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of Educational Studies, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Sep., 2000), pp. 248-268 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Society for Educational Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1555957 . Accessed: 18/11/2011 10:38
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OF ISSN 0007-1005 BRITISH STUDIES, JOURNAL EDUCATIONAL VOL.48, No. 3, SEPTEMBER PP248-268 2000,
EDUCATION, PROFESSIONAND CULTURE: SOME CONCEPTUAL QUESTIONS
byDAVID CARR, University Edinburgh of
ABSTRACT:What is it to regardthe occupationof teaching as a profession- as distinctfrom a trade or vocation? The conventional modernconception a profession that of a normative is in of enterprise whichstandardsof goodpracticeare notjust technically contractuor ally but also morallygrounded:indeed, arguablythe key difference between tradeslikeplumbingor buildingand professions medicine like or law is that althoughtheformerare doubtless oftensubjectto ethical ethicalprinciplesare actuallyconstitutive professions. It regulation, of is also plausible to regard universal professional obligations as groundedin rightsindexedto considerations human need:insofar of as humans cannot in general flourish withouthealth, medical practitionersare bound to respondto any medicalneed withoutfavour or prejudice.This paper argues, however,that powerfuland persuasive or of critiques notionsof objective value-neutral contemporary developmentandflourishingraisequiteserioustheoretical problems (expressed hereas antinomies) any analogousviewof teachingas a profession. for culture,right, obligation, Keywords: profession, flourishing I I have elsewhere argued (Carr 1999, 2000a) that the modern (as conception of a profession distinct in certain interesting waysfrom that of a vocation)is primarily that of a regulated enterprise in which good practice is measurable against fairly well defined codes of conduct or principles of procedure. More precisely, it is arguable that the normative core of the concept of profession consists in a This system of ethical principles expressible as duties or obligations. would certainly appear to be the case of the first celebrated attempt in western European culture to give principled expression to the spirit of professional practice. Thus, Hippocrates' code of conduct for physicians prescribes as a fundamental rule of good medical
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This. it seems clear that the Hippocratic prohibition upon exploiting or abusing patients stems from the recognition of a human need which is also construable as a right. although I will certainly fail to flourish if I lack any food or shelter whatsoever. and other trades and industries: to speak of a right to health care or to legal justice seems to make sense in a way that speaking of a right to a new house. to deny that the practice of medicine and other professions is. to the extent that the food and shelter of my personal desire exceeds bare need. any shelter and food to which people may lay claim can hardly be owed to them as a matter of human right. Thus. raises the further interesting question of upon what considerations any professional obligations not to exploit or abuse clients might be founded. car or meal in an expensive restaurant does not. if he or she exploited or abused patients. public provision . of course.can properly afford: thus. the fact that the needs which professions address are readily appreciable as rights seems to get to the heart of the difference between the services that professionals provide.or in cases of personal destitution. Again. like non-professional trades and services. however. we could hardly speak of a technically skilled doctor as a good medical exemplar qua professional. this is not to deny the widespread virtue of tradesmen or the importance of ethics and ethical codes in non-professional trades and services: it is more to appreciate that ethical considerations are not just regulative of professional engagement (as they are of trades) they are also constitutive of it. it cannot be a matter of right. To say this is not. Indeed. recalling conventional philosophical wisdom concerning the logical relationship of duties to rights. At this point. and SCSE 2000 . PROFESSIONAND CULTURE conduct that doctors should not place their own self-interest above the needs and interests of patients: they should not. But beyond these basics. for example. exploit patients for financial gain or abuse trust by taking sexual or other advantage. it is not reasonable for me to expect or demand more in terms of such basic necessities than what I .EDUCATION. The idea here is that although we can still speak of technically skilled builders or persuasive car salesmen who exploited clients in this or that way as good pliers of their respective trades. and in most civilised societies professional or other social agencies are charged with accommodating such basic needs. Of course we can speak of basic human rights to housing or food. 249 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. answerable to other norms and standards of non-ethical technical or contractual kinds: it is rather to suggest that what distinguishes the professions from such trades and services is of the centrality such ethical norms and principles.
Whereas much current discussion of this question has proceeded at the relatively superficial level of whether or not market educational provision makes good socioeconomic sense. they are generally inclined to some central civil institutional provision for justice and health care . this question has assumed some contemporary educational significance. To put the point crudely. There has recently been extensive discussion of the policy aspects of market conceptions of education in the literature (see. of course.and which I also believe to have hitherto largely unsuspected implications for the very idea of teacher professionalism. 1997) and it is not my concern to pursue this debate here. car or bedroom suite .it will usually be impossible for any person to address such health problems if no general or local provision for such medical needs is at hand. in what this need might consist.and. On the one hand.remains within the realms of necessity more than aspiration. it seems clear enough that education is in many advanced civil polities widely regarded. with recent emergence of neo-liberal market conceptions of educational provision.including some level of public assistance for those who are in serious need of costly legal defence or health care. and SCSE 2000 . but cannot afford it. and if there were no tradesmen around to build them a house. and is often beyond the means of individuals to secure for themselves. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE It seems otherwise with health and justice. The most basic of these questions is that of whether education can be regarded as a human need in the sense of health or legal access . Bridges and McLaughlin. it is no injustice if persons of modest means cannot afford to buy the house they would ideally like. whereas many if not most liberal policies leave property ownership (the issue of whether to dispose of one's income on better housing or transport or in some other way) in the domain of individual personal choice and market demand. where human need albeit indexed to personal requirements . as 250 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Hence. for example. But what of education in terms of this broad distinction? Much here depends. and since one might more easily build one's own shelter than transplant one's own kidney . if so. I want to address certain rather more basic (perhaps ontological) questions about the status of education as an object of human interest and desire which I suspect may lurk beneath neo-liberal hostility to state educational provision .and. upon whether one thinks of education as a need to be met like health or legal access. 1994 and Jonathan. or as a commodity like a new house. alongside health and legal access. they might at least build some sort of shelter for themselves: but it is arguably an injustice if a poor person is denied an expensive operation for a serious organ failure.EDUCATION.
