Reasonable Children

Michael S. Pritchard, Author
Michael S. Pritchard, Author University Press of Kansas $14.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-7006-0797-6
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Hardcover - 216 pages - 978-0-7006-0796-9
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The author of On Becoming Responsible, philosopher Pritchard writes clearly and in a pleasantly levelheaded tone. Almost all the good or sharp points he makes about the reasoning capabilities of children he ascribes to his forebears (Thomas Reid) and colleagues (Gareth Matthews, Robert Fullinwider). His most interesting original offerings come out of classroom discussions with children, wherein they demonstrate obvious abilities to discover and recognize fine distinctions in ethical dilemmas; these proofs fly in the face of what such theorists as Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg imagine about children's mental and emotional limitations. Pritchard confesses that he, like most of his colleagues, believed that philosophy and questions of ethics were beyond the ken of children. His more recent experience suggests that ""[t]he complexity of adult moral life may be much greater. But, as Matthews puts it, the differences are much more a matter of enlarging our basic understandings than totally replacing them."" He sees many possibilities for the teaching and the discussion of philosophy and ethics in young readers' novels. ""Fullinwider points out that the moral education of children can be greatly assisted by reading literature, which stimulates the moral imagination by allowing us indirectly to experience the lives of others."" Although Pritchard hopes his audience will include ""teachers and parents who are looking for ways to encourage children to develop potential for reasonableness,"" Reasonable Children is hardly a guidebook and rather too philosophically referential to attract many such readers. (Dec.)
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