Morality and the Liberal Arts: Six Axes of Connection
Abstract: The universe of liberal education is a moral one because it involves communities, and therefore the potential for competition and conflict. However, the ways in which morality and the liberal arts intersect are complex, problematic, and contested. This essay explores six axes along which liberal education is animated by moral concerns: the axis of policy; that of language
and communication; within the curriculum (particularly, but not exclusively, in the humanities); in pedagogy; in terms of moral
agency and character; and finally, in terms of the mission of liberal education. Mapping these six dimensions doesn’t resolve fundamental moral problems, but offers a framework for understanding them more clearly and for managing those
“essentially contestable” debates that cannot be resolved.
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