Scripting Situations in Moral Education

Teaching Ethics 11 (1):93-106 (2010)
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Abstract

Situationist research highlights the fact that situational features often influence our behavior in unexpected ways. Virtue ethicists tend to think they can explain away such results, and prescribe cultivating virtue to ward against such moral failings. Situationists argue that studies like these uncover deep flaws within the moral psychology presumed by virtue ethicists, and hold that virtues may be an inadequate grounding for moral behavior and moral education. Using the concept of cognitive scripts from psychology, I describe a new approach to moral education. The course focuses activities on written and performed scripts to encourage students to imagine hypothetical scenarios in real time, adopt the perspectives of others, evoke and alter their emotions, and ultimately, to revise their implicit, cognitive scripts. Attending to and altering cognitive scripts not only captures many theoretical and empirical insights from virtue ethics and situationism, but also offers a more sophisticated model of moral psychology and a better approach to moral education.

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Deborah Mower
University of Mississippi

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