The goal of inclusion is more or less credible depending in part on what it is that learners have in common. I discuss one characteristic that all learners are thought to share, although the learners I am concerned with represent an awkward case for the aspiration of inclusivity. Respect is thought of as something owed to all persons, and I defend the view that this includes persons with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities. I also consider the implications of (...) respecting profoundly disabled learners for teaching and learning, and three aspects in particular: treating the profoundly disabled learner as a person; the close relationship between teaching and caring for a vulnerable learner; and individualised learning as an element of a successful teaching and learning environment. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum has sought to establish the significance of disability for liberal theories of justice. She proposes that human dignity can serve as the basis of an entitlement to a set of capabilities that all human beings either possess or have the potential to develop. This article considers whether the concept of human dignity will serve as the justification for basic human capabilities in accounting for the demands of justice for people with profound learning difficulties and disabilities. It examines the (...) relationship between dignity and capabilities, suggesting that Nussbaum fails to distinguish between several conceptions of human dignity, whilst also identifying one of these conceptions as coming close to meeting several of her demands. It is difficult enough, however, to show how dignity is related to just one of our basic entitlements, and even that requires more than the resources available in Nussbaum's approach. (shrink)
What does dependency reveal about human learning? All humans are dependent, largely because we are variously vulnerable and disabled at more than one stage in our lives. In this paper the subject of dependency is approached largely in the context of our vulnerable and disabled states, including in particular, states of profound disability. The primary contention is that our dependent states should feature in accounts of how we learn, and of relations between learner and teacher, in ways that compare with (...) the attention given to personal autonomy and independence. (shrink)
The ‘accordion effect’ is an effect of language which allows us to describe one and the same thing more or less narrowly. Social capital has been conceived in terms of our access to institutional resources, but also in terms that extend to the levels of trust and related resources found in the social networks we are embedded in. The former conception is narrower, favoured for its specificity and analytical utility. The latter conception is broader, favoured for its acknowledgement of context, (...) including the qualitative features of relations between individuals and within communities. These conceptions appear incompatible, but both have numerous adherents in educational research, and it is unclear whether either can be eliminated without some threat to the intelligibility and explanatory promise of social capital theory in an educational context. This raises hard questions about the domains, questions and methods that the social capital concept is best applied to. Should the concept prove resistant to any defensible specification, this will require a significant revision to the stock of conceptual resources available for understanding and explaining educational progress. (shrink)
Social capital is frequently offered up as a variable to explain such educational outcomes as academic attainment, drop-out rates and cognitive development. Yet, despite its popularity amongst social scientists, social capital theory remains the object of some scepticism, particularly in respect of its explanatory ambitions. I provide an account of some explanatory options available to social capital theorists, focussing on the functions ascribed to social capital and on how these are used as explanatory variables in educational theory. Two of the (...) most influential writers in this field are Coleman and Bourdieu. I explore their commonalities and differences, both in respect of their writing and in respect of some of the many theorists they have influenced. I argue that social capital theorists have made substantial progress in responding to sceptically minded critics, but that significant questions remain, especially about the success of the more ambitious explanatory variants as these apply to educational outcomes—functional explanation in particular. Functional explanation, and its association with Bourdieu, is discussed in ‘Bourdieu and functional explanation’; thereafter I discuss the more modest ambition of identifying the functions associated with social capital. In ‘Coleman, intergenerational closure and educational outcomes’ I show how Coleman provides resources for revealing how social structure features in social explanation in an educational context, and in ‘Inequality, class and ethnicity’ I suggest that some of the questions raised in his account are most satisfactorily responded to by educational theorists who adopt Bourdieu’s emphasis on social class and inequality. (shrink)
