MORAL VALUES, MORAL DEVELOPMENTAND EDUCATION
For many reasons, as regards morality there is no agreement among or between researchers and practitioners. On the one hand, the development of moral philosophy has witnessed a contradictory evolution thanks to the diversity of its interpretative tendencies. I mean the directions represented by utilitarianism,1 emotionalism,2 prescriptivism,3 and moral projectivism.4 On the other hand, the social background, with its dramas, reflects moral confusion, with great negative consequences for education. That is why my approach to moral phenomena and the relationship between morality (with its components) and education, namely, between moral philosophy and the theory of contemporary moral education, may emphasize a characteristic feature: the rejection of any "integration" under pre-established interpretative titles or of a final "solution".
We need moral discourse which cannot be limited to the expression of moral judgment accompanied by an evaluation and decision. On the contrary, this discourse and generally the moral phenomenon should always be subject to multi-faceted research in order to emphasize the complexity of the components: moral traditions, values and rules of moral life, moral relationships among people and communities, moral fields or actions, value choices, decisions and the evaluation connected with them. Since moral education is focused on the development of moral behavior, it goes without saying that it cannot ignore this global character of morality and related discourse. Thus, we can comprehend the several cognitive and practical difficulties in conceiving and realizing moral education. Achieving some unity and interaction between various dimensions and perspectives of the moral and educational phenomena is the goal.
RESEARCH ON THE MORAL PHENOMENON
This phenomenon is not studied and presented everywhere in the same way. There are a great number of points of view related to moral life, two of which are very well known: the social and the psychological points of view.
From the social point of view, moral phenomena are presented in a prescriptive or standard meaning; from the psychological point of view, they appear as cultural-axiological.
a) The prescriptive meaning defines the obedience to behavioral rules which are explained in terms of the prescription of moral action. This means obligation and can be seen as an ‘imperative" applied to all moral subjects. It can be either negative ("you should not") or positive ("you should"), both expressed by a negative or affirmative moral attitude.
This standard explanation is now the object of important research on deontic logic in which Georg Henrik von Wright excels. Standard behavior is seen to define a group of rational rules whose nucleus is composed of obligation, compulsion or permission of the content of the rule as an imperative action of designation, together with the context of its use (always, sometimes, now, some other time, etc.)5 This meaning is also related to the idea of "moral standards" which are marked by the relation between the two terms: "should" and "is". This relation can be explained in many different ways. Namely, ‘should" comes from or can be derived from "is"; "should" takes into account what "is" and depends on what we want and what we decide; "should" is identical to "it is the case" or "it is proper" to undertake a moral action. Passing from statements including `is’ to statements including "should" and their combination is a reference point for a methodology of moral education.
b) In the cultural-axiological meaning, moral phenomena are studied as a moral value, noting the various interpretations of value across the world. In Romanian value theory, there are three ways of explaining value: cultural-anthropological, meaning that value is a social act present within the relationship between man and environment, between man and the historical process; cultural-philosophical, meaning that value is a functional relation between a wanted and appreciated object and a subject wanting and appreciating it; and cultural-psychological, meaning that value is a way of human living, a conscientious request expressed as a possibility of carrying out certain human "expectations").6
Beyond these interpretations, and others that are possible, we should remember that within value there is an objective component related to the properties of the object (natural and social processes and facts, relationships among people, living situations, material and spiritual beliefs from the point of view of their importance for man and society), and a subjective component related to one’s ability to become acquainted with and change reality and to make decisions about it. Thanks to these, one remembers things and behaves rationally and emotionally in life, making comparisons, evaluations and judgements.
These value components cooperate in a functional relationship through which a person’s outside needs are judged according to one’s desires or value concerns and according to the properties of the natural and social objects in one’s environment.
With all these meanings of value in education, in general, and especially in moral education, it is very important for the efficiency of moral values to discover their axiological structuring, including various opportunities and operations for their readjustment. This includes the processes of selection of those values with the highest potential for developing those human characteristics which lead to fulfillment and perfection. This supposes a constant interaction of the content of moral education with man’s eternal values: cooperation, justice, honesty, discipline, responsibility, tolerance, solidarity, trust, discrimination, etc.
MORAL VALUES AS AIMS AND MEANS OF EDUCATION
Due to their properties, some things are worthy in themselves, which we call fundamental values such as truth, good, beauty, justice and others. There are also things which are worthy as means for getting other things, such as honesty, correctness, sincerity, which support man’s dignity. From this follows the distinction between values as aims defining the value orientation of human behavior, the so-called teleological orientation or the sense of life, and values as means supporting "the values as aims" of moral development. Both categories of values are components of a standard-axiological system resulting from knowledge acquired by research into moral phenomena.
