Values and Identity

By Colin Turfus

We hear much about “values” and “identity” in discussions in the media these days. Often the debate about values is specifically around so-called “British values”; and the discussion about identity is often in the context of what is referred to as “identity politics.” The discourse on both these topics in my experience tends to be tedious and unilluminating, so I would like to try and consider these topics from a fresh perspective, in particular to look at their relationship and consider what light the one can shine on the other.

What Do I Mean by Values?

In relation to values, it is often assumed that, to be worthy of the name, they need to be universal or universalisable, i.e. worthy or capable of being upheld by all people, conceptually at all times (although this last idea is rather difficult to square with the commonly held perception that values somehow evolve as the human race becomes more “enlightened”). One of the consequences of this approach is that the concept of “British values” becomes almost an oxymoron, and we tend only to list amongst them things like “fairness,” “democracy” and “respect for the rule of law” which we would advocate that all people in all nations should adopt on the basis of their self-evident merit, arguing to that end along the lines of Kant’s categorical imperative.

Personally, I consider Kant’s philosophy to be unduly influential in our public debate, not least in his insistence on universalisability as a means of determining rules for what constitutes the good. While such arguments are helpful if we wish to compel others to adopt a mandated value perspective, or at least to behave and speak in public as if they did, much of what we really mean by “values” is not really universal at all; indeed it is often quite idiosyncratic and personal. Not only that, I would even propose that idiosyncratic value perspectives are crucial in bringing people together in social groupings and enable the members thereof to see themselves as distinct from members of other groupings on the basis not only of what Aristotle would refer to as the telos, or intrinsic purpose, of the group but also of the values to which this telos gives rise.

What I am arguing, therefore, is that we should think of values as inhabiting intersecting spheres, mirroring the fact that as multifaceted individuals we ourselves inhabit separate spheres in our lives, such as work, family, sports clubs, choirs, and discussion groups, each with its own telos and its own values, some of which may be universal and others of which may be highly exclusive. What I want to emphasise is that those which are universal are not necessarily higher or more important than others. Indeed they probably only offer a lowest common denominator. Who would wish it to be said as their epitaph only that they always did what was required of them? Or that they never strayed even once into political incorrectness? Surely a life replete with value has to go beyond the mundane and be infused with some idiosyncratic personal passion?

Problems with Conflicting Values

Another common misunderstanding—and this brings me on to the question of identity—is the opposite one: that when we feel the values of some particular group are antithetical to our own, there is some onus on us to show respect for the values of that group and indeed for whatever is the object of their valuing. To my mind that is not just nonsense but dangerous nonsense. The group and their values are different precisely because they are idiosyncratic, not universal. To demand that we respect the values and the valuing of another group is to suggest that we should adopt in some measure their idiosyncrasies. But in order to do so, we must at the same time relinquish hold on some of those associated with our own group (and identity). Thus we are required to pay homage to the values of groups to which we do not belong, and so to sublimate our own values. Presumably the other group is expected to reciprocate. As can be seen, if we were to take this process to its logical conclusion, our very identity, shaped as this is by the groups we belong to and the aims and activities we share with their members, will be undermined.

Much of such discussion about respect for other people’s values revolves around the idea of rights, which of course are inextricably linked with universalisability. Human rights law does indeed protect freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. Consequently there is an onus on each of us to respect the rights of individuals and groups to hold and give expression to their values, but not necessarily to respect the values (or objects of valuing) themselves. Of course, if the expression of “values” is antithetical to universal rights held by others, or worse illegal, even the right of expression is curtailed.

In summary, “values” may by their nature and the role they play in our social lives divide us as much as they unite us, and to believe or wish otherwise is not just mistaken, but potentially dangerous as it may result in drawing groups into unnecessary conflict and undermining their ethos and the seminal role they play in underpinning civil society. Protecting spheres of value requires a judicious measure of separation to be maintained between social groupings. There can be such a thing as too much “unity”.

Problems with Multiple Identities?

As I have suggested above, the idiosyncratic values we hold to are a reflection of the social groupings we belong to (or used to) and vice versa. These give rise in a natural way to our identity, which will naturally be multi-faceted. This state of affairs and the recognition of the ultimate incommensurability of diverse value perspectives has given rise in the modern era to the postmodernist narrative, or perhaps I should say multiplicity of narratives. (How this squares with the purportedly necessary Kantian condition of universalisability of values has never to my knowledge been elucidated.) In accordance with this perspective, no individual or group has the right to prioritise their perspective or values over any other.

Well that’s the theory. The reality in the UK and indeed across Western society in general is of course what has become known as the multi-cultural society, whereby non-indigenous communities are encouraged to hold fast to their separate identity and culture, express their grievances against the majority community and demand preferential access to resources; and are often permitted, encouraged even, to flaunt the law, such as with so-called sanctuary cities in the US and in refugee camps at Sangatte. Thus we enter the realm of identity politics in accordance with which the basis of this entitlement to assert one’s identity or culture is a sense of victimhood, or the experience of prejudice or microaggression at the hands of the “majority” community. We have veritable industries now established in our universities manufacturing theories and devising ever more ways to fan the flames and identify new injustices which had hitherto gone unnoticed. How this can be reconciled with the idea of a society of universal shared values is hard to fathom.

But it does not even stop there. Under the postmodernist agenda new minority communities are all the time being identified, for example through the agency of gender dysphoria which has gone within a matter of years from being a pathological psychological state to being the major battleground in the crusade to evict inherited/traditional values from their erstwhile home at the centre of society. What was previously referred to as the LGBT community has become a veritable alphabet soup where soon we will be running out of letters to represent all the rainbow of gender perspectives which the theory (or, absent that, the ideology) seeks to accommodate. And don’t get me started on the haves versus the have-nots debate (where interestingly it appears uniquely to be the minority who are deemed to be the oppressors!).

Under this narrative, the authenticity of the perspective expressed is deemed to arise not from any coherent philosophical perspective or historical narrative but from the grievances which are evinced, so civilised discussion is barely possible, only capitulation lest one be seen as manifestly part of the problem and labelled as embodying this or that phobia or -ism.

Where Does This Leave Us?

This whole business seems to me to be a misuse of the idea of identity. From the perspective I outlined above, this should be about shared values within a community or social grouping, not shared grievances and enmities. Interestingly I would see the new revanchist nationalism evident in the US and Europe (it was rarely if ever absent anywhere else in the world, so is seldom remarked upon other than in Europe or North America) as a reaction against the perceived injustice of precisely this privileging of minority over majority interests. Unfortunately the manifestation of this tends all too often to be again through the expression of shared grievances and enmities, which is not really leading towards a resolution.

It would appear there is urgent need to put positive values back at the centre of the concept of identity and indeed of our moral/societal/political discourse.

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‘The Re-Enchantment of the World’ as Social Theory and Critique

Introduction

‘The re-enchantment of the world’ emerged as a concept in the 1980s in the work of Maurice Berman, in a work on the philosophy and psychology of science of that name, and became adopted as a tellingly evocative motif among certain environmental writers and theologians. Ironically, until now it has not featured much within the social sciences; ironically, that is, because the expression was a challenge to the sociologist Max Weber’s characterisation of the predicament of post-Enlightenment societies through a phrase he had borrowed from the poet Schiller, ‘The Disenchantment of the World’. Through ‘disenchantment’ Weber had in mind, the distancing from the immediate experience of nature – and, indeed, the experience of the sacred in nature that had predominated in the medieval mind – through the emergence of the modern scientific viewpoint, and the increasing rationalisation and bureaucratisation of society enabled by the technological and economic advances of the age, which together created a sense of alienation of the individual, from the natural environment and the social other.

We may ponder the extent to which Weber’s characterisation of his own day has, in fact, become more pronounced over the intervening century, with the rise of consumerism, digital technologies, managerialism, big data and the threats to the environment. The aim in this essay is to begin a discussion about the sociological dimensions of re-enchantment as a critique and alternative to the disenchanted state of modernity. This is not a call for a return to a prescientific, magical or mythical view of the natural and social worlds. Rather, it attempts to undergird theoretically the idea that progress is only measured by advances in the empowerment of the individual, spiritually and materially, against those forces that attempt to block or suppress it. It begins with an exposition and critique of the theory of orthogenesis proposed by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1890-1955). Teilhard was not a sociologist, but a Jesuit priest and anthropologist. Nevertheless, his fusion of the religious and scientific insights gained through his life experience is a good point of departure for grappling with the idea of re-enchantment.

This essay explores and critiques another theme fundamental to the Western outlook and literary canon, which is the transformative moment in human history. This is biblical in origin, in the narrative of a divine providence, from the myth of the expulsion from Eden to the final judgement of the world. However, this narrative also finds expression in secular eschatologies, such as the Marxist conviction in the appearance of (or return to) a perfect communist society, driven by inherent contradictions in the economic structures and relationships in every hitherto existing form of society, or those social philosophies inspired by Hegel, such as that of Fukuyama, who believe that an ‘End of History’ will be achieved when the social form matches closely that in which the restless desires of humanity can be achieved. Teilhard himself foresaw such a moment, in which the material and divine will be fused, which he referred to as the ‘Omega Point’. I will contrast these perspectives with another, that of the evolution of both nature and society as stochastic, that is, open and random.

I have chosen to focus on these two thinkers – Teilhard de Chardin and Fukuyama – for another reason. Teilhard represents what could be called the enchanted view of the world, one of nature suffused by divinity, one of predestination and essential goodness. However, Teilhard’s vision was marred by his political naivety and his inability within his thought of dealing with the reality of human evil, a just criticism of his Catholic superiors in an otherwise unjustifiable suppression of his teaching and writing. Fukuyama, if anything, presents the completely opposite view: a disenchanted world in which the culmination of historical progress is a disinterested political state, which facilitates its citizens to pursue their individual means to alleviate their ennui. Fukuyama was heavily influenced by the Hegelian philosopher Alexandre Kojève, who saw in the establishment of the European Union, that epitome of a faceless and unaccountable bureaucracy, a political terminus, and so renounced philosophy to join its ranks. In addition, a discussion of re-enchantment would be incomplete without a consideration of the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, whose ideas constitute an important precursor. Therefore, finally, I will examine four tenets of his doctrine of the will-to-power, a critique of whose principal motifs will help characterise the scope of re-enchantment.

Differentiation and Integration in Nature and Society

Teilhard proposed the idea, known as orthogenesis, that the evolution of the cosmos, life, consciousness and human history were all linked and guided by the immanent presence of the divine in nature and the human mind. He saw evidence for this in the appearance of increasingly complex forms of life, in the appearance of increasingly human-like forms in the fossil record, and in the appearance of increasingly large brains and resultant rise in intelligence, processes which he referred to, respectively, as complexification, hominisation and encephalisation. Teilhard theorised that evolution had passed through three qualitative stages, that of existence, life and consciousness, and proposed that this foreshadowed a fourth and final stage, that of super-consciousness, in which the divine and human become fused, in what he termed the Omega Point. Powering these developments he asserted the agency of two types of energy, which he termed radial and tangential. Radial energy he surmised was responsible for the radiation of the complex variety of life from a single point of origin, while tangential energy bound matter into more complex arrangements that allowed the emergence of higher order

Teilhard considered that he was advancing a scientific account of evolution, albeit one that incorporated a theological perspective, and at the time he wrote The Phenomenon of Man, his ideas were considered an important contribution to the debate on science and religion and sufficiently influential that the prominent evolutionist Julian Huxley wrote an effusive introduction to the book, perhaps despite reservations. Today, Teilhard’s ideas on evolution are largely discredited, and almost universally so by evolutionary biologists. Evolution is asserted to be a stochastic process, guided only by the principle of differential survival through adaptability to changing environmental conditions, underlain by natural, random variation. I would add two caveats to this. While natural selection explains in a very satisfactory manner the adaptability of nature, it does not explain – without a great deal of apparent fudging and speculating – the appearance of new forms of life and the transition between forms, for example reptiles to birds, or the appearance of bipedalism. That is not to argue for creationism or a form of guided evolution, only to point out that our understanding of these processes is still incomplete.

However, while Teilhard may not have succeeded in adding to our scientific knowledge of the evolutionary process, there is a case that he has contributed to an understanding of human nature. In the concept of the emergence of the human mind/brain as ‘evolution understanding itself’, Teilhard has distilled the idea of humans as quintessentially and uniquely spiritual beings, even as we are continuous with the rest of nature. This brings me to the second caveat; even those who maintain a strict agnosticism and reductive interpretation of human biology – even those who advocate a forthright atheism – fail to be unmoved by the sacredness (their terminology) of nature and of the highest human cultural achievements. This does not constitute evidence for the existence and intervention of a divinity; it is, however, an argument that human nature represents a qualitative discontinuity with the rest of nature.

Furthermore, while the concepts of radial and tangential energies owe more to the ideas of vitalism and the evolutionism of Herbert Spencer than to empirical science, they are a useful tool for thinking about human social change, particularly in the more generic and less loaded terminology of differentiation and integration. These are widely observable tendencies in all societies throughout history; moreover, they are principles which tend to stay in balance. If differentiating tendencies, for example the desire for freedom, independence and personal glory, become too strong they result in social fracture, but tend to provoke moves towards greater integration, such as solidarity or cooperation. On the other hand, if integration becomes over-dominant, as it does in authoritarian and totalitarian states, this tends to provoke moves towards liberation and secession. However, differentiation and integration should be seen as analytical categories, not as predictive ones.

Freedom and Belonging as Interdependent Values

Shortly after communist regimes in Russia and Eastern Europe were tumbling, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama produced a seminal essay entitled ‘The End of History’ in which he declared that the cold war had been won and the victor was liberal democracy. This seemed prescient at the time as dictatorships of the left continued to fall and to transform into at least nominal democracies. This declaration was in essence an update of a thesis advanced by Hegel that the liberal state of Prussia represented the terminus of historical development. Over the next decade, developments were to prove that Fukuyama’s assertions were just as premature as Hegel’s had been, with the rise of political Islam, a newly assertive Russia and the persistence in China of a one-party communist state, despite its growing affluence.

Despite these predictive failures, there is a core of powerful reasoning behind this school of thought. Hegel saw the liberal state of Prussia as resolving the inherent dialectical struggle between the spirit and the material. Perhaps more pertinently, Fukuyama saw in liberal democracy the system in which the eternal struggle for freedom and recognition could be realised most fully. Quite rightly, he saw that human historical destiny is driven by fundamental values that define our human nature, and that any system that thwarts these desires is bound to fail.

Fukuyama asserted that in fact liberal democratic societies manifested the necessary conditions for the realisation of freedom and recognition and that while history, as the unfolding of human events, would continue, ‘History’ as the struggle for a just and equitable society was basically over. This did not mean that he saw liberal democracy as a perfectly good society in which everyone achieved happiness. On the contrary, he saw it as a spiritual wilderness in which we are all responsible for instituting the activities which contribute meaning to our otherwise meaningless lives. While some criticise Fukuyama for being overly optimistic about the prospect for the triumph of liberal and democratic values, I find his view of the destiny of humanity to be deeply pessimistic. Although I accept the premise that social evolution is driven by deep-seated values, I believe that Fukuyama identified the wrong values, and that contributed to his vision of the end of history as disenchanted.

The ideal of freedom has been central to almost all discourses on the nature of our social being, but particularly those that have championed individualism. This has, of course, been primarily a discourse that has occurred in the tradition of Western thought, stretching from the ancient Greeks, through Augustine, Aquinas, Erasmus and Luther, the Enlightenment philosophers to the modernists and post-modernists of our contemporary world. Yet even in those cultures that have not traditionally emphasised freedom, the desire for freedom and the yearning to express individuality and to break out of oppressive social constraints or hidebound customs lies dormant or quietly seethes below the surface. Therefore, freedom is arguably more than just a western idea, but a universal value for all cultures and a prime differentia from all other mammals.

But Fukuyama, like others in the rationalist and individualist tradition, committed the error of ignoring the other prime value of humanity, which is the need to belong. Belonging is something that we share with animals, because we are also animals, in our origins and in our instincts. Belonging, to return to the socio-political motifs explored earlier, is the most fundamental way in which the integrating factor manifests itself in human society. Unlike animals, though, our sense of belonging is not limited to an immediate family or troupe, but ranges over a far more extended span of groupings, including imaginary, abstract and mythic associations and constructs, such as organisations, nations, religions and concepts such as humanity.

Human belonging, therefore, is not primarily instinctual – even if it is instinctual in origin and basis – but deontological. That is to say, the forms of life to which we belong are structured by laws, rules, traditions, customs and beliefs, which are ultimately the expression of shared values; values to which we ascribe through willing association. This is as true for those forms of life which we may consider to be instinctive, such as family and tribe, as it is for the more abstract forms. Belonging, therefore, partakes of the freedom which we have already asserted to be a principal value; there is no belonging where this belonging is not fundamentally voluntary. I say ‘fundamentally’ because we are not normally in the habit of reminding ourselves of this on a moment by moment basis, bound as we are by other considerations of belonging, such as love and friendship, respect, duty, dependence, and so on. But any association (between adults, who are morally autonomous) which is not at its basis voluntary, is a form of servitude.

A moment’s reflection will suggest that this relationship between freedom and belonging is not one way. As our spirituality emerges from and matures based on our animal instincts, so freedom, as the basic expression of our spirituality, is given shape and density through our forms of belonging. Freedom without belonging, to the extent that it could exist, would be an evanescent quality, for the nature of our freedom is that we willingly sacrifice a degree of our moral autonomy as free beings for belonging, so that our freedom can find expression in forms of belonging, which might include such transcendent forms as belonging to a loved one, a deity or a country, and will almost certainly include such mundane forms as a profession and leisure pursuits.

Progress and Empowerment

Progress is an idea that comes in and goes out of fashion. It defined the Victorian era, both in terms of technological advance and in social welfare. For much of the past fifty years it is a term that has been associated with the Left, particularly in the areas of social justice. Still the question remains whether there is such a thing as progress, or is there simply change, as one set of ideas, concerns, technologies and problems gives rise to another. That would be compatible with the idea of social evolution, like biological evolution, being open, random and purposeless, in contradistinction to the ideas considered earlier – those of Teilhard and Fukuyama – who see an underlying teleology in human affairs.

Progress is a creed adopted by optimists and by optimistic ages, whereas one would probably characterise our times as pessimistic, despite the huge advances in technology. This pessimism is perhaps a manifestation of the ‘revenge effect’, whereby every advance seems only to create new problems; indeed, much of our pessimism arises precisely because of advances in technology and their arguably deleterious effects: on our health or safety, on our environment, or on our social being. There is a view, championed, for example, by James Lovelock, the proponent of the Gaia hypothesis, that as an evolved species we are constrained by the self-regulating system of the biosphere of which we are a part, and that being out of kilter with nature will only hasten our own demise or, certainly, diminution. In such a view, all our pretence to progress amounts to nothing; we in the developed world have not advanced in evolutionary terms beyond the tribes of the Amazon.

Failing a catastrophic failure of human civilisation, in which case Lovelock’s hypothesis would be vindicated in a world which would no longer comprehend it, I propose a more optimistic view, based on a phenomenological account of the reality of the accomplishments of the human spirit in science, art, religion, politics, economics and technology, one in which our experience of progress can at least be put to the test, rather than simply dismissed. That test would be the extent to which change actually empowers us as individuals. I see this as the single vector by which progress can be judged to have occurred or not. Looking at the scope of historical development, societies emerged in which the role of the individual came to play a greater role and in which, from an objective viewpoint, individuals became more equal and thus more empowered. Clearly, this remains an unfinished task, not only on a global level, but even within developed societies. In fact, I believe this will forever remain unfinished, as it is intrinsically impossible for human beings to be equal by any measure that we care to apply. However, inequalities and the conditions for disempowerment continually arise as society changes, whether that be in life chances, longevity, suffrage, wealth and poverty, health, education and skills, social status and wellbeing that need to be challenged at the individual and the societal levels.

Re-enchantment at this societal level can be understood as the recovery of the heroic and mythic views of human nature, from literature and religion, for example, and their reinterpretation into modernity. However, rather than a Nietzschean interpretation of mythic heroism as the will to power based upon pure physicality and warrior virtues, re-enchantment constitutes a counterpoint in terms of human spirituality and individual empowerment. It is explicitly an anti-Nietzschean stance.

Re-enchantment as an anti-Nietzschean programme

Nietzsche is notoriously difficult to pin down, as his most influential work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which developed some of his earlier themes, and presaged some of his later ones, was written in dramatic aphorisms, which are open to multiple interpretations. There is no denying Nietzsche’s influence on the twentieth century, as different aspects of his ideas contributed directly or indirectly to eugenics, National Socialism, the sexual revolution, liberal theology and postmodern philosophy. The four ideas to be considered are the Übermensch, the transvaluation of values, the death of God, and the eternal recurrence. Briefly, each will be contrasted with what I understand the implications of re-enchantment to be.

The Übermensch is Nietzsche’s anthropological prototype, a heroic figure, nominally based on the pagan gods of German folklore, who rejects the values of the contemporary society to live entirely by their own chosen values. The Übermensch – talented, ruthless, aristocratic and this-worldly – is the opposite of the stereotypical bourgeoise middle class person that Nietzsche despised. The middle classes are always a target for elitist figures, despite embodying many of the virtues of stable societies and their cultural values, and the mentality of the Übermensch has undoubtedly seeped into the attitude of the totalitarian ideologues of left and right of the past century and their intellectual apologists. Re-enchantment, by contrast, is the empowering of Everyman, the individuals who inhabit real societies, through addressing the symptoms and causes of disempowerment as they occur under existing conditions.

