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Title: Ethical confidence and education : beyond doubt and deflection
Author: Keys, Martyn John Selby
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 6516
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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I begin this thesis in the classroom, and with a depiction of a particular, quite prevalent, approach to moral education. My aims are then as follows: (1) to trace how certain influential positions in philosophy of education bolster such an approach, (2) to critique the picture of ethics and ethical development shared by these positions, and (3) to suggest an alternative conception of the ethical life which promises to offer a richer, more fruitful, approach to moral education. My first aim is met through an examination of the works of Robert Dearden and Michael Hand on teaching controversial issues. From these writers I draw out what I describe as a 'rationalistic' approach; where a particular vision of rationality is (a) called on to provide definite foundations for the ethical life, and where by implication, (b) teachers are encouraged to teach various ethical concerns as 'issues' which are resolved, or potentially resolvable, by 'rational' means. My critique of this approach focuses on the deeper but unacknowledged senses of unease that underpin both its vision of rationality, and the justificatory role reason is supposed to play in ethics and moral education. The challenge considers the idea that its conception of rationality is ethically deflective (e.g. that it can constitute an attempt to avoid dealing directly with ethical doubt and disquietude). I go on to explore whether there might be a non-deflective philosophical engagement with the ethical: an approach which avoids succumbing either to the certainties of 'rationalism' or to the potentially corrosive nature of relativistic doubt. In arguing that such a conception can be found in the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, I explore the possibilities it presents for moral education. Particular attention is paid to the role that the study of literature might play in deepening certain forms of ethical awareness in the classroom.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available