Theses Doctoral

Cosmopolitan Education and Moral Education: Forging Moral Beings Under Conditions of Global Uncertainty

Hayden, Matthew J.

The accelerating pace of globalization places an imperative on formal schooling to figure out how to educate students for the rapidly changing world that today reaches even into the smallest towns and regions of our shared globe. This project attempts to respond to that imperative by examining the moral component of schooling, and specifically, what might be the best way to provide moral education. I begin from a premise that prevalent existing moral education constructs fall short of this task because they consist of either pre-determined morals that students are expected to learn and adopt or they teach about morality systems without analyzing their merits, preventing the development of the important skill of judgment. In a world of significantly different cultures and ways of living, such forms of moral education are simply incapable of providing the kind of education in morality that can withstand and accommodate the diversity that exists and the new forms of life that are yet to come. Cosmopolitan education, based in cosmopolitan philosophy, is posited as a possible answer to this question. Beginning with cosmopolitanism's grounding in the principle of shared humanity I show how cosmopolitan education might offer a more mutually beneficial response to evolving global conditions. This project uses conceptual analysis to examine the concepts of an education in morality and Hannah Arendt's work on natality, thinking, action, and the public space of politics to show that an education in morality is public and political. As a result, cosmopolitan education can use the processes found in Thomas Nagel's epistemological restraint, Jürgen Habermas's discourse ethics, and Chantal Mouffe's agonistic pluralism to help students acquire a disposition that both promotes active and flexible engagement in moral inquiry, as well as in other educational experiences, and embraces plurality and diversity by recognizing the positive contribution that others can make in one's life. Shared humanity emerges as a collective possession of what Arendt calls 'the human condition,' which is essentially a collection of the human conditions of plurality, natality, action, and one that I add, the condition of uncertainty. Through a cosmopolitan lens, these conditions frame the way political processes can be utilized in an education in morality to encourage the development of a disposition that I call 'moral agonism,' which equips students to inquire into and participate in the development of morality in the face of constantly evolving and uncertain conditions in the world.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy and Education
Thesis Advisors
Hansen, David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 5, 2012