Surveying the conditions of his day, Nietzsche called for a transvaluation of all values, particularly those derived from Christianity, such as meekness, humility, love and forgiveness. It was not that he necessarily saw these values as wrong in themselves, but that he perceived European civilisation as weakening through the predominance of these values, and a belief in the afterlife, and in danger of sliding into nihilism. Christianity was effectively emasculating the will to power of the populace. The anti-Christian rhetoric of Nietzsche has been effectively transmitted into today’s western liberal societies, particularly through postmodern thought, which has come to dominate leftist academia and politics. This ignores the significant cultural inheritance of Christian beliefs and history to the development of the ideas of freedom and belonging, referred to earlier, along with the contributions of humanism, which belong to Everyman, not exclusively to the West. Through undermining the foundations of belief in freedom and authentic belonging, the modern Nietzscheans are disempowering Everyman, in preparation for becoming a vassal of the elites and the state.

As part of his critique of Christianity, Nietzsche, through the mouthpiece of Zarathustra, spoke of the death of God, meaning that belief in God and in an afterlife no longer had any power to motivate European civilisation to greatness. Ironically, though, Nietzsche invoked the pantheon of ancient deities in the mythical Übermensch in an attempt to re-enchant the world. This is also notable in the existential philosophy of Heidegger, a disciple of Nietzsche, who in his late works came to deify the concept of Being. It is in the nature of Everyman, as a spiritual being, that we seek the transcendent, whether that be in the religion of our civilisation and forefathers, in a new religious, philosophical or political movement, in great art, literature and music, in the experience and contemplation of nature, in creative pursuit or in surpassing human achievement in sport and adventure. Seeking transcendence is not only an expression of our freedom but also our desire to belong to the community of our peers.

Nietzsche despised the Christian morality founded on the idea of sin, the apologia for life as lived and the abasement of the self before God, as a fatal weakness. His riposte was the doctrine of the eternal recurrence that is best understood as a thought experiment: imagine that if we had to live each moment of our life over and over again eternally, would it be possible to live without a single regret? Nietzsche was not advocating living a blameless life in a conventional sense, but a Dionysian existence of indulgence, and one without shame. There are several things to say about this. First, there is an implicit fatalism in the idea of eternal recurrence, which hearkens back to pre-Christian paganism, although if my interpretation is correct it was probably postulated as an ironic rhetorical device. Secondly, it advocates a form of life entirely without thought of the consequences of one’s choices on others, except inasmuch as the other is the object of the will to power. Thirdly, the recognition of fault, apology and remorse, punishment, mercy and forgiveness are among the intricate processes that have evolved in all human societies to mend breaches in the state of belonging.

By contrast, re-enchantment posits an eternal resistance to the forces of disenchantment in a world which is constantly changing in a manner beyond anybody’s control. Specifically, it is a state of permanent resistance to the forces of disenchantment that are embedded in those institutional structures which suppress human freedom and interpose ersatz forms of association in place of authentic belonging. However, resistance is a subtle stance, in which benefits and risks have to be carefully considered, as do the consequences for oneself and the greater whole. There are selfish rebellions that seek to assuage an immediate discomfort or satisfy a pressing desire, but do not result in long-term benefit to the individual and may add to the bureaucratic burden borne by others if pursued in law. There are revolutions in the name of the liberation of the people, which strip all freedoms from the people and deliver them into penury and totalitarian nightmare. It is impossible to know the exact outcome of our actions, and this should be the first principle of resistance.

Not all institutions are disenchanted, and our resistance may take the form of testing a moral community before immersing ourselves within it. In other cases, we may seek to empower ourselves by evading the reach of certain oppressive powers. In yet other cases, we may seek to challenge those powers by agitating for fundamental change in vested interests, seeking to empower larger swathes of society. In all cases, though, it is the empowerment of the individual in the balance of freedom and belonging which is sought; this should be the second principle of resistance.

Conclusion

The re-enchantment of the world is rooted in a cultural hermeneutics: the reinterpretation of the enchanted myths of origins and heroic figures of the distant or the recent past, for clues to the transcendental meaning and purpose of our lives and the disenchanted state in which we often find ourselves. By way of a detour through a critique of evolutionary determinism (natural and historical) and the Nietzschean will-to-power it has also taken on social theoretical dimensions.

Accepting the view of social evolution as open and random and that, therefore, there is no finality and no determined course, nevertheless it is possible to assert that there is a definite telos to human societies, which is that they should be structured in such a way as to facilitate the empowerment of the individual in an incremental sense. Re-enchantment is not a terminal event in human history, except inasmuch as all desirable outcomes are declarative, if not historical, termini; nor is it, in any real sense, a process, for that also implies an inevitability and a course. Rather, it is a state of perpetual resistance to historically sedimented or newly emerging forces of disenchantment, which prohibit or threaten the individual expression of freedom and the free experience of belonging. The position of women and minorities in various societies is an example with a long history; the societal dangers posed by digital technologies is one that we are beginning to be aware of.

The re-enchantment of the world clearly has sociological and political dimensions, as a critique of, and policy for reform of, social institutions, respectively. In highlighting the central role of the empowered individual, it also has a moral dimension, a duty that falls on every person to resist, in however large or small a measure, the obtrusion of the disenchanted world upon our lives.

 

Further Reading

Maurice Berman (1981). The Reenchantment of the World. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Francis Fukuyama (1996). The End of history and the Last Man. New York: the Free Press.

Richard Jenkins (2000), Disenchantment, Enchantment and Re-Enchantment: Max Weber at the Millennium. [MWS 1 (2000) 11-32]. http://maxweberstudies.org/kcfinder/upload/files/MWSJournal/1.1pdfs/1.1%2011-32.pdf

Friedrich Nietzsche (2005). Thus Spoke Zarathustra: a book for everybody and nobody (translated by  Graham Parkes). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1961). The Phenomenon of Man. London: Harper & Row, Publishers.

Value Socialisation and Pedagogy, Part 2: The Theoretical Basis of Teaching Values in the Classroom

Part 1 dealt with issues arising in the field of values education, looking at the literature of academic debate over three decades. In my estimation, a fundamental problem of the whole field is that it has taken insufficient account of the philosophical discourse of values and lacks a concept of values as transmissible entities or a model of institutional transmission. I have elsewhere written on these topics (September 2015, August 2016). The present essay outlines this institutional model in a specifically pedagogical context of the school classroom. All schools and all teachers attempt to instil values in their students, and the success of these attempts are measurable in terms of the interrelated variables of expected behaviours and expected outcomes. However, much of this is implicit rather than explicit, but by exposing the nature of successful transmission mechanisms, even when implicit, there is the hope to give values education on a more robust theoretical and evidential basis. This model has drawn for its inspiration on several theorists, but particularly on the cultural transmission theory of Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman (1981) and Bernstein’s (1975) theory of educational transmission. However, the conclusions reached are based on a cross-case analysis of values education carried out in three UK secondary schools with different demographic profiles and differing forms of governance (Trubshaw 2014).

Methodological Considerations

Before presenting the model, a consideration of the methodological procedures for data collection and analysis are in order, summarised from the document referred to above. The model emerged from an iterative cross-case analysis of three cases employing a mixed methods – primarily qualitative – approach to gain a snapshot view of institutional processes in constructing, realising and maintaining the institutional ethos, investigating embedded values in school documents, pedagogy and student lived-experience.

Observations, several interviews, a survey and student focus group and an examination of public and internal documents were carried out at each school and the data subject to a range of analyses, such as content analysis, conceptual coding, semiotic analysis and statistical analysis, as appropriate. A profile of institutional transmission was built up through a series of matrices tracing the fortunes of prominent value groups across the management/administrative, teacher/classroom and student/recipient levels of each school, which formed the backbone of each case study.

The resultant model, outlined below, was subject to several tests. First, each element was checked against the raw data, to determine whether there was supporting evidence for the particular concept, and to test the extent and variability of the concept (and to rule out the possibility that it was an artefact of theorising or theoretical influence). Then the whole model was applied as an analytical tool to randomly chosen passages of interviews, to look for ‘conceptual clustering’ around values in the text. Finally, the model was applied to the description/transcription of a classroom observation. The first and second strongly validated the model. The last was more problematic as transmission is an institution-wide phenomenon, not limited to the classroom. Moreover, it is a transformative phenomenon, taking place over time, and so unlikely to be captured in its entirety in a single class. Nevertheless, there were elements on display and I remain confident the model will be further validated when longitudinal studies are carried out.

Finally, two concepts referred to in this essay, invocation and evocation, are terms denoting processes deduced from philosophical analysis of the nature of values to hypothesise the mechanics of value transmission, and are therefore not part of the empirical model derived from collected data, but rather what Blumer (1954) refers to as ‘sensitising concepts’ in the research design. Invocation refers to the ritualistic (incantatory) utterance of value terms by an authority figure to a receptive audience, while evocation refers to the declaration of the existence of a community bound by a value or set of values (moral community).

PRESENTATION OF THE MODEL

Overview and Outline of Model for Institutional Value Transmission

Based on the analyses of data obtained at the three schools covered in the case studies, an overview of the model for institutional value transmission in four stages can be outlined, shown in the table below. The categories/concepts in bold are constitutive aspects of the stages in the left-hand column; non-bolded ones are typically examples of the categories/concepts or ‘scaffold’ terms that have been important at various stages in the construction of the model.

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The following section will provide a definition of all the main categories and concepts in the model, the principal stages in the first column and those bolded in the second column of the table.

Categories of Permeation

Permeation is the state of conceptual saturation of the life-world of an institution, specifically by value concepts. This arises through the normal routes of institutional communication in schools: policies, meetings, notices, discourses, colleague dialogue, books and films, classroom pedagogy and more informal exchanges, peer conversations, and so on. As well as the specifically linguistic, it can also include extra-linguistic communication, such as pictures, symbolic acts and behavioural modelling.

Value

A value is any term, or a description of a state of affairs, that has the connotation of a good in a particular frame of reference, and can influence how individuals feel and behave in certain circumstances. Here, it includes specifically social, moral, spiritual, individual and achievement values. Using a variation of content analysis, values are designated by abstract nouns being assigned to sections of text that match the noun in meaning, either through being identical, transformed (e.g. syntactically) or synonymous.

Disvalue

Disvalues, as they are interpreted in this research, are negative states that reinforce a good or invoke a positive reaction, so are found in clusters either with or without values.

Strategy

A strategy is an action, intention to act or action plan with a pedagogical aim, specifically (though not exclusively) to facilitate the teaching of a particular value or set of values.

Semiotic marker

A semiotic marker is a word or phrase that designates an object or event, either real or imaginary, which has some pedagogical significance, particularly, though not exclusively, in the teaching of values.

Intentional state

The term is taken from the phenomenological literature, from the ‘intentionality of consciousness’, used first by Brentano (1973) and then by Husserl (1970), meaning that consciousness is not a pure abstraction but is always consciousness of something, that something being either indiscriminately the perception of an object in the external world, the awareness of an emotional state, a belief, etc. In this essay ‘intentional state’ is used to denote particularly expressions of experiences in the context of a value or set of values.

Categories of Authority

Authority is understood to consist of power and control. Power is hierarchical and distributive and this distributive aspect is reproduced throughout all levels of the institution. Control, by contrast, is individual and charismatic, and limited only to a particular arena. Power and control are not themselves represented at the analytic level, but power by ‘power distribution’ and control by ‘periodicity’, ‘boundary’ and ‘symbolisation’.

Power distribution

Includes any references to the power structure, the giving (empowering) or the removal (disempowering) of power: within the class, within the school, or from outside the school.

The following three categories denote techniques for exerting control within the school environment, that arise from individual or collective autonomy, initiative and creativity, outside of the hierarchy of power. They include physical manipulation of the environment, but more specifically the manipulation of language. At the administrative level this latter is more likely to be written; at the pedagogical level it is more often spoken.

Periodicity

Periodicity refers to the action of patterning language with respect to time. That could include placing things in a chronological order, or even creating a time reference for a single event. It also includes introducing cycles into language through various rhetorical devices, such as rhyme, rhythm, repetition, group of three, etc, and also grammatical regularities such as parallel clauses, linking and reference, and phonological aspects such as intonation and stress. In all cases examples should be immanent in the text rather than a secondary reference.

Boundary

Boundary refers to the action of using language to pattern space, of dividing space – in the widest sense, including physical and all forms of imaginary space – up and thereby bounding sections of it. Examples would be dividing the class into groups, prohibiting or promoting certain actions (dividing moral space, creating regions of ‘allowed’ and ‘not allowed’). The language tends to be imperative, but the bounding transcends the language and is ‘felt’ in the realm of meaning.

Symbolisation

Symbolisation can include the use of visual images, but refers specifically to the manipulation of language to create images in the mind of the reader or listener. Includes, metaphor, metonymy and simile, onomatopoeia and alliteration, etc., which are immanent in the language, but also various transcendent narrative and anecdotal devices. The use of visual images, particularly used pedagogically, would probably be classed under ‘semiotic marker’.

Categories of Resistance

The natural reaction to change, particularly when that change is perceived (rightly or wrongly) to impact negatively on the relative freedom, power, status, wellbeing or economic circumstances of an individual or of an individual to act on behalf of an institution. In the context of this research the definition is more narrowly focused on the struggle between the relatively empowered and disempowered over the question of the good.

Moral autonomy

The desire of each person to be able to decide the good for themselves, irrespective of whether that good might be fundamentally selfish, self-denying or public-minded. It is the encroachment of power into the area of moral autonomy that is the basis of resistance.

Intensity

Every reaction to the usurpation of moral autonomy is a form of resistance, but its manifestation can vary widely, particularly its intensity. The intensity of resistance can be categorised in a range of behaviours, from the least to the most intense: questioning, criticism, distraction, defiance and rebellion.

Target

The target of resistance is that authority which is perceived as encroaching on moral autonomy. The identification of this source with the real situation depends entirely on the correctness of this perception. This can be problematic, as power is invariably diffused and authority notoriously subject to mythologizing by those subject to it.

Negotiation

We all negotiate a compromise between various goods, for example between freedom and security or leisure time and income. Sometimes this is subtler and more fundamental. The acceptance of a value requires the sacrifice of a degree of moral autonomy. Often this proceeds through an internal dialogue; sometimes the bargaining is in the open but the nature of the process is not acknowledged, as when a teacher convinces a pupil to work hard for an exam. The institutional transmission of values in a school requires a specific negotiation that may be made partially explicit, but ultimately takes place within each individual: the acceptance of a place in the moral community, which the school has to offer, in return for – at least a measure of – the pupils’ moral autonomy. That is clearly not an offer that every person feels obliged to take up. The youths in Willis’ (1977) classic study of working class pupils were clearly not willing to sacrifice their moral autonomy to accommodate academic study, despite this condemning them to a life of industrial labour. Children who truant are rebelling against the authority of the school and placing themselves outside the moral community. These are the more extreme cases, but as a measure of negotiation takes place within all individuals, there must be something that both makes the moral community an attractive proposition and assists in the mitigation of moral autonomy.

Categories of Transformation

In the notion of ‘transformation’ a link is made between the institutional and the individual. Although transformations take place within the individual, they are never spontaneous and isolated, but always related to the particular context of the individual and, in the case of transmission, the processes taking place within that institutional context.

Transformative experience

As the experience of a shared feeling constitutes the interiority of value, the acquisition of a value should logically be accompanied by a type of ‘experience’ – i.e. a transformative experience – the occurrence of which allows and enables the experiencing of that shared feeling. Though these two meanings of experience used here are distinct, as continuity of consciousness and irruptive event, they are connected at a very fundamental level, as awareness of emotional response.

Trigger

The change from a state of non-acquisition of a value, particularly in the case of active resistance though not limited to this, to a state of acquisition requires an event in the individual’s personal or social environment that triggers the change. This can be something dramatic or something quite mundane, but it leads to a shift in perception. In the schools I investigated, in particular talking to students, I found evidence that such transformative experiences were invariably connected with a good personal relationship with an authority figure, sometimes with an insight into the human warmth and humour of those who must ordinarily present an authoritative role, a trigger event that I termed ‘the slipping of the mask’.

Turning inward/reflectivity

The exteriority of a value is its linguistic conceptualisation. Therefore, the acceptance of a value, particularly as this is explicitly recognised, should engender a more reflective attitude towards life. Though values are relative and underpin very different life-worlds or ‘forms of life’ (Pring, 1986), all values qua values require something of an inward turn.

Replication

Values are intrinsically shared. Moreover, they are inherently transmissive, meaning they require being transmitted. On acquiring a value, at the expense of a degree of moral autonomy, there is a need not only to reinforce the decision through invocation of the value but also to extend the moral community of the value. This underlies the sociality, actually the tribalism, of human nature, which is evident from phenomena as disparate as religion, being a fan (of a sport or a genre of music) and hobbyism.

EVALUATION OF THE MODEL

Comparison with models of values education and models of value transmission

Because the model I have presented takes a holistic and integrative view of values transmission, it bears similarities to other holistic views in the literature. For example, Downey and Kelly (1978) and Plunkett (1990, pp.128-9) put forward similar ideas of values education being approached from one of four possible avenues: through a specialised curriculum, through a broadening of the existing curriculum, through pastoral care or through the school community. Hawkes (2010) has effectively taken all those approaches and combined them in pedagogy of values education. Hawkes, even more explicitly recommends the creation of a vocabulary of value terms to structure pedagogy, an approach essentially undertaken on a national level in Australia which has a list of desired values (Toomey, 2010), around which participating schools can design their curricular and pedagogic approaches. Seeing values education less from a curricular and more from a psychological perspective, Darom (2000) discerns four distinct aspects of education, the cognitive, affective, values and behaviour, which he believes should be integrated for education to have ‘a chance of truly touching young people’ (ibid, p.20). The model of values transmission touches on all those points but explores their theoretical connections, not only as interconnected parts of institutional structure but as aspects of a coherent mechanism.

That mechanism, which I have presented here, I would argue, builds upon, incorporates and goes beyond the mechanism put forward by Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman (1981) and Schoenpflug (2001a), a two-stage process of awareness and acceptance. Looking at transmission from an institutional perspective, it has had to take into account issues of authority and control which are constitutive of the deontology of institutions, aspects not made explicit in their theories even if assumed, which make formal education possible and, as I have described, have a central role to play at the stage of awareness. Between awareness and acceptance there is also a hiatus, which they have not clearly addressed, that of resistance and transformation. This theory has provided a theoretical framework that bridges that gap. In some sense the theory of transmission explained here could also be said to extend Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman’s viral transmission model by incorporating the idea of the dual conceptual and symbolic functions of values, allowing them to switch from ‘diffusion’ mode to ‘infection’ mode.

The centrality of the human relationship to transmission

If there is any consensus over the frequently disputed area of values and values education it is the centrality of the human relationship and the quality of that relationship in the transmission of values. As Schönpflug reminds us (2001b, p.132), the contents of transmission are ‘particularly sensitive to the channel’ of transmission, which I interpret to mean that for the recipient of any form of information, and particularly with the case of values, which also need to be activated in the recipient, who the transmitter is, in terms of the perception of the transmitter by the recipient, is vitally important. From a negative perspective, in cases from the schools studied where teachers were not held in high regard, this had a negative impact on academic performance; and in all these cases the cause of the complaint was not their competence as teachers, which in all but a small minority would be taken as given, but their lack of warmth, remoteness or unpredictability. Research invariably backs this observation up. There is a broad area of agreement with various psychological and philosophical views that the quality of relationships is central to the idea of transmission. For Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman (1981) the relationship between the teacher (transmitter) and the taught (recipient) is a key condition of transmission. Although the focus of studies on values transmission has been on the parent child relationship, shifted into an institutional context, all of that which has been predicated of relationships in intergenerational transmission is equally true of the teacher-pupil relationship. For Schönpflug it is (2001a) that is ‘an empathetic style’; for Euler et al. (2001) it is ‘emotional closeness between the generations’; for Barni et al. (2011) it is the ‘relationship’ among the parents and the ‘consistency’ of the value message that is received, as well as the ‘closeness’ of the relationship. These all fit into a pattern of successful parenting, which most now agree is authoritative (Steinberg, et al., 1989), rather than authoritarian or permissive. This also seems a fitting description of the relationship that ought to exist between teachers and their pupils in the context of education in general, but specifically in the context of transmitting values. An ‘authoritative style’ seems a fitting description of the combination of authority and humanity of key figures that I discovered in the data from the schools , which I concluded was fundamental to a contextual transformative experience en route to the acceptance of institutional values.

An evaluation and interpretation of the model

Through this research, the aetiology of value transmission has been traced, from the nature of values having a dual role as concept-like and symbol-like, through the institutional permeation of value concepts throughout the institution, to their invocation through the medium of pedagogical control of the value concepts and their re-symbolisation for the student audience. In doing so this theoretical perspective has developed an understanding of the school as an institutional structure for value transmission, incorporating and offering a reinterpretation of its power hierarchies, and its administrative and pedagogical functions. Moreover, it has demonstrated that the definitionally problematic notion of ethos has a tangible meaning in the context of value transmission. The abstract notion of value has been shown not only to be real but implicated into and – importantly – co-defined with its institutional context, incorporating aspects of space, time, authority, strategy and dramatic play. In short values, value transmission and institutions are co-existent and inter-related conceptually (Rokeach, 1975).

It has also considered what many theorists of values education and values transmission have not, that of the role of resistance to values inculcation and its incorporation into a more inclusive theoretical model of transmission that embraces both inculcation and acquisition perspectives, through the negotiation of moral autonomy for belonging under acceptable conditions. Parsons (1959) did recognise the phenomenon of resistance to schooling, but saw that as a structural reaction to raising levels of achievement. Values education is much more than a one-dimensional race towards academic or vocational achievement, although research on longer term programmes of values education (Lovat, 2010; Toomey, 2010; Hawkes, 2010) suggest that it can impact considerably on those outcomes; it is about humanising the curriculum (Aspin and Chapman, 2000) and creating the opportunity for education to touch the lives of young people (Darom, 2000) based on ‘the kind of persons that [as a society we wish them] to grow up into’ (Pring, 1986, p.181). For this to happen, values education, as all good education, requires a transformative experience in the life of the recipient, one which can mitigate or even prevent resistance to transmission.