On the face of it.then. and security is forfeit wherever one may at any time be arrested for no crime. then it might be replaced with some elaborate system of trade apprenticeship. To begin with. the main justification for protracted formal schooling and a distinct teaching profession is not the role of schools in vocational or basic skills training. Again. law and education might be regarded as bulwarks against those perennial threats to human civil security and freedom of pestilence. it is not clear why we should require either any elaborate state apparatus of schoolas ing. law and education in the absence of which there can be no civilisedlevel of human security or flourishing. we might argue that just as there are primary human needs for food.so that there is no need. But if the needs which underlie any individual rightto education or to any public obligation meet these needs are expressed in these rather threadbare terms of basic literacy and vocational skills. Thus. it is rather its educational role with respect to the cultural formation of the young: on most enlightened conceptions of the matter. although teachers have generally less status and are less highly rewarded for their labours than doctors or lawyers. without legal appeal.if there was nothing more to schooling than the acquisition of workplace skills. it is not obvious that the context of formal schooling is the best place to acquire vocational skills:on the contrary. perhaps to death. From this viewpoint. education is nevertheless widely perceived as a profession alongside medicine and law. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE contributory to the common good in such a way as to merit some central planning and public funding for state-wide provision. indeed. Just as life itself may hang in the balance where no medical help is at hand in the event of illness or disease. Arguably. except in certain exceptional cases. 2000 ? Blackwell . medicine. it seems plausible to regard education. society needs schooling to initiate young people into the values and virtues of a particularform of human life. alongside health and justice. as a welfare right based on considerations of fundamental civil need. 251 Publishers and SCSE Ltd. many acquire these under the tender tuition of parents and guardians .EDUCATION. for elaborate state provision. shelter and covering without which human existence as such stands in jeopardy. or an education profession such to accommodate them. And while it could still be argued that young people need to be prepared for such apprenticeship with certain basic skills of numeracy and literacy and/or certain capacities for social cooperation. so there are secondary human needs for health. so one's chances of leading a flourishing life are going to be seriously curtailed if one lacks access to basic literacy. as modern educational radicalshave been ever wont to insist. injustice and ignorance. accused without evidence and condemned. or to the skills required to earn one's daily bread.
is a matter of enculturation in a sense which must render extremely problematic much if not all talk of scientifically ascertainable development processes. But such seeds clearly flourish all the more in that communitarian climate of thought about the character of moral and social values which has profoundly influenced philosophical postmodernism.EDUCATION.which is the key task of education evaluatively construed . for example. Indeed. But any such conception is already seriously compromised by that very political agnosticism about the possibility of objective resolution of value conflicts which underlies liberal theory. and SCSE 2000 . the idea that education might be focused upon the transmission of certain cross-culturally determinable truths of human experience or destiny. On what is nowadays sometimes termed the 'modernist' view of education of (for example) postwar theorists of liberal education. that certain modern .problems for understanding education as a professional enterprise begin to bite. were the invariant laws of rational development which allegedly conduced to the correct discernment of such knowledge. MacIntyre (1991) has argued that since contemporary conceptions of virtue or moral conduct reflect culturally diverse moral legacies there can be no 'shared public morality of commonplace usage' of the kind envisaged on liberal-rational models of moral education. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE It is at this point. latter day communitarians have inclined to a neoidealist view of the nature and provenance of human values. or upon the development of certain objectively determinable processes of optimum human growth. The point is that in any context of theorising about the 252 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd.welcomed by many postwar liberal educationalists as the basis upon which a professional pedagogy of moral education might go to work .g. 1993). however. is simply an illusion: the personal development of humans . the moral developmental account of the cognitive psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg (1984) .as. and that it is therefore the job of liberal politics to provide the context of democratic order in which rival views can coexist with minimum tension and conflict (Rawls. From this viewpoint. Taylor 1989). knowledge of fact or value was held to be objective . The seeds of the difficulty about the very possibility of an education profession are already sown in the liberal recognition that people from different cultural constituencies are liable to disagree about values and human purposes.or perhaps rather 'postmodern' .would only be one rival psychology or epistemology of moral formation amongst others. MacIntyre 1981. 1991. indeed. 1987b. On this view. In this precise connection. according to which values have social origins and are indexed to cultural perspectives in highly specific ways (e.
