Moral education within the social contract: whose contract is it anyway?
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Colleges, School and Institutes
In A Theory of Moral Education, Michael Hand defends the importance of teaching children moral standards, even while taking seriously the fact that reasonable people disagree about morality. While I agree there are universal moral values based on the kind of beings humans are, I raise two issues with Hand’s account. The first is an omission that may be compatible with Hand’s theory; the role of virtues. A role for the cultivation of virtues and rational emotions such as compassion is vital in accounting for the emotional aspect of morality. The second issue pertains to Hand’s foundational premise of human beings’ rough equality. Following Martha Nussbaum, I argue that contractarian approaches must be critically evaluated to ensure the social contract properly includes and accounts for the human dignity of those who are typically excluded from the benefits of society. Hand’s justificatory arguments rely upon a contractarian premise, and the contract itself needs scrutiny and adjustment if it is to support a viable theory of moral education.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Journal of Moral Education|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Oct 2019|
- Michael Hand, compassion, contractarianism, ethics, moral education, virtue