Review Of "Good Lives And Moral Education" By E. Simpson

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In



Simpson develops a "conservative" conception of morality a la M. Walzer (Spheres of Justice, CH, Oct'83) and A. MacIntyre (After Virtue, CH, Feb'82; 2nd ed., 1984). He thus rejects universalistic, rationalistic theories for supposing that emotions are uneducable and for failing to recognize that "all learning occurs against a background of historical prejudice." Value clarificationists and L. Kohlberg (The Philosophy of Moral Development, CH, Jan'82) are assailed for maintaining that moral education is primarily for individual choice instead of seeing it as a way of educating moral perceptions and culturally sanctioned virtues. To meet the obvious criticism that this enshrines parochial standards that may prove cruel or oppressive, Simpson relies on J. Habermas (Communication and the Evolution of Society, CH, Sep'79), contending that moral progress can be understood in terms of democratic communicative practices of "conversation" embodying public standards of judgment. Often, though not always, this will furnish all we need (and can have) to endorse one of several inherently contestable conceptions of the good life. But is not this recommendation just to argue from within our provincial outlook? This spirited book will interest moral philosophers and educationalists for its sure grasp of contemporary philosophical and educational literature and its forceful challenge to standard views. Upper-division undergraduates and above.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

This document is currently not available here.