The emerging picture of transmission of values within an institution is both simple and complex. It can be understood at the level of an individual journey through the institution, a negotiation with and reconciliation to the demands placed by institutional belonging. But it can also be understood at the institutional level, as the workings of a complex system of interlocking hierarchies, in the cases considered here the relationship between the teacher in the classroom, the administration, management and ethos of the school, and the influence of outside forces, notably religions, local communities or constituency, and local and national governments. A school is an intricate web of control, dependence and autonomy (Morris, 1964) at every level and a consideration of the transmission of values highlights this very clearly. But at its core it is about a series of spaces and encounters in which significant relationships between authority figures and pupils flourish or wither.

Value socialisation and pedagogy

The model of values transmission should prove useful for teachers, managers and administrators within schools concerned with the pedagogy of values. Derived to solve a purely theoretical problem, that of the process of institutional value transmission, nevertheless its conclusions converge significantly with the empirically-based views and strategies of educators who take a more proactive approach to values education and add a theoretical underpinning to their programmes and curricula. As detailed in the previous section, though, it remains a highly conceptual and abstract model, so I will attempt to draw out its relevance to pedagogical practice.

The model of institutional values transmission addresses a number of issues that have been discussed in the academic literature on values education and also issues that are recognised by teachers generally, such as the role of ethos and school culture, implicit and explicit forms of values education, pupil resistance to authority, issues of student empowerment, the school as a community  as well as part of the community, school discipline, rules and regulations, friendship groups, gangs and bullying, ethnic or class tensions, and the risk of increasing alienation through raised standards, although its primary contribution is in promoting values as fundamental to all educational development and a balanced view of values education as being a process of both inculcation and acquisition.

IVT.pedagogical

The process of value transmission in a school can be considered as a pupil’s ‘journey’ through the institution towards the acquisition of its values. According to this model, simply stated, the necessary stages on this journey are the transition from self-empowerment (i.e. self-directed freedom and desire) to disempowerment under the authority of the institution, where they are inducted in the values, culture and structures of the institution, to empowerment (or re-empowerment) under the authority of the institution, where they have the opportunity to rationalise the choice of these values as their own.

However, these stages involve a complex choreography of institutional strategy and individual response in which the desired outcome is, or at least is experienced as, an individual choice. A pupil enters a school in which an established ethos reigns, which is promulgated by the governing body of the school, embodied in the person of the headteacher, and carried into the classroom by the teaching staff. Pupils may initially follow this as a matter of course, but at a certain point in their development, usually around puberty, when they become more morally autonomous, they may start to manifest resistant behaviours. Resistance is typically seen as problematic, but from an axiological perspective, because values must be freely assented to, resistance to the prevailing ethos – except in the more extreme cases – should be seen as a healthy and necessary development, as a testing of the moral community of the institution as a prelude to acceptance of and belonging in that community. But that resistance also has another function, which is to alert those in authority that the moral community must be sufficiently attractive that it is likely to elicit a transformative shift from resistance to acceptance and catalyse the negotiation with moral autonomy which this transformation requires.

One conclusion of this research, based on an understanding of the nature of values, is that values can only be acquired, and only acquired in any meaningful sense by an experience of the moral demand that they place upon us (‘moral’ being understood in a broad sense of ‘requiring commitment to a set of behaviours’), but that they are rarely, if ever, acquired in the absence of an intention to teach them.

None of the schools I studied had a specific values education policy or programme, although all of them considered values to be an important concern of the school and the education of values in general to be a part of what they did. The schools were different in the degree to which they were able to identify specific values which they considered important, though my research indicated that all of them had policy statements in which values were prominent, though perhaps subsidiary to the overall purpose of the texts. Again, I observed examples of PSHE classes in all the schools, and of good practice in each, but, except in one case, the   education of values was not an explicit aim of the class. The implicit education of values has an important function, in reinforcing a particular message or desired behaviour, but evidence from the research on values education indicates that an institutional discourse of values in which specific and explicit values are a pedagogical focus is more effective in terms of behavioural outcomes – and academic performance as a result. This is perhaps unsurprising, as conceptual clarity with effective practice is invariably a potent combination.

Another conclusion of this research, based on an understanding of the nature of values, is that the acquisition of a value is never merely a private experience, but through acquiescence to a shared meaning and a shared commitment to its moral demand, is bound up with belonging in a moral community (one that shares that commitment) and a shared experience. This means that schools in order to transmit values not only have to acquaint students with the meaning of value terms, make clear the expectations in terms of attitudes and behaviours, and ensure that their staff are setting an appropriate example, but also create the communal structures that both reflect and elicit that sense of belonging.

Schools face two challenges to accomplishing this. The first of these is what I have come to call ‘spontaneous sociality’. By that I mean simply the natural tendency of humans to form social groupings, not necessarily those deemed by authority to be in the interests of the common good. My research indicated that where the student body is highly heterogeneous in terms of cultural background student perception of the school as a ‘community’ is lower than where it is more homogeneous, despite this being an important focus of the official policy, and that the primary commitment of pupils is to the community of their cultural background, class, ethnicity or friendship group. While all pupils enjoy the opportunity to socialise that schools provide, they do so largely with people of the same background. This is not necessarily a problem as such – although it can lead to factionalism and be the precursor of bullying – but it tends to weaken that sense of belonging to the school community that schools clearly wish to foster, and hence commitment to its institutional values, and replace it with a sort of co-presence. This may have implications for the definition of what we mean by ‘inclusion’.

The second challenge is resistance to institutional authority, as discussed above. ‘Resistance’ is a broad category that ranges from boredom and disengagement, though criticism and disobedience to outright rebellion and non-attendance, including truanting. Although resistance creates problems for teachers and schools, it should not, except in its most extreme forms, be taken to be something essentially negative, but as an expression of moral autonomy and, as such, a precondition for the acquisition of values. Also, resistance is by no means limited to pupils. In my research, I came across instances of resistance to institutional authority from Heads, teachers and pupils, though the targets were variable and commensurate with the forms of authority with which they were dealing.

Implications and recommendations

Implications for values education

Data from the literature (Hawkes, 2010) and from the field both indicate that expectations of appropriate and good behaviour, and the organisation of the structures within the school to promote that, and to minimise poor behaviour, while a worthy end in themselves in promoting young people who aspire to play a positive role in society, are also fundamental to creating the atmosphere, ethos and culture in which academic attainment can be optimised. A school culture in which there are strict boundaries and clear sanctions for transgression, but one in which the inward pull of community is strong, a strong institutional pride and identity is fostered, but also one in which a balance between authority and humanity is maintained, is clearly fundamental to this effort. At the same time, the concept of invocation, which has largely been vindicated through this research, implies that the explicit voicing, explication and modelling of values is more important than is generally practiced within schools, and this view is strongly backed by evidence from programmes of explicit values education (Lovat, 2010). Evidence from the field in all the schools studied shows, though, that even implicit or ‘intrinsic’ approaches bear fruit in the permeation of fundamental and strongly-held values, whether those are moral, individual attainment or socio-political, into the student body.

The model of institutional values transmission described above has several implications for pedagogical practice and organisation in schools.

  1. Schools should develop an integrated and specific set of values which reflect the character of the school, reinforce the community of the school, further their commitment to creating educated persons in the broadest possible sense, and develop their place in and service of the local and wider communities of which they are a part.
  2. These values should be taught explicitly and integrated into all aspects of the school culture, particularly attitudinal and behavioural expectations. They should also be taught implicitly, by the example set by the management and staff of the school. The model does not specify that these values should be integrated into the curriculum as such, but that knowledge/skills and values should be ‘twin pillars’ of the institution, though some subjects may be naturally appropriate vehicles for the broader educational contextualisation and discussion of values.
  3. The specific values, or their origin, are less important than that these are assented to by the entire staff and reinforced on a continual basis. The expectation is that there would be a convergence on a core of common and widely shared values, though variation at the institutional level is probably socially beneficial.
  4. Although the excesses of resistance to authority, as described above, should be controlled, critical evaluation of authority and institutional values should be accepted as a natural phenomenon of cognitive development and the assertion of moral autonomy, and pupils should be encouraged to exercise their moral imagination in different scenarios, at an age-appropriate level. The inner nature of values as shared experience entails that any form of coercion is counter-productive; explanation and dialogue are the required methods to achieve acquiescence to the institutional values and their behavioural requirements.
  5. Schools should be structured in such a way as to maximise opportunities for belonging under the auspices of the school that ‘cut across’ and thus mitigate spontaneous sociality based on class, ethnicity or friendship group and primary commitments to those values (which weaken the communal integrity of the school). Evidence seems to suggest that a culture of belonging to such sub- and micro- school communities (diffused belonging) actually reinforces a sense of belonging within the greater school community. Two of the schools I studied employed a house system to good effect, but there are numerous ways to achieve this diffusion: clubs, boards, groups, teams, and projects, both internal and external.
  6. The acquisition of institutional values requires some element of personal transformation that occurs within the specific institutional context. Although in the research the manifestation of that transformation was found to be different, such as a growing academic interest, a spiritual crisis and its resolution or the assumption of greater communal responsibility, the institutional trigger was invariably the relationship between a member of staff and a pupil. Pupils look to their teachers and senior staff as role models and appreciate those who are open, friendly and helpful and who make themselves present and available, while maintaining their authority and setting clear boundaries, and clearly these are qualities that need to be sought, emphasised, nurtured and developed. Indeed, a striking finding was that it is the dissonance between the ‘mask of authority’ and the underlying humanity that plays a key role in triggering transformation.

Implications for schooling in general

Schools already provide, and are required to provide, a measure of education in values for their pupils, whether it is explicit or, more usually, implicit. As discussed above, I believe, and the evidence tends to support this viewpoint, that the more explicit the education the more pronounced are the outcomes. There is one thing to add: fundamental to values and to values education is the development of reflectivity, a higher-order and late-developmental cognitive skill, which as a technology-driven and highly pressurised culture we do not provide sufficient context for young people to develop. While I make no specific recommendations in this regard, I believe that we do our young people a disservice if we model our schools on too narrow a view of success as the success of the marketplace, and bias learning and means of knowledge acquisition too strongly towards the technocratic at the expense of the traditional, creative and reflective.

Recommendations for educational policy

  1. There should be national standards for developing and overseeing values education programmes. At the moment Ofsted oversee the provision of moral and spiritual education in English and Welsh schools, but there is no requirement for schools specifically to have a values education policy.
  2. While national oversight is important, an approach that allows schools freedom in determining their own policies of values education would be preferable, following the example of Australia, which has a nationally determined policy, but allows schools to determine their own values strategy (Lovat, 2010).
  3. The pedagogy of values should be integral to all teacher-training programmes, and an element of school and teacher evaluation.

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Toomey, R. (2010). Values education instructional scaffolding and student wellbeing. In Lovat, T. et al (Eds.), International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing. London: Springer, pp. 19-36.

Trubshaw, D., (2014). Modelling Institutional Values Transmission through a Comparative Case Study of Three Schools (doctoral thesis). University of Derby.

Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labour. Farnborough, UK: Saxon House.

Value Socialisation and Pedagogy, Part 1: Issues and Trends in Values Education

Introduction

Values – both allegiance to values and disagreement about values – have been and continue to be fundamental to society, culture and thought (Moor, 2004; Andrew, 1995; Werkmeister, 1970) yet, paradoxically, remain largely submerged in our individual and collective unconscious. It can, however, be reasonably asserted that conscious interest has quickened in recent years in response to a perceived ‘crisis of values’ within developed economies and modern cultures (Bindé, 2004). This quickening is felt most keenly in the political and educational establishments, where responsibility – both for the problem and the solution – is considered to lie most heavily (Giroux, 2011). A crisis in values is, in fact, not a peculiarity of our age; one only has to read almost any of the writings of antiquity to understand that laments about the waywardness of youth and the moral decline of social institutions are as old as recorded history. What is perhaps unique is the extent to which we have come to believe that schools are the key to arresting this downward spiral (MacIntyre, 1987, p.16).

In the UK the current wave of interest in values and in values education can almost be pinpointed to a specific moment in time, and began, as these things often do, with a dramatic and tragic incident, in this case the murder of a head teacher outside the gates of his school (Davies, 2005; Taylor, 2000). Of course, there were antecedent incidents and there have been subsequent, regrettably frequent, incidents at schools that have all but erased the memory of this earlier outrage. A few years prior to this there had been an upheaval in education, with the passing of the Education Reform Act (UK, 1988), itself a reaction to perceived weaknesses in the quality of schooling. But this was perhaps the moment when vague feelings of disquiet about the state of the nation’s youth and of the inadequacy of our social institutions to deal with these problems spilled over into a determination to do something, which boosted the profile of the nascent values education movement and that led to calls for moral or values education in schools and a flurry of activity on the policy front (SCAA, 1996). These early government-led initiatives were never systematically implemented or given statutory force (Hawkes, 2010), but stimulated the present oversight of spiritual and moral education provision in UK schools in Ofsted inspections (ibid), and resulted in some localised and networked  approaches to teaching values (VbE, 2014; Lepkowska, 2012/08/06).

Against this background, I wish to make two points of a philosophical nature. The first is that, for all the positive resonance of the term ‘values’, the nature of values is contentious, both as to whether such things actually exist and, if they do, what form they take. The second flows from this; it is that values education, in the absence of an understanding of the nature of that which is supposedly being transmitted, must lack an adequate theoretical foundation. Like ‘education’ itself, the transmission of values is highly contextual and sensitive to the nature of the package; it is far more than mere logistics. To illustrate this point, a common definition of values that is used within the values education establishment is that of Halstead (1996, p.5):

[Values are] principles, fundamental convictions, ideals, standards or life stances which act as general guides to behaviour or as reference points in decision making or the evaluation of beliefs or actions.

This, or something like this, may, indeed, be what most people would have in mind if they were called on to give a definition of values. But from a theoretical point of view its very inclusiveness is a weakness, as it offers no cohesive view of values that could be used in understanding the process that takes place when a value is acquired within an educational setting. This much is clear when looking at various definitions of values education. This is Taylor’s (1998, p.1) view:

[Values Education] is a relatively new umbrella term for a range of common curriculum experiences: spiritual, moral, social and cultural education; personal and social education; religious education; multicultural/antiracist education; cross-curricular themes, especially citizenship; environment and health; pastoral care; school ethos; extra-curricular activities; wider community links; collective worship/assembly; the life of the school as a learning community.

A definition of values education comprised entirely of exemplification helps in understanding the context within schools where it is taking place, but is also not of much help in understanding what takes place when values are acquired or what ought to take place in order that this activity can be deemed successful. Hawkes (2010, pp.233-234), in a similar descriptive vein, but adding a more practical edge, defines values education as:

a convenient term for a wide range of implicit and explicit activities devised to develop a values-base to the life…which are principles that guide behaviour. It explicitly develops an ethical vocabulary based on value words… It encourages reflective learning through silent reflection…It looks for ways that values can be expressed through positive behaviour in the school and community.

Hawkes attempts through this definition to build a more cohesive sense of what values education is beyond the activities which make it up. It moves beyond being merely a collective noun for thematically related activities to something with a distinctive and positive praxis. Even here, though, it is unclear whether there is a coherent conceptual idea underpinning the project.

In part 2 of this essay I will discuss a theoretical model of values transmission derived from philosophical considerations of value and research into good practice in schools exhibiting a range of governance models, proposing a theoretical basis for values education as a coherent enterprise. In this first part, though, I intend to set the scene by considering the main trends and issues in values education over the past thirty years, values in the curriculum, values and character education, values and tradition, and values and wellbeing, concluding with an overview of the emerging themes within values education, including many of the unresolved issues with which any model attempting to provide a coherent theoretical underpinning will have to engage.

Values in the Curriculum

Whether and to what extent values should form an explicit and distinct part of the school curriculum is something that has formed an integral part of the discourse on values education. In examining the philosophical, political and sociological dimensions of implementing values education into the school curriculum, Richard Pring (1986, p.181) declares that it is inescapable that ‘the educational activities promoted by any society are intimately connected to what that society believes to be a valuable form of life…[T]he particular values embodied in what is designated educational will be about the kind of persons that the society wishes its young people to grow up into.’ However, he believes that these values will not yield to ‘philosophical analysis’. Instead he argues that values are local and historically conditioned, and cites in favour of this view the controversies and arguments over values even within our own society and its educational system. To educate someone ‘entail[s] the introduction to a valued form of life but …what [that is] is essentially a matter for moral debate’ (ibid, p.182).

In an interview that I conducted with him on 11th September 2009, Pring reiterated much the same view, which is that the development of a person’s values is contingent upon the nature of the community or communities in which they are raised, and this issue cuts to the question of the nature of community that schools should embody in order to transmit the appropriate values to the next generation. Pring seems to believe that the resolution of this implicit relativism, which particularly troubles moral philosophers such as MacIntyre (1981), lies somewhere between reasoned debate, an appeal to the intrinsic worth of human life and the requirement of social continuity: ‘You’ve got to create the kind of communities in which the values which are humanly important to provide social cohesion…are somehow embodied and these young people are introduced to them’. I hold essentially the same position as Pring on this, although I suspect that the conflict of values plays a more significant role than he allows and perhaps reasoned debate less than we would like (citation from interview used with approval of interviewee).

Awareness of the dangers of educating young people in a critical tradition that can result in the radical transformation of culture has meant that politics has always exercised some form of control over what schools teach and this has manifest itself in recent times in the call for schools to be involved in the education of values (Pring, 1986, p.182-183). Recognising this, Pring turns his attention to the substantive values that he believes can and should be transmitted ‘through the content of the curriculum but also through the methods of teaching and through the general ethos of the school’:

  • The respect for rule-governed behaviour, and for the authorities.
  • The respect for persons, whether oneself or others.
  • Respect for the truth.
  • Trusting and unselfish relationships.
  • A sense of justice and fairness.

He argues, though, that:

it would be wrong to translate the general concern for personal and social development, and for developing in particular a set of defensible values, into the content of specific subjects…For that could be but a distraction from the more important questions that a school should be asking about the impact of the curriculum as a whole upon the values of individual pupils (ibid, p.189).

Pring then draws on the evidence of a survey of twelve schools, which correlated outcomes in terms of exam results, behaviour and attendance with the general school ethos. By ‘ethos’ what is meant are ‘the various stable procedures through which business is conducted towards individuals and their work, towards the community as a whole, and towards those outside the school’ (ibid, p.190).

Aspin and Chapman (2000, p.122) consider the role of values education to be that of humanising the curriculum, in directing it towards ‘educating for excellence in the life of virtue’. They see this as including moral, political and personal values.

[V]alues exist [and] are found in and embodied across the whole curriculum. Values are not definable as though they were an autonomous element in the curriculum, as being in some way a separate subject, with its own body of theory, cognitive content, typical activities, disciplinary procedures or criteria for success. Values permeate everything that we do in the curriculum – including the naming, defining and inter-relating of all its parts. And that is because of the point made above, that description and evaluation are inextricably entwined activities (ibid, p.136).

What seems clear from these readings is that values are not to be considered as something apart from the information and activities that constitute the normal life of the school. That is not to say that values is an area that can safely be ignored; it is, rather, an area that requires particular attention, but one that should be integrated into the processes and procedures of the school. Such considerations have also informed the debate on the implementation of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) education. Within the context of the provisions of the National Curriculum and the 1988 ERA, it is obvious that provision should be made within schools for the implementation of SMSC policy. The philosophical raison d’être has been variously expressed, as in this rather flowery statement: ‘Just as such biological development requires appropriate conditions – to do with such things as climate and soil in the case of plants – so, the (Ofsted) report claims, the personal development of pupils demands a favourable ‘climate and soil’…provided and promoted by the school’ (White 1994, p. 370, cited in Dillon and Maguire, 1997).

There are probably two areas from which strong support and push for the implementation of this policy derives. The first is among the general public, and particularly the parents of school pupils, perceiving an apparent decline in ‘moral standards, particularly among young people’ (SCAA, 1996, p.8). This perception has, over the past two decades, filtered through to government policy and local initiatives. The other comes from the opposite end of the process, in the Ofsted inspections to which schools are periodically subjected and which has kept the pressure on schools for the incremental implementation of SMSC policy. Left to themselves, most schools would probably have quietly dropped this provision of the National Curriculum due to the burden of the existing administrative and teaching loads. As it is, according to Dillon and Maguire (1997, p.184), ‘Many schools are choosing to write a policy statement on SMSC. When developing the policy, three key issues are paramount. These are the need to consult, the provision of a rationale to support the proposed framework and a strategy to put the policy into practice’.

There are naturally difficulties to a successful implementation of any policy on this scale. Pring details five areas of difficulty in relation to Personal and Social development, which would be equally valid in the case of SMSC: conceptual, political, ethical, empirical and organisational (Pring, 1984, pp.4-7). Some of the tensions involved in setting out on a policy like SMSC were recognised by the government in the 1970s:

The educational system is charged [firstly] with equipping young people to take their place as citizens and workers…Secondly there is responsibility for educating the ‘autonomous citizen’, a person able to resist exploitation, to innovate and…[defend] liberty. These two functions do not always sit easily together (DES, 1977, quoted in Pring, 1984).

