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Learning the Common Good: Social and Philosophical Foundations of Community-Based Moral Education in the Theory and Practice of Restorative Justice

Schweigert, Francis J.
June 4, 2015

Source: (1997) Ph.D. dissertation, Faculty of the Graduate School, University of Minnesota.

Employing a research methodology based on Robert Bellah’s conception of social science as public philosophy, this study investigates the educative dynamics in restorative justice reforms, revealing three characteristics effective in facilitating moral learning for the common good. I propose that these three characteristics can be formulated as principles to ground the theory and guide the practice of community-based moral education. First, restorative justice brings the moral authority in personal communal traditions and the moral authority in impersonal universal norms together in a mutually reinforcing combination. Second, restorative justice practices focus on the “space between placesâ€? in social relations—not on individuals or families or particular institutions, but on the space where these important social bodies intersect. Third, restorative practices harness the resources of whole communities to take the actions and make the changes that can successfully address the problems that emerge as crime, rather than continuing the criminal justice system’s focus on individual offenders or victims only. Based on these characteristics, I propose three educational principles: (a) the complementarity between communal and universal moral norms, (b) the locus of moral education at the intersection between multiple levels of social experience, and (c) community development as a model of moral development to guide the theory and practice of community-based moral education. Author’s abstract.


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