Did the moral education establishment kill character? An autopsy of the death of character

Journal of Moral Education 32 (3):291-306 (2003)
Abstract
This essay examines James Davison Hunter's claim that the moral education establishment is responsible for the death of character. I contend that although Hunter's rhetoric about the "death of character" is distracting and his claims against the moral education establishment are overstated, moral educators must grapple with his finding that effective moral education requires a coherent moral culture with a clear conception of public and private good. I attempt to draw out the implications of Hunter's finding by comparing past Soviet and current American forms of moral education. Finally, I conclude that the effectiveness of moral education is threatened not only when character is separated from its nourishing social, historical and cultural moorings, but also when moral autonomy and respect for diversity is undermined. Thus, in the last part of the essay, I discuss three possibilities for how public education can both allow comprehensive approaches to moral education and adhere to liberalism's appreciation for moral autonomy and diversity
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