On the concept of justice: how do students mobilize it in the discussion of moral dilemmas?

Marcelo Andrade Luiz Câmara

How do secondary education pupils mobilize the concept of justice to deal with moral dilemmas? We have tried here to answer this research question based on empirical data and on some of Habermas's conceptions, especially the concept of procedural justice and the criteria of equality, equity, reciprocity, and role exchange. The gathering of data was made through the articulation of two methodological strategies: focal groups and the resolution of moral dilemmas involving issues of justice and human dignity. The focal groups attempted to understand the interaction between the subjects, that is, their emphasis lies on the interlocution, which turned out to be fundamental for this study of the cognitive challenges posed by the concept of justice under a discursive perspective. The moral dilemmas, in their turn, appear as hypothetical situations and, in the present investigation, they stimulate the strong involvement of the research subjects with the proposed situation. Among the possible conclusions, the research indicates that youngsters do not hesitate when challenged to take a position with respect to problems involving their beliefs and convictions. In this sense, the study reinforces the pertinence of using debates as a strategy in pedagogical practice, so that within the space and time of the school several worldviews and personal characteristics can be expressed.

Justice; Habermas; Focal groups; Moral dilemmas; Secondary school

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