The operation of value as aims and means is extremely important for education. It is connected to two processes seized for the first time within contemporary thinking by the Romanian philosopher and sociologist, Petre Andrei. More precisely, there is one process of value knowledge and another of their recognition. The process of value knowledge is a logical one; the latter is a practical one, emphasizing value.7 From this point of view, the relation between value and education is a basic aspect of a child’s education and active socialization, requiring an extremely difficult and complex language which has seen much controversy.
MORAL LANGUAGE AND ITS USE
In this respect, there is much to be noted. One is related to the interest in this language which is not exclusively linguistic, as a few representatives of the philosophy of ideal languages had thought; it concerns the moral reflection upon what we say and what we do. This interest is also epistemological and, thanks to researchers in the field of morality, is differed from other kinds of research. Determining the meaning of one or another moral terms is not too easy a question because, first of all, one should clarify what generally is meaning, and then the meaning of each term in moral language. From this point of view, there are a lot of ideas upon moral language belonging to a period of linguistic analysis, especially the Anglo-Saxon one which is now considered to have contributed too little to its understanding; moreover, there have been increasing disagreements concerning the meaning of various moral terms and their use.
Romanian research on language linguistics and philosophy appreciates that the meaning of a term refers to "all its possibilities . . . of meaning: objects, actions, ideas, phenomena. They awaken representations in our minds, as well as make connections among these representations."8 The meaning of a word is determined by three factors: 1. objective reality to which the word is related; 2. the way in which the speaker sees this objective reality, and 3. the way in which the speaker makes use of the word, namely the exchange value of the word".9
On this basis, there is the idea of a general subdivision of the terminology of moral language into practical terms (moral relation, moral interest, moral action), standard-axiological term (moral value, moral rule, moral sense, moral choice, moral decision), and behavior-estimating and instrumental terms (moral judgment, moral estimation, moral opinion, moral punishment, moral habit, moral routine, etc.).
A second remark concerns the correct or incorrect use of the terminology of moral language depending on their supposed meaning and the intentions or objectives of the person using it. According to C. L. Stevenson, moral language can be used in two directions: one for remembering, explaining and communicating certain opinions or for trying to change the interest of another person, and another for stimulating people to action or to a certain behavior.
Thus, there is a double use of moral language: a descriptive one and a suggestive one (which emphasizes something worthy) in which moral terms are "devices used in the complicated game of adjustment and readjustment of human interests."10 These uses are accompanied by various moral statements or sentences both descriptive and permissive. The diversity of moral statements helps us to understand a lot of attitudes related to their truthfulness or falsity. For example, moral falsity is seen by Richard Harell as connected to the incorrect use of moral terms, so that in order to find out whether someone behaves this way, we should find out if he lets us know what is true or speaks deliberately in a false manner. So we should distinguish the correct uses of moral language from false statements, whether deliberate or not, even if it is difficult to make this distinction.
THE CONCEPT OF MORAL EDUCATION AND ITS OBJECTIVES
Interpretations of the process of moral education are quite differentiated and subject to change, according to the modality of the study of moral phenomenon (and its components), and the consistency of the cognitive results of this study. On the other hand, moral education cannot ignore lack of moral education among youth and grown-ups, as a result of not mastering or of incorrect use of moral language.
We define the concept of moral education by taking into account two components of moral life: the objective component (social-axiological), and the subjective component (psychological), that is, human behavior and the development of its features. According to these components, we can formulate extremely various objectives of this education and can analyze their connections with one or another form of education (intellectual, civil, political, professional, ecological, religious, etc.). Thus, we can move beyond simple opinions that emphasize one or another component of moral life.
If we adopt a social-axiological position, the objective of moral education is considered to be the knowledge of moral values and their capitalization by a subject or a community for an active and responsible integration, against such moral non-values as evil, hypocrisy, cowardliness, moral opportunism, etc.
If we deal only with the psychological component of moral education, its objective is moral behavior, within such diversity of its manifestations in human relations as moral feelings and expectations, moral motives and interests, acting out one’s likes and decisions. By its two dimensions (social and psychological), this kind of behavior has particular features and a structure of its own. Namely, as a functional modification of a few psychic processes (cognitive, emotional and psycho-motor), moral behavior is expressed in an emotional form (voice, mime, gesture, motor and vegetative acts), a relational one (devotion to other people and a special way of communicating with them, depending on the opinion about oneself and the others’ opinion about one as a person), and a standard social-cultural form related to the historical situation of society from the point of view of culture and civilization in which it is present (for example, the way of congratulating someone on success, the way of appealing to officials or of making critical remarks, by uttering moral opinions or disagreements, etc.). This behavior can be defined by sincerity or lack of sincerity, by relational balance or lack of balance, and by reciprocity (the same requests and expectations from other moral subjects) or, on the contrary, the lack of reciprocity.
