Character is Dead. Long Live Character! Reconstructing a Fundamental Concept in Ethics and Moral Education

Mr. Roger Bergman
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Late in his career, Lawrence Kohlberg argued for a reconciliation between his own cognitive-developmentalism and an authentically Aristotelian concept of character. This paper argues that his retrieval of a fundamental concept in ethics and moral education was incomplete and also that contemporary personality psychology challenges conventional notions of character as global and invariable across situations. A social-cognitive approach to moral personality offers a more positive view of character as situation-sensitive and suggests a rapprochement with an Aristotelian view of character as highly discriminating. Augusto Blasi's thinking on the moral self, moral identity, and moral motivation is presented as a corrective to a possible lack of attention to the centrality of the self in any approach that emphasizes cognition as information-processing. Our goal is the portrayal of a scientifically credible understanding of character, of moral personality, that keeps us in conversation with the ancients, for whom ethics and character were nearly synonymous. The paper will conclude with a new definition of character.

Keywords: Character, Aristotle, Augusto Blasi, Social Cognition, Moral Identity
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Mr. Roger Bergman

Director, Justice and Peace Studies Program College of Arts and Sciences, Creighton University

Roger Bergman has been a moral educator, especially concerning issues of social justice and war and peace, for more than twenty years, in both academic and community settings. He is the founding director, since 1993, of the Justice and Peace Studies Program in Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, USA. He has graduate degrees in literature and theology and is completing a doctorate in education (May 2005). He has published on moral identity and moral motivation, John Dewey on moral education, and Nel Noddings's feminist philosophy of moral education as learning to care. His writing has appeared in "Human Development", "Journal of Moral Education", and "Studies in Philosophy and Education", as well as in an invited chapter in the book "Moral Development, Self, and Identity" (Erlbaum 2004). He is preparing a book manuscript titled "Educating the Moral Self: Perspectives form Psychology and Philosophy", of which this paper will be a chapter. Bergman is a member of the Executive Board of the Association for Moral Education and has presented papers at the most recent five conferences of that organization.

Ref: H05P0127