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Freedom, well-being and schooling: beyond desire-satisfaction.

Marples, Roger.; (1994) Freedom, well-being and schooling: beyond desire-satisfaction. Doctoral thesis , Institute of Education, University of London. Green open access

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Schools have an undeniably crucial role in influencing the ways in which well-being is perceived. They are also instrumental in promoting or frustrating opportunities whereby people may come to appreciate the significance of alternative courses of action as well as providing an understanding of ways in which these might be pursued. It is thus incumbent upon teachers to appreciate the nature of freedom and its place within an overall theory of personal well-being. This thesis is meant to contribute to a clarification of some of the complexities involved. Its aim is twofold. Firstly, it attempts to refute accounts of freedom and personal well-being which rely on desire-satisfaction as a criterion of rational choice. Such accounts are shown to be defective in that they are ultimately subjective and result in consequences which are at once paradoxical and disturbing. The value we attach to freedom - as something having as much to do with the capacity to choose from a range of significant alternatives as being unencumbered by constraints - is in virtue of its importance in the kind of life appropriate for persons, namely that which is compatible with flourishing or personal well-being. If there were no more to freedom than the removal of relevant constraints it is difficult to see why we should attach such importance to its promotion and preservation. Alternative possibilities are identified in a variety of ways but their criteria of significance are a function of something altogether less subjective than the fact that they are desired. Desire-satisfaction accounts of freedom and well-being derive their support from a familiar and widely held position within philosophical psychology in spite of the fact that it is based on little more than Humean dogma. It grants logical priority to desire over value and is thus unable to account for human interests and well-being in anything other than subjective terms. It is the second principal task of the thesis to reverse this order of priority and thereby to account for well-being by reference to a conception of human nature based on real-interests, the absence of which are likely to result in persons being harmed. If it succeeds in this it is possible to conceive of well-being in more objective terms while at the same time accommodating widely differing conceptions of flourishing in accordance with individual and freely chosen lives. Compulsory schooling is seen to merit justification largely in terms of the extent to which it succeeds in promoting the freedom and well-being of those destined for citizenship in a democracy.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Freedom, well-being and schooling: beyond desire-satisfaction.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: School adjustment,Freedom,Moral development,Moral behaviour,Philosophy of action,Sociology of education,Individual differences
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10021531
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