A Consequentionalist Approach to the Interpretation of Ethical Competence: Some Critical Reflections on Pupils´ Answers in National Tests. Contribution to Osbeck, C., Franck, O., Lilja, A & Sporre, K.: Varieties of Conceptions of Ethical Competence Displayed in Pupils´ Answers to National Tests in Ethics. Symposium, ECER (European Conference on Educational Research), Theme: Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers, Dublin 23rd - 27th of August 2016.
Författare och institution:
Olof Franck (Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession)
Konferensbidrag - refereegranskat abstract
In the Swedish syllabus for RE, ethics is one of the parts of the core content which has to be studied. Within this part, it is prescribed for year 9 that “analysis and argumentation based on ethical models, such as consequential and deontological ethics” is to be highlighted, and that pupils’ ability to “use ethical concepts and models” is to be assessed with regard to criteria representing various grades from E to A. This part of the core content and the knowledge requirements focuses on an analytical dimension of what may be described as “ethical competence”. In the Swedish National Test 2013, this specific dimension was tested by using an item where the pupils were asked to “reason about and give arguments for and against” the death penalty. According to the instructions, the answers should involve reflections on “intentional ethics”, “consequentialist ethics” and “deontological ethics” respectively. An analysis of the empirical material consisting of a sample of pupils’ answers, brings three research questions to the fore: 1.What is the reason that many pupils, when expressing ideas regarding a consequentialist approach, present more or less simplified apprehensions of what characterizes such an approach? 2. Why is it that pupils seem to think that a consequentialist position in ethics implies rather straightforward standpoints? 3. On what grounds do several of the pupils seem to presuppose that a consequentialist approach has to be understood in terms of a utilitarian position? There seems to be a need to introduce relevant philosophical perspectives in the national test context. One theorist who could contribute to a more comprehensive analysis of both the syllabus and of the pupils’ answers regarding the three “ethical models” is the Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer. His approach is founded on “the basic principle of equality”, which, according to Singer, does not prescribe equal treatment but equal consideration, regardless of the species of the subjects who are the focus of moral reflection and ethical analysis. Singer’s utilitarian approach could, with the aid of concepts such as personism, preference and cognitive dissonance, contribute analytical tools, the use of which could pave the way for an understanding of the syllabus as well as the pupils’ answers.
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Singer, P. (2015). The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically. Yale University Press.
Singer, P. (2011). Practical Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Singer, P. (1997). How Are We to Live? Ethics in an Age of Self-interest. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Filosofi, etik och religion
ethical competence, assessment, national tests, ethics education
Symposiets presentationer uppmärksammar forskning och forskningsresultat inom ramen för det av Vetenskapsrådet finaniserade forskningsprojektet What May be Learnt in Ethics? Varieties of Conceptions of Ethical Competence to be Taught in Compulsory School (Dnr 2014 - 2030).
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