At this psychological level, in order to educate moral behavior, moral choice is essential, seen in relation to the stage of cultural and psychological development of the moral subject.
Related to the specific structure of this behavior, there is a group of interactive components. A few researchers, such as George F. McLean, see these components as values, virtues and character. Some others, such as John Dewey, have in view biological impulses and human needs, moral reflection on standards of the community to which they belong, and individual or group moral judgment expressed by the ability to analyze, choose and make decisions in life.
We would prefer the structural components of moral behavior to the idea of levels of its development as regards perceiving, imagining, moving, emotions, behavior, willing, and thinking. All these levels fulfill the necessary objectives of moral education: a knowledge of moral reality in the meaning of moral practice in deed and action, (b) the understanding and the making of value judgments, and (c) being sensitive to value prescriptions and moral rules of choice of action within what is allowed or forbidden by society for not harming other people and out of respect for oneself. All this constitutes a comprehensive picture of moral behavior, and makes it possible to adjust the objectives of moral education to a methodology suited to its achievements.
GENERAL DIMENSIONS OF MORAL EDUCATION
We may divide moral education into two general fields: the psychological, and the standard-axiological, the existence of both of which is supposed.
Regarding the psychological aspect, in several English and American studies, moral education is related to character development, where respect and responsibility are emphasized as essential (T. Lickona). Some others see moral education as cooperation and discipline (Cornel M. Hamn).13 This psychological representation of moral education is obviously limited and contrasts to other positions formulated by Jean Plaget,14 Lawrence Kohlberg,15 and G. W. Allport,16 concerning the moral development of human behavior, and the standard-axiological background in which this process takes place. As a supporter of the standard interpretation of moral phenomenon,17 J. Piaget identified four successive stages of representation and practice of moral rules which the child receives from society:
a) the motor stage (for the child aged about 2-3), when the moral rule is not compulsory, because, at this age, he does not behave according to his own acquired wishes and habits but lives the outward reality relatively unconsciously;
b) the egocentric stage of imitating the moral rule imposed from the outside (the child aged 4-5 years old), when one is not concerned with the coding of the rule or intentions;
c) the stage of cooperation or respect for the moral rule (the child aged 7-10), concerned about mutual control and union of rules to respect which they are behaviorally obliged;
d) the stage of coding moral rule (specific to 11-14), when the pre-teenager is interested in the meaning of his behavior and in the integration of the rules into a moral law.
This classification outlines a psychological process associated with one that is axiological, with functional and value accumulations significant for understanding the development of moral behavior. According to Piaget, the respect of the moral rule and its practice are basic elements of human behavioral evolution, meaning a passage from a heteronomous morality to an autonomous morality, as respect and cooperation between the child and the grown-up.
In contrast Lawrence Kohlberg places, at the first level and from the social point of view, good and justice (right) as characteristic of the development of the child’s moral behavior. At the same time, he links the concept of stages to that of levels of moral development in terms of progression and progress. According to his outlook, moral development passes through a pre-conventional level, a conventional one, and a post-conventional one, within each of which there are two stages of development. Thus, we have the following image:
(a) a pre-conventional level including:
(1) the stage of heteronomous morality characterized by respect for behavioral rules tied to punishment; the child’s behavior is motivated by the avoidance of punishment and of overlapping "power" of authorities); and
(2) the stage of moral individualism in which the moral rule is respected in case it responds to the immediate interests of the individual and the others have the possibility to behave in the same way;
(b) a conventional level including:
(1) the stage of "moral wish" and good behavior suitable to the outlook of others on ourselves, and to one’s personal inclination towards the others and to the fact that the individual believes in rules and authorities); and
(2) the stage of "the social system" and of conscience as an interpersonal agreement to carry out responsibilities assumed by respect for the law, (with the exception of situations when these interfere with other rules or values admitted by social life, wherefor we should distinguish between social points of view and the motivation of individual morality); and
(c) a post-conventional level including:
(1) the stage of subordination to society, meaning "a social contract, the social usefulness of human rights that should be respected in every human community, and the stage of "moral heroes" (if they exist) or of general moral responsibility for a behavior in the spirit of justice and respect for human dignity, so that every individual should be seen as "an aim in himself" and not as a "means" for action.
Certainly, moral development of the individual to reach high standards is desirable, but most people place themselves and their behavior within the stages of the conventional level. From respect for moral rules in order to avoid punishment, disapproval of others, or summons or blame from authorities, the child should reach a standard-axiological adjustment thanks to which he should preserve others’ respect towards himself and be actively and rationally involved in the community in which he lives.
