13 SES 11 A, Moral Space and Wellbeing, Role Models, and Political Education
Largely due to Linda T. Zagzebski’s seminal works on Exemplarist Moral Theory (2010, 2015, 2017), recent literature has seen a renewed interest in analyzing the role morally outstandinding individuals play in our everyday moral lives, as well as the way they ground our moral judgements on virtues, values, and right actions. This new wave has also contributed to favor a retrieval of philosophical studies on positive moral emotions targeting moral exemplarity (see, e.g., Kristjansson 2017), and particularly admiration (Irwin 2015; Zagzebski 2015). From a moral educational perspective, research on such emotions is proving particularly fruitful, in that it concerns the question of how they can be cultivated so as to foster virtue acquisition (see, e.g., Sundari 2015; Croce and Vaccarezza 2017). Emulating role models or exemplars would prove an effective way to motivate the young and teach them virtuous behavior, and exemplar-related positive emotions such as admiration should be highly valued to foster virtue acquisition. Furthermore, growing research highlight not only the relevance of fictional moral exemplars from literature, art and narratives, but also point out the relevance of the direct role of teachers as moral exemplars (e.g. Alt and Reingold 2012). The purpose of this paper is that of walking a different path, and focusing on the negative exemplarity-related emotions (NERE), and on their educational implications. If it is true that moral exemplars can inspire positive emotions like gratitude, moral awe, and admiration or elevation, it is also undeniable that confronting with someone as a moral exemplar may in some cases elicit negative emotions, such as jealousy, envy, embarrassment and shame. We will develop arguments and analysis in order to answer the two following questions:
(i) how should educators deal with negative emotions addressed to moral exemplars?
(ii) are there good reasons to include negative emotions addressing moral role model as a valuable educational resource?
We will draw on recent research in philosophy of emotions, in particular on epistemic and moral dimension of emotional experience. In this paper, we will first provide an instrumental defense of negative emotions broadly conceived; secondly, we will elaborate two arguments in support of their intrinsic positive role; then, we will illustrate both kinds of role by analyzing three paradigmatic NERE: guilt, shame, and envy. Finally, we will conclude by elaborating a proposal to integrate NERE in a moral-educational strategy.
Against educational discourses (e.g. Zagzebski (2017: 58-9)) that highlight the value of positive emotions and tend to exclude negative emotion in general and NERE in particular as obstacles to one’s moral growth – and therefore thinks educators should do their best to prevent them – we claim they can be considered as significant dimensions of one’s moral growth, as well as viable paths to virtue acquisition, which should be included in an educational process, rather than avoided.
Algoe, S. B. and Haidt, J. (2009). “Witnessing excellence in action: the ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration”. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 105–127. Alt D. and Reingold R. (eds.) (2012). Changes in teacher moral role. From Passive observer to Moral and Democratic Leaders. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Boler, M. (1999). Feeling Power. Emotions and Education. New York: Routledge. Brady, M. S. (2013). Emotional Insight. The Epistemic Role of Emotional Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Croce, M. and Vaccarezza, M.S. (2017). “Educating through exemplars: Alternative paths to virtue.” Theory and Research in Education. DOI: 10.1177/1477878517695903. Deonna, J. and Teroni, F. (2012). The Emotions. A Philosophical Introduction, London: Routledge. Deonna, J. A., Rodogno, R. and Teroni, F. (2012). In Defense of Shame. Oxford: Oxford University Press. De Sousa, R. (2001). “Moral Emotions”. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 4, 109-126. Irwin, T. H. (2015). “Nil Admirari? Uses and Abuses of Admiration”. Aristotelian Society, suppl. vol. 89(1), 223-248. Kristjánsson, K. (2002). Justifying Emotions. Pride and Jealousy. London: Routledge. Kristjánsson, K. (2003). “On the Very Idea of ‘Negative Emotions,’”. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 33, 351-64. Kristjánsson, K. (2006a). “ ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in the Classroom? An Aristotelian Critique”. Educational Theory, (56)1, 39-56 Kristjánsson, K. (2006b). “Emulation and the use of role models in moral education”, Journal of Moral Education, (35)1, 37-49. Kristjánsson, K. (2017). “Emotions targeting moral exemplarity: Making sense of the Logical Geography of Admiration, Emulation and Elevation”. Theory and Research in Education, February, 1-18. Sanderse, W. (2013). “The meaning of role modelling in moral and character education”. Journal of Moral Education, (42)1, 28-42. Schindler, I., Zink, V., Windrich, J., and Menninghaus, W. (2013). “Admiration and adoration: their different ways of showing and shaping who we are”. Cognition and Emotion, 27, 85-118. Sundari Chellaian, C. J. (2015). “Character, Virtue and Education. Rehabilitating an Exemplarist Virtue Approach (Gurukul) to Moral Education”. Manuscript. Williams, B. (1993). Shame and necessity. Berkeley: University of California Press. Zagzebski, L. (2010). “Exemplarist Virtue Theory”. Metaphilosophy, 41(1-2), 41-57. Zagzebski, L. (2015). “Admiration and the Admirable”. Aristotelian Society, suppl. vol. 89(1), 205-221. Zagzebski, L. (2017). Exemplarist Moral Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Zembylas, M. and Schutz P. A. (eds.) (2016). Methodological Advances in Research on Emotion and Education. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
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