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Good Lives and Moral Education


Evan Simpson

This book develops a «conservative» conception of morality and its implications for moral education. The argument stresses practices of living over rationalistic theories. At its center is an account of the education of the emotions, in which cultivating reflective imagination is more important than mastering universal principles. The central contrast is with Lawrence Kohlberg and his theory of moral development. Simpson sees extending democratic practices of discussion and argument as best answering the question how, lacking certain standards of judgment, we can decide between competing conceptions of human progress.


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Some of the material in this essay initially appeared in the following places. I am grateful to the publishers of the books and journals for permission to use the discussions again here. Full bibliographical details of these works and all those mentioned in notes to the text are given in the bibliography. Chapter 1 includes fragments of the introduction to Stanley G. Oarke and Evan Simpson, eds., Anti-Theory in Ethics and Moral Conservatism, copyright© 1989 by State University of New York Press, as well as parts of my paper, "Moral Conservatism," in The Review of Politics. Chapters 2 and 4 divide my article, "Emile's Moral Development: A Rousseauan Perspective on Kohlberg," from Human Development. Chapter 4 also includes much of "A Values- Oarification Retrospective," which appeared in Educational Theory. Chapter 5 includes a portion of "Moral Conservatism" and much of "The Development of Political Reasoning" as published in Human Development. The latter article and "Emile's Moral Development" are used with the permission of S. Karger AG, Basel. Most of the first three chapters and the latter part of chapter 5 are new. The views stated below have developed over a number of years, during which I have benefited from conversations with my friend and collaborator Stanley G. Clarke, my colleague Louis Greenspan, and my daughter Thel. I thank them all, along with the many other generous people not named here. This page intentionally left blank

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