and SCSE 2000 .EDUCATION. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE development of human personsepistemology has quite significant ontological implications: as well as being products of natural . scientific and social) aspects of human understanding. since some quite extravagant and implausible educational conclusions have been drawn from the anti-realisms. would have very definite practical consequences . some caution seems in order at this point. Indeed. they might be expected to disagree hardly at all about the proper practical conduct of scientific method. as I have argued elsewhere (Carr. But now. First. However. however.physical or biological . we are also very much what we know or believe.processes of development.and as a Catholic.but for reasons having little to do with the greater subjectivity or relativity of moral over scientific judgements. their disagreements about the legitimacy or otherwise of divorce or abortion. 2000b). II But if it is not subjectivitywhich entitles me to a pro-life or abortion on demand stance in a way that I am not entitled to a flat-earth 253 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. there might seem no reason not to apply more generally to education MacIntyre's scepticism about the possibility of any one objective 'value-neutral' account of moral development. MacIntyre appears to be both an (epistemic) nonrealist and a moral objectivist . would presumably believe that a pro-life stance is the objectively right one: but I take it he would still hold that those who (in his view wrongly) endorse liberal abortion laws areentitled to their opinion in a way that those who insisted that the earth was flat could not be so entitled. On the other hand. social constructivisms and perspectivalisms of postmodern and communitarian thought.in a way that would raise problems for talk of scientific education. Indeed. it is not clear that perspectivalism or nonrealism as such cannot accommodate the idea of objective knowledge and truth. it may be doubted whether the issue of realist versus non-realist epistemology has any bearing on the problem of the professional status of education and teaching. it seems sometimes to have been supposed that non-realism of pragmatist or other sorts precludes talk of objective scientific truth perhaps even the development of objective scientific understanding . insofar as there are different philosophical conceptions of other (artistic. Apart from the fact that a non-realist would be likely to disagree with a realist about whether scientific hypotheses orjudgements actually referred to mind-independent states of affairs. But this is not obviously so: since MacIntyre is himself clearly committed (albeit neo-Hegelianly) to the possibility of ethical and other forms of objectivity.
and such dilemmas are the very stuff of moral controversy and disagreement. then. I have certainly no business (short of the harm principle) stopping them smoking or drinking if that is what they choose to do. Despite a deeply distortive empiricist gloss on this issue. there is nothing logically untoward about supposing that whilst those who disagree with me about abortion or capital punishment are neither wicked nor self-deluded. is the observation that not all choices are anywayof a clear cut kind between prudential or moral good and evil. Human agents are all too often faced with the kind of choices which leave them hard put to know what to believe or do .we do not doubt the reason. of those who persistently do that which they have good reason to regard as morally wrong.perhaps to the point of personal self-destruction in their own way. Again. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE stance. persisted in believing that the earth is flat . It is in some such spirit that we may also endorse the classical liberal view that people are at some liberty to go to the devil . we can have no difficulty appreciating how someone might know a particular course of action to be quite objectively wrong and still voluntarily pursue it. it is that there is a genuine scope for choicein the second case that there is not in the first. that I am surely at liberty to believe that the earth is flat . philosophers have long been exercised by the obvious epistemic and psychological anomalies of such statements as 'I know that p. But here again it is crucial not to equate disagreement with subjectivity. That said. however. yet persist in putting personal pleasure before their own and/or other people's health and comfort. the key difference between factual or theoretical knowledge and practical values is not that the first is objective whereas the second are subjective.EDUCATION. it stretches intelligibility to suppose that someone might sanelycontinue to believe the earth is flat in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary: indeed.While I have every right to bring arguments about the evils of smoking or alcohol abuse to the attention of others. and SCSE 2000 . what is it? The short answer is freedom of choice. they 254 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. of course. And while we might be right to suspect the reason or sanity of someone who. Someone may now say. many criminals could not be clearer about the wickedness of burglary or fraud. though we might well question the character or integrity. but they prefer to put personal gain before the rights and interests of others. Another consideration which serves to reinforce this liberal conception of practical freedom. On the other hand.and there may be many. Many if not most smokers are clear about the overwhelming arguments against smoking. but I don't believe it'. faced with satellite pictures and other evidence. however. who currently exercise this freedom. ignorant of the truth.
but the logical requirement for practical freedom if there is to be anything worth calling morality at all. Once again. more implausible postmodern epistemic scepticism aside.EDUCATION. this conception 255 Publishers and SCSE Ltd. and in the twentieth century Piagetian 'genetic' epistemology sought to put Kant's accounts of the nature of theoretical and practical reason on a more scientific or experimental 'cognitive developmental' footing. In the same century. Indeed. 2000 ? Blackwell . This cognitivist account of the emergence of autonomy arguably reaches its high point in the moral stage theory of Lawrence Kohlberg (1984) which was widely received by post-war liberal educationalists as a kind of 'modernist' holy grail of professional understanding of personal development. value and choice. what crucially underpins the right to choice in the sphere of practical judgement and policy is not the subjectivityor otherwise of moral values. beliefs and attitudes is liable to risk undermining personal freedom of choice more in the manner of indoctrination than of education? It is at this point that professional theorising of the relationship between human development and professional conduct has commonly had recourse to the concept of autonomy or self-direction. But what has also become apparent in the intellectual and political climate of so-called 'postmodernity' is the dubiety of this ambitious account of the nature of human development. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE are nevertheless wrong . however. One might hold that the horn of value diversity could be professionally grasped by appeal to a conception of human development which took rational freedom of choice to be a universally invariant goal of personal growth. But where does this now leave education in that more robust sense which implies formation of personal values.namely. Immanuel Kant applied his genius to the epistemic detail of Rousseau's idea of autonomy as observance of universal moral law. Rousseau (1974) provides not just an illuminating account of the conceptual connections between individual autonomy and political democracy. beliefs and attitudes? Surely any explicit teaching of specific values. but also a remarkably forward looking theory of the development of self-direction. In full bloom.perhaps demonstrably so. such developmental accounts seemed to promise what earlier experimental work of learning theory had failed to deliver . a scientifically normative account of general human development which all the same appears capable of explaining how there might be individual and social diversity in the realms of meaning. Such a conception is already far advanced in the remarkably innovative educational thought of the eighteenth century founder of progressive education Jean-Jacques Rousseau: indeed.
