Communitarianism and the social construction of morality

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The emergent message of “Communitarianism” is challenging the tradition of liberal rationalism that has sustained much recent research in moral development. This is much more than a matter of values; behind these two positions are very different ways of thinking about psychological and social processes. Liberal rationalists come out of a strongly cognitive, individualistic psychological tradition, while communitarians speak in the language of hermeneutics and social constructionism. This distinction underpins the values that each position espouses, for values arise, I would argue, directly from psychological assumptions. This has profound implications for moral education. The communitarian world view prescribes rather different approaches from that of liberal rationalism. If moral education is to succeed, we have to understand the developmental processes in which we are intervening, and if we wish to challenge alternative positions we must appreciate how their infrastructure sustains their rhetoric, and how this differs from where we stand. In this paper these issues are discussed; a speculative blueprint is offered for communitarian educational principles, and its strengths and weaknesses are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Moral Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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