Physical Education as a Prerequisite for the Possibility of Human Virtue

Educational Philosophy and Theory 46 (5):527-535 (2014)
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Abstract

This article examines the role of physical education in the process of moral education, and argues that physical education is a necessary prerequisite for the possibility of human virtue. This discussion is divided into four parts. First, I examine the nature of morality and moral decision-making. Drawing on the moral theories presented by Plato, Aristotle and Kant, I argue that morality is connected with reason and the attainment of objectively good goals. Second, I examine the role of moral education in helping individuals to cultivate a virtuous character state. I outline the approaches to moral education taken by Plato, Aristotle and Kant—dialectic, dogmatic and catechistic—and examine the ability of each approach to develop the appropriate moral disposition within individuals. Third, I examine the cultivation of this disposition by considering the connection between virtue and happiness and the possibility of producing an individual who is both virtuous and happy through moral education. Fourth, although there is disagreement about the means of moral education, I argue that there must be agreement concerning one necessary component of moral education: physical education. Physical education, while connected to non-moral exercises, allows individuals to develop the strength to become apathetic to bodily desires (e.g. the desire to obtain pleasure or pursue pain), desires that lead them away from virtue.

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Chris W. Surprenant
University of New Orleans

References found in this work

Nicomachean ethics.H. Aristotle & Rackham - 2014 - Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.. Edited by C. D. C. Reeve.
Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Critique of Practical Reason.Immanuel Kant (ed.) - 1788 - New York,: Hackett Publishing Company.
Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.

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