From this perspective, by developing the theory of conscience, Gordon W. Allport brings further explanations. He distinguishes between the authoritative moral conscience specific to childhood, saying "must" or "it is compulsory", and the teenager’s later conscience of "should" which derives from a sense of duty and acknowledgment of moral values and rules in society.
Passing from "compulsory" to "should" moral behavior becomes a sort of general "self-guidance" supposing three major changes:
- outward punishment is replaced by inward punishment;
- emotions related to bans, fears or obligations are replaced by feelings of preference and moral choice, of self-respect and respect for the others;
- moral habits specific to "obedience" give way to a general value autonomy pursuing the chosen directions of the effort to behavioral development (moral self-education).
Without a doubt, all these considerations reveal a psychological and standard-axiological mechanism of moral formation of human behavior, drawing attention to its open character, psychic maturity and the gradual assimilation of a value expanding nucleus. But this mechanism is not deprived of contradictions or tensions, generating a lot of hardships, a few of which are confusing for human life and appear as "moral crises". We refer to circumstances or "induced hardships" as relations of force, dictating and irrational submission among people, conservative moral habits, misunderstanding of values or moral rules that become "prejudices", to which we add the violence represented by the "actions of national mafias tending to transform themselves rapidly, into international networks, diffusion of drug consumption and crimes related to drugs, aggressive sexual exhibitionism and behavioral deviations exploited by the press, mass media and publicity. At different levels, all these circumstances ready the scene for a new existence in which the outlawed behavior generally enjoys so much attention that it comes to be perceived as normal."18 I also take into account the so-called "unforeseeable hardship" related to human nature which has weaknesses and is corruptive such as selfish interest, deviations from the moral critical spirit and negative attitudes towards moral values, use of freedom as an unlimited permission in life, and others.
How can we resist, morally, these noxious aggressions and pressures toward human behavior?
A short answer to this question is the attempt to give life a meaning capable of contributing to human moral development, in order properly to understand the world in which we live with its routine and continuing problems, and to create an axiological background supporting and defending this development.
The concept of the meaning of life is related to the existence of limitations concerning the distinction between value and non-value. This explanation of meaning is given by R. Nozick,19 according to whom there are two types of meaning: one connected to certain outward things, and the other connected to certain things we possess and which are worthy. Meaning is correlated only with something worthy. Consequently, for moral educational action, meaning and value must be interwoven, which is extremely important when building our ideals, so that these may not be subject to change.
THE SYSTEM AND METHODS OF MORAL EDUCATION IN THE SCHOOL
How can we influence moral behavior? We can act by emphasizing moral values and rules by employing a system of educational methods related to the levels and stages of the development of this behavior.
The system of values and moral rules is the support of moral assimilation as a specific phenomenon of human relations according to a dialectics of human subjectivity (the way of thinking, feeling and acting) which is unforeseeable and difficult for an educator. This is the dialectic of moral negation and aspiration to moral perfection. These are illustrated by moral agreements and disagreements, by value opinions and judgments, by acceptance or rejection, a few of them imperative (what moral behavior should be) or others suppositional (what behavior could be like). Besides these aspects of subjectivity, it is hard to suppose that a value or a moral rule should be related to the torment of individual inner tension in the case of a mature, intelligent moral behavior rejecting impatience, harshness, strain, and excess.
That is why, before presenting a set of methods for moral education, we should make a few clarifications. On the one hand, we should distinguish between the methods of moral education in all its forms (intellectual, civilian, political, professional, ecological, intercultural, etc.), and the methods of moral education in a few geographical areas which reduce attention to tradition and moral reflection, as is the case by John Dewey, in favor of exclusive focus on syllabi, imitation, suggestion and moral evaluation, for the structure and forms of moral behavior require many dimensions for moral education.
On the other hand, the methods of moral education can be described and explained in relation to levels of development of moral behavior in the context of two educational circumstances in the school. One is guiding, in which the educator acts upon psychological components of various values and moral rules, such as "it is allowed" (it can be), "it is forbidden" (it must not be). The other is "value-action" which emphasizes learning values and moral rules by the persuasive ability of methods of moral education, depending on objectives to be reached.
The system of methods of moral education includes the following:
(a) methods of receiving and understanding moral language and the circumstances of moral living (moral narrative, moral explanation, moral conversation, analysis of a moral case, moral reflection, hermeneutics, moral tradition);
(b) methods of starting, reinforcing or renewing moral behavior (imitation, moral example, recommendation, suggestion, praise, role playing, moral practice under various forms, projective moral test, blame, punishment);
(c) methods of moral self-education (self-observation and self-analysis, self-suggestion, self-control, self-renunciation, self-constraint, self-evaluation).