Several strategies have been proposed for the implementation of spiritual and moral education. Downey and Kelly (1978) propose four possible strategies for the implementation of moral education in schools: a specific, timetabled, subject ‘Moral Education’; through broadening the scope of the existing curriculum to include a moral dimension; through pastoral care supplementary to the existing curriculum; and through the school community. In considering the teaching of spiritual values Plunkett (1990) outlines a similar range of strategies and draws up the advantages and disadvantages of each. Discussing the use of the curriculum for teaching spirituality, for example, he states:

…a pupil will often learn thinking skills, aesthetic standards, religious values, healthcare, interpersonal qualities, and so forth, not from a specific subject but from the pervasive of multiple and often uncoordinated inputs into the total programme…The curriculum has become an instrument of economic and social policy when it should be just as much a spiritual celebration of humanity’s inner and outer beauty (Plunkett, 1990, pp.128-9)

As Dillon and Maguire have pointed out, most schools pursuing the implementation of SMSC have done so through the writing of a policy statement (1997, op. cit.). The hope is that this is in some way incorporated into the ‘ethos’ of the school, a factor of agreed significance by all interested parties (SCAA, 1996, p.11). Citizenship education and PSE(PSHE) is also seen by many as playing potentially significant roles in the implementation of this policy (SCAA, 1996, pp.14-16), though some of the recommendations have already been implemented with as yet inconclusive results.

One issue that has been discussed in relation to values is the ‘hidden curriculum’. Carr and Landon (1999) discuss the various senses in which values are thought to be hidden in the hidden curriculum, such as being a part of unofficial knowledge, being implicit, spontaneously emerging or being deliberately concealed (ibid). In order to understand their role in the hidden curriculum they develop a concept of values as ‘principled dispositions or preferences conducive to the promotion of defensible goals or individual and social flourishing’ (ibid, p.24). It is this practical nature of values that makes their concealment possible; they are hidden in practices which do not require that they be made explicit verbally (except, ironically, when those same practices are brought into question), which also makes their deliberate concealment possible by those who do not want the practices of the institution to be too closely scrutinised (ibid). They disparage both conservative and liberal views on the values of the hidden curriculum based on a ‘weak consensus’ and call for a more robust commitment to inquiring into the ‘objective truth’ of judgements made on the basis of these values (ibid, pp.26-27).

 Values and Character Education

Richard Peters (1981) examines the apparent paradox that exists between following rules and traditions in order to arrive at a rational moral position. He draws finally on Aristotle’s dictum (Nicomachean Ethics, book II, chapter 3-4) that ‘the virtues we get by first exercising them…we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts’. In the context of educating children in morality, Peters claims that ‘it is only if habits are developed in a certain kind of way that the paradox of moral education can be avoided in practice’ (ibid, 1981, p.60). What this way is, is beyond the scope of philosophy, but empirical evidence from psychology suggests that the existence of a loving and trusting relationship between parents and children is an important factor (ibid, p.54).

For some, the role that it was hoped that values education would play within the life of schools has largely been filled by citizenship education. There have been a number of critiques of citizenship education, but Kristjan Kristjansson (2002) advances a critique from the perspective of a style of character education known as ‘non-expansive character education’, one which he maintains the proponents of that style have not themselves thought through or taken advantage of. Kristiansson’s first charge (ibid, p.209) is that the concept of democracy implied in citizenship education is a particularly Western and liberal one.

McLaughlin and Halstead (1999) introduced a distinction into values education between ‘non-expansive character education’ and ‘expansive character education’. Kristjansson (2002) refined those definitions, showing that while both employ methodological substantivism – basically a mixture of teaching methods – non-expansive character education takes an approach that he terms moral cosmopolitanism, the teaching of ‘transcultural values and ‘moral basics’’, whereas expansive character education takes an approach which he calls moral perspectivism, the teaching of a highly selective range of values (ibid, pp.209-10). Citizenship education, according to Kristjansson, ‘constitutes a quintessential programme of expansive character education’. The values with which Citizenship is concerned are those of ‘democracy’, but not only with the transmission of facts about these values but the inculcation of these values through ‘an extensive programme of character moulding’ (ibid).

Kristjansson then raises his major objection to Citizenship education which is that it ‘politicises values education beyond good reason, by assuming that political literacy and specific (democratic) social skills, rather than the transcultural ‘moral basics’, are the primary values to be transmitted’ (ibid, p.212). There is a danger implicit in the programme of citizenship in that ‘the emphasis on this new foundation subject runs the risk of overshadowing and sidelining the necessary core of all values teaching, including justice teaching, namely, the inter-human psychological capabilities and moral virtues that lay the basis for social and political skills. To put it bluntly, the danger is that the cart will be put before the horse’ (ibid, p.212).

Kristjansson (2002, pp.214-216) moves on to detail three specific areas of disagreement between citizenship education and non-expansive character education. First, citizenship privileges the ‘right’ over the ‘good’, employing a more deontologically based concept of justice, in which moral goodness is subservient to social institutions and particularly the notion of ‘rights’. Non-expansive character education, on the other hand, asserts that justice and other values are fundamentally ‘personal virtues’ before they come to have social and institutional significance for the individual. Secondly, non-expansive character education is pluralist to a wider range of political settlements than the narrower democratic, rights-based view of citizenship, but is less accepting of a plurality of lifestyles. The value of tolerance is not given primacy to the extent that it is in citizenship, but non-expansive character education can countenance the idea of personal and communal justice existing even under conditions of unjust government, the corollary being that social justice can exist only where just individuals hold sway. The third disagreement is over the relationship between morality and politics. Kristjansson (ibid) perceives the danger of citizenship education is that primacy is given to the political over the moral, the latter becoming in some way derivative. He believes this would overturn almost the entire philosophical tradition stemming from Plato and Aristotle who considered the morality of the individual logically anterior to the social virtues.

Darom considers another distinction, or tension, that arises in implementing the education of values in school. He begins (Darom, 2000, p.16) by contrasting the often conflicting views of humanistic education and values education. He states that humanistic education ‘focuses on the individual whose growth and development, needs and aspirations are considered paramount in all educational processes’. By contrast, values education ‘emphasises involvement with others – individuals, communities, society – commitment and social action’ (ibid). Darom sees his task as integrating these two perspective s within a common humanistic values education.

Darom (2000) looks at the interdependence of four aspects of education, the cognitive, affective, values and behaviour. ‘Education can thus be considered a system having four sub-systems, every one of which plays an equally decisive part in the system as a whole. If any one of them is neglected, the whole educational process is incomplete…By striving for the fullest possible integration of these four domains…education has a chance of truly touching young people, of sowing seeds of intellectual and moral honesty and personal commitment’ (ibid, p.20). In particular, an individual’s value system has three components: personal, interpersonal and social values. ‘These three are an indivisible whole; a structure whose stability – whose very existence – depends on their more or less successful blending’ (ibid).

There seems a relative consensus that values education should take a holistic approach to educating the whole person, addressing the various dimensions of human life such as the social, spiritual, economic and political spheres, the academic, physical and cultural skills, and the individual, interpersonal and collective levels. On that basis Darom’s distinction between humanistic education and values education seems superficially redundant; however, it alludes to an issue already discussed, in the previous section, that of the dichotomous purpose of education: whether it is preparation for a critical evaluation of, or for participation within, the existing social and economic order. This essay does not seek to answer that question, except inasmuch as it bears upon the related issue of the balance between the desire of agencies within society to inculcate their values and the desire of individuals to freely acquiesce in the values that seem in their own – hopefully enlightened – interest.

Tradition and Values

In the first of the Richards Peters lectures in 1985, Alasdair MacIntyre sounded a pessimistic note about the future of education. ‘Teachers are the forlorn hope of the culture of Western modernity’ (MacIntyre, 1987, p.16), he declared, meaning that they are both at the forefront of the effort to maintain that culture and that their efforts are destined to fail. MacIntyre believes that the task which we have set for teachers is impossible to accomplish ‘because the two major purposes which teachers are required to serve are, under the conditions of Western modernity, mutually incompatible’ (ibid). These purposes are, first, to educate a young person to take up a role in social and economic life, a role pre-determined by that society; and, secondly, to educate the young how to think and to gain intellectual autonomy. However,

[T]hese two purposes can be combined only if the kind of social roles and occupation for which a given educational system is training the young are such that their exercise requires, or is at least compatible with, the possession of a general culture, mastery of which will enable each young person to think for him or herself (ibid, p.16).

The coexistence of these two requirements can only occur, MacIntyre is arguing, only where there exists what he terms an ‘educated public’. There have been times in history when such an educated public has existed, for example in France, England and America, and the case he cites is the Scotland of the eighteenth century enlightenment. But ‘as a matter of contingent fact specifically modern post-enlightenment societies and cultures now exclude the conditions which make this coexistence possible’ (ibid, p.17). MacIntyre locates the conditions for the existence of an educated public in the contingent existence of a consensus on procedures and institutions for the conduct of rational debate, marked by an ‘agreement to participate in a particular ongoing debate, [where] allegiance to the purposes of the debate would have to be as important to the participants as their allegiance to their own point of view’ (ibid, p.33). It is the existence of these particular conditions that MacIntyre considers to have vanished with the advent of modernity. One of the causes of that dissolution is the sweeping of intellectual discourse from the broader society into the realm of ‘professionalized and specialized academic discipline[s]’ (ibid):

[T]he possibility of thinking for oneself, other than as a professional specialist, only opens up in the context of a certain type of community and that … kind of community is no longer available, indeed has not been generally available to post-Enlightenment culture for quite some time (ibid, p.34).

He considers the one possibility of returning to such a culture is an education in which the reading of the Greek political and philosophical texts is central.

The return to an intellectual tradition is one of the ongoing dialogues in the philosophy of education. This dialogue which began in Britain really with the publication of MacIntyre’s book After Virtue (1981) has been paralleled in America with cultural critiques such as T. S. Eliot’s Notes towards the Definition of Culture (1962) and Alan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind (1987). Commenting on MacIntyre’s Richard Peters lecture, Graham Haydon considers that:

It has sometimes seemed that either education, in transmitting values, will merely be an agency by which the domination of one cultural tradition over others is sustained; or that, in attempting to avoid that outcome, it will leave the way open to a scepticism about whether moral values and ethical life have any meaning at all it may be that [there is] an understanding of the ethical life that allows us to make realistic sense of a third possibility: that it is indeed part of the business of education to sustain the ethical life, but in a way that can embrace pluralism within the ethical life. If this is not a possibility, perhaps MacIntyre’s pessimism will be justified after all (Haydon, 1987, p.12).

There are those, naturally, for whom the fragmentation of tradition is seen as both a natural and a positive development. Susan Mendus traces the arguments of MacIntyre, Bloom and Eliot back to a ‘myth of the fall’ and a golden age when traditions were intact. She rejects this view, partly because it was a myth, and rejects the call for a return to the past because of ‘a belief that the past is not as good as it is said to be, and … the belief that such a return is, where not possible, intellectually disreputable’ (Mendus, 1992, p.182). She claims that the return to such a mythical golden age requires ‘an innocence that we no longer have and which we can only ‘regain’ by intellectual deception’ (ibid). Mendus locates the source of this inauthenticity in the idea that the solutions to the problems of our age and, necessarily the problems of education, lie in a transcendental realm. Her own view is that modernity is characterised by ‘reflective consciousness’ and that education should be fostering that capacity in the young, not cultivating an inordinate respect for tradition. Education ‘must, of course, appeal to the past. But it must also remember that we possess the past; the past does not possess us, and our task now is not to return to a lost world, but to seek and create a new one’ (ibid).

Responding to Mendus, Ruth Jonathan questions whether the crisis in education brought about by the fragmentation of value resulting from the relentless assault of critical rationality can really be solved by more of the same (Jonathan, 1993, p.171). While accepting that the supposed homogeneity of the pre-modern world is frequently exaggerated, she argues that one of the consequences of relentless criticism is a ‘quantitative and exponential increase in the rate of cultural fragmentation [that] has resulted in a qualitative change both in the social world and for the developing individual’ (ibid, p.173). While Jonathan does not suggest that the solution to this crisis is a return to tradition as such, she warns that the predicament that is already engulfing modernity cannot be resolved by continuing the same emphasis within liberal education (ibid, p174); otherwise, the result will be a social relativism in which the individual good is only that which the individual chooses and the social good reduced to that which allows the individual such latitude (ibid, p176).

Mendus’ stance that a return to a more innocent, traditional view of the world is ‘intellectually disreputable’ I understand but find overstated. Ricoeur (1967), for example, maintains that while fully cognisant of the facticity of the historical origins of founding myths, indeed because we are so aware, we are, nevertheless, able to enter into a state of ‘second naivety’ that is as profound as the ‘first naivety’ but richer because it is based on knowledge and conscious decision, rather than ignorance and uncritical acceptance. Moreover, Gadamer (1994, p.298) argues that it is the temporal distance between the events in mythic time to which a text refers and the present that creates the possibility for the discovery of truth, through a fusion of the horizon of the present with the horizon of the text. The culture of modernity, if it anywhere exists outside of university departments, is characterised by a lack of a socially cohesive worldview. But on the very grounds of rationalistic critique, such a worldview cannot exist, except perhaps in the reductive caricature that Jonathan outlines, where we are all thrown into a state of moral solipsism. Yet, both intellectually and intuitively we accept the existence of society, which means we uncritically accept a type of myth. Within all social institutions, including educational institutions, a plurality of myths are fostered, many of which embody the core values of the institution. Many of those are held in a state of ‘second naivety’ in which they are half-believed but fully endorsed; in many of the most enduring and adaptable institutions these myths are reinterpreted into new and shifting contexts without dissolving the integrity of their mythic core.

Values and Wellbeing

The issue of student wellbeing and its relationship to values education has emerged as a focus for educators in the early twenty first century. Much of this development has been focused in Australia where the government has been promoting a programme of values education based on a set of 9 common Australian values that define citizenship in the nation and in a global community, a programme that each state and territory education board is following, although the actual policies and methodologies are being left to each area, and even each school, to define, mixing cross-curriculum and stand-alone approaches (Lovat, 2010, pp.3-7). The intellectual paradigm that supports this programme is the ‘double helix effect’, which asserts, based on psychological and neuroscientific evidence, that the goals of ‘learning implied in quality teaching (intellectual depth, communicative competence, empathetic character, self-reflection) [are] more readily and easily achieved in the learning ambience created by values education’ (Lovat, ibid, p.7). The programme thus sets out to achieve benefits in two spheres: that of individual wellbeing and a reinvigorated sense of citizenship and, presumably, national engagement.

Although the model of values education is openly declared to be one of inculcation at the classroom level (ibid), which has its critics and detractors, the organisation is locally based and proceeds with full student involvement. In schools which are operating these programmes there are four main components: a common language of values and shared expectations about personal and interpersonal behaviour that lie at the core of the school’s values education programme; a positive dynamic in the teacher-pupil interaction; the modelling of appropriate and expected behaviour by teachers; and the incorporation into the programme of an external service project that provides an opportunity for pupils to be involved in a public good (Toomey, 2010). Through this, in addition to the ‘double helix effect’, there is also a ‘troika effect’ emerging from the relationship ‘between values education, quality teaching and service learning’ (ibid, p.20). Students are involved in the establishment of this structure at an early stage through Student Action Teams that identify a need in the local community and plan a strategy and action programme of engagement (ibid). Toomey asserts that this is pedagogically sound and evidence-based as it has been shown to provide a sense of empowerment through taking initiative, social bonding through teamwork, and a sense of self-worth through giving to others.

By contrast with the Australian experience with values education, which seems to be affirmative, progressive, incremental and joined up, balancing political will with local initiative, and based on cumulative evidence from pilot schemes and scientific evidence, the experience with values education in the UK seems to be an object lesson in how not to approach it (Haydon, 2010). As in Australia, it was a perception that values relativism was an underlying problem of social ills that prompted attempts to discover shared values that could be taught in schools. In 1996 the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) convened the National Forum on Values in Education and the Community, bringing together some 150 people from organisations representing all sectors of society. Their brief was to arrive at a consensus of values that were shared across British society. They came up with a Statement of Values that is now appended to the National Curriculum (National Forum on Values in Education and the Community, 1997). However, its recommendations, and that of subsequent policy initiatives in this area, were never given statutory force, and uptake has been left almost entirely to individual schools (Haydon, 2010; Hawkes, 2010). Instead, values education in the UK has followed the twin paths of PSHE and Citizenship Education, which Haydon (2010) argues has compartmentalised wellbeing and personal responsibility, unlike the programme of values education in Australia, which has integrated these two functions effectively.

Being based on a consensus model, the values the NFVEC’s Statement contains have a tendency to be generalised expression of values-based intent rather than very specific named values as in the case of the Australian government’s National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005). My own view is that this different approach may have resulted from different perceptions of where the problem of value relativism lay. During the twentieth century Australian schooling abandoned its original charter to teach values and became values-neutral (Lovat, 2010), effectively removing standards against which pupil behaviour could be judged. The move to values education is thus a recovery of its original intent. By contrast, British schools have largely maintained a tradition of values education through RE and more recently through PSE/PSHE, although the 1988 Education Reform Act clearly intended to enshrine this function in law (UK, 1988). The problem of value relativism, therefore, is more likely to have been located in society as a whole rather than in education in particular, and for this reason the response more diffuse and ambivalent.

Emerging Themes within the Educational Discourse

Having reviewed the literature around values education and the formal education system in the UK, a number of themes have begun to emerge, prominent among which are: the source of values; the degree of autonomy/control over the curriculum; the rationale, reason or role of values education; the medium for values education and the strategy for implementation of a values education programme; the dimensions of values education; the degree of integration, both internal and external, of programmes; and conflicts, antimonies and unresolved aspects of values education. Each of these themes will be considered, synthesising information from the literature considered.

a) Sources of institutional values

Religion and faith communities: Macmullen (2004, p. 603) argues that religious education and religious upbringing together provide the basis for an ‘ethical autonomy’ although this needs to be conducted within the context of rationality rather than dogmatic faith. While rejecting the aspect of religious observance in schools as divisive, Ward (2008) recognises the higher moral standards of faith schools as something that should be aspirational. Like Macmullen (2004) he believes that pupils should be taught about religions within a framework of rational inquiry. Halstead (2007) has a radically different perspective. Schools, he proposes, should support the religious observance and identity of the home and faith community through an inter-faith ethos built on the foundation of the British cultural values of tolerance, cross-cultural understanding and respect.

Traditions: Traditions are longstanding institutionalised behaviours, in which values – often implicit – are embedded, that are passed to succeeding generations. Clearly, religious beliefs and practices are an important source of values and traditions for many institutions, including schools, though McIntyre (1987), Eliot (1962) and Bloom (1987) all refer to an intellectual tradition in which the reading of the classics is fundamental.

Government initiatives: Government has always had a measure of interest in the moral as well as the academic education of children (Arthur, n.d.), but it was only with the Education Reform Act (1988) that it started to play a more active role in promoting values within education. Apart from Religious Education, provision of which is mandatory for all schoolchildren up to 16, most schools, including independents, have some form of Personal, Health and Social Education (PSHE), although the contents are not mandated, and Citizenship, which was (until 2014) a part of the National Curriculum.

Local communities: Pring (1986, p.182) argues that values, rather than being absolute or universal, the result of a rational analysis, are rooted in the particular view of a society and the moral decisions it makes, and in the local, historically conditioned communities that engender and introduce the rising generation into a ‘valued form of life’.

b) Degree of autonomy/control over the curriculum

There are a number of parameters through which the degree of autonomy or control over the curriculum, including the provision for values education, can be ascertained, though they tend to converge upon particular modes – what might be referred to as models – of governance. For example funding, status with regard to the National Curriculum and ability to select are parameters of control which are, in theory, independent of each other, yet tend to be highly ideological markers of the to-and-fro of policy-making. State schools, including both community schools and Voluntary Controlled and Voluntary Aided faith schools, follow the National Curriculum, have local government oversight and funding and, apart from the few remaining state grammar schools, are non-selective. Independent schools are self-governing and financing, are not required to follow the National Curriculum, although many opt to teach some parts of it, and are completely selective.

