Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2003


This paper calls into question the assumptions implicit in many traditional theories of moral agency; namely, the assumption that moral agency requires the agent to be disinterested, disengaged, and psychically distant in order to be a good moral agent, an agent worthy of moral praise. I explore the nature of what it means to be a moral agent and, more broadly, what it means to live well as a human being and apply this analysis to education. The arguments made are grounded in a naturalistic-transactional understanding of how the human being comes to be and continues to be in this world and spells out some of the implications of this understanding of the human individual for education. In addition, I suggest specifi c strategies for capitalizing on the transactional potential of the educational relationship between student and teacher. I argue that, if we take the human being to be a transactional being, i.e., an entity that comes into existence and continues to exist necessarily in and through co-constitutional exchanges with both human and non-human entities, then the role of education becomes central to this development of the individual. Further, it also becomes clear that education must be of a particular nature if it is going to foster the immediate and ongoing development of that individual as a fl ourishing human being. However, we must fi rst explore briefl y what is problematic about our traditional conception of education in order to see that change is required.


This article was originally published in Educational Change, Spring 2003-2004, pages 25-36. The full issue can be viewed here:

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