor into consideration. To judge correctly whether someone committed a morally good or bad deed we have to know about the choices open to that particular person in that particular situation. If certain actions are not possible, they should not be evaluated as moral actions even if they might seem desirable. Therefore it is not only important what we do, but also why we do it and how we do it.
Wren (cited in Noam & Wren, 1993) develops this idea further. While Oksenberg-Rorty sees the morality of actions influenced by the moral character, Wren doubts that there is any difference at all between self and morality. These constructs, he argues, are strongly overlapping and in psychology the definition of these constructs as independent leads to many confusions. This definition does not allow tracing back variability in one construct to the other construct’s changes. Therefore overlap is not explained and confuses many scientists. The idea of a strong overlap is supported in his opinion by the “open-textured” characteristic of both constructs. “Open-textured” means the possibility for adding different meanings to these constructs depending on different times and/or cultural conditions and/or groups of persons. For morality Wren argues the construct is embodying different subconceptions. The main conception is transcultural in the meaning that in every culture there are rules that differ between a good and a bad way to share one’s world with other beings. This function, to determine a right way, is the transcultural feature; it has no specific contents (rules). Society at a particular time incorporates contents in this feature. Therefore it is as Kant claimed earlier a formal feature that is universal, not a content related feature. From this notion of morality we can distinguish on a lower level (not transcultural for all cultures anymore) deontic and ethical ideas of morality. Deontonic notions focus on right actions, ethical ideas more on different ideas of the good. Deontonic notions would be a juridical concept of morality with obeying to formal laws, or proceduralist-structural aspects with the ideas of fair trial and due process. More ethical notions are teleological conceptions with the overriding concern for some objective, large scaled good or value such as the glory of good. Also self-actualization would be regarded as an ethical notion with the concern for the own self as the most important value (strongly to differ from a merely egocentric view of the world). Whatever notion you follow, morality can not be regarded as wrong in one notion and right in another one. Neither can one be evaluated as lower or higher than the other one. In all these notions developments take place and so only a differentiation between the stages within one of the notions is justified. Nucci & Lee (cited in Noam & Wren, 1993) believe that the development is mostly encouraged by the development of role taking perspectives. Only with higher abilities to take into consideration the role of other persons, individuals are able to obtain a higher degree of freedom and autonomy in their judgements. For this development it is very important to look how children perceive their objective freedom. Impairments in the degree of objective freedom and/or in the perception of their autonomy might impede their moral development.
Sociology views morality in combination with society and events in social life. Morality is not an issue for the single individual and neither it is a free choice or an irresistible impulse in the individual. Morality is embedded in society and it affects society as a whole. Thus reflecting on one social event is as good as on another. For the purpose of showing a sociological view on morality, the Charity Organization Movement from 1912 – 1917 is observed (Loseke & Fawcett, 1995). This movement was introduced by the millionaire Adolph S. Ochs and aimed at the 100 neediest people in town. Interestingly enough charity itself was not the major reason for Ochs, but the development of positive attitudes towards each other among people. This campaign was paired with Christmas time and should provoke a widespread thinking about poverty. But with reflecting to “the neediest” the connotation was not only for needy people, but also on people who deserve help. Loseke and Fawcett argue that the statements about the neediest are written in the New York Times. In that period of time, mainly wealthy and want-to-be-wealthy people read the New York Times. Thus the publication of the neediest served a particular purpose. Loseke and Fawcett explain the developing structure due to such advertisements. Since rich people see these cases as favorable, they legitimate poverty and charity for this special kind of cases (people suffering illnesses and therefore also poverty…). For other cases, however, their empathy fails by not mentioning them in the 100 neediest cases. The social order splits needy people in two categories: The first category is the group of people who have a “legitimate” right to be poor and to attract help for their poverty, because of certain circumstances. The second group is different, for their conditions are not viewed as worthy to get help. They do not deserve society’s help. For the first group morality commands to help them, for the second it is no moral problem not to help them. Thus a social construction of morality evolves that derives from ideas of wealthy people and finally serves the maintenance of the society. The Wealthy are protected by the existence of “deserving poor people”. Wealthy people donate money to certain poor individuals, who uphold their ideas of social values. Individuals, who fight for a living within the rules of capitalism are preferred. These are people, who even in highest need do not refer to means that damage the Wealthy. Individuals, who would refer to theft are not deserving help, because of the “morally” bad deed. Noble suffering and working, until death is close, are seen as worthy for reward, while theft would be much more reasonable for individuals without anything to eat. Those who do not deserve help do so because of their own faults. Thus, these people try to get in the “deserve-help group” and are largely silenced in their claims for a more just society that prevents people from living in poverty, regardless of their circumstances. Whether people deserve help or not depends heavily on how they got into poverty. A fault on their own eliminates all ideas of worthiness. The subject, stupid enough to commit a fault that leads into poverty is no longer worthy to receive the help necessary to get out again. In all the stories, the poor characters had characteristics making them unresponsible from the beginning of their lives onward, such as blindness, crippled body… Such constructions create morality through biography. Once again they distinguish implicitly “deserving” poor from “paupers” whose economic dependence is a result of a lack of labor effort. Moreover “deserving” people also want to work – morality of motivation – and they never give up hope and a “good” attitude towards life – morality of action.
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