notwithstanding current 'new age' faith in non-standard approaches to medicine. had recourse only to the traditional hit or miss herbal remedies and/or hocus pocus of pre-scientific cultures. however. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE has attracted philosophical criticism from all sides: communitarians have criticised the apparently decontextualised notion of autonomous choice .the so-called 'view from nowhere' . virtue theorists have questioned the deontological overemphasis on universal rules and principles to the neglect of particular judgement and sensibility. post-structuralist hermeneutics and post-analytical social theory have emphasised the inherently historicist. nature of human growth: on this view. culturally conditioned.the . this might be a circumstance in which it is not just that there is no way of rationally explaining the effectiveness of this or that remedial practice.EDUCATION. it would appear that postmodern arguments do 256 Publishers and SCSE Ltd.of the account. lacking any experimental science of autonomy and physiology. insofar as the very idea of educational professionalism rests on a certain modernist faith in a rational pedagogy grounded upon something like a quasi-naturalisticcross-cultural conception of implications of this equally widespread 'postmodern' critique of such notions of development are quite devastating. that few postmodern epistemological sceptics would happily reject modern scientific cancer treatments in favour of applied cow-dung (not least in their own cases). belief. any ontology of human development focused upon the development of knowledge. value and moral response must inevitably evade capture in the general categories of naturalistic explanation to which cognitive and other empirical psychologists at the very least methodologically aspire. Now while I am fairly confident. To see this. we have only to imagine a situation in which there was no general science of medicine and in which medical practice was largely pursued by local shamans or witch doctors who. Above all. Above all. However. it should also be clear that there is little scope here for talk of medical profession or professionalism. 2000 ? Blackwell human development . and 'ethics of care' feminists have exposed the gender and other biases of cognitive developmentalism. precisely because there can be no appeal to objective culture-independent criteria of medical efficacy which might preclude the application of cow dung to cancerous tumours as professionally irrational and irresponsible conduct.which I suspect it very largely does . but one in which less effective practices (where patients die) are preferred to more effective ones (where patients recover) because they are held to be more in tune with what the gods or sacred ancestors willed for their progeny. Indeed.
even customers have rights . To be sure. if there is anything to the lately mentioned contemporary critiques of such notions then there may seem to be little left upon which to base norms of professional educational judgement other than the preferences of local cultural constituencies for this mode of initiation rather than that. since this must preclude any resource for distinguishing genuine from bogus education of a kind that is in principle available for distinguishing real medicine from voodoo.such wider entitlements are specifiable in terms of freedom from psychological or physical harm: thus. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE raise serious and quite worrying difficulties for any idea of rational preference in the realm of educational professionalism .and perhaps the best general way to frame these is in terms of the general rights of children and young people. Indeed.EDUCATION. Broadly speaking. it seems quiet plausible to suppose that cultural development is a principal goal of educational formation. then perhaps it should rather be viewed as an individual or social commodity apt for provision by the commercial sector.as in the case of other professions . to value for money or to proper undamaged delivery of what they have purchased: but it also seems implausible to suppose either that childrens' entitlements with respect to education are exhausted by such particular consumer rights or that they are unsusceptible of specification in terms which transcend local contract.for example. Publishers and SCSE 2000 ? Blackwell . it is arguable that . On the one hand. But although such recognition of the culture-implicatedness of human development presented no difficulty for conceptions of professional practice on either pre-modern conceptions of education as initiation into objective knowledge or modern conceptions of education as promotion of invariant processes of rational development. it provides a perfect rationale for those who believe that educational provision should be driven by the profit motive: if education is not to be regarded as a profession guided by certain objective principles of rational formation or development. whereas it might reasonably be regarded as the 257 Ltd.and hence for the very idea of educational professionalism as such. this spells disaster for On any robust concept of educational professionalism. the other. such a powerful modern spokesman of communitarianism as Alasdair MacIntyre has explicitly doubted the possibility of common cross-cultural norms of educational formation in a way that seems precisely to imply a diversity of state or private educational provision (1987a). But any such view is not without quite worrying difficulties . For whereas it may never have appeared particularly compelling to suppose that the cultural significance of medical practices is relevant to determining the causal efficacy of physical remedies.
