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Objectivity and responsibility in moral education

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Title: Objectivity and responsibility in moral education
Author: Reilly, Elizabeth
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Educational Studies
Copyright Date: 1998
Subject Keywords Education - Moral and ethical aspects; Objectivity; Feminist theory; Knowledge, Theory of
Abstract: The central problem addressed in this thesis has two parts. First, how can an educator respect the developing autonomy of a student's rational capacities while nurturing'the development of particular moral sensibilities and a particular moral perspective? Second, if a moral educator challenges a group of students to consider an alternative moral position, how can she or he be justified in presenting the new perspective as superior to the old one? My argument, in summary, is that an ideal of strong objectivity, as it is conceived by Sandra Harding in the context of feminist standpoint theory, works as a set of standards against which to evaluate the adequacy of one's moral perspective, and it offers a valuable means for comparing this perspective to others. Strong objectivity is an ideal which employs a set of standards including respect, reflexivity, and critical evaluation of social situations to challenge inquirers to maximise their objectivity. They do this through recognising and testing not only the content of their knowledge claims but also the purpose these claims play in the development of research programs, A commitment to strong objectivity entails attempting to understand the partiality of one's own perspective and recognising how that partiality distorts one's perception. The process of learning from others' perspectives is central to revising and enriching one's own perspective, and this revision and enrichment is an . ongoing responsibility for any teacher. Through the application of strong objectivity to moral theory building, a moral educator can be justified in believing that her or his own moral perspective is the most adequate one available. If a moral educator understands Harding's conception of strong objectivity, and embraces it as an ideal, the result will be a more justly equitable learning environment and a more complete understanding of the moral perspective which is being developed within the classroom. These are fundamental to the legitimacy of the work of a moral educator.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/8656
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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