Specifically regarding values education, as this is not included in the NC and the only requirement of Ofsted is that the spiritual needs of pupils are being met, this gives schools a relatively free hand in how and to what degree they meet this requirement. Clearly, faith schools of all types are committed to giving a religious education, both doctrinal and experiential, to their pupils. There are also a small but growing number of ‘values schools’ (part of a movement for values education rather than an officially-recognised designation), whose syllabus, pedagogy and daily routines are built around a set of core values (VbE, 2014).

c) Rationale, reason or role of values education

Rationale, reason and role are not identical, but they bear a close relationship, rationale being closer to an explicit justification – often requiring documentation, such as a policy statement (Dillon and Maguire, 1997) – and role more of an implicit, understood purpose or function. The reasons given for values education are advanced more philosophically and address the moral requirements of society. For Pring (1986, p.182) that is the creation and perpetuation of the ‘form[s] of life’ that society considers ‘valuable’; for Aspin and Chapman (2000, p.122) it is to promote ‘excellence in the life of virtue’. The SCAA cites a more pragmatic and pressing reason: to address parents’ perception of apparent decline in the ‘moral standards…among young people’ (SCAA, 1996, p.8).

d) Medium and implementation of values education

The process of implementation of values education begins with an impetus and that seems to derive mostly from the public, represented particularly by those who are most directly involved, that is, the parents of children within school (SCAA, 1996). But a secondary driving force is also the inspection regime initiated in conjunction with the National Curriculum, Ofsted, which as part of its responsibilities checks for the provision of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education; but while it can recommend, there is no statutory requirement for schools to have a policy in place (Hawkes, 2010). Implementation of a values education policy has three steps: a period of consultation; a rationale for the policy; and an implementation strategy (Dillon and Maguire, 1997). There are three basic strategies to implement a values education programme: through the curriculum, through pastoral care and through the whole community (Downey and Kelly, 1978); moreover, there is a decision whether to have a separate timetabled subject within the school curriculum or to adapt the existing curriculum. Bigger and Brown (1999) advocate a cross-curricular implementation of values education, but many schools favour a whole school approach of embedded values. The experience from Australia shows both approaches can work (Lovat, 2010). Pring (1984), though, doubts the cross-curricular approach and favours more the transmission of a core of values through the general ethos of the school and ways of teaching. Increasingly, there is also recognition that non-curricular and non-directive aspects of school life, the so-called ‘hidden curriculum’, also play a part in the education of values (Carr and Landon, 1999).

e) Dimensions of values education

There is near universal agreement that values education is a complex phenomenon, interwoven into all strands of the educational process, which needs to address the multi-dimensionality of human life as well as that of the social institutions of schooling. Darom (2000) attempts to encapsulate this within four educational sub-systems, that of the cognitive, affective, behavioural and values, the latter which is itself comprised of personal, interpersonal and social values. This, though, is a predominantly psychological reading of the issue. A differing interpretation, although I prefer to see it as complementary, is that offered from a socio-cultural perspective, that of the ‘ends’ of education – individual wellbeing and the public good – and the ‘means’ of education – the infrastructure, materials and processes necessary to promote the values within the cultural spheres of the political, economic, moral and spiritual (Plunkett, 1990; Dillon and Maguire, 1997; Aspin and Chapman, 2000; Darom, 2000; Kristjansson, 2002; Haydon, 2010).

f) Degree of integration – internal and external – of programmes

To speak of a programme being integrated means that the various aspects such as the rationale for implementing the programme, the medium or means for delivering it, the people and agencies bringing their various skills to the programme, and means of assessing the outcomes, are part of a strategic oversight, both within an institution and in relation to the wider society. By this measure, the development of values education within state education in the UK has to be considered to be poorly integrated. There has never been a fully developed strategic view, and even when the prospects for one seemed at their highest in the late 1990s, the proposals were watered-down and eventually led to a series of recommendations and a fairly weak assessment regime (Hawkes, 2010). The approach has rather been piecemeal, perhaps reflecting a national unease about ideologically-driven or inculcatory approaches to values. Values education in the past would have been delivered through Religious Education or some form of Moral Education, but the moral content of RE at least has been somewhat attenuated through the focus upon appreciating cultural difference and the differing cultural experience (Barnes, 2011). There has been an attempt to introduce values education and character education through PSHE and Citizenship (Arthur, n.d.), but Haydon (2010) has argued that this approach has effectively compartmentalised well-being and personal responsibility. Moreover, Kristjansson (2002) criticises Citizenship for giving precedence to political values over moral ones. By contrast, ‘values schools’ and others that have implemented explicit values education policies have tended to have integrated approaches consisting of such things as core values and a values language promoted throughout the school, common behavioural expectations and reflective practice (Hawkes, 2010). In Australia, the government has taken the initiative in promoting ‘Australian values’ through various state sponsored programmes. Although the specifics of the programmes are decided at regional and even school level they have common features: they are based on psychological and neuroscientific evidence that the combination of quality teaching and values education promotes good learning and personal outcomes (Lovat, 2010); and they consist of four essential elements of a language of values and expectations, positive relations between teachers and pupils, appropriate modelling of behaviour by teachers and the incorporation of an external service project (Toomey, 2010).

g) Conflicts, paradoxes and unresolved aspects of values education

Actual programmes of values education often fall short of the complex multidimensionality outlined in section e) above, being too limited, too tentative or too partial. However, these are problems essentially of implementation. There are also unresolved theoretical issues, though some arise out of ideological differences or simply lack of empirical data.

A number of commentators have pointed out various paradoxes in the overall moral purpose of education today. MacIntyre (1987, p.16), echoing a cautionary note sounded by the DES in 1977 (cited in Pring, 1984), sees a fundamental contradiction between education as preparation for working in the economy and education for intellectual autonomy. The Australian experiment with values education programmes, though it is young, seems to be confounding such pessimistic views and showing that all aspects of pupils’ lives can be enhanced. Perhaps values education does, as Aspin and Chapman (2000, p.122) argue, ‘humanise the curriculum’, meaning that it allows all dimensions of human experience to be integrated through practices. Not everyone is convinced of this. Foster (2001), for example, maintains that the openly inculcatory practices of many programmes, such as those in Australia, undermine some fundamental democratic assumptions.

Implicit in this discourse is the fundamental pedagogical conflict over whether education, and specifically values education, should be achieved through a process of inculcation, in which weight is given to the educator of a given set of values – political, religious or traditional – or through a process of acquisition, in which weight is given to the acquirer of values, probably by some form of self-realisation. My starting assumption would be that inculcation and acquisition both play some role in the transmission of values, and in Part 2 of this essay I will propose a mechanism for transmission that incorporates both.

Both Mendus (1992) and Jonathan (1993) see the incommensurability of critical rationalism with the existence of a tradition, though they evaluate this conflict differently, the former a more strident rationalist and the latter a more concerned rationalist. Certainly to my satisfaction, though, tradition and reason seem to find a resolution within the philosophical hermeneutics of Gadamer (1994) and Ricoeur (1967), in Gadamer’s idea of the fusion of the horizon of the past with the horizon of the present, and Ricoeur’s concept of the re-mythologised ‘second naivety’. The concept of values as a philosophical proposition mediates somewhat this debate, as values lie at the core of traditions, whether embraced in toto or demythologised into moral assumptions and practices.

In this context, it is worth mentioning the clash between faith and reason, which seems to be one of the recurrent motifs within education with direct relevance to values education. There seems to be a default assumption that reason prevail, a position that I have strong sympathy with; yet, the dangers of over-rationalisation have been made clear, by Jonathan (1993) amongst others. Faith has played, and continues to play in my estimation, an important role in the cultural life of societies; it should be shaped and controlled by reason, but not consumed in a firestorm of reason. All values, including faith and reason, should be self-replenishing in stable, balanced and dynamic societies. However, our institutions should be multi-valued, not mono-valued, whether that be faith or reason or some other, although there is a good case, I believe, for institutions to be disposed to holding to particular sets of values, and these differently-valued institutions competing in the social arena.

Peters (1981) brings attention to a fundamental antinomy in moral education, which overlaps significantly with values education, between following rules and a rational morality, and locates its possible resolution in parental upbringing (ibid), something that finds empirical support in the research on intergenerational transmission of values (Schoepflug, 2001a; Euler et al., 2001; Barni et al., 2011). It boils down to, as Brighouse (2006, cited in Haydon, 2010, p.198) says, living it ‘from the inside’. As in the debate over inculcation versus acquisition it is necessary that at some level institutional requirement, whether that be legal or moral, is matched by individual assent, and that requires a specific type of management in an institutional setting such as a school.

Finally, Pring (1986) raises the thorny issue of the paradox that the social values that are considered fundamental to social life – and in that sense absolute – are, nonetheless, locally and historically conditioned. As the title of this essay suggests, and a theme that will be more fully explored in part 2, a major function of values education – perhaps the only function ultimately – is the socialisation of the individual, and that proceeds regardless of the particular set of values that is transmitted. It may be that across cultures there is a convergence on the most important values. It is certainly true that within majority cultures the existence of sub-cultures with values, principles and priorities at variance with the major culture and with each other can give rise to social tension and potentially fuel conflict. What seems obvious is that at the institutional or national level we must create opportunities for multiple belonging to be as widely accessible as possible.

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In Defence of the Open Society against its Enemies

No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude (Karl Popper)

It is just over 70 years since the publication in 1945 of Karl Popper’s most widely known and influential book, The Open Society and Its Enemies. Written during the war years while in exile from Austria, Popper considered it to be his contribution to the war effort, as it sought to expose the faulty philosophical foundations of totalitarian ideologies such as fascism and communism. Popper identified, in particular, the tendency to historical prediction or ‘historicism’ that proclaimed the inevitability of the social forms advocated by these ideologies according to supposedly scientific laws of historical development. Thus his criticism can be considered an extension to political philosophy of his earlier and more important work on epistemology, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (published in German in 1934), that is, a critique of the epistemological foundations of these ideologies, and indeed of all ideology. The open society, exemplified by liberal democracies, Popper considered the only form of government able to effect political change without bloodshed and to undergo evolutionary (rather than revolutionary) development through piecemeal change and problem-solving. Notwithstanding the debates within scientific and political philosophy having moved beyond Popper’s contemporaneous concerns, his central epistemological concept of falsifiability, with its entailment of transparency and truth-seeking, has particular relevance to this information age, but is a principle which is markedly absent from interactions within the present political, economic and social fields. Some commentators see in this the demise of liberal democracy. I believe that while open societies have vulnerabilities, they are both more robust than these commentators allow and need to be more strongly advocated than we seem willing to do at present.

To drop the anti-historicist baton for a moment, if history has any point, or purpose, it is the struggle for human freedom. While freedom can be variously defined, all freedoms reside in empowerment, whether that be political, economic or moral freedom. What is certain is that all people, everywhere, desire these freedoms, even if, in some cases, that appears to be the freedom to relinquish their freedom by merging into the collective, the rigid, the backward, the insular, the dysfunctional and of course the criminal. These are the enemies of the open society that must, paradoxically, be tolerated even as they are resisted, even those who utilise the freedom of open societies to proselytise their diatribes against freedom. This paradox nevertheless elevates open societies above all other, for they enable the conditions that – given enough time – expose false theories and beliefs, false promises, false policies and false lifestyles to scrutiny and the unremitting evidence of consequences. Freedom involves risk and risk-taking; open societies can seem chaotic, but it is the chaos of dynamic disequilibrium from which innovation and change emerge. However, to reaffirm the anti-historicist perspective, it would be wrong to assume, pace Fukuyama, that liberal democracies represent the end point of history; they embody, imperfectly, a principle of the growth of knowledge that has had precursors in history that were prematurely extinguished, but appeared fully-fledged in Europe in the eighteenth century: that is the scientific method.

The scientific method is not exclusively about the accumulation of scientific knowledge in a narrow sense that is the specific concern of scientists; it is rather a generalised account of how we learn, which is given specificity in the scientific context. Knowledge as such is the interaction between ideas, in the form of theories, beliefs or opinions, and information, in the form of facts and data about the external world that constitute evidence. This much was practiced by Aristotle and the Arab scholars of the golden era of Islamic civilisation, but it was Francis Bacon who systematised it as a method and laid the groundwork for modern experimental procedures. After Bacon the general assumption was that gathering sufficient data was the basis for sound theorising. Popper however pointed out the logical error in such an inductive approach, in that no number of confirmatory examples was sufficient to verify a theory, but a single counter-example was sufficient to falsify it. Instead, he insisted bold imaginative conjectures should be subject to repeated attempts at falsification. This raised the epistemological threshold considerably for the acceptance of theory, to such an extent that practicing scientists, like the rest of us, largely ignore these strictures in the pursuit of knowledge, and accept the balance of probabilities. Popper’s deductive theory is more like a theory of truth; truth which, according to philosophers like Kuhn, can never be realised, but only approximated more closely. Nevertheless, it remains as a reminder of the standard to which, logically, we should subject our beliefs, opinions and theories.

There are numerous implications of the theory of knowledge for the open society. First, we should be free and educated sufficiently to think boldly and imaginatively about any subject. Secondly, individuals should be free to express any opinion and respect no orthodoxy in the pursuit of truth. Thirdly, beliefs, opinions and theories of whatever kind, whether philosophical, religious, moral or scientific, should be considered tentative, however plausible or implausible, until there is confirmatory or disconfirmatory evidence. Fourthly, while persuasion is a legitimate means of transmission of ideas, coercion never is. Fifth, there should be some presumption of respect for people as individuals as free and rational, though not necessarily for their beliefs. Sixth, society as a whole, and at regional and local levels, should be attempting to manage conflict and be committed to finding solutions to problems. Seventh, there should be transparency and the free flow of information. Eighth, there should be a universal commitment to the recognition of and correction of error. Ninth, open societies should empower their citizens, economically, socially and politically, that they can participate fully in the life and development of their society. Tenth, we as individuals should be committed to the improvement of our lives and our societies. These seem the most obvious corollaries.

Modern liberal democracies are not paragons of the open society; it remains something of an ideal. They are rather experiments, each of which have particular virtues and are grappling with particular vices. Yet they embody enough of the principles to be far preferable to any other social form. This alone explains why millions of people are on the move to escape persecution, war and poverty, or the grinding weight of custom and inequality, and make their way to developed countries. This creates problems for open societies, but by their nature they are solution-generating and self-correcting. It is, of course, on this basis impossible to determine what the solution to any particular problem, for example mass immigration, should be. In the short term I suspect there will be a number of solutions, some more viable than others, and hopefully we will learn from the best and improve our strategies. In the long term, the only solution is to transform all societies into open societies. This, though, can only be accomplished on the basis of the principles outlined in the paragraph above, not through military conquest. We have sufficient problems of our own to address. This naturally gives space to the enemies of the open society, the ideological opponents of freedom, to attack the very idea. They cannot do this, of course, resorting to the principles and strategies outlined above, but rather by misinformation and coercion, and, more subtly, by undermining belief in freedom (and its attendant responsibilities) and restricting opportunities for free speech.

Reason justifies open societies as the only desirable future for mankind and reason is their guiding operative principle. Passionate concern, dogmatism and pessimism are inimical to, and are inevitably generated by ideological opposition to, open societies. Nevertheless, attacks on reason come from some surprising places. Universities, which once were bastions of academic freedom, now incubate extremism on one hand, but on the other, under the influence of anti-rationalist postmodern philosophy, forestall the expression of unpopular or challenging opinions by ‘no-platforming’ certain speakers lest some people feel ‘unsafe’ or ‘uncomfortable’, though more probably lest they be disturbed from their dogmatic slumbers.  The law is another area where decisions taken on purely legalistic technicalities can have far-reaching and chilling consequences for transparency. A law being considered at the moment would effectively end the free press in the UK, at least their ability to investigate potential scandal and corruption, by creating a no-penalty right to sue a newspaper if someone considers their privacy to have been invaded. Welfare is another system that seriously endangers individual empowerment and initiative. Compassion, which is a human virtue, experienced by the strong for the weak, can become a vice when it is institutionalised and merely perpetuates that order of power rather than ending it. Low educational ability, despite universal education, much of it free, is strongly indicative of poor life chances in employment, physical and material well-being, prospects for marriage and social status. In many developed countries we are too tolerant of poor educational outcomes and economically supportive of their attendant lifestyles and the subcultures that perpetuate them.

The aggregate enemy of the open society is collectivism and group-think. The foundation of open societies and our freedom is individualism. If for the moment we strip away all the cultural accretions, we are all fundamentally the same in sharing a human nature, as opposed to an animal nature. The frequent assertion that we are ‘nothing but’ animals, specifically mammals, results in a peculiar type of contradiction: the application of reason to cloak its own phenomenology. For reason is what defines us as human and not as animal. There is a qualitative difference; however much we see a spectrum of intelligence in the animal kingdom, there is, as Marxists would say, a tipping point at which the quantitative becomes the qualitative. Therefore, when talking of individualism, this is not to focus on the individual physical body, which is an adaptive form created by the forces of genetic mapping and environmental pressures, but the mind which is embodied. Reason finds the value of the individual in the unique individual mind and this is the foundation of freedom and equality, which are fundamental to the open society. Cultures and sub-cultures that exhibit the trait of differential evaluation of human worth, whether that is as someone to be controlled, as a possession, as a means to economic or social advance, or a sexualised object, exist still within the sphere of slavery and need to be transformed.

For some, individualism has a bad name. It is associated with selfishness and hedonism, as a denial of spirituality, altruism and collective duty, whether to the family, an institution or the nation. The first thing to say is that these arguments have been used throughout history by powerful individuals and elites to crush the aspirations of people everywhere, and they are also advanced by the ideological enemies of the open society. The second point is that, from a rational perspective, selfishness and hedonism are intrinsically inimical to individual flourishing which is both a pillar of, and a desirable outcome of, the open society. Laziness, greed, addiction, irresponsibility – the besetting sins of all societies – are harmful to the individual and to society, and a rational society should be doing all it can to curtail them. Selfishness, though, should not be confused with self-interest. Our life-long project should be the improvement of our selves. It is the nature of this self, though, that it is of interest, not just to us, individually, but to society as a whole. Society is not more than the sum of its parts, or at least only to the extent that it is an emergent property of social interactions. Therefore, society in the abstract has a vested interest in the flourishing of the individual, which means that as individuals we also have an interest in the advancement of others. This is different to the perspective accepted and encouraged in our present economic culture here in the West, which is implicitly a zero-sum game based on the Darwinian-Spencerian idea of the survival of the fittest, which in reality optimises outcomes for neither the individual nor the society.

Therefore the individualism which is suited to an open society has a transcendent quality, in that the self is continuously engaged in a project to extend its abilities. That transcendence can be counted on at least five major fronts: physical, intellectual, professional, emotional and social, which emerge from aspects of our evolved human nature: survival instinct, sexuality, sociality and spirituality. Each of the fronts  necessitates development centred around a cluster of values, for example – and this is merely a limited selection – ‘health’ and ‘fitness’ for the physical, ‘knowledge’ and ‘reason’ for the intellectual, ‘reliability’ and ‘expertise’ for the professional, ‘resilience’ and ‘warmth’ for the emotional and ‘companionship’ and ‘generosity’ for the social. These fronts are not isolated or competing aspects of the individual, even if in the past they may have been seen as such; they are complementary and collectively reinforcing. As our knowledge grows we are beginning to see a more rounded and more extensive picture of human possibilities. No one ultimately need be excluded from this vision. We already see, through events like the Paralympics, the range of possibilities that are opening up even for the disabled. New technologies promise the eventual elimination or circumvention of blindness and paralysis and the emancipation of their sufferers.

Open societies are not perfect, nor will they ever be; they are imperfect by definition. The difference to other social forms is that this fact is universally acknowledged, and this acceptance sets the stage for a programme of continuous improvement through problem-solving. The defence of open societies is ultimately the defence of a process, not a thing. Some people find this threatening, as they would like to retreat to a closed, unchanging world of certainty. Most of us at some time, if the truth be told, feel like this, but the enemies of the open society experience this as perpetual existential crisis. They should be tolerated but kept on the fringes. The growth of knowledge has enabled us to survive so far in a hostile environment and has succeeded in making human lives better, freer and happier. That is definitely something worth defending.

The role of community in the creation of value: the contribution of Stakeholder Theory

By James Walker

The weakness of traditional business ethics

The raw power of the markets, whether under mercantilism or capitalism, has always tussled with other powerful institutions, be they churches, philanthropic movements or governments, which have attempted to bring another set of values to bear, more human, social and compassionate. Today we talk about business ethics, but this idea, though fine in the abstract, is liable to be itself marketised, in the hierarchical world of corporate life, when the intrinsically spontaneous nature of human communal life is overridden.

Let me share a couple of imaginary workplace scenarios. In the first, a company holds a competition for staff each year in which they are told they must nominate some of their colleagues for a number of awards that have been created to show staff that they are valued. One of the awards is for the employee who best embodies the ethos of the company. The staff resent being forced to nominate colleagues. There is a high turnover of staff which means it is becoming increasingly difficult to build up relationships with each other or know each other on a personal level. Lots of people have had to reapply for their jobs due to the yearly restructuring of departments, and job titles have changed so much that nobody actually knows who does what anymore. The senior management team are insistent that all staff vote and when they don’t, they become angry.

In the second, another company is independently assessed for its ‘green’ values on a yearly basis. These ratings are vital in the sector for attracting new customers. When the auditors come to the company on Monday morning, the workplace has been transformed, much to the shock of the employees. Some ‘locally sourced, fair trade’ coffee has suddenly appeared in the kitchen. Posters appear in the hallway highlighting the importance of switching off computers at the end of the day. Projectors in meeting rooms are switched off. Once the auditing has been done the posters are taken down, the lights go back on, and the ‘locally sourced, fair trade’ coffee is replaced with the more familiar mass produced variety. The company is awarded a gold rating. The bosses are very proud and inform everyone by email.

The above scenarios highlight the kind of problems that arise when staff, who constitute a real community at the heart of every business, and the wider community in which the business thrives, are undervalued. In the first case none of the employees want to vote for a colleague as embodying the ethos of the organisation because they do not believe in the values of the company. These values are deemed duplicitous and the awards feel disingenuous. Senior management feel let down by their staff when there is a poor response and this is made known. In the second case the management are not concerned with living the principles of being a green company or encouraging their employees to do so as a contribution to the wider community. They just want to gain a high ranking so that their customers perceive them to be green. In both cases ethical principles have effectively become subservient to a short-term tactical advantage.

Stakeholder Theory attempts to address these shortcomings in business ethics by recognising the intrinsic communality of human interaction within the business world and incorporating the encouragement of this communality into long-term strategy. I will give a brief overview of Stakeholder Theory and then explain how I am attempting to apply its insights in my own work with large-scale digital literature projects.

An overview of Stakeholder Theory

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest or concern in something, especially a business. Therefore, stakeholders can be individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by the activity of the business. In terms of a traditional business we could define stakeholders as having the following roles or interest:

  • Business owner – concerned about profit and in some cases appeasing shareholders. They are aware of competitors. They are responsible for key decision making.
  • Managers – concerned about salaries and putting in place processes to achieve the owner’s goals.
  • Workers – want job security and good wages.
  • Customers – expect a certain level of service.
  • Suppliers – rely on the success of the business because they need organisations to buy their products.
  • Lenders – need paying on time.
  • Local community – the business could affect them in a variety of ways.

In addition to this we could also classify stakeholders as being internal or external to the organisation.

The key thinker on this subject is R. Edward Freeman of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. He argues: “You can’t look at any one stakeholder in isolation. Their interest has to go together and the job of a manager is to figure out how the interests of customers, suppliers, communities, employees and financiers go in the same direction.”

