Education and a progressive orientation towards a cosmopolitan society

Ethics and Education 7 (1):59 - 73 (2012)
Abstract
Robin Barrow claims in his ?Moral education's modest agenda? that ?the task of moral education is to develop understanding, at the lowest level, of the expectations of society and, at the highest level, of the nature of morality???[that is, that moral education] should go on to develop understanding, not of a particular social code, but of the nature of morality ? of the principles that provide the framework within which practical decisions have to be made? [Barrow, R. 2006. Moral education's modest agenda. Ethics and Education 1, no. 1: 3?13.]. Barrow's words are noteworthy not only because he sets out to define the ?modest? agenda of moral education in terms of principles, but also because he asserts that education is important for teaching students to understand morality in such terms. However, even though he is arguing that understanding morality is important in terms of principles, he says little about their function or status, or how we cultivate ourselves so that we act in agreement with and are motivated by the principles of practical reason. In this article I therefore discuss two distinctive features of human beings and offer a Kantian notion of morality as a response to Barrow's development of an understanding of morality in terms of principles. I argue that the principles Kant suggests are constitutive of action, and that we both develop our understanding and also value our humanity when we act in agreement with and are motivated by the suggested principles, and cultivate our predispositions (technical, pragmatic and moral). Moreover, I argue that we reach the goal of ?a progressive organization of citizens of the earth into and toward the species as a system that is cosmopolitically united? [Kant, I. 2006b. Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view. Trans. Robert B. Louden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.] when we, inter alia, value our humanity and comply with the principles of practical reason, in practice
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