Communicative integrity and moral education


  • Martin Lipscomb



This paper suggests that moral education might be advanced where students are granted expressive tolerance in academic work. It is acknowledged that, in some instances, expressive tolerance may result in the disclosure of morally questionable or discriminatory opinions and that this disclosure presents difficulties for educators. However, it is argued that moral education is hampered by any process that blocks open and honest communication/debate and it is suggested that communicative integrity between educators and students may be foreclosed when educators from practice-based disciplines that espouse strong moral claims impose non-academic normative or professional values upon debate and/or assignment assessment (marking). It is noted that significant logical and practical problems attend attempts to 'police' moral content and, to illustrate these problems, an argument that might be described as homophobic is presented. It is suggested that educators who threaten or act to penalise or fail student written work containing discriminatory statements/arguments such as that described in the 'homophobic' example may encourage students who hold such opinions to hide (self-censor) their views so that such views remain or continue unexamined. It is proposed that communicative integrity in educator-student relations is a necessary prerequisite for open dialogue and moral development/education.