Medicine & USMLE

Postconventional Morality

Kohlberg Moral Development
  1. Preconventional Morality
  2. Conventional Morality
  3. Postconventional Morality


The Postconventional Stage is the final level of Kohlberg’s model of moral development, typically exhibited by adults. In this stage, people develop their own moral values, guided by social contracts and universal ethical principles.

Key Points

  • Postconventional Morality
    • Morals are defined by internal personal values and thinking
    • Usually seen in adults
      • Kohlberg did not assign ages to his moral stages, but postconventional morality is most often seen in adults
    • Social Contract
      • Laws and conventions are seen as social contracts, and may be broken if it serves the greater good
    • Universal Ethical Principles
      • Moral reasoning is driven by abstract ethical principles (e.g. justice, dignity, equality)