AnneMargaret Baxley offers a systematic interpretation of Kant's theory of virtue, whose most distinctive features have not been properly understood. She explores the rich moral psychology in Kant's later and less widely read works on ethics, and argues that the key to understanding his account of virtue is the concept of autocracy, a form of moral self-government in which reason rules over sensibility. Although certain aspects of Kant's theory bear comparison to more familiar Aristotelian claims about virtue, (...) Baxley contends that its most important aspects combine to produce something different - a distinctively modern, egalitarian conception of virtue which is an important and overlooked alternative to the more traditional Greek views which have dominated contemporary virtue ethics. (shrink)
By now, I would guess that thousands of teachers and children have read chapter one of Harry Stottlemeier's Discovery by Matthew Lipman. It is the chapter in which Harry discovers, among other things, the Aristotelian notion of conversation. The students and the teahers have probably talked about truth, conversation, discovery, invention, mind, resentment, daydreaming, and perhaps even the role of Lisa as the one who supplies the counter-example to Harry's theory about language and how it works.
Sometimes I wonder how I ever got here. Other times I wonder what I'm doing here. Then I remember what happened and say to myself, "You don't come from here. You know you come from somewhere else. And soon you will be leaving here for good.".
When we speak about the aim of doing philosophy on the elementary school level with children as transforming classrooms into 'communities of inquiry', we make certain assumptions about nature and personhood and the relationship between the two. We also make certain assumptions about dialogue, truth and knowledge. Further, we make assumptions regarding the ability of children to form such communities that will engender care for one another as persons with rights, a tolerance for each other's views, feelings, imaginings, creations as (...) well as a care for one another's happiness equal to the concern one has for one's own happiness. Lastly, we make assumptions about children's ability to commit themselves to objectivity, impartiality, consistency and reasonableness. The latter has social, moral and political implications. This paper is an attempt to identify and clarify some of these assumptions. (shrink)
As I was thinking about what I would say to you tonight, I remembered myself in my freshman year at a Catholic girls high school. It was Spring and the nuns had told us that we would have a five-day retreat. Speakers would come to speak to us in the mornings and the afternoons would be reserved for reflection and reading. Of course, it was to be a silent retreat. No talking for five days.
I finall am getting around to writing my short story. My name is Gabriel. Three years ago, I had a real problem. I was failing language arts. I liked the short stories and the novels that we read in class and at home, but I just couldn't write any stories of my own. And you had to write short stories, if you were going to pass language arts.
Every child has a doll. I do. Do you have a doll? Is it a boy or a girl doll? If you have a doll, why don't you bring it along with you next time. Then we can all talk together. And there will be twice as many people in the group.
The overall purpose of this paper is to explore three related themes: feminist philosophy and philosophy for children have much in common including pegagogy, an inclusive orientation and fallibilist but critical epistemology, both feminism and philosophy for children benefit from a close reading of Peirce, but only philosophy for children draws explicitly on Peirce, and because of this common bond feminist philosophy and philosophy for children provide place to stand against the postmodern retreat to texts.e.
The classroom community of inquiry aims at helping children make better judgments. If we can show that emotions are judgments or appraisals, it follows that they are educable. Such education of the emotions optimally should take place within the environment of communal inquiry with its focus on respect for persons, dialogue, concept formation, critical, creative and caring thinking. Children need help learning to identify their emotions, detecting assumptions upon which they lie and justifying these emotions to themselves and to others. (...) Such work involves helping children to be sensitive to the salient aspects of individual situations, developing a consciousness of criteria and the ideals from which these criteria ensue, and fostering a disposition to be willing to self correct when we discover through inquiry that our emotions are based on unwarranted beliefs. (shrink)
"Have you ever wondered how words began?" Monica asked. "I have," Stefan responded. "Did you come up with any theories?" "I'm afraid not," Stefan said. "The most I could think of was that perhaps words are what we make up to gather up the silence. That's not much of a theory." "I have a theory, Monica," I said. "Do you want to hear it?" The class settled down as if they were expecting a story.
