Education and the public understanding of morality
The theme 'the public understanding of morality' is introduced through a comparison with the idea of the public understanding of science. The argument proper starts in Part I with an overview of diversity of values in contemporary society. It is argued that it is important for education to promote the understanding of this diversity, but that this does not preclude an attempt at the same time to promote a shared understanding of morality. Consideration of the work of the 'National Forum for Values in Education and the Community' is used to show a way of narrowing down the whole field of values to a particular conception of morality. Part 11 looks further into this idea of 'morality in the narrow sense' and considers what kind of language - one of norms or one of virtues - is appropriate for articulating it. The discussion is made more concrete by reference to attitudes to violence. It is concluded that while both kinds of language are important, a language of norms has a certain priority in the articulation of morality in the narrow sense. Part III defends the idea of a morality of norms against some recent criticisms, and considers the public, including the educational, role of moral norms. Part IV tries to show how the understanding of morality which has been outlined can have some motivational force and be seen to have some authority. It is argued that the promotion of an understanding of morality, conceived in the way outlined, can appropriately be seen as a task for citizenship ed ucation. In an Epilogue it is suggested that the promotion of the public understanding of morality is a contribution to the moral development of society.