Annual KTS Center Epistemology of Education Lecture

This annual center lecture series is devoted to topics in the epistemology of education. It is co-sponsored by the School of Education.

  • Harvey Siegel (Miami)
'Rationality as the Aim of Education'

ABSTRACT: In this talk I will argue that a central educational aim is that of fostering the rationality of students. I will (1) explain rationality's tight connection to the often-discussed educational aim of critical thinking, and provide an account of the latter; (2) compare that aim with relevant alternatives, especially alternative epistemic aims such as the fostering of understanding and of epistemic virtues; (3) explore the proper place of testimony in teaching and learning; and (4) relate the aim to the related ideal of autonomy, and to familiar worries concerning indoctrination, epistemic dependence, and to postmodern worries concerning illicitly universalizing meta-narratives, esp. those concerning such allegedly universal ideals as those involving rationality and reasons. Finally, I will offer a justification of it in terms of the Kantian principle of respect for persons: fostering students’ rationality, I will argue, is the only aim that treats students with respect as persons.

Harvey Siegel is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is one of the world's leading figures in the field of the epistemology of education. His monographs include Educating Reason: Rationality, Critical Thinking, and Education (Routledge, 1988), Rationality Redeemed? Further Dialogues on an Educational Ideal, (Routledge, 1997), and most recently Education’s Epistemology: Rationality, Diversity, and Critical Thinking, (Oxford University Press, 2017).