There is a view that what we owe to other people is explained by the fact that they are human beings who share in a common human life. There are many ways of construing this explanatory idea, and I explore a few of these here; the aim is to look for constructions that contribute to an understanding of what we owe to people with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities. In exploring the idea of sharing in a common life (...) I construe ‘sharing’ as ‘participating in’, and ‘common life’ as the social life characteristic of the environment that someone lives in. My principal purpose is to render the idea of sharing in a common life in terms that help explain its eligibility as a ground for establishing the moral status of people with PMLD. The participatory options I examine each make some call on agency, if only as something hoped for in the future, including when hope flies in the face of expectation. Accordingly I look at conceptions of actual and potential participation in social life, and at the idea of treating people as if they have the potential to participate, even when the existence of any such potential is unlikely. I conclude with some thoughts on the relation between participation and the moral status of profoundly disabled people, and about how much, and how little, the argument has achieved. (shrink)
In this article, I propose and argue for a conception of inhuman treatment. In the human rights context, I claim, inhuman treatment is that which is grossly degrading. Relative to “cruel,” “inhumane,” and “degrading,” “inhuman” has received little attention from moral philosophers. My aim here is to analyze this concept in greater depth in order to determine what it brings to discussions about punishment and other kinds of treatment. I begin by drawing distinctions between “inhuman,” “inhumane,” and “degrading.” Then, I (...) discuss analyses of “inhuman treatment” proposed by Jeremy Waldron and JohnVorhaus. Although I find both conceptions problematic, discussing each helps me to set the stage for my proposal. After articulating and arguing for my own conception, I conclude by briefly explaining some of its implications. (shrink)
In this article we examine four objections to the genetic modification of human beings: the freedom argument, the giftedness argument, the authenticity argument, and the uniqueness argument. We then demonstrate that each of these arguments against genetic modification assumes a strong version of genetic determinism. Since these strong deterministic assumptions are false, the arguments against genetic modification, which assume and depend upon these assumptions, are therefore unsound. Serious discussion of the morality of genetic modification, and the development of sound science (...) policy, should be driven by arguments that address the actual consequences of genetic modification for individuals and society, not by ones propped up by false or misleading biological assumptions. (shrink)
This is a classic volume in the "library of Living Philosophers" and includes a collection of essays on Dewey's work by his contemporaries at the time of the volume's publication. It also includes a biographical essay on Dewey and his replies to the assembled essays.
This study provides a comprehensive reinterpretation of the meaning of Locke's political thought. John Dunn restores Locke's ideas to their exact context, and so stresses the historical question of what Locke in the Two Treatises of Government was intending to claim. By adopting this approach, he reveals the predominantly theological character of all Locke's thinking about politics and provides a convincing analysis of the development of Locke's thought. In a polemical concluding section, John Dunn argues that liberal and (...) Marxist interpretations of Locke's politics have failed to grasp his meaning. Locke emerges as not merely a contributor to the development of English constitutional thought, or as a reflector of socio-economic change in seventeenth-century England, but as essentially a Calvinist natural theologian. (shrink)
This paperback edition reproduces the complete text of the Essay as prepared by professor Nidditch for The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke. The Register of Formal Variants and the Glossary are omitted and Professor Nidditch has written a new foreword.
What is it reasonable to believe about our most successful scientific theories such as the general theory of relativity or quantum mechanics? That they are true, or at any rate approximately true? Or only that they successfully ‘save the phenomena’, by being ‘empirically adequate’? In earlier work I explored the attractions of a view called Structural Scientific Realism. This holds that it is reasonable to believe that our successful theories are structurally correct. In the first part of this paper I (...) shall explain in some detail what this thesis means and outline the reasons why it seems attractive. The second section outlines a number of criticisms that have none the less been brought against SSR in the recent literature; and the third and final section argues that, despite the fact that these criticisms might seem initially deeply troubling, the position remains viable. (shrink)
Practical reasoning is a process of reasoning that concludes in an intention. One example is reasoning from intending an end to intending what you believe is a necessary means: 'I will leave the next buoy to port; in order to do that I must tack; so I'll tack', where the first and third sentences express intentions and the second sentence a belief. This sort of practical reasoning is supported by a valid logical derivation, and therefore seems uncontrovertible. A more contentious (...) example is normative practical reasoning of the form 'I ought to φ, so I'll φ', where 'I ought to φ' expresses a normative belief and 'I'll φ' an intention. This has at least some characteristics of reasoning, but there are also grounds for doubting that it is genuine reasoning. One objection is that it seems inappropriate to derive an intention to φ from a belief that you ought to φ, rather than a belief that you ought to intend to φ. Another is that you may not be able to go through this putative process of reasoning, and this inability might disqualify it from being reasoning. A third objection is that it violates the Humean doctrine that reason alone cannot motivate any action of the will. This paper investigates these objections. (shrink)