Most importantly, he emphasises that business and ethics need to work in harmony. Whereas old school industrial capitalism had a faceless approach to business whereby ‘stakeholder’ really meant ‘stockholder’, Freeman argues that Stakeholder Theory gives a ‘face’ and ‘name’ to individuals. It brings in the human element that has long been missing from the workplace. He even goes as far as to suggest:  “What makes capitalism work is our desire to create value for each other. Not our desire to compete. Capitalism is the greatest system of social collaboration ever invented. It’s about how we cooperate together to create value for each other.”

This idea of ‘value creation’ is vitally important, particularly in that all stakeholders need to create value through their respective roles. This suggests equality, as well as an interconnectedness in the workplace. Value is not something that can be imposed or, as per my opening examples, fabricated. Through respect for each other and an awareness of how value is created, I believe the insights of Stakeholder Theory have the potential to turn any negative into a positive.

Applying Stakeholder Theory to a digital literature project

I am currently creating an interactive memory theatre (or cabinet of curiosity) that celebrates the life of a controversial writer from Nottingham. It will include artefacts in each drawer that tell the writer’s story. The writer in question lived a nomadic life, travelling the world in search of a community of like-minded people. Therefore, our memory theatre will retrace his journey, stopping off in the same cities and countries he visited. Audiences will be able to engage with the memory theatre through digital screens, adding their own memories and reactions to the selected artefacts, thereby enabling the memory theatre to gain in provenance as it journeys along.

The writer in question was born in a town northwest of Nottingham towards the end of the 19th century. During this period the area was highly prosperous due to growing industries and the development of the Midland Railway Company that enabled goods, such as coal, to be transferred across the country. Many people flocked to the area for work and the population soon began to expand.

Nowadays, local people resent the success of this author because he turned his back on his community and was highly critical of what he perceived to be the dehumanising effects of industrialisation: The mining industries at the time were the main employer. His novels contain many references to real people and real situations, many of which he barely attempts to disguise. This personal betrayal continues to anger generations of those affected.

Despite this, locals cannot escape him. A pub, café, community centre, school and roads bear reference to his name, as does the surrounding area. Given that his birthplace town is now a relatively deprived area, his success is constantly thrust at people and consequently he is resented by many. By applying stakeholder theory we have the opportunity to rectify this.

In October 2016 I got a call from a funding body saying that a local MP was interested in further commemorating the writer by putting a statue up of him in his home town and asking what I thought. I admitted I couldn’t see the point, as there were already two statues of the author located in Nottinghamshire. I am also sceptical of the gesture as the local Council has recently sold off a property associated with the writer. One more statue creates no additional value as far as I am concerned and would most likely involve commissioning a sculptor who does not live in the local area.

Stakeholder Theory positions ‘community’ as having equal say in how meaning is produced and value is created for all. The memory theatre project has the potential to repair damage in the affected community by employing a local joiner to help build the memory theatre as well as sourcing materials from local suppliers. In doing this, we open up the conversation from a different perspective. When we work with trades people we have the opportunity to explain why the memory theatre needs to be built in a particular way. We can discuss elements of the writer’s life that need to be drawn out in the design in a way that is not prescriptive but via consultation. We will put money in their pockets, something I am sure locals will be more pleased about than a random statue imposed on their town. They in turn will talk about the project with friends, in the pub. Culture, as Raymond Williams and many others have shown us, comes from below, not from above.

The writer at the heart of my project lived an incredible life. He suffered persecution and censorship for nearly everything he wrote. He lived large parts of his life in absolute poverty, often being put up by friends. He consistently defied authority and was highly critical of those in power. Post-2008 working conditions have produced a new class of worker – ‘the precariat’ – for whom every area of life lacks security (Standing, 2011), the writer’s message bears even more relevance. Consulting, listening and empowering the local community on my project is one way of getting this message across. Thrusting a static statue on them will only do more damage.

References

R. Edward Freeman (2009), Stakeholder Theory Youtube lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih5IBe1cnQw

Guy Standing (May 24, 2011). “The Precariat – The new dangerous class”. Policy Network.

 

James Walker is a lecturer in Digital Humanities at Nottingham Trent University. He specialises in digital literary criticism. He is the editor of The Sillitoe Trail, which explores the enduring relevance of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and more recently Dawn of the Unread, a graphic novel serial exploring Nottingham’s literary history. www.dawnoftheunread.com

 

 

What is the point of the Left? A dispassionate assessment of its virtues and vices

communist-poster

After the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 1990s there was a brief window in which it was predicted that the forces of democracy and the free market had triumphed and leftist and socialist parties would thereafter only wither away. The view from the present is of a very different political landscape, with a resurgence of interest in leftist politics, socialist parties coming to power in Europe and South America, and even a candidate of the left (by American standards) a strong contender in the Democratic primaries. Yet the aetiology of the left seems to be well understood and to flow along only three routes: ideological purity and marginalisation; ‘selling out’ to conservative forces; or – worst case scenario – taking power and creating a totalitarian failed state. This raises the question, most interestingly from an evolutionary perspective, of what the left is for. This is not a rhetorical question, for something so persistent in modernity cannot simply be dismissed.

The socialist parties across Europe are generally conflicted internally between the first two routes. In the UK the political left seems to be in disarray, with the Labour party seemingly in a death struggle between the moderate left and the hard left, with the majority of its MPs out of step with their leader. President Hollande of France came to power on a platform of radical socialist policies, which have been abandoned in the interests of financial realism. Syriza in Greece swept into power with a popular anti-austerity message, only to cave in to the EU’s conditions for a financial rescue package, which has naturally caused a backlash against the government. Only Tony Blair seemed to manage for a few years the intricate balancing trick of allying socialist ideals with financial acumen; however, he managed both to betray the left over Iraq and empty the coffers of government. Even the Scandinavian social democratic model, widely admired but rarely achieved outside the particular cultural and demographic conditions to be found there, has withered in the new economic reality.

China is the case par excellence of a revolutionary party that abandoned socialism for market economics, and accepted some measure of social liberalism, although has shown no sign until now of allowing political freedom. Cuba, though more tentatively, appears to be treading the same path. Interestingly, these countries do not generally seem to have attracted the opprobrium of the left for having abandoned the path of pure socialism. Perhaps having been the emblems of radical chic and poverty tourism for so long before their transition, they had become unspoken embarrassments to the ideologically pure. It raises the question though of whether a country like China even belongs to the ‘left’ anymore, despite being run by a communist party. Russia is also an interesting case study. The communist utopia of radical intellectual leftists throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, only some of whom were deflected from their idolatry when the reality of Stalin’s purges became evident, it sank slowly into being a corrupt, inegalitarian, illiberal, though basically functioning state kept afloat by territorial expansion and proxy wars, until Afghanistan. Then after a few brief years of social, economic and political liberalisation it resumed its centuries-old characteristic of being under authoritarian rule. Given the resurgence of nostalgia there for the Soviet era, it is interesting to speculate at which point it ceased to be the darling of the left and instead began to be be name-checked by the far right.

Meanwhile, socialism continues to exert its hypnotic fascination upon a good part of the globe, with the fatal attraction to its ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality, segueing unerringly into economic dysfunction, subversion of democratic checks and balances and resistance to reform when in power, compounded by the intellectual impermeability of its acolytes and apologists to reasoned criticism. We need look no further than Zimbabwe and Venezuela to see all these criteria in play. Zimbabwe, under the aegis of the nonagenarian national liberation hero Robert Mugabe, has played out the theatre of socialist national decline since independence, only briefly interrupted when genuine democrats managed to loosen his arthritic grip on the tiller, due to a brief, incautious dalliance with relatively free and fair elections. In Venezuela things have, if possible, moved more deeply and more quickly, from reasonable stability and sufficiency (though one should not overstate the case here; poverty was endemic in the rural areas and among the indigenous Indian population) to economic catastrophe. It does not help that their real head of state, Hugo Chavez, is actually dead, and his anointed successor’s only demonstrable qualities stubborn adhesion to power and ideological rigidity. But even these sorry cases are still only at the midway point on the road to the holocausts of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge or North Korea under the Kim dynasty.

Given the evidence of history and the present of failure of epic proportions at every level, it is remarkable that socialism continues to exert such a powerful pull on the imagination of so many, and is a phenomenon which begs an explanation. Let me start with the cynical view, propounded by the conservatively-minded, which is that socialism tends to attract those who are politically naïve, the evidence being that it is disproportionately attractive to the young and people like celebrities. There is certainly a superficial plausibility to this; a reasonable parallel would be with those who are attracted to radical Islam, who tend to be young, religiously naïve or non-practicing Muslims. However, if the argument is turned around, it is not obvious that the politically sophisticated are to be found crowding the political right, and the same charge, of naivety, could be levelled at those who are drawn into right wing politics, particularly of the far right nationalist variety.

A more objective, scientifically-rooted perspective is that our political affiliations, like much else about us, is determined genetically. This seems more plausible, after all personality and temperament, which do have a strong genetic component, play a significant part in the type of worldview we develop. This view also correlates with data from the research of Jonathan Haidt that indicates there are five or six fundamental values in a ‘moral matrix’ which are shared across all cultures, but that liberals typically emphasise a smaller range of fundamental social values than conservatives, being disproportionately committed to care and fairness, but less so to other values such as freedom, loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity, an effect that is more marked the more liberal a person considers themselves to be. The lack of balance in values may help to understand the epic failures of socialism in power, and perhaps also why conservative parties tend to be electorally more successful over the long term.

Haidt’s view is that whatever our political inclinations, it cannot be a bad thing to be more self-aware and that as a society we need to engage more in dialogue, although current trends suggest we are becoming more entrenched in our views, aided by the self-selecting and bias-reinforcing tendencies of the internet. I suspect that the desirability of dialogue is itself something of a liberal predilection. Moreover, dialogue almost never changes minds. Rather, familiarity with different perspectives fosters a degree of empathy and tolerance for the other, in other words contributes to shared meta-values. From this lofty perspective it is possible to discern that the left does indeed contribute to human social evolution:

  • First, socialism can be considered the modern political manifestation of the age old and timeless human sense that the focus on money is not only immoral but fundamentally damaging to the cohesion of society. In a recent article Marian Tupy has argued that there is a pedigree of thought, stretching from homer and Plato through medieval Catholic theology to Martin Luther and Thomas More, which argues that mercantilism is fundamentally inimical to human life. This tradition is, therefore, embedded in western thought and the history of major institutions. It underlies the contemporary critique of corporate greed that has been adopted across the political spectrum.
  • Secondly, it manifests and embodies the more caring and compassionate side of human nature in continuity with the Christian tradition exemplified by Jesus’ forgiveness of sinners and care for the poor and marginalised, sometimes explicitly religious, but more commonly now through humanistic ideals. To grace this idea with a few examples: the changed attitudes towards and improved social circumstances of children, animals, the disabled, and homosexuals.
  • Thirdly, liberals are more open to new ideas, particularly social ideas and trends, than conservatives. Conservatives by their very nature, tend to be content with the status quo, not necessarily because they are beneficiaries of the existing conditions, but because they are averse to change. From the perspective of human social evolution it makes sense to have adaptability as well as stability, and liberal attitudes allow for a greater degree of social experimentation. Although many of these ideas turn out to be culs-de-sac, some are adopted into the social mainstream, such as many of the changes to education.
  • Fourthly, the militancy and obstreperous nature of much of the left means that ideas that might have simply been passing trends remain in the collective consciousness long enough to be adopted more widely, which contrasts with the generally more complacent attitudes of the right. Environmental concern has largely been driven by the left, as has concern with racism, both unfinished campaigns.

Capitalism portrays the world in functional, impersonal and ruthless terms, but has proved to be the only viable economic system for developed societies. But people are not automatons and citizens not functioning units in the economic machine of society, although even our education systems sometimes treats us as if we are. As well as crackpot theories the left embodies virtues that when woven into the narrative of our societies, and accepted by many on the right as on the left, not only make society fairer and more humane, but probably more efficient if they result in just social policy. While socialism as a political and economic system has been tested to destruction in the social experiments of the last 100 years, the fundamental values that it embodies will always re-emerge, as they are not the preserve of leftist revolutionaries or a liberal intellectual elite, but fundamental to all decent human life.

 

Institutional Structure and Culture in the Transmission of Social Values, Part 3: A Theory of Institutional Value Transmission

Introduction

Part 1 of this essay (posted March 23, 2016) reviewed some of the significant literature and theories emerging from the relatively new field of evolutionary psychology in regard to cultural transmission and intergenerational transmission of values. Part 2 (posted April 30, 2016) explored the sociological literature for theories or partial theories of institutional transmission. Much of the literature of part 2 related to education, as formal education is the primary institutional context (outside of the family) in which values transmission takes place. Part 3 outlines a theory of institutional value transmission based on empirical field research in education and discusses that in relation to the above-mentioned literature. It begins, though, by outlining the basic theory underlying this research, a deductive hypothesis of the nature, function and transmission of values.

In a previous essay (posted August 22 and September 12, 2015) a philosophical analysis of the concept of value from first principles was undertaken, in light of perceived problems both within axiology and the usage of the term within the social sciences. The analysis concluded that, contrary to the mainstream of academic philosophy, values were real and their nature and properties describable. It found that values are semiotically related to symbols in having a structural duality and phenomenologically related to treasured personal items in being an experience of emotional attachment. Outwardly, values are linguistic signs denoting abstract concepts, while inwardly they relate to strong feelings. As part of normal language, value concepts pepper our everyday discourse and communication, either in their primary nominalised form or in lexical variations (verbs, adjectives, etc.) and are able to permeate society through the normal linguistic pathways of communication. Experientially, however, like symbols, a particular value is only truly meaningful within a (theoretically) closed social group for whom the value attains utmost significance, for example faith within a religious group, justice for a campaigning group, safety for a military reconnaissance unit or accuracy for a scientific project team. This idea has resonance with, but is not derived from, Tajfel’s (1974) concept of ‘ingroup’ and ‘outgroup’ as categories of identity through inclusion and exclusion. From either aspect values are inherently social, and this lead to one of the more surprising conclusions: that there are no private values. Values are just words on one level, but at the experiential level they are social and communal, that is they denote a shared experience, not a private experience. I can create a word for an intensely personal experience, but it could only become a value by being shared and finding an appropriate social context in which it can function. The idea of values as shared experience is not the same as, it is the exact opposite of, the idea of intersubjectivity, as that was conceived of by Habermas (1984). For Habermas individual subjectivity emerged from a collective recognition of signs; shared experience presupposes individual subjectivity as the basis for empathetic recognition of others’ interior worlds.

The function of values was not addressed at length in the original theory, which focused on the ontological question of the nature of values; however, the main line of an answer is fairly clear. If values acquire their significance in a communal setting, then a primary focus is to bind social groups together. The primary institution for human lives is the family, and though the family must be considered the cradle for our basic values, it is also an institution which is bound together by common values. Society is a multiplicity of social groupings – familial, tribal, ethnic, religious, professional, vocational, economic, political, leisure and interest – and all of them can be understood as defined by shared values. It is this aspect of values which in some respect renders them problematic. Values not only define the core of the group, they also define the boundary of the group, where the group becomes the non-group because of non-adherence to the particular values of the group (Tajfel, 1974). Values, therefore, are not only a cohesive force in society; many, possibly all, conflicts in society can be understood in terms of competing values. In complex modern societies the quest for common values, embodied in social institutions, is paramount. A second function of values is to embody the essential attributes and goals of the group. Values are not the same as attributes or goals, but they are clearly related. For example, values underlie goals; goals are more specific to a particular event or situation, but values transcend the particular event or situation to give continuity to the group beyond the immediate attainment of goals (Rokeach, 1973). A third function of values is to structure and give purpose to individual lives (Mandler, 1993; Barth, 1993). In modern societies in particular it is common to be multi-valued as a result of multiple belonging, the overlapping of different interests, commitments and loyalties. It is paradoxically both a condition and an outcome of open societies that such multiple belonging occurs; it is one of the guarantees that society does not fracture along narrow monocultural lines, defined by religion or ethnicity (Huntington, 1993, 1996).

The transmission of values is based on the twin concepts of invocation and evocation as a way of understanding the mode of existence and propagation of values in a community and of the genesis and maintenance of the community. Invocation, based on the idea of value as a symbolic type of entity, is the ritualistic utterance of the value sacred to the group, with the purpose of reinforcing their commitment to both. While this may seem too overtly couched in religious terminology, the contention is that values actually take on aspects of the sacred (Eliade, 1957), which is most explicitly demonstrated in religion, but is actually part of all aspects of human life and experienced by everyone. Evocation can be thought of as the effect that invocation has on the listener, that of opening up a realm of experience associated with the value, referred to as the moral universe of the value, but that moral universe most readily conflated with the immanent community and its obligations; for this reason ‘evocation of the moral universe of the value’ and ‘evocation of the moral community’ are essentially identical. Participation in the moral universe of the value is a grounded existential certainty and sense of belonging that Eliade (1957, p.21) refers to as the experience of the sacred, as ‘a fixed point, a centre…equivalent to the creation of the world’.

The theory outlined here is a deductive argument derived from a consideration of the meaning of value as that has been analysed in terms of phenomenological and semiotic categories. Its extension into a consideration of the function of values, and particularly the transmission of values, is only partly developed. In the following section this theoretical picture is filled out and refined by empirical data derived from field research in actual schools, as mentioned above, developing an understanding, in particular, of how values are transmitted in real-world institutional contexts. The deductive theory plays a role in this process: the concept of value informs in particular the analytic methods used, functioning as what Blumer (1954) referred to as a sensitising concept.

Empirical research-based theory of institutional value transmission

The field research was carried out in three secondary schools, with contrasting forms of governance: a faith school, an independent school and a community school (total number of participants 150). A two-tier qualitative approach, having both an inductive, theory-generating phase of data capture and analysis, and a deductive, hypothesis-led evaluative phase, was used. The inductive phase used a multiple case study format and cross-case analysis, providing data for analysis and for testing the hypotheses in the deductive phase. The case studies were each modelled on three structural aspects: an authority hierarchy; an interiority/exteriority duality in the institutional lived-experience; and a system hierarchy. Multiple data collection and analytic methods were employed in each case study, in order to build up a complex snapshot of the transmission of values in each school. Only the findings of the research are reported here. The source for details of the research is given in the references (Trubshaw, 2014).

In any consideration of values transmission in schools the central relationship has to be between teacher and pupil, which is the institutional nexus between the generations in terms of behavioural modelling, socialisation and enculturation, as well as the more mundane and well-understood conduit of information transmission (Parsons, 1961). (The two aspects are not different at one level, as values are, as explained above, in some respects just another form of information). As this theory deals with institutional transmission, rather just interpersonal transmission, though, on one side it must deal with the power relationships within the school, and even beyond the school in the influence of national policy-making and local authority implementation, whereby the values agenda – if, indeed, there is such a coherent entity – is set, and on the other the moral agency and developing moral cognition of the individual pupil subject to any attempts at values education.

The model for institutional value transmission arrived at through this research consists of four conceptual categories – institutional value permeation, institutional authority, resistance to institutional authority and transformative experience – which is best thought of as the interaction between two partial models: a permeation-authority model of institutional inculcation and a resistance-transformation model of moral autonomy. Each of the conceptual categories will be explained over a number of sub-sections, drawing on theoretical concepts derived from the data, illustrative examples from the field, the hypothetical model and the academic literature of values education and social transmission.

The institutional permeation of values

Permeation as the name implies is the extent to which a particular value has been identified throughout an institution, specifically at all identified levels and each demographic sector. In the field research these were identified as the three main levels of each school: the official, the pedagogical and the learner as represented by data from documents and interview (Head), classroom observation and field notes (teacher report/feedback sessions), and pupil survey and focus group, respectively. Permeation, it should be pointed out, is not the same as transmission. First, it would be impossible to establish causality of any sort without a longitudinal study far beyond the scope of the research undertaken. Secondly, institutions like schools are highly permeable to multiple influences and the espousal of a value is not necessarily indicative of its acquisition within its confines. What the analysis attempted to discover is the degree of commonality of experience within the lived world of the institution, the recognition of common semiotic structures which carry the value meanings, and the link between these semiotic structures and the strategies for values education (Downey and Kelly, 1978; Plunkett, 1990) that exist at the official level, however informally those are formulated. Through the cross-case analysis, a core of values that seemed to permeate the institutions investigated had been established. This was only indicative of a snapshot view of the schools, though it was verified in principle in report/feedback meetings. The point is not to argue for absolute veracity, but for theoretical plausibility on the basis of methodological reliability.

In a consideration of the hegemony of ideology in society and schooling in particular, Apple (1979, p.22) makes use of the term ‘permeate’ (in a somewhat pleonastic manner) to describe a state of ‘saturation’. The concept of permeation has been taken up to describe the extent of transmission flow though the institute, the extent to which values are transmitted through the institutional structure and recognised by the erstwhile recipients of values education. That such a flow occurs seems to be taken for granted by the schools: ‘In our mission statement we talk about everyone being treated with dignity and respect…that everyone should be treated as of equal worth…Saying it and doing it at times is difficult…But I think it does permeate through’. It should be pointed out that the use of the term ‘permeate’ in this quotation, which includes the idea of acceptance, does not quite correspond with its use here, where it means solely ubiquity.

Permeation can then be thought of as a conceptual field in which, however tenuously, there is common awareness of the preferred values of the institution transmitted either directly through verbal indication or indirectly though suggestion. As outlined in part 1 this communication of value concepts is not the transmission of values in the sense of acquisition but only the possibility for  conceptual grasp, that is, the ‘awareness stage’ of Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman (1981) and Schönpflug’s (2001b) two-stage process of ‘awareness’ and ‘acceptance’. The analysed research data gave a snapshot of the state of permeation and established that common values are found at all levels of the schools. Moreover the surveys established that there are significant levels of pupil awareness of the schools’ attempts to teach certain values and attitudes.

