Moral and/or values education is a controversial topic in contemporary society because there is little consensus about what should be taught, how it should be taught, when it should be taught, who should teach it, or if it should be taught at all. In many minds, moral education is connected to religious education, so that religious instruction in schools is justified for the contribution it makes to the inculcation of moral values. For others, the teaching of moral values can be done just as well through the teaching of ethics, and, especially in state run schools, ought to replace religious instruction, citing state neutrality in relation to the teaching of religion in state schools. This raises challenging questions about the role of religious education in moral education, particularly within education and schooling systems.
Apart from this, a variety of issues arise when we talk of moral and/or values education. It is evident that teaching or instructing students in moral values will have no lasting effect if it does not result in students making moral commitments. Indeed, to paraphrase Aristotle’s statement about moral development, pupils are brought to the threshold of moral commitment through the halls of habituation to the virtues. This suggests that there is no neutral stance to be taken in relation to moral values because it is not simply a matter of values clarification in which students choose their own from a smorgasbord of values. There are the cardinal virtues of temperance, courage, justice and prudence that can be mentioned, but there are other ways of characterising the virtues also. So it raises the question of which virtues are the most important for human flourishing. In addition to these, there are the virtues and values required of citizens in a liberal democratic society, such as tolerance, individual autonomy and respect for persons, which are required in the public space.
A number of questions naturally arise, for instance: Is moral education synonymous with the teaching of ethics? Do moral values need to be founded on universal principles? What role does religion play in moral and/or values education? What moral values are required in a liberal democracy? Should schools concentrate only on those values required in the public space or develop rounded human beings? Does the state need to be neutral in relation to the teaching of moral values?
This special issue of Educational Philosophy and Theory calls for papers addressing these and related questions about moral values in a liberal democratic society.
For further information on how to submit, visit our 'Instructions for Authors' page. Any questions should be directed to the guest co-editors at the email addresses found below:
Prof. Janis (John) Ozolins
Australian Catholic University, Australia
Dr. Steven Stolz
La Trobe University, Australia
Final date for the submission of manuscripts: 30 June 2018