Consider. that on radical postmodern or social constructivist views of knowledge and development. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE main aim of medicine to free mankind from disease. professionality. it is well known that corporal punishment has been widely used by past educationalists to impose discipline. First.and its recent professional abolition in the UK continues to be lamented by many British teachers.EDUCATION. Indeed. how are we professionally to the conduct of teachers who employ forms of discipline we judge might regard as brutal or uncivilised? To put the point plainly: from my own position as an opponent of corporal punishment should I regard an otherwise effective instructor in (say) a Pacific rim country or a North American state who employs a physical chastisement to discipline unruly children as faithfully operating in the service of some alternative conception of On the one hand. There can be no doubt that all who conceive full rational autonomy as a major aim of education would take discipline based upon some respect for authority . and that of law (at least in principle) to eradicate injustice.rational or social . or as downright unprofessional? there may appear to be arguments in favour of the idea of an alternative professionality. traditionalists have often subscribed more or less wholeheartedly to the old adage 'spare the rod and spoil the child': in this connection. it could be considered the main aim of education to emancipate the child from a range of rational and other developmental ills of ignorance or mind control in a climate of respect and safety. the matter of authority and discipline in development. social and cultural formation. if the 'postmodern' or communitarian 258 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. The trouble is.including parts of such liberal-democracies as the USA . other more traditional or paternalist educators have been inclined to much more coercive methods of fostering the restraints of rational self-government. but there are at the same time no value-free norms of human development to guide educational practice. such treatment is still widely endorsed in both developing and developed polities . But even advocates of autonomy are inclined to disagree quite radically over the nature and scope of such discipline. for example. If we take education to reach beyond mere training in information and skills to wider moral. however. The difficulty here for the idea of professional educational conduct on a 'postmodern' view of the interplay between education and culture should be obvious. while some progressive or libertarian educationalists have advocated conditions of near anarchy as crucial for the development of self-direction. and SCSE 2000 . it becomes hard to provide any general account of such liberation.to be a crucial component of the freedom of human self-determination. Thus.
So what should we say: is the corporal punisher from another culture professional or unprofessional? III It should already have been grasped that this antinomy is not peculiar to education: on the contrary. It may also seem draconian to condemn as unprofessional a vocationally committed and well-meaning Asian or American teacher who physically chastises his recalcitrant pupils according to officially sanctioned school policy and the wishes of local parents. dentists and lawyers stand to be distinguished from those of pool hall managers and car salesmen. it is but an instance of what is perhaps the major philosophical issue of contemporary moral and social theory .EDUCATION. Education. Indeed. no clear value-neutral means of deciding that this is preferable to that. There are many roads to optimal human development and. construed as wider cultural formation rather than narrow utilitarian training.that of (broadly) the nature of ethical imperatives 259 Publishers and SCSE Ltd. coerced marriages and female circumcision? But the theoretical implications of such conceptual inflation are equally dire: recognition of different and diverse forms or modes of professional educational conduct is tantamount to denial of any coherent universalbasis for professional judgement. any such conclusion may seem not just morally but conceptually suspect. reduces to little more than accommodation to the vagaries of individual. Carr. as I have argued before (see. social or cultural market demand: the teacher is reduced to something less than a professional in any sense by which the judgements and responsibilities of doctors. 1998). after a libertarian Summerhill schooling (Neill. on this and related matters. then there surely is an ineradicably evaluative dimension to human development and we cannot reasonably insist from our more libertarian viewpoint that parents who wish to send their children to more strictly authoritarian schools are wrong and should not be allowed so to do. On the other hand. The moral problem is obvious: once upon the slippery slide which gives ethical validity to diverse forms of cultural and educational initiation. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE case against a value-free conception of development is basically sound. why not wife beatings at home. there may here be as much a matter of personal choice as cultural affiliation or pressure: I could coherently decide. 1965) that a stricter or more coercive education would have better suited someone of my particular natural temperament . 2000 ? Blackwell . it may be difficult to stop short of endorsing the most cruel and degrading of traditional practices: if serious beatings are allowed in schools.or vice versa.
But you're a sado-masochist? Quite: and what is wrong with that? What sort of an educational profession is it.between which there may seem no obvious method of objective ethical arbitration. On the one hand. I suspect that we first need some basic analysis of notions of value and evaluation. why not the Marquis de Sade and Scientology? I was beaten at school and it never did me any harm. and it may also be practically impossible to combine complete 260 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd.clearer distinction of some different but currently conflated moral and social conceptions. in which anything might count as worthwhile development? Then again. realistrather than currently fashionable idealistreasons) that the is-ought dichotomy is more defensible than the fact-value distinction (at least as this has been construed in classical empiricism). It is because of the way the world is and the way we are that we have the interests and values we do: we rightly fear cobras because they are venomous and value dentistry because toothache is painful. it seems implausible to suppose with some modern ethical non-cognitivists that objective facts play no role in the determination of our values. The trouble here is that facts are inevitably sources of different and conflicting interests and values. I believe (for. However.EDUCATION. it should also be said.and this is. and SCSE 2000 standing . This general difficulty bears on issues of educational rather than other sorts of professionalism. As we saw from an earlier example. however. the concept of profession seems to presuppose norms of good practice preclude some forms of development. since smoking is health hazardous but also pleasurable.if they are to merit professional and their relationship to social values. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE which ought .to health with complete smoking . the very idea of education would seem to rest on the possibility that different routes to human flourishing are available for individual appreciation and choice. precisely because education is itself centrally implicated in the transmission of specific forms of apparently contestable cultural and evaluative conceptions of human growth and flourishing . as well as on how it should be taught? We clearly need to find some coherent route through this antinomy . On the first matter. But if we can teach Shakespeare and Christian morality in schools. On the one hand. to put it mildly. what kind of education (as opposed to indoctrination) is it which places this or that restriction on what can be learned and why.in order to discern more clearly the nature of the relationship of moral values to values in general . as well as . 1995) for a distinction between the so-called fact-value and is-ought dichotomies. no easy matter. the gap between is and ought is by no means closed by any such dependence of our values on objective facts. On the other. Moreover. I have elsewhere argued (Carr.
