Moral Education for Americans

By Robert D. Heslep | Go to book overview

4 The Goal of Moral Education

After contending that Americans need a character education that rests on defensible moral principles, we argued that the norms of moral agency are defensible on the grounds of feasibility as well as those of logic. Also, in saying that the character education Americans ought to have should rest on the norms of moral agency, we mean that the nation's members should have the character of moral agents. But we have not explained what character is, let alone what the character of a moral agent is. Let us, then, try to make clear the type of educational product we have in mind.


CHARACTER

Of the various dictionary meanings of the word character, the one most germane to our concern is, "the aggregate of distinctive qualities belonging to a person or race." In other words, the character of a person is the mass of qualities that distinguishes him or her. This definition clearly derives from the etymology of the word: One's character is what characterizes, or marks, oneself. Even though the definition is common and somewhat useful, it has two serious faults. One is that it leaves up in the air what a quality of a person is. The other is that it fails to indicate how an aggregate of qualities might mark a person. Happily, these gaps can be filled in rather easily.

When we talk about a personal quality, we normally refer to it as some aspect of the individual's being. Thus, we often speak of the quality as what the person is in some respect: "She is assertive," "He is rude," "Franco was dictatorial," and "Silas Marner was miserly." It also

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Moral Education for Americans
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - A Dire Need for Moral Education 5
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - The Norms of Moral Agency 26
  • Notes 42
  • 3 - The Feasibility of the Norms 45
  • Notes 61
  • 4 - The Goal of Moral Education 64
  • Notes 73
  • 5 - The Content of Moral Education 75
  • Notes 94
  • 6 - The Pedagogy of Moral Education 96
  • Notes 118
  • 7 - Moral Education for the United States 120
  • Notes 140
  • 8 - Moral Education for Natalene Turner 143
  • Conclusions 164
  • 9 - Moral Education for the Force 168
  • 10 - Implications 194
  • Selected Bibliography 213
  • Index 217
  • About the Author 219
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