As Newton resident Lisa Dodson, a Boston College sociology professor in the thick of a research project, was interviewing a grocery story manager in the Midwest about the difficulties of the low-income workers he supervised, he asked her a curious question: "Don't you want to know what this does to me too?''So where would such "economic disobedience" fall on the Kholberg scale, I wonder? Stage Three, or Stage Six?
The interview changed the way Dodson talked with other supervisors and managers of low-income workers, and she began to find that many of them felt the same discomfort as the grocery store manager. And many went a step further, finding ways to undermine the system and slip their workers extra money, food, or time needed to care for sick children. She was surprised how widespread these acts were....
As Dodson's questions grew more pointed, she began to hear fascinating stories. Andrew, a manager in a large Midwest food business, said he put extra money in the paychecks of those earning a "poverty wage,'' punched out their time cards at the usual quitting time when they had to leave early for a doctor's appointment, and gave them food.
Andrew had decided that by supervising workers who were treated unfairly - paid too little and subjected to inflexible schedules that prevented them from taking care of their families - he was playing a direct role in the unfair system, and so he was morally obligated to act.
Dodson concluded that Andrew and many like him were following the American tradition of civil disobedience - this time, against the economy - and creating a "moral underground.''
But her book, which came out late last year, has provoked debate about the morality of such acts.
After Dodson talked about her book on a radio program, American Public Media's "Marketplace,'' some listeners posted comments on the show's website arguing that supervisors like Andrew are cheating their employers.
Referring to the show's host, a listener from Leesburg, Va., wrote, "I was surprised that throughout the entire interview, neither Tess Vigeland nor Ms. Dodson touched on what would seem to me a rather crucial point - that these ‘Ordinary Americans' are stealing from the companies who employ them.
"The examples Ms. Dodson gave . . . are acts of theft from the companies, yet they are described as if somehow moral and virtuous. It's one thing for me to see someone in need and open my wallet; its quite another to address that need by giving something I've stolen from my neighbor.''
Although Dodson makes clear where she stands - the subtitle of her book includes the phrase "unfair economy'' - she said she believes the debate is important.
"I think that this is a really important conversation that we should have in this country,'' Dodson said. "What is the worst wrong here? Is it to break a rule or to pass some food over, or is it that we have tens of millions of children and people in families that are working as hard as they can and they can't take care of their families?''
Here's Wikipedia's summation of Stages Three-Six:
In Stage three (interpersonal accord and conformity driven), the self enters society by filling social roles. Individuals are receptive to approval or disapproval from others as it reflects society's accordance with the perceived role. They try to be a "good boy" or "good girl" to live up to these expectations, having learned that there is inherent value in doing so. Stage three reasoning may judge the morality of an action by evaluating its consequences in terms of a person's relationships, which now begin to include things like respect, gratitude and the "golden rule". "I want to be liked and thought well of; apparently, not being naughty makes people like me." Desire to maintain rules and authority exists only to further support these social roles. The intentions of actions play a more significant role in reasoning at this stage; "they mean well ...".In Stage four (authority and social order obedience driven), it is important to obey laws, dictums and social conventions because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. Moral reasoning in stage four is thus beyond the need for individual approval exhibited in stage three; society must learn to transcend individual needs. A central ideal or ideals often prescribe what is right and wrong, such as in the case of fundamentalism. If one person violates a law, perhaps everyone would—thus there is an obligation and a duty to uphold laws and rules. When someone does violate a law, it is morally wrong; culpability is thus a significant factor in this stage as it separates the bad domains from the good ones. Most active members of society remain at stage four, where morality is still predominantly dictated by an outside force.
The post-conventional level, also known as the principled level, consists of stages five and six of moral development. There is a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society, and that the individual's own perspective may take precedence over society's view; they may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles. These people live by their own abstract principles about right and wrong-principles that typically include such basic human rights as life, liberty, and justice. Because of this level's "nature of self before others", the behavior of post-conventional individuals, especially those at stage six, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventional level.
People who exhibit postconventional morality view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms - ideally rules can maintain the general social order and protect human rights. Rules are not absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. Contemporary theorists often speculate that many people may never reach this level of abstract moral reasoning. 
In Stage five (social contract driven), the world is viewed as holding different opinions, rights and values. Such perspectives should be mutually respected as unique to each person or community. Laws are regarded as social contracts rather than rigid dictums. Those which do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet "the greatest good for the greatest number of people". This is achieved through majority decision, and inevitable compromise. Democratic government is ostensibly based on stage five reasoning.
In 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. Rights are unnecessary, as social contracts are not essential for deontic moral action. Decisions are not reached hypothetically in a conditional way but rather categorically in an absolute way, as in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. This involves an individual imagining what they would do in another's shoes, if they believed what that other person imagines to be true. The resulting consensus is the action taken. In this way action is never a means but always an end in itself; the individual acts because it is right, and not because it is instrumental, expected, legal, or previously agreed upon. Although Kohlberg insisted that stage six exists, he found it difficult to identify individuals who consistently operated at that level.Individual or collection actions trying to stop or go around foreclosures surely raise the same issue. But isn't it getting a little hard to believe that non-community, corporate banks out to defraud the world own the moral high ground? I myself take heart when I hear that the State of New Mexico will be moving all its money (a few billion) out of those banks and into credit unions and community banks...