individuals will differently prioritise such interests and values: the agent who values the health but prefers the pleasure may continue to smoke and the agent who values the pleasure but prefers health will desist. race and gender discrimination.but chose. we can be sure that others knew well enough that slavery was unjust as well as profitable . historicist assimilation of moral values to cultural values per se . to be unjust. but still steals for personal gain . and we know that many culturally enshrined forms of class. precisely because they patently involve the harmful and inequitable exploitation for economic or social advantage of some by others. underpins the is-ought distinction is human necessity of choice. are not moral values.already gives us (in principle) the significant philosophical result of value pluralism withoutmoral relativism. What. Moral values would appear to be but a subset of values in general.or to the case of the thief who knows the wrongness of stealing. We can recognise that agents can and do rationally opt for courses of action they would acknowledge to be (in some sense) wrong. do we not now seem to be reverting to some evaluatively 261 Publishers and SCSE Ltd. Moreover.Some of these ways of acting will be primarily harmful to the agent. criminals are obeying an alternative moral code: there can be no doubt that many lawbreakers know precisely that their actions are morally wrong . application of this distinction to the smoking example .in particular. Indeed. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE pleasure. And. But the distinctions are vital: it is arguably the error of the modern philosophy of utility to have assumed that because there is an objective basis to human values and interests we can derive ought from is.but moral reasons are simply not for them motivationally overriding. 2000 ? Blackwell . confusion of the point that there are diverse views of human flourishing with the idea that nothing could count as a human harm irrespective of cultural value . But we should not here be misled by the sophistry that in acting from different evaluative priorities.EDUCATION. and hence . in short.seems to be a widespread contemporary error.in this light. even if some slave owners have arguably acted in unreflective obedience to cultural tradition. and that of modern noncognitivism to have held that in the light of some shortfall between is and ought there can be no objective basis to values and interests. Others will be ways of acting which are injurious to others . it seems proper to deny that postmodern or new communitarian rejection of the modernist notion of value-free human development at all implies that different evaluative priorities are equally morally valid. From this viewpoint. on these grounds. But what are we now to say of moral uncertainty and disagreement? Indeed.according to some ethical views beyond moral censure.and hence morally blameworthy.
where this involves proportioning one's moral responses to the circumstances in avoidance of extremes of moral defect or vice: it consists not in obedience to a general rule.and such other vices and crimes as spite. Such diversitywill normally be a function of different human weighting of self-regarding versus other-regarding circumstances. such fact-dependence of values does not preclude scope for evaluative and ethical diversity in the light of the facts of human weal and woe. at the right time. that this dilemma is more apparent than real and that morality is both (though not at the same time) particular and universal. at others in particularity. 1925. it therefore may or may not be moral. monopolist conception of human wellbeing or flourishing of a kind earlier claimed to have been effectively disposed of by the new critics of modernity. needs and interests .is quite outside the moral pale. with the right motive and in the right way' (Aristotle.or is morality not rather plural and particular as new communitarians and virtue ethicists have counter-claimed: surely we cannot have it both ways?It is arguable. Aristotle's particularism is embodied in the idea of practical wisdom as choice in accordance with the mean. since there can be no ethical practical deliberation when. This position of Aristotle's should not.AND PROFESSION CULTURE EDUCATION. On the other hand. universally valid. surprise us: moreover. moreover. where and with whom to commit adultery. is to be found in the classical source of moral particularism Aristotle's ethics. duty and utility have claimed . adultery . to the right extent. As he says himself. But this is where a nowadays often occluded distinction between communitarian 262 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. But Aristotle combines such particularism with recognition that there are absolute. and SCSE 2000 or other moral . moral injunctions defined at the point where the mean has no reasonable application.and. 65). indeed. however. On the one hand. that Aristotle's moral absolutism is supported by the same ethical naturalism which grounds his particularism: it is that same human nature which is sometimes subject to absolute law which on other occasions requires sensitive differential treatment. Is there or is there not a unitary measure of moral right or wrong . It seems evident. there are facts of human nature which occasion culture independent attraction to some things and aversion to others: I would hardly expect to have to account for a human agent's aversion to an unanaesthetised dental operation in terms of cultural inheritance. in the light of previous examples. but in morally appropriate response 'to the right person. it also seems to sit comfortably with our above distinction between the fact-value and is-ought dichotomies. In fact.as the philosophies of right. theft and murder . p. the view that moral objectivity resides sometimes in universality.