Historically, philosophy has not played a significant role in the preparation of elementary and middle school teachers in the twentieth century. However, if philosophy could be organized and sequenced, that is reconstructed, in such a way that it could be taught to prospective teachers in the same way that they could present it to children, both teachers and students could come to cultivate: reasoning skills, logical skills, inquiry skills, concept formation skills, translation skills, social and interpersonal skills.
Geraldo is a philosophical novel, targeted at 9-10 year olds. The novel speaks directly to children who are learning to read, as well as children learning English as a second language. The work attempts to focus on reasoning skills embedded in language as well as on philosophical themes that arise when a child is learning to read a second language.
Focusing on the Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason, historical and contemporary critics of Kant's rationalist ethical theory accuse him of holding an impoverished moral psychology and an inadequate account of character and virtue. Kant's sharp contrast between duty and inclination and his claim that only action from duty possesses moral worth appear to imply that pro-moral inclination is unnecessary for, if perhaps compatible with, a good will. On traditional accounts of virtue, however, having a good will and possessing (...) virtue require pro-moral emotions and inclinations. Thus, Kant's moral psychology seems at odds with the common view that emotions and appetites are constituent elements within virtue. Kant's defenders have argued that an adequate assessment of these charges must address his theory of virtue, as it is set out in The Doctrine of Virtue, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, and the Lectures on Ethics. Yet the prospect for reconstructing a plausible Kantian account of virtue from these tests may appear bleak when we see that Kant conceives of virtue as moral strength of will over recalcitrant inclinations, and characterizes virtue in terms of the autocracy of pure practical reason. For autocracy may seem to require the extirpation or suppression of feelings and inclinations. Indeed, it might seem difficult to distinguish the autocratic agent from the agent who, in Aristotle's terms, is merely continent, or who, in Schiller's terms, possesses dignity, but not grace. But these objections misunderstand autocracy. In the thesis, I argue that the self-mastery constitutive of Kantian virtue involves the cultivation of sensibility according to reason and that emotions and appetites modified and regulated by a proper conception of the moral law play a constructive role within Kantian virtue. (shrink)
This account of the good will has struck many readers as counterintuitive. Whereas Kant seems to think that the person in whom a sense of duty must overcome indifference or contrary inclination can and does display a good will, our intuitions about human goodness suggest that there is something deficient or lacking in the grudging agent. Aristotle, for example, would think that the grudging moralist displays continence, rather than virtue, because he thinks it is the mark of the virtuous person (...) that he does not experience a conflict between the rational and nonrational parts of the soul and that his emotions and appetites harmonize with rational judgments. (shrink)
Against a widely-held interpretation of Kant’s political philosophy, according to which Kant holds that all finite rational beings have an innate right to freedom as well as a duty to enter into a civil condition governed by a social contract in order to preserve that freedom, Robert Hanna contends that Kant is in fact an anarchist. Hanna’s argument for his novel thesis that Kant ultimately views the State as an unjustifiably coercive institution that should be eliminated depends heavily on the (...) claim there is an outright conflict between Kant’s political theory in The Doctrine of Right and Kant’s ethics. I argue that we should resist Hanna’s provocative claim that Kant’s ethics directly falsifies his official political theory. Further, I suggest that even morally autonomous Kantian angels need the State to guarantee the protection of their external freedom and to promote justice. (shrink)
As analysis of Kant’s account of virtue in the Lectures on Ethics shows that Kant thinks of virtue as a form of moral self-mastery or self-command that represents a model of self-governance he compares to an autocracy. In light of the fact that the very concept of virtue presupposes struggle and conflict, Kant insists that virtue is distinct from holiness and that any ideal of moral perfection that overlooks the fact that morality is always difficult for us fails to provide (...) an appropriate model of human virtue. No matter how morally good we are or become, virtue remains a disposition to do one’s duty from duty, out of necessitation by practical reason. Yet, even though finite rational beings require a power of self-constraint in accordance with the commands of duty to comply with the law (which we obey reluctantly), the virtuous agent displays a unified soul that is at peace. This picture of virtue uncovered from the Lectures on Ethics thus reveals the way in which Kant’s conception of virtue accords with his foundational commitments in his moral theory, while at the same time representing a more complex theory of moral character and a life lived in accordance with practical reason. (shrink)