These categories of methods complete one another and designate a combination of two modes of educational action when developing moral behavior, direct and indirect.
Direct educational action can be verbal (explanatory, suggestive and authoritative); indirect action is relational, represented by the outward social group in which the moral subject is a participant.
When making use of methods of moral education, we should not forget that if, up to a certain age, a child’s moral behavior depends on that of an adult, gradually, and especially during the teens, one tends to behave independently in decision making regarding moral actions. Consequently, the inclination or habit by most parents excessively to control the child’s or teenager’s moral behavior is confronted with the tendency to moral autonomy. Handled positively, this leads to cooperation and respect between moral subjects. But when this is not perceived by the adult who links autonomy to negation or moral nonconformism, then there is resistance and a feeling of lack of reciprocity, avoidance or moral alienation. Also, when making use of these methods, we should respect the conditions of efficiency with a view to moral results. Namely, the person as a moral subject (child, teenager, young, adult or various human communities) should correctly realize what is expected from him as regards behavior, and be able to behave accordingly to values and moral rules acquired by him and acknowledged by the community in which he lives. We shall present a few of these methods, taking into account their structure and importance for moral development, as well as the conditions for their application.
(1) Imitation is a matter of copying behavioral patterns. Regardless of age, one needs concrete, detailed moral action. Imitation can be used — spontaneously or selectively — with regard to moral examples, proposals, suggestions or recommendations of behavior to be followed.
This combination of imitation is applied thanks to its persuasive ability and physical attraction; this combination facilitates the generalization of a special case of behavior to be followed. Imitation supposes ‘models" of behavior peculiar to various ages. For example, for the pre-school child imitation is mainly emotional and less cognitive, while for the teenager imitation is "selective" and "processed". That is why, at school, imitation is never neutral, but always supposes a duality of a reaction and an attitude expressing emotion and reason, development and integrity.
Undoubtedly, the idea of the human "model" is not new in education and ethics; what is really new is the connection between the "model" and its "adoption". There are generally two forms of the model of man or of behavior, ideal and concrete, both of them being a source of knowledge and moral influence. At the same time, there are two problems related to the ideal: the problem of the moral model for the educator which is necessary for the imitation method, and the problem of choosing or building a behavioral model by the moral subject.
Each of these problems have various aspects from the point of view of the moral language: one related to the formulation of the model in terms of imperative moral prescriptions or in preferential and interrogative terms related to the identification of the causes and intentions of behavior, and another concerning the assimilation of the model by the moral subject.
One study used as a working methodology: the introduction of comments and moral debate within the instructive educational process for axiological formation and the use of a projective test by a questionnaire composed of four questions: one of moral causality (the preferred model of behavior), two questions of moral identity (preferred features of behavior and parallels and differences vis a vis the indicated behavioral model), and a utility question (how the features of behavior in the indicated model can be achieved).
These questions outlined the importance of the school’s concern for the formation of a moral behavior model, depending on the knowledge of its source (present in the structure of human life) and on the level of their moral aspiration.
The data obtained indicate:
(a) The subjects either (a) wanted a real moral behavior model according on the power of the behavior model in their families, school communities, social communities or mass media — 30.55 percent (106 options);
(b) preferred a synthetic moral model, depending on special behavior values — 46.95 percent (163 expressed options);
(c) considered a behavior model not to be necessary, depending on the preference phenomenon — 18.73 percent (65 answers);
(d) did not reply or did not think of a behavior model — 3.75 percent (13 subjects).
This showed that the option for a certain moral behavior supposes the coordination of moral preference (in relation with what we call moral "imaginably" or the ideal human type) with the action of the concrete moral behavior of parents, brothers, schoolmates, teachers or athletes, artists, scientists or literary characters. This structure of behavior moral model is a modality by which pupils assimilate the need to be moral. But the moral preference is normative. From this point of view, the rules of behavior preference suppose the correlation of the meaning with its value.
(B) The necessity of a behavior moral model from the perspective of values as a moral aspiration is certified by the content of the answers to the two questions of moral identity.
In this respect, the data obtained shows a connection to a value system composed of two categories of behavioral features: general behavior and morals, strictly speaking.
Of the first category, there are 130 identified options concerning sensitivity, intelligence, seriousness, peace of mind, optimism, wisdom, delicacy, understanding, behavior, and others.