PROFESSIONAND CULTURE perspectivalism and Aristotelian ethical particularism assumes significance. but also with any professional educational practice of such society. slavery and torture . all teachers are duty bound to reject such punishment in the name of proper professional practice and to campaign against it if it is the actual practice in their own locality.the discourse of rights seems well adapted to attempts to proscribe or curtail a range of illiberal violations of human integrity. more common for them to deny that such abuses occur. to be sure. and SCSE 2000 .but also practices such as capital and corporal punishment . 263 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. no such distinction can be practically sustainable. it might now be said that insofar as human need is greatly conditioned by cultural difference. Moreover. The latter. but that it is in the interests of that greater moral objectivity moral responses are honed to individual differences of circumstance and need. In this spirit. If it can be shown. At all events. it is rare for regimes accused of human rights abuses to defend them on the grounds that genocide. In that case. as seems likely. such judgements of absolute or universal value may appear to have a clear enough role in defining educational professionalism. we are hard put to avoid the conclusion that the physically punitive teacher of our above dilemma is unprofessional . any 'rival' ethical views to the effect that school beatings improve character may seem no less morally superannuated than Aristotle's endorsement of slavery as a condition befitting some human beings. that even medically supervised physical chastisement carries with it a palpable risk of physical and psychological harm. it cannot but be at odds not only with any conception of civilised polity. Of course. But whilst conceding some room for perspectival manoeuvre here. Clearly.EDUCATION.even if his own charting of these limits left something to be desired. Insofar as this is so.are universally unacceptable in any civilised modern polity. however. From this viewpoint.that.the best gloss on this point is not that there are different (relative) culturally indexed conceptions of justice. is well expressed in Aristotle's observation that there may be as much injustice in treating unequals equally as there is in treating equals unequally. security and freedom: one may to that extent share liberal-democratic faith in the prospects of some ultimate moral consensus that not just genocide. slavery and torture are aspects of their cultural heritage. there would seem to be a real enough point at which any attempted defence of serious human harm in the name of cultural integrity rings hollow. to be sure. we may also endorse Aristotle's attempt to identify some absolute or universal injunctions and prohibitions definitive of the limits of moral engagement . irrespective of philosophical difficulties surrounding the notion of human right.
in the light of the distinction between cultural perspectivalism and ethical particularism. although some heavy weather has been made of this issue by contemporary educational theorists and policy makers. it is not too hard to see that although there are universal forms of knowledge and understanding which it would be unjust to exclude from the education of any child. that humans are not equally gifted by nature. We can hardly doubt.but if educational development is particular. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE Still. the trouble seems precisely that if education is a universal human right then educational discrimination seems vulnerable to the charge of treating equals unequally . From this viewpoint. a caste system which denied some kinds of educational access to certain children on purely ethnic or class grounds would be a patently unjust or immoral system . Given previous arguments. I believe that this dilemma is more apparent than real as an issue of ethical disagreement or diversity. who would insist that it is wrong that some children should be granted and others denied certain sorts of educational access.especially in the light of Aristotle's combination of moral particularism and absolutism . Consider. it is clearly important to distinguish any purely hegemonic educational discrimination from discrimination based on some appreciation of particular educational need. and it is a familiar question from educational history whether it is right and proper to provide the same kind of education to children of demonstrably different ability. 1996) that it rests on a mistake . First. and SCSE 2000 . for example. however. in the general spirit of Aristotle's reconciliation of moral universalism and particularism. I have elsewhere argued (Carr.that no such universal ruling could take care of all apparent moral diversity and disagreement in the educational domain. it is part of the wider task of schooling to cater for particular vocational and other post-school needs which may indeed vary between individuals. and alternative curricularists who argue that education should be suited to particular need? However. an issue which is not too far away from the problem which we have argued does not reasonably arise in relation to Aristotle's own defence of slavery.irrespective of how widely it was endorsed in that specific cultural context. it is high time that educational theorists and curriculum planners attended in greater detail than heretofore to questions of the proper curricular 264 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd.Indeed.EDUCATION. then. Indeed.one which is largely avoidable via proper distinction between the all too frequently occluded notions of educationand schooling. then the approach of non-discrimination seems to fall foul of the injustice of treating unequals equally. To that extent. it may be objected . But are we not still left with the genuine ethical dilemma between common curricularists.
it has to be admitted that the key problem of professional reflection is that although we cannot doubt that there are bothuniversal and particular educational needs (either negatively or positively defined) we are not theoretically well placed.EDUCATION. and as different insofar as their needs are personal or individual. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE balance of universal and particular need in the light of serious reevaluation of the diversity of the educational and other purposes of schooling. Indeed. as educators (rather than indoctrinators) it is problematic for them to canvass any one conception of the good as the absolute truth. such appeal simply fails to notice that all norms of development invariably presuppose specific and contestable conceptions of human growth and flourishing. theoretical and 265 Publishers and SCSE2000 Ltd. To be sure. at this point. IV But to end on a suitably provocative note. to say what these are. any need for such re-evaluation would doubtless show that the question of whether or not we should in terms of curricular provision treat all young people the same or differently is not as such a serious instance of educational disagreement and diversity:there can be little significant doubt that it makes sense to treat children the same insofar as they may be supposed to have common human or rational needs. given our distinction between perspectivalism and moral particularism. it is possible to criticise this or that perspective on moral or aesthetic grounds as more or less conducive to human fulfilment or worthy of human pursuit: but one should also be clear that such criticism could not be other than itself normative and contestable. to the extent that our concepts of development involve complex interplay of description and prescription. the dilemma of educational professionalism arises from the difficulty of siding with either contemporary liberal or communitarian responses to the present day commonplace that all conceptions of human development and flourishing are value-laden. And however professionally tempting it might be. given the inherently value laden character of notions of general and particular need. ? Blackwell . At all events. Indeed. since there is little sense to be made of education other than as some sort of initiation into what is worthwhile. teachers can hardly side with liberal legislators in remaining neutral or agnostic with regard to diverse conceptions of the good. and cannot therefore expect much in the way of professional consensus on this score. On the one hand. to appeal to some idea of culture-free. and therefore unlikely to secure consensus. On the other. norms of human development and flourishing. possibly natural-scientific.
