Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

8
MORAL EDUCATION

WHAT IS MORAL EDUCATION?

A DISCUSSION OF PRACTICAL ethics quite naturally involves a discussion of how we shall educate people to be ethical. From the view we have taken, such a discussion is of vital importance, for we all bear a responsibility for the ethical perfection of others. Moral education is, then, a community-wide enterprise and not a task exclusively reserved for home, church, or school. Further, it has for us a dual meaning. It refers to education which is moral in the sense that those planning and conducting education will strive to meet all those involved morally; and it refers to an education that will enhance the ethical ideal of those being educated so that they will continue to meet others morally.

As in development of the ethic itself, I shall refrain from the use of jargon often associated with moral education. I shall not, for reasons already made clear, discuss “stages” of moral development and, obviously, I shall not dwell on moral reasoning. Is my view, then, “affectivist”? I shall reject that label, although both the ethic and the resulting recommendations for moral education rest on a foundation of affective relation. I reject the label because such labels are often affixed simplistically, and the notion arises that one who insists on recognizing the affective base of morality must, therefore, minimize the role of cognitive activity. One cannot dismiss thinking and reasoning from ethical conduct, and I have made no attempt to do this. It is a matter of emphasis and of origin. When I have recognized the affective “I must,” I must think effectively about what I should do in response to the other. I do not respond out of blind sentiment, but I put my best thinking at the service of the ethical affect. If I exclude cognition, I fall into vapid and pathetic sentimentality; if I exclude affect—or recognize it only as an accompaniment of sorts—I risk falling into self-serving or unfeeling rationalization.

-171-

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Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface to the 2013 Edition xiii
  • Preface to the 2003 Edition xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Why Care about Caring? 7
  • 2 - The One-Caring 30
  • 3 - The Cared-for 59
  • 4 - An Ethic of Caring 79
  • 5 - Construction of the Ideal 104
  • 6 - Enhancing the Ideal- Joy 132
  • 7 - Caring for Animals, Plants, Things and Ideas 148
  • 8 - Moral Education 171
  • Afterword 203
  • Notes 209
  • Select Bibliography 219
  • Index 223
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