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Philosophy in Scotland and Scottish education

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Ethics and Social Welfare on 6/6/2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17496535.2016.1193759

    Accepted author manuscript, 385 KB, PDF-document

Original languageEnglish
JournalEthics and Social Welfare
StatePublished - 6 Jun 2016


In this paper we consider how philosophy in Scotland has shaped beliefs about Scottish education. We begin by charting Macmurray’s views on education generally and Scottish education specifically. We thereafter examine the nature of ‘Scottish philosophy’ and explore continuities and discrepancies in the thought of Hume, Reid, Davie, MacIntyre, Graham and Macmurray. We suggest that while Davie thought Scottish education should remain true to the Enlightenment tradition of intellectual democracy, Macmurray thought Scottish education should have a new focus, it should seek to develop a more emotionally rational humanity. We conclude that philosophy in Scotland has supplied three main beliefs about Scottish education. First, that education should further conditions of intellectual democracy by supporting students to question social orders and develop the capacities necessary to engage in informed public debate. Second, that in-depth study of different traditions of thought can help further conditions of intellectual democracy. Third, persons can only learn to think well and act morally in relation with other persons and where recognition is given to the necessarily embodied and relational nature of human being and knowing. We claim that even though these beliefs are partly mythological they continue to shape how Scottish education policy is framed today.

    Research areas

  • Scottish philosophy, Scottish education, democratic intellect, Macmurray, emotionally rational humanity

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