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After Kohlberg: Some implications of an Ethics of Virtue for the theory of moral education and development

by David Carr
Studies in Philosophy and Education ()


It is beyond serious dispute that postwar reflection upon and research into moral education and development has been well nigh dominated by an extensive and ambitious research programme influenced and initiated by the modern cognitive developmental theorist Lawrence Kohlberg-a programme which can also be seen, moreover, as standing in a tradition of philosophical reflection about the nature of moral life going back to such significant enlightenment thinkers as Kant and Rousseau. It will also be familiar, however, that a powerful critique of this essentially liberal conception of the nature of moral life and values has lately gathered momentum under the influence of contemporary postanalytical and communitarian social and moral theorists variously under the spell of Aristotle. In the first place, then, this paper argues that a basically Kohlbergian approach to thinking about moral education is difficult-if not impossible-to sustain in the face of this neo-Aristotelian critique; secondly, however, it attempts to explore the possibilities of an alternative virtue-theoretical basis for understanding the nature of moral life and education.

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