Out of the second category, there are 552 expressed options: 105 (19.02 percent) for sincerity, 90 (16.30 percent) for honesty, 42 (7.68 percent) for moral respect for oneself and for others, 34 (6.16 percent) for modesty, 31 (5.62 percent) for politeness, 22 (3.98 percent) for justice, 15 (21.88 percent) for the sense of duty, 14 (2.58 percent) for devotion and loyalty; followed by options for dignity, courage, fairness, passion for work, self-possession, honesty, selfishlessness, discipline.
This is an important finding. On the one hand, moral values are prior; among them, teenagers assert themselves as moral subjects. On the other side, the main moral value is sincerity seen as a modality of living in relation to oneself and others which allows for access to other preferred values of behavior. At the same time, we should emphasize the dialectics of emotional behavior felt by the subjects: their questioning of what they are from the point of view of morality. This involves both an identity of 83 percent (288 subjects) with preferred moral values, and a consciousness of differences as compared to the moral model which was considered unimportant (49 subjects). These data emphasize an advanced spirit of moral self-evaluation.
(C) The answers to the question about moral usefulness reveal for 74.93 percent (260 subjects) the achievement of the preferred model of moral conduct by will (143 subjects) and work (117 subjects), which indicates wonderful optimism. At the same time, 17.2 percent (60 subjects), identified self-knowledge as the basis for the assimilation of the behavior moral model, while another 3.75 percent (13 subjects) indicated human relations. The life of the investigated teenagers seemed essentially to be about the outlining of a living moral-axiological space, mediated by the living primary values of will and work.
(2) Praise is an elementary form of success or achievement. Praising is speaking highly of someone, in contrast, as Erich Geissler21 states, to irony and sarcasm towards somebody. The object of the praise is a morally achieved action, a feature of behavior.
There are several kinds of praise: confidential (between someone who praises and someone who is praised), public (with one or more witnesses), and symbolic (the praised person is raised to the rank of a model of conduct). Under these variants, praise should be applied in relation to its educational consequences, both upon the person praised (producing pleasure and stimulation so that by repetition the praised person becomes appreciated, admired, obeyed and feels useful), and upon the position of the praised person in the community where he lives and upon the relationship between the praised person and the person who praises (arousing fondness, receptivity or, on the contrary, when one is not accepted, for example, by the school group, this depresses the latter; that is, instead of supporting the praised person, the group conduct has a negative effect upon one). For praise to be an acknowledgment of the child’s, teenager’s or adult’s behavior, there are a few conditions:
it should refer to facts or achievements (it should be
it should be stimulating; and
it should not degenerate into flattery or conflict. It is well known that the flatterer can master the flattered, obliging him to become receptive towards his requests by apparent recognition.22
3) Persuasion is advising or urging. The defining element of this method is moral deliberation seen as the assimilation of the emotional, psychic and rational power necessary for action. By it, the moral subject assumes one or another of the values and moral rules of social life, because the effect of deliberation is moral decision. Therefore, at the rational level of human behavior, the new value or moral rule appears as a matter not of outward constraint and obligation, but of deliberate agreement. That is why this method can be combined with moral reflection and the hermeneutic method.
(4) Moral reflection is an act of thinking, in order to understand and explain the meaning of conduct, its motives and consequences. By applying this method, we can obtain behavioral consequences in relation to various moral background situations. From the mental point of view, reflection is composed of doubt, remembrance, deliberation and moral option. Through proverbs, sayings or maxims on the moral qualities and shortcomings of human behavior, and through interpretation (philosophical, literary, historical, etc.) of texts with moral contents, we can understand the message related to the human condition. This method contributes to the assimilation of value and such behavioral rules as good will, kindness, respect, sincerity, duty, courage, balance, wisdom, etc.
(5) Moral exercise appears under a number of variants, among which are current learning when seen as an action for oneself and society. Thus, school learning is a bearer of values and moral rules for relations with another; it is a condition of individual self achievement by the assumption of responsibility for finding efficient solutions. Consequently, through its emotional component (of effort and tenacity of moral subject to achieve learning as a moral obligation), this variety of moral exercise is a sign of the child’s and teenager’s behavioral development and, at the same time, the space where moral motives for school success or for avoiding school failure should be present. The pupil adjusts his effort and understanding of his own mental successes from the moral point of the qualities of his conduct (sense of effort, perspective, sense of duty, discipline and development). Inequality of reception of this double sense of school learning as a modality of performing and fulfilling both psycho-motor needs and social needs may generate inconstant behavior of pupils, opposed to the expectations of parents, teachers and school-mates.
