Mis-Alignments

Without going into the minutiae of the RH-bill, the statement of ProRH Ateneo professors and the CBCP response to investigate the professors for heresy, termination and excommunication, allow me to respond as an alumnus and here-this-term-but-not-in-the-next faculty member trained by Ateneo in the fields of psychology and art.

One of the concepts I studied as a psychology major both as an undergrad and later on in graduate school was Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, an adaptation of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory.

Where are my textbooks when I need them? But wait, there is Google and Wikipedia! So let me go the way of least resistance and shamelessly plagiarize as I review Kohlberg.

Kohlberg holds that moral reasoning has six identifiable stages, each more adequate at responding to moral dilemmas than its predecessor. In brief and a propos to the current discussion, the stages are as follows:

I. PRE-CONVENTIONAL. These first two stages are common among children, although adults can also exhibit this mode of reasoning.

Stage One: OBEDIENCE AND PUNISHMENT DRIVEN

The individual’s choices are made in OBEDIENCE and ORIENTED TO AVOID PUNISHMENT. The morality of an action is judged by its direct consequences to the child. He will obey to avoid punishment.

Obviously, CBCP thinks that the Ateneo professors are still in this level.

Stage Two: SELF-INTEREST DRIVEN.

The individual decides whatever is in the individual’s best interest. Helping, contributing, or acting only if it benefits him in return.

II. CONVENTIONAL Typical of adolescents and adults. The morality of actions is judged by comparing them to society’s views and expectations. An individual obeys rules and follows norms even when there are no consequences for obedience or disobedience. However, a rule’s appropriateness or fairness is seldom questioned.

Stage Three: INTERPERSONAL ACCORD AND CONFORMITY DRIVEN

The individual fulfills social roles while being receptive to approval or disapproval from others. They try to be a “good boy”or “good girl” to fulfill expectations.

Stage Four: AUTHORITY AND SOCIAL ORDER OBEDIENCE DRIVEN

A Law and Order morality. It is important to obey laws and social conventions because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. Moral reasoning here goes beyond the need for individual approval in the previous stage.

III. POST CONVENTIONAL Also known as the Principled level, is marked by a realization that the individuals are separate entities from society, and that the individual’s own perspective may take precedence over society’s view; individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles.

People in the post conventional level view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms. Rules are not absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. Because post-conventional individuals elevate their own moral evaluation of a situation over social conventions, their behavior, especially at stage 6, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventinal level.

Stage FIVE: SOCIAL CONTRACT DRIVEN

The world is viewed as holding different opinions, rights and values. Such values should be mutually respected as unique to each person or community. Laws are regarded as social contracts rather than rigid edicts. Those that do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Decisions are reach through majority decision, and inevitable compromise. A democratic society is based on stage five reasoning.

In my perfect universe, this should be the level of moral reasoning in the current discussion regarding the RH bill. This was where the Ateneo professors were coming from.

Stage SIX: UNIVERSAL ETHICAL PRINCIPLES DRIVEN

Moral reasoning is based on abstract reasoning using universal ethical principles. Laws are valid only insofar as they are grounded in justice, and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws.

The individual acts because it is right, and not because it is instrumental, expected, legal, or previously agreed upon. The individual has a principled conscience. Interestingly, Kohlberg found it difficult to identify individuals who consistently operate at this level, though he insists that this level of moral reasoning exists.

In a nutshell, here is a group of people espousing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and they are threatened with an Inquisition-style investigation for heresy and an equally Inquisition-style punishment for excommunication.

Major mis-alignment.

Did I say I was trained in Art? And I was teaching it in Ateneo since 1990. Back then there was no Fine Arts program, just a fledgling Interdisciplinary Studies program that held basic drawing and painting classes for those who elect to have an easy A at the beginning but have moved on to serious careers in design and art, receiving the CCP’s 13 Artists Awards, some nominations to the Ateneo Art Awards. Those were my students. They make me proud. From the quagmire of philosophy orals, business plans, group theses and org fairs, they have decided to make art part of their daily life. But oops I digress, maybe my waxing sentimental of them should be in a different post.

To view this from an art teacher’s point of view would be to see it as an attempt at drawing or painting in dire need of interventions based on the principles of contrast, balance, emphasis, rhythm.

Contrast. Contrast in tone through black vs. white, with the interplay of grays and highlights we artists know as Chiaroscuro. Contrast in size through big vs. small, many vs. the individual, grouped vs. separate.

Balance. Equilibrium is more interesting if it is lopsided. When one load in the see-saw is about to tip over. But doesn’t. Because it found its balance.

Emphasis. What should be the focus here? Respect for the individual? Respect for life?

Rhythm. Repetition, Alternation, Progression, Regression.

Harmony. When everything works well together.

tsk. tsk. tsk. Asaaaa…

Okay, I think I will go back to my painting now. Bahala na kayo sa kalabuan niyo, CBCP. We are no longer children.

We have ONE BIG FIGHT ahead.

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