Phronesis and moral education: treading beyond the truisms“, theory and research in education

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Whereas most latter-day Aristotelian approaches to moral education highlight the early habituation phase of moral development, they rarely have much to say, beyond truisms from the Nicomachean ethics, about the ultimate Aristotelian goal of cultivating fully fledged phronesis. The aim of this article is to repair the dearth of attention given to phronesis in moral education circles and to bring considerations from other, but related, discourses (such as general Aristotelian scholarship and wisdom studies in psychology) to bear on it. I pay special attention to the so-called skill analogy, which considers virtue acquisition on par with the acquisition of ordinary practical skills, but argue that current articulations of it fail to account fully for the integrative, as distinct from the constitutive, function of phronesis. I argue that the skill analogy needs to be extended to account for the fact that in order to develop fully, phronesis requires direct teaching about the nature of the well-rounded life, providing the learner with an indirect blueprint for eudaimonia. Such a blueprint cannot eschew consequentialist considerations, and to be taught well within current school systems, it needs a discrete place in the school timetable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-171
JournalTheory and Research in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2014


  • Aristotle
  • moral education
  • phronesis
  • skill analogy
  • teaching methods


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