An adjusted version of Kohlberg's moral theory: discussion of its validity for research in nursing ethics

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Abstract

An adjusted version of Kohlberg's moral theory:discussion of its validity for research in nursing ethics

Critics of Kohlberg's moral theory today focus on the content of his theory and more specifically on its justice-orientated moral concept. This has led to the well-known 'justice-care debate'. The purpose of this article is to critically examine the validity of Kohlberg's moral theory for research in nursing ethics from a caring perspective (referring to the content) as well as from a cognitive-structural perspective (referring to the basic assumptions of the model). The analysis points to the usefulness and value of the cognitive-structural model to empirically study nurses' ethical behaviour; the content of Kohlberg's model, however, needs to be adapted by adding a caring perspective as well as some personal and situational variables. An adjusted version of Kohlberg's model is proposed and discussed.

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