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Fully explain how Kohlberg thought post-conventional morality would look upon breaking the law. Show how this relates to natural law theory and the idea of natural law being a higher law than human law.

Kohlberg theorized that individuals who reach post-conventional morality develop their own set of ethical principles that transcend law. Instead of viewing an action as morally wrong if it breaks the law, post-conventional morality considers if the action promotes good and in what context. Natural law theory is similar in how it recognizes human law as limited in being consistent with reason.

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Kohlberg believed that few people ever reach the sixth stage of moral development—post-conventional morality. This is because this stage requires abstract contemplation of ethics and an in-depth understanding of the social order. Post-conventional morality weighs the context of the law, such as its motivations, its implications, and the people it serves. For example, consider journalists who go to prison for writing articles that expose their governments’ human rights violations. In such cases, the journalists believe breaking the law is the right thing to do because it could end the suffering of many people. Although the journalist will suffer, the action promotes the greatest good for innocent people.

Post-conventional morality’s approach to human law is similar to natural law theory’s in how it assesses actions. Natural law theory recognizes that human action can often oppose natural laws like survival and reproduction. For example, murder goes against the natural law of survival, as it interferes with a person’s natural life cycle. Since human laws are the result of human action, they can often oppose natural law as well. For example, consider scenarios in which stealing food is the only way to save a group a people. Although stealing is illegal, natural law and post-conventional morality would likely assert that this is a scenario in which human law should be disregarded in favor of the greatest good.

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