ERIC Number: EJ1180782
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
How Jane Addams Expands Our View of Education as an Ethical Enterprise
Bruce, Bertram C.
Educational Theory, v67 n6 p677-692 Dec 2017
Jane Addams's "Democracy and Social Ethics" is more than a historical artifact describing the work of a prominent social reformer. It is also a significant contribution to philosophy, especially in the area of social ethics. Moreover, though less widely acknowledged, Addams's work is essential for anyone who seeks an ethical vision for education. Here, we examine these claims through three interrelated questions. First, Addams argues for a social ethics that goes beyond individual virtues, such as honesty. Yet, she situates and builds that ethics on concrete, situated personal relations. How can an all-encompassing social ethics develop from localized individual relations? Second, Addams worked to address specific problems faced by immigrants. However, her social ethics explicitly denies that material conditions justify contentious struggle. How does a theory of social ethics relate to material conditions, especially in terms of inequities of race, class, or gender? Third, Addams always focuses on immediate problems, even engaging deeply with the situation of specific individuals. How can such local, interpersonal action be integrated with large-scale political action? A close examination of these questions shows that Addams's work offers powerful insights into the mutually constitutive practice of engaging in pragmatist philosophy and reflective, ethically guided education, a practice that has never been more important than it is today.
Descriptors: Ethics, Democracy, Educational Philosophy, Social Differences, Racial Differences, Gender Differences, Social Change, Interpersonal Relationship, Immigrants, Social Action, Teaching Methods
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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