Educating through exemplars: Alternative paths to virtue

Michel Croce, Maria Silvia Vaccarezza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article confronts Zagzebski’s exemplarism with the intertwined debates over the conditions of exemplarity and the unity–disunity of the virtues, to show the advantages of a pluralistic exemplar-based approach to character education. This pluralistic exemplar-based approach to character education is based on a prima facie disunitarist perspective in moral theory, which amounts to admitting both exemplarity in all respects and single-virtue exemplarity. First, we account for the advantages of pluralistic exemplar-based approach to character education, and we show how two figures in recent Italian history (Giorgio Perlasca and Gino Bartali) satisfy Blum’s definitions of ‘moral hero’ and ‘moral saint’. Then we offer a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of heroes and saints with respect to character education, according to four criteria derived from our pluralistic exemplar-based approach to character education: admirability, virtuousness, transparency, and imitability. Finally, we conclude that both unitarist and disunitarist exemplars are fundamental to character education; this is because of the hero’s superiority to the saint with respect to imitability, a fundamental feature of the exemplar for character education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-19
JournalTheory and Research in Education
Volume15
Issue number1
Early online date1 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • character education
  • exemplarism
  • moral heroes
  • moral saints
  • unity of the virtues

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