Abstract Robert Stern's Understanding Moral Obligation is a remarkable achievement, representing an original reading of Kant's contribution to modern moral philosophy and the legacy he bequeathed to his later-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century successors in the German tradition. On Stern's interpretation, it was not the threat to autonomy posed by value realism, but the threat to autonomy posed by the obligatory nature of morality that led Kant to develop his critical moral theory grounded in the concept of the self-legislating moral agent. Accordingly, (...) Stern contends that Kant was a moral realist of sorts, holding certain substantive views that are best characterized as realist commitments about value. In this paper, I raise two central objections to Stern's reading of Kant. The first objection concerns what Stern identifies as Kant's solution to the problem of moral obligation. Whereas Stern sees the distinction between the infinite will and the finite will as resolving the problem of moral obligation, I argue that this distinction merely explains why moral obligations necessarily take the form of imperatives for us imperfect human beings, but does not solve the deeper problem concerning the obligatory nature of morality: why we should take moral norms to be supremely authoritative laws that override all other norms based on our non-moral interests. The second objection addresses Stern's claim that Kantian autonomy is compatible with value realism. Although this is an idea with which many contemporary readers will be sympathetic, I suggest that the textual evidence actually weighs in favor of constructivism. (shrink)
Aristotle famously held that there is a crucial difference between the person who merely acts rightly and the person who is wholehearted in what she does. He captures this contrast by insisting on a distinction between continence and full virtue. One way of accounting for the important difference here is to suppose that, for the genuinely virtuous person, the requirements of virtue "silence" competing reasons for action. I argue that the silencing interpretation is not compelling. As Aristotle rightly saw, virtue (...) can have a cost, and a mark of the wise person is that she recognizes it. (shrink)
Kantian Ethics aims to develop a defensible theory of ethics on the basis of Kantian principles. Its primary focus is Kantian ethics, not Kant scholarship or interpretation. The book fulfills a promise of Wood’s earlier book, Kant’s Ethical Thought , by developing a Kantian conception of virtue and theory of moral duties in greater detail, and it goes beyond Wood’s previous work on Kant’s ethics in offering extended treatments of substantive moral issues, such as social justice, sexual morality, punishment, lying, (...) consequentialism, personhood, and the status of non-rational animals.Acknowledging that his reading of Kant is now even further from traditional interpretations than it previously was, Wood contends that it is nevertheless “closer to the truth” . He aims to correct what he takes to be some serious misinterpretations of Kant’s views and, in setting the record straight, to provide for us “a better understanding of Kant’s own thoughts” . Some familiar points that Wood rejects are the ideas that Kant’s moral psychology involves a sharp dualism between nature and freedom, and that he was unconcerned with the empirical nature of human beings and human history, regarding such issues as entirely irrelevant to morality. (shrink)
Life comes from physical or biological survival. But the good life comes from what we care about, what we value, what we think truly important, as distinguished from what we think merely trivial. What we care about is the source of the criteria we use to evaluate ideas, ideals, persons, events, things, and their importance in our lives. And it is these criteria that determine the judgments we make in our everyday lives. In the second edition of Thinking in Education, (...) Matthew Lipman has indicated the importance of fostering critical, creative and caring thinking in children, if one is to prepare them to make better judgments and live qualitatively better lives. He tells us that caring thinking is appreciative thinking, active thinking, normative thinking, affective thinking and empathetic thinking and then goes on to list a number of mental acts under each of these categories. Maybe it is because ‘caring thinking’ is not as common a term as ‘critical thinking’ and ‘creative thinking’ in everyday educational language that we stop for pause when we hear it. However when we read what Lipman says about caring thinking, we find ourselves nodding and saying to ourselves, ‘Yes, that makes sense. To think caringly means to think ethically, affectively, normatively, appreciatively and to actively participate in society with a concern for the common good’. In a real sense what we care about is manifest in how we perform, participate, build, contribute and how we relate to others. It is thinking that reveals our ideals as well as what we think is valuable, what we are willing to fight and suffer for. (shrink)