The Rehabilitation of Virtue: Foundations of Moral Education

By Robert T. Sandin | Go to book overview

virtue that is compatible with principled moral reflection.

The disposition to act morally is what is meant by moral character. A good person chooses the good in particular instances, the principled person chooses the right, without necessarily thinking about it. An important goal of moral education is the formation of character so that the principles of morality are made one's own. Such a view of virtue does not at all imply that a virtuous person could not give an account of his actions if called upon to do so or that he has no need to apply his intelligence in following the principles of virtue in unfamiliar circumstances. It implies only that moral habits, as dispositions, are important considerations in morality and in moral education.


SUMMARY

Kohlberg's theory of cognitive/moral development holds much promise in a number of respects. Its holistic method, which seeks to integrate philosophical, psychological, and educational understandings, is an antidote to the fragmentary approaches pursued in decades of unproductive research. His theory of non-indoctrinative moral education based on the assumption of methodological non- relativism is a corrective to the subjectivism and relativism that underlie much current thinking and writing about education in values. And his analysis of the concept of justice contributes significantly to a working understanding of materials for a socially constructive program of moral development.

My problems with Kohlberg's theory stem from the weakness of the philosophical analysis on which it is based. His selection of a particular metaethical theory (ethical formalism) and a particular normative ethical theory (the principle of justice) out of the richness of ethical traditions places narrow and doctrinaire restrictions on his scheme and prevents it from satisfying the general requirements of philosophical and educational scholarship. The narrowness of the philosophical base on which the theory is built leads to its arbitrary and superficial treatment of the concept of value (good), to its cavalierish consignment of utilitarianism to an underdeveloped stage of moral development, and to its grotesque distortion of the classical philosophy of virtue. The developmentalism of the scheme suggests a lock-step approach to moral education that arbitrarily specifies the stages of life at which critical methods of ethical analysis are feasible.

I conclude that the philosophical assumptions underlying Kohlberg's theory are too narrow to be acceptable to philosophical scholarship

-87-

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The Rehabilitation of Virtue: Foundations of Moral Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Values in Retreat 17
  • Summary 30
  • 2 - The Teaching of Values 31
  • 3 - Values Without Philosophy 43
  • 4 - The Anti-Intellectualism of the Schools 55
  • Summary 70
  • 5 - Values in Development 72
  • Summary 87
  • 6 - The Realm of Value 89
  • 7 - Utility and Value 110
  • Summary 124
  • 8 - Thinking and Valuing 126
  • 9 - Reasons for Being Moral 143
  • Summary 156
  • 10 - Education and Virtue 158
  • Summary 182
  • 11 - The Structure of Virtue 184
  • Summary 207
  • 12 - Spirituality Without Illusion 210
  • 13 - Toward a Spiritual Education 231
  • Summary 245
  • Notes 247
  • Selected Bibliography for Values Education 267
  • Index 279
  • About the Author 283
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