(6) Moral punishment is a method of forming behavior habits and skills; it is an unpleasant experience as a consequence of a moral blame (Geissler). Its object is not "an education for submission",23 but to prevent or warn, to improve or change the various motives of some negative behavioral attitudes. That is why, in applying it, one should take into account the effects it generates. Punishment is always associated with emotional and character disturbances24 and consequently it should not affect someone’s honor and freedom. We should take into account the degrees of seriousness of moral misbehavior, so that through various forms of punishment such as lowering a mark, rewriting a paper several times so that the pupils may become tidy or punctual, drawing attention in front of the class to some negligent behavior, making use, under various circumstances and often, of reprimand, admonition, reproach and the like, we not inflict feelings of fear, worry or humiliation which break the child’s physical or moral resistance. Moral punishment should not despise or lack respect toward the child, or humiliate and disparage him or her. Moreover, we cannot admit arbitrary punishment (by depriving the child of toys or meals, by slapping or hitting him, by anger or coldness, etc.), either within disorganized or broken families characterized by contradictory educational methods that generate psychological absurdity or by one another of the parents or teachers who want to "catch" the child at fault out of the pleasure in using parental or school authority so that the child may feel suppressed by another’s will.
EVALUATION OF MORAL BEHAVIOR
Protagoras’s saying that "man is the measure of all things", repeated by Plato in the phrase, "Each of us is the measure of what it is and of what it is not," can be used as a guiding reflection concerning the evaluation of moral behavior.
What is the evaluation of someone’s moral behavior?
Are there necessary and common standards of moral evaluation?
A.J. Ayer (1936)25 felt that we should not be concerned about moral evaluation because there is no empirical criterion for checking the values on which it relies, since these are "emotional manifestations" and therefore cannot be either true or false. In contrast to this position, the evaluation of moral behavior supposes two aspects:
(a) if we make use of the same meaning of moral terms, then we can appreciate somebody’s behavior correctly;
(b) moral evaluation is finally based on value.
We evaluate somebody’s behavior through its effects, mainly through its consequences within the community in which the moral subject behaves as a psycho-social being.
Therefore, evaluation regards the importance of behavior composed of two aspects:
- one related to the outer moral effect of behavior (various people or various things are influenced by somebody’s attitudes, on which basis there are various intentions as a causal source);
- another related to the inner moral effect of behavior, which is "trust" in someone, "counting" on somebody due to his moral option and ability.
These aspects of evaluation are directly connected to the "technique" of measurement and estimation of behavior. At the same time, they may be considered criteria for empirically checking our moral judgments. Here, there are two remarks. First the moral option that we considered as essential for the psychological and axiological development of human behavior.
Moral option is a possible accumulation of virtues (courage, moderation, prudence, honesty, fairness, etc.), in opposition to moral mediocrity and tolerance of negative manifestations in social life.26
Not everyone is willing to evaluate such behavior. Moral mediocrity is unfortunately tolerated, even supported by some who identify morality with social routine or moral opportunism represented by one who "neither obeys values and moral rules, nor is against them, is neither correct, nor fair; neither lies, nor tells the truth. Seen at a distance this person commits nothing serious, but this is his deadly sin which defends him from the attack of community and from the qualms of conscience.27 Such a behavior is a storehouse of moral misery which should be subjected to severe evaluation.
Second, the idea of the faultless man from the moral point of view, joined with so-called "moral competence". In this case, a hasty extrapolarization of one’s own behavior and the issue of a conflictual artifice between "competence" and "incompetence" in evaluation are quite possible, generating one of the difficulties of evaluation, namely, moral relativism invoked as a constitutive element.
This theoretical study shows that moral education is part of the general process of human knowledge and education, and continuously manifests that the results of this knowledge and study are not final, and that no form of educational organization is faultless. At the same time, moral education cannot be separated from the human way of knowing, one’s nature and behavior, the social institutions and living modalities of human communities.
There remain many aspects related to this type of education, both terminological, formal and methodological, which are not satisfactorily resolved from the cognitive point of view. But this type of education must not be underestimated. Often there is moral evil — faults, imperfections, weaknesses, vices, corruption — that cannot be cured; we do not know if there ever existed a moment in human history deprived of the "face" of evil. From here, a "moral crisis" is extrapolarized whose possible solution is seen by connection to the transcendental or by ignoring it, by a simple or sometimes exaggerated invocation of human rights and liberties, by overseeing one’s obligations or rights and liberties.
Thanks to acquired moral knowledge, we can state that the future of moral education, of values and of the development mechanisms of moral behavior cannot be a return to the past. This future is linked to the realistic and pragmatic character of education, in general, where people’s constraints and moral responsibilities are included in their rights.
Therefore, in order to avoid one-sided opinions which, morally, could lead to arbitrariness, anarchy, dictates, or total subordination we make a choice for understanding and a correlation also between moral duty and freedom. J. Dewey’s remarks are clear in this respect: "Freedom does not cancel constraints that nature and man impose on any social being and prevent him from being controlled by impulses that would be harmful to him as a member of society".
