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Envisioning Valuable Lives: Moral Imagining, Autonomy and Philosophy in Childhood


Envisioning Valuable Lives: Moral Imagining, Autonomy and Philosophy in Childhood

Malo-Fletcher, Natalie (2018) Envisioning Valuable Lives: Moral Imagining, Autonomy and Philosophy in Childhood. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis explores the question: How might moral imagining be conceived so as to support the cultivation of responsible autonomy in childhood? It argues that when conceived as a conscious, flexible process, moral imagining may contribute to children’s emerging agency by expanding and enriching their envisioned options for what they believe is worth valuing within their current and future circumstances, thereby helping to make their autonomy more responsible. More specifically, it proposes the conception of deliberate moral imagining, understood as the purposeful envisioning of a given context from multiple frames of reference in response to a real-world encounter, with the goal of bringing to light possibilities for what seems reasonable to value in order to broaden the moral lens through which lived experiences are approached and assessed. According to the argument advanced, deliberate moral imagining may assist children in confronting some important challenges to responsible autonomy that risk constricting their envisioning of the overarching contexts most influential in childhood: their relation to others (how they view and treat them), their relation to self (how they perceive and value themselves) and their relation to knowledge (how they learn and what they claim to know about the world). Indeed, in response to the respective challenges of narrow empathetic scope, conversion inhibition and inaccurate pseudoenvironments, deliberate moral imagining may help enrich children’s “mental landscape” by cultivating relational openness through three crucial autonomy supports, namely empathic engagement, self-efficacy and reasonableness. The thesis draws on three theoretical frameworks—neo-Aristotelian virtue theory, the Capabilities Approach and classical pragmatism—and includes a case study of the Philosophy for Children program as an illustrative example of deliberate moral imagining in action.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Malo-Fletcher, Natalie
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:1 July 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Gilabert, Pablo
Keywords:imagination, autonomy, childhood, philosophy, P4C, philosophy for children, CPI, community of philosophical inquiry
ID Code:984859
Deposited On:10 Jun 2019 19:46
Last Modified:10 Jun 2019 19:46

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