In this context, it is necessary to evaluate the two-stage process of ‘awareness’ and ‘acceptance’. First, these have to be considered stages in transmission and not a mechanism for transmission, certainly not in the sense of ‘mechanism’, understood as a causal explanation. Secondly, Schönpflug’s (ibid) two stages are of limited utility for grasping institutional transmission; they are appropriate in interpersonal transmission, but within an institution even if acceptance of a certain value can be shown, unless it can also be shown that inculcation, awareness and acceptance form a causal line within the institution, to speak of institutional transmission is not permissible. Establishing permeation is easier: indications of student awareness of being taught and of staff awareness of the ethos, both of which were evidenced in the data, are enough. Permeation means simply that there is a value discourse occurring in every sector of the institute, in this case at every one of the three levels of the schools. But while there might be institutional awareness, it requires something more to create the conditions for acceptance, or ‘acquisition’, the preferred term here.

Transmission and the institutional structure of authority

Permeation, as just noted, takes place as easily as people communicate, either informally through casual interaction, or formally as in the teacher-pupil interaction or in official documents and publications circulated through the school. Values are embedded in such modes of communication either consciously or unconsciously and therefore reach to every part of the school. However, to move to the stage of acquisition requires a very different process. This process involves the authority structure of the school.

To understand why this is so, it is necessary to go back to the basic theory outlined above, in which value has a dual structure. One is its external aspect of simply being a conceptual word, easily communicated and assimilated. However, this is not the whole or the essential nature of a value, which lies in its internal aspect of being a shared experience of the moral force of the value. For this aspect of the value to be acquired three things must happen: a communal context must exist; the value must be explained or modelled in some way; and the intended recipient as a moral agent in their own right must move to acceptance. The first two imply the existence of a source of authority. Each of these will be dealt with separately; this section will deal with the first two, under four sub-sections: a) invocation and evocation, the processes by which the community of the moral force of the institutional values (or ‘moral community’) is established; b) power and control, as aspects of authority; c) institutional authority structures, at the administrative and pedagogical level; and d) the value cycle, the self-sustaining interface between permeation and authority in the institutional ethos.

a. Invocation and evocation

The concept of invocation, explained above, is the clear link between the permeation of the institutional structure with value concepts and the beginnings of the process of the institutional inculcation of the values of the institution’s ethos. In invocation, though, the function of the value term switches from conceptual to symbolic and the particular institutional values deemed significant assume a sacred dimension and collective binding force in the institutional discourse and pedagogy. Within the classroom that is going to be supplied by the teacher’s use of a value-term in a meaningful context (Hawkes, 2010), perhaps supplying examples, in this way, more than just by definitional precision or extension, deepening the understanding of the term, and hopefully by being an example of that value and modelling that value in the behaviour they demonstrate to the pupils in the class and others. There was evidence of this type of discourse in each of the schools studied in the field research; sometimes it did in an explicit way relate to the religious tradition of the school in question, but values were implicit in secular concerns, activities and policies as well, such as the concern for inclusion, and after Eliade (1957) I have interpreted the sacred broadly as that which is existentially foundational.

According to the theory, as shared experience values have a communal aspect, the creation or maintenance of which is referred to as the ‘evocation of the moral community’. ‘The moral community’ is an abbreviation of – or better thought of as – ‘the community of the moral force of the value’, as values are definitionally a form of the good and operate as such within a value-oriented grouping. In the research two types of distinct evocation were witnessed, referred to as intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic evocation identifies the moral community with the community defined by the addressed group itself; they become, as it were, the experimental laboratory for the practice of the value. Extrinsic evocation is more an exercise in remote empathy, where the group experience vicariously, communally, the circumstances of others in a value-laden narrative.

Logically, evocation must follow invocation, but the precursor for both within an institution is that the actual physical group must exist in which inculcation of the value can occur. Evocation requires the group to be transformed into the moral community, but it is not yet the moral community. In a similar manner, invocation requires the as-if modelling of invocation, even though the value has not yet been acquired by the group. Where there is clearly some gap between the theory and the reality, both evocation and invocation can be thought of as principles for action, or activation principles, rather than as straightforward descriptions of what happens. In both the cases of evocation and invocation the issue of authority arises: the authority of the school to organise young people into classes for the purpose of learning and specifically for the transmission of values; and the authority of the teacher to stand in front of a class of morally autonomous individuals and hold the attention of the class and undertake pedagogy in order that they can acquire a particular value or values. In other words the authority of the school over the moral autonomy of the individual must be brought into play, and such institutional authority needs to be thoroughly examined.

b. Power and control

In part 2 of this essay, I considered three models of institutional transmission, that of Talcott Parsons’ view of the school class as a social system (Parsons, 1959), Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction through pedagogy (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977) and Basil Bernstein’s synthesis of linguistics and politics in a theory of educational transmission (Bernstein, 1975). Of the three, Bernstein has probably most shaped my views on institutional authority, power and control. While the definitions that I arrived at through analysing the data from the schools differed ultimately from those Bernstein employed, his use of ‘classification’ for a spatial boundary between curriculum subjects and ‘framework’ for the temporal rhythm of the syllabus, shaped my thinking on how control is realistically exercised in an institutional setting.

Power has a number of manifestations, but in this model of value transmission, only two functions which are of importance: one is to create roles that function to distribute power; the other is to licence control. It is in the first of these functions of the role that power reveals its capacity to give rise to a self-replicating hierarchy, though one of vertically diminishing power. All power is symbolic and the appointment of someone to a role is a secular anointing accompanied by the symbolic trappings, such as the certificate, the office and the desk, for example. In developed economies appointments to important or professional posts – such as a teacher – are made on the basis of having met certain formal requirements that demonstrate sufficient skill to carry out the role. Once conferred, a role then gives the appointee the right in turn to confer power. A role, though, does more than just confer power; it also limits it through regulation (legal, organisational and ethical). Power takes two forms, that of empowerment and disempowerment. The role both empowers and disempowers (although, it can be seen in context that the role only disempowers by empowering in the first place; therefore, empowerment and disempowerment are relative) and by empowerment confers the power to empower and disempower in turn, though the nature of the conferred empowerment and disempowerment may be curtailed by the limitations of the role. Whether and to what extent limited, however, the power to employ empowering and disempowering methods, known collectively as ‘power distribution’, to alter the dynamics of a system such as a classroom, is fundamental to a role and one of the four areas of control conceded to a role in an institution. It seems that this power – the power to distribute power – is reproduced throughout the hierarchy, and is not a form of control which is a feature of personal charisma. Power distribution is not a creative shaping force as control is; it is essentially a reproduction of the forms of power being transmitted through the hierarchy, embodied in the assigned role. As discussed above, the role empowers through a certain space for action – a space in which charismatic control can be exercised – but also disempowers by placing limits on that space and curtailing the freedom to act by imposing mandatory requirements and responsibilities, prohibitions and taboos. Although the exercise of power distribution may appear to be undertaken spontaneously at each level, in reality the freedoms and limits, say, employed by a teacher in a classroom, are determined higher up the hierarchy and manifest in the legal and bureaucratic burdens that accompany the role.

The exact relationship between power and control is complex, because control also involves the use of coercive force, if not physical force in these times at least some form of ‘symbolic violence’ (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977; Foucault, 1979). Happily, such considerations lie outside the scope of this theory; in regards to the transmission of values, coercive force would be entirely unproductive. The forms of control that are of interest lie in a form of authority that transcends the role, which could be referred to as ‘character’, ‘personal magnetism’ or ‘charisma’, and for which the role is either unnecessary or necessary but not sufficient. (The latter seems intrinsically more realistic; even if an individual has personal magnetism, unless they have the authority to stand in a role they cannot exercise this control in a formal setting.) Power creates the context in which control can be exercised and, in that sense, unleashes it, but it is not the origin. Unlike power, which is conferred and hierarchical, control is either innate or learned and is unique to the individual.

c. The institutional expression of authority structures

At the whole school level there is an axis of authority (the authority for the school to exist, authorisation to administer education and recruit teachers, and mandatory requirement for the running of a modern school including the contents of education and pedagogies) which acts as the basis for three areas of local control relevant to values transmission: the internal structuring of the school, both in terms of its architecture and its management structures, and the limits of the school’s writ, which collectively are referred to as the bounding of space; the organisation of the syllabus into a timetabled curriculum, and the other aspects of school life into a set of routines, called collectively the periodisation of time; and overseeing a system for the permeation of values throughout the school, including strategic planning, signing, signposting and signage (semiotic marking), broadcasting and the cultivation of the school ethos, collectively known as the symbolisation of value concepts.

At the classroom level the axis of authority is manifested in the role of the teacher, which reproduces the mandated power distribution of the higher authority. So, for example, the teacher has the authority to empower and disempower students but only within the parameters mandated by the school board (or increasingly by the government). The role is the basis of the teacher’s control that they are able to exercise in the class, but only in the sense that it legitimises their position; it does not constitute it, however. Control is a manifestation of the personal charisma of the teacher, which can be either innate or learned. While this charisma (as the name suggests) may in some sense be an ineffable quality, it has tangible dimensions through which control is exerted: as the shaping and structuring of space (physical, social and behavioural) through creating boundaries; as the rhythmic structuring of time (through rhetorical devices, lesson planning and the continuity of contact with the student body) referred to as periodicity; and as the shaping and manipulation of images through the spoken and written word and through performative acts, known as symbolisation. The relationships between these concepts are summarised in the table below.

Untitled

At the level of abstraction given above, the structural similarities between the two levels (whole school and classroom) and their point for point correspondence become clear. Evidence was gathered in the case studies that these attributes of power and control are ubiquitous throughout the institutional hierarchy; power distribution, though, is reproduced directly and hierarchically, whereas the other aspects of control – boundary, periodicity and symbolism – emerge spontaneously. The nexus between the two levels of transmission occurs (potentially) at several points: a direct link, as mentioned, in terms of authoritative axis and role, although this plays no decisive part in transmission but rather ensures the stability and continuity of the institutional structure; the critical nexus occurs in the area of pedagogical control, as teachers participate in and build on the institutional strategy for their own classroom strategy, appropriate the institutional semiosis, suitably adapted for their own classroom pedagogy, and both draw upon and contribute to the school ethos.

d. The value cycle

Up to this point permeation and control have been discussed in isolation, as if these processes or states were unrelated to each other. On the route to value acquisition, though, in the process of initiating and maintaining institutional value awareness, they are intimately related. As discussed above, control manifests itself through the persuasive manipulation of language, patterning time (periodicity), space (boundary) and image (symbolisation), in effect to create a controlled environment and conscious state in which individuals can be empowered or disempowered.

In the cross-case analysis of observational data from the field a causal relationship was identified that could be simplified to four categories: authority (power and control), strategy, sign, and participation. This represents the interface between the structure of institutional permeation and the structure of institutional authority. Teacher classroom strategy in the transmission of values, as previously mentioned, draws upon the institutional repository of the ethos and other sources of values and projects the message through a semiotic display in the classroom combining signs for control and embedded signs for a value, this pathway from strategy to sign being the process of invocation. The signs now permeate the consciousness of the pupils empowered and tasked to participate in the moral universe of the value. This pathway from sign to participation is the process of evocation. Participation in the moral universe of the value is also, for reasons already discussed at length, participation in the moral community, where the ‘sense of community’ is experienced. This leads naturally to an intensification of participation through value-based strategic action and semiosis at every level of the institution. The completion of the cycle from participation back to strategy equates to acquisition. At each stage of this cycle charismatic control is exercised; through the distribution of power pupils can exercise a measure of control over themselves and one another in maintaining a stable, value centred community. This process is shown in the following figure, where P = power, R = role, CC = charismatic control, St = strategy, in = invocation, Si = sign, ev = evocation, Pa = participation and ac = acquisition.

value cycle

The value cycle

 

Resistance, moral autonomy and transformation

The explanation outlined up to this point offers a hegemonistic and deterministic view of value transmission, in terms of permeation and authority. It describes the mechanism of value transmission from the inculcatory perspective of the institution and the teacher, but has not considered from the acquisitive perspective the recipient, the pupils, as autonomous moral agents (Grusec and Goodnow, 1994; Barni et al., 2011). To the extent that it has considered them, they have been viewed as blank canvases and as output, albeit the output from a rather more sophisticated process than that considered in many theories of values education. What has not been explained is the trigger to value acquisition; for inculcation or the attempt to inculcate is often met by resistance and for those cases something must ameliorate that resistance. This final part of the outline of a model of institutional values transmission will look at the nature of resistance and the transformation that needs to take place for values to be acquired within an institutional setting.

Resistance takes on different forms varying in intensity, from questioning to outright rebellion. Cases of the latter were only encountered in the literature (e.g. Willis, 1977); the cases from the research field were limited to a range between questioning and robust criticism. It would be wrong to think, though, that resistance is either limited to students or necessarily an expression of antisocial tendencies. The data exhibits examples of resistance across the institutional structure and towards varying targets: criticism of government policies by head teachers, criticism of teachers and head teachers by pupils, some criticism of teachers by other teachers, implied conflicts over policies, criticism of local authorities, other schools and other agencies by head teachers, and criticisms of sixth formers by younger pupils.

When individuals encounter the boundaries established by rules and regulations and limitations on their freedom they usually resist to some degree, either actively or passively (Brehm, 1966). In this state of resistance it is impossible to acquire the values promulgated by the institution, which raises a dilemma for the institution: it cannot relinquish the principles that bound the form of life (Pring, 1986) that the institution embodies, for in this case the institution would lose its identity and its raison d’être; neither can it simply reaffirm its principles, nor affirm them more vociferously, for this is only likely to strengthen the resistance. In order to seek the resolution of this dilemma it is first necessary to understand the nature of resistance in greater depth.

What is common to the examples of resistance given above is the reaction of moral agency to the perception that authority is encroaching on the space in which it exercises moral autonomy, something explicitly voiced in the research data. What can overcome that resistance is the calculation that a benefit is to be had by trading a degree of moral autonomy for something that authority has to offer; that is the moral community, evidence for which was encountered in the field. Therefore, resistance should not be viewed as something pathological, but as an intrinsic psychic mechanism for the protection of moral integrity, which is, nevertheless, at the same time, negotiable. From the perspective of authority the process of transmitter inculcation/recipient acquisition can only be completed through overcoming this resistance; from the individual acquirer’s perspective resistance is an asset which creates the possibility of testing the integrity of the moral community before acquiescing to the merging of their moral identity with the collective. In our complex and relatively open social world individuals rarely become identified with a single form of life, but enjoy multiple identification and belonging. But for each belonging there is a concession of moral autonomy. Objectively, from a neutral perspective, we can speak of the necessity for a transformative experience. Many things can trigger that transformative experience, but to be meaningful to the idea of institutional transmission they should be institutionally contextualised, i.e. things that occur or are witnessed within the school.

In the deductive theory the nature of value was analysed and exposed as a conceptualised shared experience. It seems logical, therefore, that a transformative experience within an institutional context must underlie the transformation from resistance to the acquisition of a value or values. The evidence from schools and the data collected in this research is circumstantial but suggestive of a typology: the acquisition of values is always accompanied by a turning inward. Indeed the conceptual aspect of values logically requires that acquisition should be accompanied by a more reflective attitude. I have already suggested above that this inward turn is accomplished through a process of negotiation between moral autonomy and belonging to the moral community. It is ultimately to find in the community something sufficiently compelling and attractive that the boundary, the encroachment of authority on moral autonomy, becomes invisible or irrelevant. It could be something explicitly inward, such as spirituality, but also a pride in the school or the tradition of the school, or learning to take responsibility for others, and again there were examples of all these in the data.

These things describe the nature of acquisitive transformation, but not ultimately why it occurs, what triggers the transformation that allows the acquisition of values within an institution. The reasons may ultimately be ineffable and idiosyncratic, yet a common phenomenon appears in two anecdotes from the field. It is difficult to put one’s finger on it exactly, but I have decided to refer to it as ‘the slipping of the mask’. The pupils in one of my focus groups told me, almost in hushed tones, of their admiration for the former Head, who had spent an entire break time with one of them, ‘sharing a bag of crisps and talking about TV and stuff’ and on another occasion had participated in a snowball fight. What is not significant here are the actions themselves, which are mundane, but the dissonance between the mask of authority and the humanity beneath. A similar dissonance, on an institutional as well as a personal level, occurred between the hierarchical, tradition-bound structures of an independent boarding school and the glimpses of warm communal life. During an interview, the Chaplain related his amazement at the care shown by a housemaster to his charges, deeply grounded in intimate and detailed knowledge of their likes, dislikes and background, something that will probably have as lasting an impression on those pupils as it obviously has had on the Chaplain. As Heidegger (1962, p.243), quoting an ancient Roman fable, reminds us, ‘Care’ is ‘that to which human [Being] belongs ‘for its lifetime’’.

There is one final aspect of transformation that needs to be explored, which is replication. The essence of values is in a shared experience. Therefore, to acquire a value is to acquire the desire to share the value, both as a way to reinforce the negotiated decision involved in transformation and to extend the moral community. The basis of this concept is deductive reasoning from the nature of value and the symmetry of the model of permeation-authority, outlined in the previous section, and illustrated in the diagram of the value cycle, which entails a new cycle of strategy, sign and participation. Nevertheless, evidence from the data – though limited at this point in time – supports this contention; in one case study pupils spontaneously affirmed values of inclusion permeating through the institution structure from the official levels to classroom pedagogy, and there is circumstantial support for this phenomenon in other cases. Replication links the phenomena of resistance and transformation to those of permeation and authority, by completing the link between participation and strategy. Participation is the end result of the process of transmission, but also stands at the head of a new cycle of transmission. In real contexts this recursive structure is likely to be curtailed by the limited nature of the institution and the downward diffusion of power.

Conclusion

Comparison with models of values education and models of value transmission

Because the model I have presented takes a holistic and integrative view of values transmission, it bears some similarities to other holistic views in the literature. For example, Downey and Kelly (1978) and Plunkett (1990, pp.128-9) put forward similar ideas of values education being approached from one of four possible avenues: through a specialised curriculum, through a broadening of the existing curriculum, through pastoral care or through the school community. Hawkes (2010) has effectively taken all those approaches and combined them in pedagogy of values education. Hawkes, even more explicitly recommends the creation of a vocabulary of value terms to structure pedagogy, an approach essentially undertaken on a national level in Australia which has a list of desired values (Toomey, 2010), around which participating schools can design their curricular and pedagogic approaches. Seeing values education less from a curricular and more from a psychological perspective, Darom (2000) discerns four distinct aspects of education, the cognitive, affective, values and behaviour, which he believes should be integrated for education to have ‘a chance of truly touching young people’ (ibid, p.20). The model of values transmission touches on all those points but explores their theoretical connections, not only as interconnected parts of institutional structure but as aspects of a coherent mechanism.

That mechanism, which I have presented here, I would argue, builds upon, incorporates and goes beyond the mechanism put forward by Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman (1981) and Schönpflug (2001a), a two-stage process of awareness and acceptance. Looking at transmission from an institutional perspective, it has had to take into account issues of authority and control which are constitutive of the deontology of institutions, aspects not made explicit in their theories (even if assumed), which make formal education possible and, as I have described, have a central role to play at the stage of awareness. Between awareness and acceptance there is also a hiatus, which they have not clearly addressed, that of resistance and transformation. This theory has provided a theoretical framework that bridges that gap. In some sense the theory of transmission explained here could also be said to extend Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman’s viral transmission model by incorporating the idea of the dual conceptual and symbolic functions of values, allowing them to switch from ‘diffusion’ mode to ‘infection’ mode.

The centrality of the human relationship to transmission

If there is any consensus over the frequently disputed area of values and values education it is the centrality of the human relationship and the quality of that relationship in the transmission of values. As Schönpflug reminds us (2001b, p.132), the contents of transmission are ‘particularly sensitive to the channel’ of transmission, which I interpret to mean that for the recipient of any form of information, and particularly with the case of values, which also need to be activated in the recipient, who the transmitter is, in terms of the perception of the transmitter by the recipient, is vitally important. From a negative perspective, in cases from the schools studied where teachers were not held in high regard, this had a negative impact on academic performance; and in all these cases the cause of the complaint was not their competence as teachers, which in all but a small minority would be taken as given, but their lack of warmth, remoteness or unpredictability. Research invariably backs this observation up. There is a broad area of agreement with various psychological and philosophical views that the quality of relationships is central to the idea of transmission. For Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman (1981) the relationship between the teacher (transmitter) and the taught (recipient) is a key condition of transmission. Although the focus of studies on values transmission has been on the parent child relationship, shifted into an institutional context, all of that which has been predicated of relationships in intergenerational transmission is equally true of the teacher-pupil relationship. For Schönpflug it is (2001a) that is ‘an empathetic style’; for Euler et al. (2001) it is ‘emotional closeness between the generations’; for Barni et al. (2011) it is the ‘relationship’ among the parents and the ‘consistency’ of the value message that is received, as well as the ‘closeness’ of the relationship. These all fit into a pattern of successful parenting, which most now agree is authoritative (Steinberg, et al., 1989), rather than authoritarian or permissive. This also seems a fitting description of the relationship that ought to exist between teachers and their pupils in the context of education in general, but specifically in the context of transmitting values. An ‘authoritative style’ seems a fitting description of the combination of authority and humanity of key figures that I discovered in the data from the schools and characterised as ‘the slipping of the mask’, which I concluded was fundamental to a contextual transformative experience en route to the acceptance of institutional values.

References

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Barni, D., Ranieri, S., Scabini, E. and Rosnati, R. (2011). Value transmission in the family: Do adolescents accept the values their parents want to transmit? Journal of Moral Education, vol. 40, no. 1, pp.105-121.

Barth, F. (1993). Are values real? The enigma of naturalism. In M. Hechter, L. Nadel and R. E. Michod (Eds.), The origin of values. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, pp. 31-46.