As well, development of responsibility and respect for law are aspects typical to human nature and condition. Therefore, further development of moral education depends upon human reason.
Consequently, through moral education we should control what we can obtain and achieve from the point of view of a behavior as a modality of remaining on the human side of man. We live in a world where conflicts, even if they cannot be totally solved or removed, still can be diminished and balanced so that social life and an affirmation of human personality may exist. This modality is the "reconciliation" of moral opposites through meaning and value as a fulfillment of living that overcomes educational confusions.
1. See John S. Mill (1979), Utilitarianism (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company), according to whom useful is opposed not to pleasure (whether mental or physical), but to pain. Consequently, man’s objectives and actions are moral when promoting happiness (wellness), and are immoral when they produce the opposite of happiness, such as being miserable and humiliated.
2. The emotionalism of C.L. Stevenson and A.J. Ayer is a theory of understanding moral terms as nothing else but expressions of the speakers’ emotions, of human likes, behavior or feelings, but which, from the point of view of their evaluation, are neither true nor false.
3. Prescriptivism and its variants, among which is instrumentalism (see R. M. Hare, P. Nowell-Smith, B.D.A. Williams), claim that moral terms show what a man does; they show not the speaker’s feelings or attitudes, but his or her actions. There are two closely connected forms under which moral terms exist when prescribing an action: an indicative one(showing the moral subject what to do), and an imperative one (ordering, dictating what is to be done). Under these forms, moral language would be a device for the influence and change of human interests.
4. According to projectivism, moral values are not objective, but have a conventional content from which moral skepticism results; that is why talk about morality becomes unimportant.
5. Georg Henrik von Wright (1982), Norma si actiune (Norm and Action) (Bucuresti: Editura, Stiintifica si Enciclopedica, 1982), pp. 18-19 and Chapter "Norms analysis".
6. See Mircea Maciu, Stiinta valorilor in spatiul romanesc (Science of Values in Romanian Space) (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Romaine, 1995).
7. Cf. Petre Andrei, Filosofia valorii (Philosophy of Value) (Bucuresti, 1945).
8. Ion Coteanu, Marius Sola, Etimologia si limba romana (Etymology and Romanian Language) (Bucuresti, Editura Academiei, 1987), pp. 13-14.
9. Alexandru Rossetti, Filbsofia limbajului (Philosophy of Language) (Bucuresti: Editura Minerva, 1989), p. 63.
10. Charles L. Stevenson, "The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms," Mind, XLXI (1938).
11. Richard M. Hare, The Language of Morals (Oxford: Clarendon, 1952).
12. See G. McLean, ed. Philosophical Foundations for Moral Education and Character Development (Washington D.C.: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 1992), pp. 348-352.
13. See Philosophical Issues in Education: An Introduction (New York: Falmer Press, 1982).
14. See Judecata morala la copii (Children’s Moral Judgement) (Bucuresti: Editura Didactica si Pedagogica, 1982).
15. See Moral Education in Schools: A Developmental View (1966) and Collected Papers in Moral Development and Moral Education (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Center for Moral Education, 1973).
16. See Structura si dezvoltarea personalitatii (Structure and Personality Development) (Bucuresti: Editura Didactict si Pedagogica, 1981).
17. In "Children’s Moral Judgment," Plaget writes: "Any morality consists of a rules system, and the nucleus of any morality should be found in the respect of the individual for these rules".
18. Alexander King, Bertrand Schneider, The First Global Revolution, A Report by the Council of the Club of Rome (Sydney: Simon and Schuster of Australia Ltd., 1991).
19. See "Valoare si sens" (Value and meaning), in Valorile si adevarul moral (Values and moral truth), selection, translation and notes by Valentin Muresan (Bucuresti: Editura Alternative, 1995).
20. Marin C. Calin, "Modelul moral de conduitj ca valoare In actiunea educativa" (Behavior moral model as a value in the educational process), Bucuresti, Revista de pedagogie, nr.3, pp. 12-15.
21. See Mijloace de educatie (Educational Means) (Bucuresti: Editura Didactica si Pedagogica, 1975).
22. Ibid., p. 126.
23. Ibid., p. 103.
24. Cf. Michel Gilly, Elev bun, elev slab (Good pupil, bad pupil) (Bucuresti: Editura Didactica si Pedagogica, 1976).
25. See Language, Truth and Logic (Gollancz).
26. See Andrei Plesu, Minima Moralia (Bucuresti: Editura Cartea Romaneasca, 1989).
27. Ibid., p. 146.