there may be no reason to suppose that the matter of the validity of Catholic education hangs more on the issue of the technical effectiveness of this or that pedagogical approach. In the teeth of such difficulties. it is not just that secular liberal educators might well find any discourse of religious educational development unintelligible. choiceworthy . one might claim that beyond what is allowed or forbidden to teachers in terms of universal rights-based prohibition and/or obligation. PROFESSIONAND CULTURE practical reason. apart from resting on a problematic quasiscientific objectivism about human development. Again. from this if it is reasonable to suppose that educational means and viewpoint.or whatever. but that believers are themselves liable to disagree regarding the human import of religious imperatives: of those who regard such imperatives as descriptive actual divine will are likely to take a rather different view of their educational significance from those who regard them (aesthetically) as more of metaphorically expressive existential life choice. there is nothing but cultural convention and that 'sophistical' considerations of local consensus suffice to determine what shall count as acceptable education: this is precisely the consumer orientated or market conception of education which fatally blurs any distinction between general medical practitioner and snake oil salesman. Secondly. and SCSE 2000 .EDUCATION. However. it is not so clear that there is any less reason for regarding homosexuality as morally wrong than there is for regarding it as morally indifferent or right . as Plato (1961) clearly perceived in the Gorgias. one might try to construe teaching as an regulated activity in which everything which is not ruled out entirely by rights-based contract and obligation to client or employer.and it is clearly an educational problem that different responses to this issue are diversely grounded. First. But. methods are crucially dependent upon and shaped by educational aims and purposes than vice versa. One significant issue which currently divides educationalists concerns the matter of teaching about homosexuality in schools. we can hardly be sure whether 'correct' here means true. However. But although we can hardly doubt that we are right to teach young people that it is wicked to maltreat people on grounds of their sexuality. neither medicine nor 266 ? Blackwell Publishers Ltd. such a view leaves little room for professional reason and judgement and teachers are cast in the diminished role of classroom technician at the slavish beck and call of expert direction. two manoeuvres have retained professional appeal. is equally prescribed or dictated in accordance with a technology of pedagogy grounded in some alleged natural science of learning and development. than upon the question of whether Christ was in fact God.
we should expect this to be reflected in the scope of professional enquiry about the proper conduct of education and in professional preparation. Illinois. (Urbana. Centre for the Study of Cultural Values).C.21. REFERENCES ARISTOTLE (1925) TheNichomachean Ethics (Oxford. BRIDGES. CARR. Education and Values:The RichardPetersLectures(Institute of Education. and McLAUGHLIN. Falmer Press). Nieman (ed) Philosophy Education1995 (Urbana. of Illinois. (1996) The dichotomy of liberal versus vocational education: some basic conceptual geography. (1987a) The idea of an educated public.Education and the Market (Oxford.A. MacINTYRE. the possibility of real professional judgement on the part of teachers . ACKNOWLEDGEMENT An earlier version of this paper was presented as an inaugural address in the University of Edinburgh Faculty of Education on March 14th 2000.AND CULTURE PROFESSION EDUCATION. Notre Dame Press).in any sense which is concerned with more than just customer satisfaction or routine compliance with the directives of others . 47-55. CURREN (ed) Philosophyof Education 1999. MacINTYRE. Routledge). Oxford University Press). political and even theological enquiry of a kind which seems in rather less than good odour in many influential political and professional quarters of the present day. (1991) How to AppearVirtuousWithoutActuallyBeing So (University of Lancaster. Harper Row).for it may well be that what customers want in this respect is not at all in their best interests. cultural. In G. (2000b) Is teaching a skill? In R.D. (1998) Traditionalism and progressivism: a perennial problematic of educational theory and policy. In A. CARR.C. HAYDON. (2000a) Professionalism Ethical Issues in Teaching(Routledge Professional Ethics Series. CARR. D. (1995) The primacy of virtues in ethical theory: Part I. . Journal of Applied and CARR. London.may depend upon substantial educational immersion in the complexities of moral. D. Philosophy of Education Society). (eds) (1994) Educationand theMarket(Lewes. In that case. Cogito.L. (1999) Professional education and professional ethics. JONATHAN.A.33-46. (1981) AfterVirtue(Notre Dame.A. R. CARR. MacINTYRE. D. D. Philosophy of Education Society). 9. Westminster Studiesin Education. Philosophy. D. University of London). 238-244. CARR. (1984) Essayson MoralDevelopment: I-III (New York. T.C. (1997) Illusory Freedoms:Liberalism.D. But if education is more than either of these options suggest. education could be simply a matter of giving customers what they want . Blackwell). Volumes KOHLBERG. 267 Publishers and SCSE Ltd. 2000 ? Blackwell 16.
A. (1974) Emile (London. HAMILTON and H. In PLATO (1961) Gorgias.C. (1993) PoliticalLiberalism (New York. Princeton University Press). CAIRNS (eds) Plato: The Collected Dialogues (Princeton.S.J-J.PROFESSION CULTURE AND EDUCATION. Dent). TAYLOR. TheMaking of theModernIdentity(Cambridge. Columbia University Press). NEILL.J. (1989) Sources the of Self: Cambridge University Press). RAWLS. and SCSE 2000 . E. Gollancz). Correspondence Professor David Carr Department of Educational Theory and Practice Moray House Institute of Education The University of Edinburgh Charteris Land Holyrood Road Edinburgh EH8 8AQ 268 @ Blackwell Publishers Ltd. (1965) Summerhill (London. ROUSSEAU.
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