Bernstein, B. (1975). Class, codes and control, volume 3: Towards a theory of educational transmissions. London: Routledge & Keegan Paul.

Blumer, H. (1954). What is wrong with social theory? American Sociological Review, vol. 19, pp. 3-10.

Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J.-C. (1977). Reproduction in education, society and culture. (Trans. R. Nice). London: Sage Publications.

Brehm, J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. (s. l.): Academic Press.

Cavalli-Sforza, L. and M. Feldman. (1981). Cultural transmission and evolution: A quantitative approach. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Darom, D. (2000). Humanistic values education: Personal, interpersonal, social and political dimensions. In M. Leicester, C. Modgil and S. Modgil (Eds.), Education, culture and values, volume vi: Politics, education and citizenship. London: Falmer Press, pp. 24-40.

Downey, M. and Kelly, A. V. (1978). Moral education: Theory and practice. London: Harper and Row.

Eliade, M. (1957). The sacred and the profane: The nature of religion. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.

Foucault (1979). Discipline and punishment. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Grusec, J. E. and Goodnow, J. J. (1994). Impact of parental discipline methods on the child’s internalization of values: A reconceptualization of current points of view. Developmental Psychology, vol. 30, pp. 4-19.

Habermas, J. (1984). Theory of communicative action, volume one: Reason and the rationalization of society. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Hawkes, N. (2010). Values education and the National Curriculum in England. In Lovat, T. et al. (Eds.), International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing. London: Springer, pp. 225-238.

Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time. (Trans. by J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson). New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Huntington, S. P. (1993). The clash of civilizations. Foreign Affairs, vol 72, no 3.

Huntington, S. P. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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Parsons, T. (1959). The school class as a social system: Some of its functions in American society. Harvard Educational Review, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 297-318.

Plunkett, D. (1990). Secular and spiritual values: Grounds for hope in education. London and New York: Routledge.

Pring, R. (1986). Aims, problems and curriculum contexts. In Tomlinson and Quinton (Eds.), Values across the curriculum. London: Falmer, pp. 181-194.

Schönpflug, U. (2001a). Intergenerational transmission of values: The role of transmission belts. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 174–185.

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Steinberg, L., Elmen, J. D. and Mounts, N. S. (1989). Authoritative parenting, psychosocial maturity and academic success among adolescents.Child Development, vol. 60, no. 6

Toomey, R. (2010). Values education instructional scaffolding and student wellbeing. In Lovat, T. et al (Eds.), International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing. London: Springer, pp. 19-36.

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Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labour. Farnborough, UK: Saxon House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Banality of Madness

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad                                                              (Longfellow, The Masque of Pandora)

History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce                                                              (Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon)

 

For the modern world that does not believe in evil, but only in blame and victimhood, the currents of the present must augur an existential crisis; for we lack the language and even the thought to encompass the monstrous nature of events such as that which took place in Nice on Thursday evening. Families out enjoying a celebration are now the targets in an asymmetric war in which the mundane becomes the source of terror and mayhem, and in which fellow citizens become a proxy army infected as by some alien virus.

Without mitigating in any sense the awfulness for those involved, there are reassurances in all of this. It becomes clear that this has little to do with Islam, a religion with a long and noble spiritual history, so, perhaps after a period of doubt, we can embrace our Muslim neighbours and compatriots as fellow sufferers and accept their condemnation at face value and not as merely self-serving platitudes. For finally, the heart of IS is revealed not as piety but as pure evil, the offspring of madness and criminality. As their so-called caliphate is losing ground in Syria and Iraq, their remaining currency is only death, indiscriminate death to as many people as possible. For in their logic everyone is an infidel; whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist or of no religion, if living in the lands outside the caliphate or if not at war with their own country.

As the shock of repeated tragedies wears down our vocabulary of outrage and horror until they become clichéd, we risk not indifference or terror, but levity. The spectacular insanity of Nice, in betraying our expectations of reason, humanity, compassion and mercy, cannot be encompassed by the rational mind, but only by something like absurdist theatre. Cartoonists understand this well and frequently tread the fine line between humour and offense. There is, of course, an antidote to this: as the ghost of Marley reminds Scrooge in Dickens’ Christmas Carol, mankind is our business and the common welfare.

The indiscriminate nature of such acts means we are all potential targets, but there is something comforting at the same time in knowing that this madness has taken on the whole world as its enemy and is unlikely to irrupt in our vicinity, or only as likely as anywhere else. We expect our government to take the necessary steps to protect the population, just as we would be wise to be more vigilant. We are going to have to live with this as the new reality for the foreseeable future, and factor in this risk as we do others in going about our daily lives. Otherwise, we should offer an empathetic Gallic shrug and get on with our business.

Foundations of the Moral Order

By Colin Turfus

Part 2: Rethinking the Moral Order

Part 1 of this essay dealt with the fundamental principles of the grand political project which is the European Union, that is solidarity and subsidiarity, and at how those principles have been either undermined by the nature of the project or remain unimplemented. In part 2, the deeper tradition of European thought is explored for its contribution to an examination of the Good Life, and a re-examination of the Aristotelian idea of telos considered as an alternative to the impasse of human rights to which Europe has committed itself.

The Limits of Our Knowledge?

The epithet attributed to Albert Einstein that the more he learned the more aware he became of how little he really knew has been oft repeated since, and probably also before, he pronounced it! It is a thought-provoking and humbling perspective on humans’ place in the universe. Although the observation was originally made in the context of scientific knowledge, it might be argued that it is more applicable to the social sciences and philosophy, particularly in relation to questions about how we should live our lives and order our society. For these questions have been debated down through the centuries and whatever wisdom is uncovered in the process invariably has a precarious existence as the reversals of fortune turn yesterday’s heroes into tomorrow’s villains, and vice versa.

At the heart of this questioning is the search for the foundation of value, or values. Its heyday was probably the Enlightenment, with numerous philosophers, most memorably Bentham, Kant and Hegel, looking to set out a universal basis while others, in particular David Hume, argued for the impossibility of this task. The interest in a universal foundation for values continues to this day notwithstanding that the clear trend in modern philosophy, and indeed society, seems to be towards an ever-increasing proliferation of mutually incompatible value perspectives competing for attention.

One of the most influential attempts historically to address this problem (or rather a previous manifestation thereof) was that of Aristotle. He, in his Eudemian Ethics, identified the good for a person with the pursuit of his (or her) telos – an ultimate immutable set of aims and goals toward the fulfilment of which a person moves by nature. For Aristotle, one’s telos was fixed as it were biologically: what Marx might later have referred to as “species-essence”. The major shortcoming of Aristotle’s account of ethics was of course seen subsequently to be its rootedness in 4th century BC Athenian society. Even relative to the perspectives in neighbouring Greek city-states, there were significant differences in accounts of what the telos consisted in. Also Aristotle was unable to attribute to slaves the same telos as he counted free Athenian males as possessing. So it was that Aristotelian philosophy has ultimately been judged to have failed in its attempt to identify a universal conception of “the good”.

However, his views were to enjoy a revival across Europe in 13th century European society following the rediscovery of classical Greek texts through contact with the Islamic world. Here the homogeneity of perspective that had been imposed by the Roman Catholic Church in Western Europe and the widespread influence of Augustinian theology made the situation ripe for a revival of Aristotelian ethics. The successful integration of Aristotelian philosophy with the prevalent Augustinian theology has been attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). He identified the human telos with the fulfilment of the specifically Christian virtues of fides (faith), spes (hope) and caritas (love), and the Aristotelian virtues of sophia (wisdom), andreia (courage), sophrosune (prudent caution) and dikaiosune (justice).

The hegemony enjoyed by Aquinas’ synthesis was itself of course destined not to last, albeit that many adherents both of the Augustinian school and of the Aristotelian tradition did come to make their home together for a time in the grand edifice Aquinas had constructed for them. The rise of humanism in the ensuing Renaissance starting in the following century laid the grounds for an alternative approach. This led in turn to the Enlightenment and its grand project to refound moral science on a purely rational basis and, by the time this had run its course, that grand unified world view which had been Aquinas’ legacy stood in ruins. The story has been told many times and does not need repeating here. The accounts given by Alasdair MacIntyre in his trilogy of monographs on the subject [1, 2, 3] are, in this author’s opinion, particularly incisive and we shall return to them below.

Kant and Human Rights

So we return to the question of whether we have in the last few hundred years made progress in the quest for a universal foundation for human values or merely become more confirmed in the intractability of the project. One would have to be forgiven on the basis of surveying the detritus left in the wake of the philosophical critiques and counter-critiques of all the big ideas from the Enlightenment onwards that it should be expected there is not much left of the original edifices. But that is not the whole story. For while postmodernism has turned the focus explicitly away from unified interpretations of the human state towards group narratives unburdened by the onus of any requirement for mutual compatibility, a metasystem has yet managed surreptitiously to establish itself as the backdrop against which incompatible claims can look to be mediated.

The foundations of this metasystem I would identify as Kant’s categorical imperative, the first formulation of which impels us to “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.” Although this principle has not been able to give rise in practice to a universal foundation for ethics and human values, it has been successful in providing a philosophical underpinning for the establishment of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) is premised on a Universalist claim that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” The charter has been enacted and ratified as international law in most countries, most notably in Europe through the European Convention on Human Rights.

I believe a consequence of this has been that ethical questions which relate to rights protected, or deemed to be protected, under the European Convention are no longer addressed through philosophical considerations but through human rights law, i.e. legal considerations. This has its attractions in facilitating (or imposing?) a consensus solution to what might otherwise be an intractable ethical dilemma. But it has at the same time a number of significant drawbacks which have become evident in recent years.

* Incompatibilities have arisen between rights wherein some are necessarily deemed to have priority over others in certain contexts. In particular, it is often argued that freedom of conscience is protected only insofar as it is not used as a justification for what is claimed to be an infringement of the rights of other individuals or groups, in particular if discrimination is alleged on the basis of some protected attribute such as gender or sexual orientation.

* What were originally seen as requirements constraining the behaviour of states and the upholding of the rule of law have increasingly encroached into the private realm to the point where private thoughts have to be policed in order that it can be determined whether disregard for a protected right motivated an (otherwise legal) action. Such could of course arguably be construed as an infringement on freedom of thought/conscience. But it would be unwise to imagine that such a defence would be upheld in a court of law or even protect one from arrest if a complaint is made to the police.

* The effective removal of private moral intuition from that part of the ethical sphere deemed to be under the jurisdiction of human rights has meant that a distance has opened up between the two to the point where individuals can find that conformity with human rights legislation can bring them into conflict with their conscience or vice versa.

* The increasing complexity of human rights law has meant that it is not possible for individuals to know definitively which behaviours are compatible with human rights and which not without a court ruling. The backlog of cases waiting to be heard by the European Court of Human Rights makes the establishment of a decision a lengthy and time-consuming procedure.

* Two further consequences of the previous point are that the occupation of the moral ground through use of human rights law can become the province of the rich and powerful; further, we are all (governments included) likely to feel compelled to make conservative interpretations of human rights law on the basis that facing and potentially losing a challenge in court can be extremely expensive and result in significant loss of reputation.

* There have been frequently repeated allegations of judicial activism laid against the European Court of Human Rights. Court decisions to prevent extradition of individuals charged with terrorist offences to the US and other countries and to require that voting rights be afforded to UK prison inmates have in recent years caused particular public outrage. See [4] for a description of how the court is able to exert its influence despite its limited power to enforce its decisions, and how it is able and likely to exert greater control over states with better human rights records. Within the European Union, the problem is compounded by the role of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights which sets out rights similar to but further-reaching than those of the European Convention. The former is under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which is widely recognised as having an activist socio-political agenda exceeding the scope of that pursued by the European Court of Human Rights. See for example [5].

* Non-ratification in Islamic cultures on the basis of incompatibility with Shariah Law can lead to and has led to tension and potentially intractable conflicts with Islamic migrants in Europe. Interestingly the experience of countries such as France and Britain which had a substantial degree of immigration of Muslims a generation ago report that the tensions resulting from issues around incompatibility of local law with their interpretation of the requirements of Shariah law are more of a problem with the second generation than with their parents’ generation, despite the fact much accommodation has been made in the meantime.

For these and other reasons there is a growing frustration with human rights legislation and courts as an effectively unchallengeable means of determining the ethical foundations of our society and shared moral life.

The Good Life Revisited

So, if as I have suggested there are indeed grounds in this postenlightenment era for making new sense of Aristotle’s notion of a human telos, how reasonable is it to take the next step of arguing that this telos can be given content in such a way as to apply in a general or universal way to humans as a species, rather than separately to each individual person?

The first and most obvious challenge we must confront is the fact of the diversity of alternative standards of justice and right which have been put forward since the inception of the Enlightenment and even before. Some of these were radical attempts to argue from principles of pure rationality. Others sought to justify current practice and belief. Many sought to supplant the need for theistic belief in arriving at answers to questions of the good. Others again sought to prove the necessity of religious belief in finding such answers. What emerged from the successive failures of each attempt to overcome the limitations and shortcomings of its predecessors was a widespread recognition of the impossibility of any such enterprise ever succeeding in achieving a definitive victory, not over all of its rivals, but even over one of its rivals. This is the problem of what MacIntyre refers to as incompatibility and incommensurability [4]; that is that, although in terms of a tradition of inquiry A it may be possible to show that the adherents of tradition B are in error on a particular point, it may be equally possible to show, within the scope of tradition B, that it is precisely B’s rivals who are misled by the fallacies implicit in tradition A. Worse, it may be that adherents of tradition A, for reasons of differences of language, cultural background, etc. find themselves simply incapable of comprehending what it is the adherents of tradition B are trying to say to them. (To illustrate that this is not a trivial problem I would cite the fact that Roger Scruton, one of the most eminent conservative philosophers in Great Britain today, feels precisely this way about the existentialist philosophy of Heidegger [6, p. 260].)

Such incompatibility or incommensurability is a serious obstacle to our present project, although not, as MacIntyre [1] has shown, an altogether insuperable one. For Aquinas, in his grand synthesis of Augustinianism and Aristotelianism discussed above, was able to resolve an apparent dichotomy and show Augustinians to their satisfaction how his reinterpretation and expansion of Aristotle’s philosophy was able to resolve problems which they had previously had to view as intractable from within their own tradition and vice versa (see [2] for details, in particular Chapter X, “Overcoming a Conflict of Traditions”). This offers some grounds for hope as it indicates that, even in the face of myriad conflicting mutually incompatible claims, it may yet be possible to maintain a coherent notion of progress in moral science.

Nonetheless, since such successes proved to be few and far between, the conclusion which has widely been drawn from surveying the fruits of the Enlightenment project is that it was fundamentally misconceived and that the best we can realistically hope for is the establishment of a level playing field upon which advocates of rival versions of the good life can compete with one another for power, influence and adherents – the so-called “liberalist” position. But MacIntyre is right, I believe, in pointing out [2, pp. 326-48] that, in the absence of any consistent justification for itself or of self-evident principles governing how a truly liberal régime should be operated, liberalism itself has difficulty in refuting the allegation that it is no more than one other tradition of inquiry among many competing versions, to whose validity there exist no particularly compelling a priori reasons to give one’s assent. He reserves special criticism for that most celebrated creation of this tradition, the so-called “liberal university”, whose introductory courses on “Great Books” he characterizes as not a “reintroduction to the culture of past traditions” but, on account of their prior commitment to a level playing field, “a tour through what is in effect a museum of texts, each rendered contextless and therefore other than its original by being placed on a cultural pedestal” [2, p. 386] (for his counterproposal, see [3, pp. 216-36]).

But I digress. The important question we should address is what to make of this antinomy with which liberalism confronts us. One response is that initiated by Friedrich Nietzche, which MacIntyre has variously dubbed the “perspectivist” fallacy [2] or “genealogy” [3]. This view has in recent times achieved some notoriety through its popularization in the writings of the so-called “postmodernist” school of thought. Its proponents hold that all attempts, liberal or otherwise, to give an account of “the good life” are misguided since there is and can be no such thing as a concept of the good life for people as such; indeed there is not even any such thing as the good life for any one person, except for what that person deems to be such of her own volition. It is MacIntyre’s [3] main thesis that both the protagonists of the Enlightenment project and the proponents of the genealogical view participate in a common fallacy, namely the view that values and moral perspectives are to be deduced out of abstract principles of rationality: the Enlightenment illustrates the impossibility of ever fulfilling such a goal; genealogy draws the apparently justifiable conclusion therefrom that there are no such things as values-as-such.

It is MacIntyre’s argument that, rather than seeking to ground our values in abstract reasoning, we should seek a more historically-based evolutionary account of human values. This MacIntyre has initiated with his account of practices, virtues and traditions. The former he defines as:

“any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended.” [1, p. 187]

Two things are worthy of note in his definition. First, what is considered “good” is to be determined in the course of practising, not by abstract reflection. Secondly, what is considered a good or worthwhile end is not fixed but can be systematically extended through participation in the practice. Thus the notion of goodness implicit in practices is inherently evolutionary. Of course the exercise of reason, being required as it normally is to participate in a practice, is not excluded from the process. But the relative importance of the role which it plays is to be decided by the practitioners themselves in the light of the history of the practice. A virtue is then tentatively identified as:

“an acquired human quality the possession and exercise of which tends to enable us to achieve those goods which are internal to practices and the lack of which effectively prevents us from achieving any such goods.” [1, p. 191]

This definition has the virtue of simplicity, but is clearly too wide in its scope; neither does it allow us to compare the relative importance of the virtues associated with different practices. To overcome this shortcoming, MacIntyre points to the need to relate practices to what he calls the “narrative” of a human life or lives, in the sense of their self-understanding. Arguing that it is a fundamental characteristic of human life that it possesses or seeks a consistent self-understanding which is furthermore always directed towards the future, he suggests that such a self-understanding or “narrative quest” naturally provides us with our conception of the good life (to use Aristotle’s phrase), in the sense of identifying the good to which other goods must contribute if they are to be meaningfully integrated into a whole life. Locating practices in such a context then allows us to sharpen the above tentative definition of a virtue by excluding those human qualities which are judged incompatible with the practice of the good life; and it allows us, in principle at least, to compare the relative importance or merits of the virtues associated with different practices.

The criticism may be raised at this point that the viewpoint I have identified appears not too different from that imputed to the perspectivists. But one further qualification needs to be made. The good life is never lived in isolation but always shared in community with others. Thus one’s conception of the good for oneself has to be framed in such a way that one’s life does not interfere unduly with the capacity of others to live out their good life. Such is of course far easier said than done, but we are assisted at this point by the existence of what MacIntyre calls “traditions.” These are precisely the historically determined shared understandings and beliefs of those who engage together in a given practice. And since the good life is lived out by definition through practices (in MacIntyre’s sense), this is always in the context of some tradition or another.

A not dissimilar viewpoint was advanced by British moral and political philosopher Michael Oakeshott [7]. He distinguished conceptually two forms of moral life: the “habitual” and the “reflective”. The first of these emerges not by “consciously applying to ourselves a rule of behaviour, nor by conduct recognized as the expression of a moral ideal”, but rather by simply “acting in accordance with a certain habit of behaviour”. The “reflective” moral life is by contrast determined by a “self-conscious pursuit of moral ideals” or through “the reflective observance of moral rules.” Oakeshott emphasizes that the moral life is necessarily lived in practice as some combination of the habitual and the reflective modes. Yet there is a tendency for societies where the first of these two poles holds sway, such as was the case with the pre-Socratic Graeco-Roman world or in early Christian communities, to become increasingly concerned with the formal codification of their values and ideals and so to drift towards the second pole.

Oakeshott finds this trend unfortunate insofar as he associates this second pole with a “denial of the poetic character of all human activity.” He denigrates its advocates and practitioners by means of allegorical critique. For example he compares the capacity for moral cultivation of a man caught up in deliberations about how to balance conflicting moral ideals which press upon his mind with the capacity of a farmer to cultivate the land when he is “confused and distracted by academic critics and political directors.” He compares this situation also to that of a literature in which criticism has usurped the place of poetry, or in a religious life in which he pursuit of theology offers itself as an alternative to the practice of piety. The parallels with MacIntyre’s [1] emphasis on the centrality of practices in determining the form of the good life cannot be missed.

So we find that we have returned to where we began with the twin principles of solidarity and subsidiarity as the foundations of the moral order. But whereas we started out examining these principles form the top-down approach pursued by the European Union and more generally by the rationalist tradition, we have returned to them from a bottom-up perspective more aligned with the empiricist tradition. In the process of making this transition I believe our understanding is deepened concerning the origins of some of the problems we currently face, and our ability to think more clearly about the foundations of the moral order enhanced.

References

[1] A. MacIntyre: After Virtue – A Study in Moral Theory, 2nd ed., 1985 (Duckworth, London)

[2] A. MacIntyre: Whose Justice? Which Rationality? 1988 (Duckworth, London)

[3] A. MacIntyre: Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, 1990 (Duckworth, London)

[4] S. Dothan: Judicial Tactics in the European Court of Human Rights, 2011, Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 358, University of Chicago, Department of Law

[5] H.-W. Micklitz: Judicial Activism of the European Court of Justice and the Development of the European Social Mode in Anti-Discrimination and Consumer Law, 2009, European University Institute Working Papers, LAW 2009/19.

[6] R. Scruton: A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein 1984 (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London)

[7] M. Oakeshott: The Tower of Babel in “Rationalism in Politics” 1962 (Methuen), first published in 1948 in Cambridge Journal, vol. 2

[8] Ben Ryan: A Soul for the Union, 2016, Theos Think Tank Report http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/publications/2016/01/21/a-soul-for-the-union

[9] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/summary/glossary/subsidiarity.html

[10] David Goodhart, 2013, The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration