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Educação e Pesquisa

Print version ISSN 1517-9702


OLIVEIRA, Renato José de. Contributions of argumentative rationality for addressing ethics in school. Educ. Pesqui. [online]. 2012, vol.38, n.1, pp.115-130.  Epub Oct 21, 2011. ISSN 1517-9702.

This article discusses the work on ethics in school (primary and secondary education) with basis on a critique of the model of demonstrative rationality, prevalent since the advent of modernity. Alternatively, it presents another model, the argumentative rationality one, which is discussed with basis on the approaches taken by Chaïm Perelman, Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca and Michel Meyer. The first two authors have formulated a theory of argumentation whose goal is to support the typical reasoning of human and social sciences, knowledge areas in which typical procedures of demonstrative rationality, such as deduction and calculation do not apply. Meyer stresses the problematizing nature of argumentative rationality, placing the rhetoric as a means of negotiating the distance between individuals in regard to certain issues. This theoretical framework is complemented by the philosophy of pluralism appointed by Perelman as a counterpoint to the worldviews grounded on unitary conceptions of truth, called monisms. In this theoretical framework, I discuss the universalistic ethical concept of Kant and the relativism proposed by the ethics of aesthetics defended by Maffesoli. In a second topic, ethics in school education is problematized in view of the question: how can one shape the character of the student without falling into some sort of indoctrination? To the extent that ethics and morality relate to this question, I discuss how the two terms have been understood and I propose to regard them as interchangeable instances. The conclusions I present based on these discussions aim not to solve the problems inherent in the habits and attitudes of students, but to contribute to teachers' reflection about their teaching practices.

Keywords : Argumentative rationality; ethics; pluralism; discourse; school education.

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