Care as a goal of democratic education

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In this article I present behavioural analyses of particular constructions of democracy and the ethic of care, in order to determine whether care is a democratic virtue. I analyse Carol Gilligan's concept of care as a complex of six virtues or behavioural dispositions: acquaintance, mindfulness, moral imagining, solidarity, tolerance and self-care. I then describe democracy in terms of two divergent but compatible sets of practices: social non-interference and social co-operation. These behavioural analyses lead me to conclude that certain behavioural habits that partially constitute a person's or a community's caring also partially constitute that person's or community's democracy. Specifically, the caring virtues of acquaintance, mindfulness, moral imagining and self-care also belong to the virtue of democratic co-operation, and the caring virtue of tolerance constitutes the democratic ideal of non-interference. However, solidarity of conscience and private purposes is not itself a democratic ideal, and to try to make it so would violate the democratic ideal of non-interference. Since most of the virtues of care I identified are also virtues of democracy, they are appropriate aims of public education. The enculturation of caring and democratic virtues requires that children practise the kind of inquiry in which these ideals are constructed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-461
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Moral Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000


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