UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reasonable impartiality : toward a foundation for moral education Priestman, Scott


This thesis develops a conceptual framework for one aspect of moral education, moral reasoning. It begins with the assumption that any adequate program of moral education must equip students with the abilities (broadly defined to include skills, dispositions, attitudes and intellectual capacities) that will enable them to reason through the kinds of moral problems they will encounter in their lives. Following the work of many ethicists and moral educators, I look to practical reasoning as the basis of such an education. This thesis also builds on previous work that undertakes to establish defensible standards of good moral thinking. Working within a Popperian framework, I propose impartiality as the test to evaluate the adequacy of our moral judgements and actions. As I conceptualize it, impartiality is met if no one can reasonably object to my moral judgement or action. Accordingly, the thesis outlines a number of tests to determine if an objection is reasonable or not. By comparing my conception of impartiality to other common ones (as developed by Kant, Mill , Rawls, Hare and Habermas) and defending it against critics of impartiality (like Iris Marion Young) I articulate a common ground that retains something that is fundamental to the concept yet avoids the problems that many see with it. I conclude by suggesting how a pedagogy of critical engagement with these standards (both how they are generated and how they are applied) will help foster moral growth.

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