Originally, Rest (1979) suggested a “layer cake” model of moral functioning, according to which all previously acquired moral stages are used in relevant situations. Such a model explains the great variance in actual stage usage that Kohlberg denied even though it was present in his data on the level of single criterion judgements (see Colby & Kohlberg, 1987). There is ample empirical evidence, today, of this situation-specific variability (see Beck et al., 2002; Beck & Parche-Kawik, 2004; Krebs & Denton, 2005, for overviews).

Following Krebs and Denton we also believe that while people acquire more and more sophisticated structures of moral reasoning in the course of their development, they “retain their old forms of moral reasoning and invoke them to solve the problems that they are equipped to solve. Simple problems can be solved perfectly adequately with simple forms of thought” (2006, p. 673).