Morality and personhood are made for each other or what moral education is not!

Laurance Joseph SPLITTER

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


According to the Principle of Personal Worth, (i) persons are more valuable than nonpersons; and (ii) no one person is more valuable than any other. “Non-persons” include, not merely rocks, phones, birds and most mammals, but such “supra-personal” entities as nations, cultures, religions, traditions, gangs and “family”. Rejecting individualism and collectivism, I argue that persons are essentially relational, ranging from our most intimate relationships to embrace all others we do, or might, relate to. It is precisely upon such relationships that morality – whether religion-based or secular – is grounded. I argue that the core business of education is nurturing and assisting the development of “full personhood”, rather than such subsidiary tasks as vocational training, citizenship, socialization, etc. Morality and moral education deal with universalistic ideas about how we ought to treat one another as persons, rather than allegiances to particular religious or other affiliations. The Ancients knew this when they asked: “Is it good because the Gods declared it so or do the Gods declare it good because it is good?” We need to engage young people in dialogical processes of deciding whether or not something is good rather than teaching them what this or that god declares to be good.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013



Splitter, L. J. (2013, June). Morality and personhood are made for each other or what moral education is not!. Paper presented at The Asia-Pacific Network for Moral Education Eighth Annual Conference: Learning from Diversity and Commonality: Ways Forward for Moral Education in the Asia-Pacific, Yogyakarta State University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.