Kohlberg's Theory and Hedonism

The link between Kohlberg’s theory of moral development and hedonism lies in the progression of individuals through these moral stages. Initially, individuals are primarily driven by immediate, tangible pleasures, such as the pursuit of personal happiness and the avoidance of discomfort. However, as they advance through the stages, their moral reasoning becomes more intricate, encompassing a broader perspective that extends beyond personal pleasure. They shift their focus towards more abstract forms of pleasure, such as the satisfaction derived from moral integrity and the adherence to deeply held ethical principles.

In a way, one could argue that the shift from hedonism to a more eudemonic approach is a natural progression that individuals tend to follow as they grow older. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case in society, where many argue that we remain stuck in an adolescent phase.

Drawing from my own experiences, I don’t hold anyone at fault for this. Even when striving to act morally, it’s easy to become disheartened, feeling as though our efforts yield no meaningful change. The world seems vast, and there are numerous individuals entrenched in an adolescent mindset. It’s almost like attempting to play bridge at a 16th birthday party when you’re 80. Initially, you try to win everyone over, then you attempt to go it alone. When those approaches fail, you might find yourself dancing to Taylor Swift while sipping a vodka-energy drink.

Unfortunately, the societal structures we’ve constructed often hinder our progress beyond the conventional level; in fact, they frequently perpetuate and reinforce hedonistic patterns. Our consumerist culture, for instance, is deeply rooted in hedonism.

So, what steps can we take to move beyond hedonism? How can we transition from a conventional to a post-conventional stage to overcome the limitations of hedonism?

On a personal level, I’ve encountered considerable challenges in moving beyond some of my hedonistic pleasures. To make this transition more manageable, I’ve established a set of stringent principles, such as wearing the same outfit every day to counteract my shopping tendencies. While my aim is to base my decisions and lifestyle on post-conventional morals, I acknowledge that I’m not there yet.