A community of (imperfect) benevolent archangels : a philosophical approach to moral education and an educational approach to moral philosophy
This thesis is about moral philosophy, moral education, and the relationship which one has to the other. I argue for a particular moral philosophy and derive from that a view of moral education. But I also argue that the relationship between the two is of a special nature and differs from the relationship which might exist between philosophy and education in general or between, say, the philosophy of mathematics and education in mathematics. The moral theory I offer incorporates a view of moral thinking which is, in many respects, similar to that given by Hare. However, the thesis includes an extended criticism of Hare's form of utilitarianism and, especially, of his rationalist justification for the form of moral thinking which he recommends. The criticism of Hare's theory, and of his approach, forms the background against which I recommend a fundamental modification of utilitarian moral theory. Although the theory offered yields a utilitarian view of right action, it is a nonconsequentialist theory which is based upon a notion of an ideal agent. The theory is founded upon a notion of the benevolent archangel as universal ideal. The moral theory is offered as a perspective upon those moral views which we share. That perspective is recommended as one which can elucidate, underpin and inspire those moral views. The form of moral education which is derived from that theory focusses centrally upon the development of the virtues of benevolence, nonmalevolence, understanding and humility.