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Title: Perfectionist liberalism and living well : character, politics and education
Author: Andrews, Rhys William
Awarding Body: University of Wales, Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis aims to show that a liberal character-ethics lies at the heart of perfectionist liberal aspirations for individual flourishing. In the past, liberal conceptions of the good life were tied to metaphysical conceptions of the self. However, the diversity of contemporary liberal societies leads liberals to seek new conceptual resources to underpin their normative theories. This thesis decontests a perfectionist liberal doctrine which highlights liberal ethical ideals associated with a malleable conception of the self can be most attractively conceptualised by reviving the currently neglected concept of character. For agents in liberal societies to live well they should possess a certain sort of character. The liberal concept of character defended here has two aspects: moral and individual. These two aspects together provide normative content and criteria for a liberal character-ethics which can be promoted by the liberal state (and throughout civil society). In particular, a liberal doctrine based on the dual concept of character can guide an education for significant autonomy that nurtures the ability of children to live well in later life. Such an education would pay especially close attention to encouraging virtues associated with responsible political engagement, as these are fundamental to significant autonomy in a liberal democracy. The philosophical presuppositions of promoting liberal virtues can then be edifyingly viewed at a meta-theoretical level in quasi-Foucauldian terms as the inculcation of 'technologies of the self'. The final chapter uses the perfectionist liberal doctrine defended in Chapters Four and Five to assess the normative cogency of political education in English secondary schools, reflecting on the current politics and philosophy of education and citizenship in the UK. The thesis then concludes by highlighting that liberal aspirations for character, politics and education must be openly and confidently explicated if they are to shape the processes of 'govemmentality' in liberal democracies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available